In order for DTC marketers to succeed online, they must make adjustments in how they approach search marketing, online advertising placement and social media marketing.

In the August issue of PM360 there was an excellent article on integrated marketing, which the author indicated is the “future of pharma.” I could not agree more, but DTC marketers should be aware that digital marketing is changing and that a lot of these changes are going to affect how marketers should spend their budget dollars.

When we hear about changes in online marketing, the first thing that usually comes to mind is social media, but the changes that are happening are well beyond the scope of social media. For starters, Google is changing the way sites are listed in organic search. According to Fast Company, “[Google’s] update emphasized the importance of quality content, originality, and overall user experience. [It] contained very clear messages for marketers: stop focusing on technology and tricks and start focusing on people. If your website appeals to people, it will appeal to Google’s algorithms too.” In other words, sites containing quality information that is shared within the online community are going to be ranked higher than sites that do not share.

What does this mean for DTC marketers? It means you are going to have to start producing quality content as defined by users, not by your legal or regulatory teams. You are not going to be able to get away with label language anymore. You are going to have to start developing content that people actually want to read and share—instead of just repurposing sales brochure content. Make no mistake about it, organic search yields more and better results than paid search in most cases as consumers don’t trust advertisements for prescription drugs.

The other changes that are taking place have to do with online advertising. In the past, you simply matched online ads to a website that had similar demographics. Those days may be gone as more and more brands are using retargeting to increase the ROI for online ads. There are many types of retargeting—from search retargeting to email retargeting—and the benefit to DTC marketers is improved response rates as your brand stays front and center while your target audience surfs the Internet.

Finally, there is social media marketing. Right now a lot of consumer product brands are questioning the value of social media marketing as sites like Facebook continue to struggle. I did some research around this late last year and found that, depending on the health condition, most people would read information on health social media sites but would not post because of privacy concerns.

The bottom line is that DTC marketers need to think more about integrated marketing that both raises awareness and drives conversion. Depending on the product category, there is a good chance that one channel alone will not drive brand objectives. Think like a consumer and try to be everywhere they would go to learn about your product, and help them make the right choice for treatment.

Make no mistake about it, organic search yields more and better results than paid search in most cases as consumers don’t trust advertisements for prescription drugs.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof and www.newmediaand He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.


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