The jury is still out on the severity of the pandemic this fall, but digital marketing and telehealth tools have already proven vital in connecting patients with their physicians despite obstacles to the point of care. Pharma marketers can further connect proactive patient and professional audiences with these four tactics.

1. Turn pandemic lemons into brand lemonade: Slashed media budgets have created rare opportunities for pharma marketers, including competitive bidding and larger white spaces, translating to higher ROI and greater exclusivity. So as your competitors cut spend, selectively increase yours to meet the unprecedented level of time consumers are spending online.

Take note and optimize content for voice searches. Questions posed to Siri are more colloquial and immediate compared with mobile or desktop searches, so respond in kind. Further capitalize on digital engagement by fussing over tracking. Far from digital bread crumbs, creating and implementing custom UTMs and tactic-specific pixels yields a rich picture of audience behaviors and KPI predilections.

2. Contextualize content: Messaging must address the biggest concern right now: managing treatment and adherence in these socially distanced times. Prioritize existing virtual services through personable and direct language, and maximize patients’ brief time with an HCP through a doctor discussion guide download. Invest in segment-based journey mapping to provide reminders and ongoing resources to the right group at the right time.

For professional audiences, bolster future engagement by prioritizing CRM sign-ups. Lift prescriptions and enhance disease management for their patients with content focused on financial resources and digital adherence tools.

3. Shift dollars to digital: Sales forces are inactive or stalled, fewer reps are in hallways, and HCPs are spending more time online. In short, it’s a perfect storm for prioritizing non-personal promotion (NPP). Compared with traditional tactics, digital is more contextual, cost-effective, and opens the door for retargeting. NPP also accommodates physicians’ digital-first researching and browsing habits by only delivering ads when active on a particular channel or, with SEM and programmatic, when searching for disease or treatment information. You get what you pay for with digital, and then some.

4. Embrace telehealth/telemedicine channels: Skip publisher and website selection and plan campaign placements down to the individual web page level. Page-level whitelisting ensures relevancy with specific keyword requirements and, as part of a programmatic buy, these placements may be acquired at a cost per thousand impressions 80% below the rates of premium publishers.

Further guide patients to the point of care with telehealth-focused calls to action. Are search queries specific to scheduling an e-visit? Direct them to a scheduling tool before the mandatory questionnaire. Does your brand use a wellness portal or app? Amplify adoption with painless opt-in forms.

With the world still upside down, measure and optimize all tactics with an eye on remote engagement. View data holistically to distill actionable insights and quickly make changes. Most importantly, remember the new marketing normal is here to stay—embracing these innovative tactics will pay off now and well into our uncertain future.

  • Emily N. Johnson

    Emily N. Johnson is Content Marketing & Social Media Manager at Convergence Point Media, an independent healthcare and pharmaceutical media and marketing services agency based in NYC. Emily brings nearly a decade of content marketing and social media savvy to CPM, where she has overseen social strategy and implementation for a variety of DTC and HCP initiatives since 2017.


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