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Reimagining Pharma Audience Engagement

Integrate media and content strategies to drive stronger results

Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message,” all but predicting the Internet and how advances in technology would transform how we communicate. The digital world has indeed empowered consumers, now equal partners in content selection, redistribution and even creation. While these advances create unprecedented opportunities for targeting and personalization, this benefit comes at a price to marketers, as audiences now control how and with what they engage.  Marketers struggle for attention as ad budgets flock to digital even as consumers increasingly adopt ad blocking technology.

Now more than ever, digital pharma marketing content must exude the same brand voice and reflect the same audience preferences that inform media planning and strategy.  Like all consumers, patients now consume information on-the-go, making context as vital as content. The proliferation of platforms, apps and AI bots makes even programmatic campaigns increasingly challenging. With an astonishing one website for every seven people on earth, these services serve as an essential “nervous system” allowing people to organize and make sense of an otherwise overwhelming galaxy of data.

Ways to Win

The ever-fragmenting landscape is a boon for savvy healthcare communicators who stay ahead. When engaging patients with the right content in the right channel at the right place and time, media indeed becomes the message. Unify media and content strategy by focusing on two principals:

Drop the Talking Points

Audience behavioral insights, not brand talking points, shape compelling creative. Patients, caregivers, even healthcare professionals are all consumers, engaging with content through many of the same devices and channels. They live on their smartphones and tablets, engage with “apps as a service” and get their news and even product information through social networks. That inextricably links where they go with what they see and how they see it, demanding a radical new approach to how we create and distribute content.

Start by understanding your audience’s preferred social and mobile venues and design your brand assets to be eminently discoverable and engaging in those places. Evolve from stilted ad rotations to engaging stories that encourage commenting and sharing. Leverage every opportunity for integrated messaging that taps into vital flows and joins existing conversations.

Unshackle Your Content

Discarding the antiquated model of building a and competing on unique visitors and time on site unburdens content strategy, media planning and KPIs to reflect the reality of audience engagement on users’ terms. Effective content is therefore contextual, personalized, often geo-specific, social, and predominantly mobile. Audiences don’t come to us, we must go to them.

That means digital marketing must evolve to reflect the world of assets both on and off the website. SEO, social media optimization, video, in-app and native advertising are must-haves. Moreover, audience “demos” have been rendered obsolete in favor of a bottom-up framework responding to the individual “Digital DNA” of empowered consumers. Media should no longer be the last step in marketing planning, but part of an integral consumer-centric strategy, seamlessly fusing channel and content priorities.

Wanting more digital pharma insight? Access my whitepaper for examples of current best practices, case studies and anecdotes illustrating real-world applications of all 8 principals for digital pharma marketing success.

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