In today’s digital age, pharma and health-care marketers need to adapt and deliver personalized, omnichannel messaging to target audiences online.

digital health care

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a trend that was already happening in pharma and health care. More than ever, people are researching medical diagnoses and treatments, and buying treatments and medical devices online – just like they research and purchase everything from travel to skincare to groceries.

Increasingly, patients and health-care professionals are getting health information from a range of websites, blogs, social media channels and influencers – not just from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. This is a big change. In the not-so-distant past, pharma companies were the only source of information about their medications and products.

In addition to the varied sources of information and growing competition, the complex nature of the buying journey in this space and strict marketing/advertising regulatory requirements make it that much harder for pharma and health-care brands to reach and engage their target audiences.

Pharmaceutical companies cannot promote or sell prescription-only medications on social media and other marketing channels. However, they can share impartial information and employ social listening – such as tracking and analyzing social conversations on a specific topic – to gain insights into what patients and health-care professionals are talking about.

Even with the additional challenge of regulatory compliance, digital marketing opens the door to significant opportunity for companies in the pharma and health-care industries. It’s up to marketers to adapt their digital marketing strategies to meet their target audiences where they are online and off. This involves following the lead of other industries that are further along this journey and creating personalized, omnichannel marketing campaigns that meet industry requirements and customer needs.

What is an omnichannel pharma/health-care marketing campaign?

Hubspot defines omnichannel marketing as “a method where businesses promote their products and services across all channels, devices, and platforms using unified messaging, cohesive visuals, and consistent collateral. Omni-channel marketing ensures you reach customers where they are with a relevant and on-brand offer.”

The key is to deliver an integrated, seamless, cohesive experience and personalized, relevant messaging informed by past interactions wherever your target customer accesses your content. Brand tone and visuals should also be clearly identifiable and consistent.

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel campaigns

Multichannel campaigns are not integrated. They appear on different channels and platforms, but they are siloed, often parallel campaigns. They do not work together to create a seamless experience for the consumer.

The need to deliver a unified digital marketing experience to patients and medical professionals alike is becoming increasingly critical in the pharma and health-care industries, which have trailed the retail and finance sectors in transitioning to omnichannel marketing.

The lag is understandable given the highly personal nature of customer relationships in this space and the need to protect any information shared, which has long made face-to-face interactions the norm. However, the pandemic forced pharma and health care to speed up their digital transformations – while ensuring transparency and security – to catch up to their target audiences and take advantage of the surge in online shopping. Omnichannel marketing is a key aspect of this transformation.

Moving pharma and health care from multichannel to omnichannel marketing

Here are six best practices to create an effective omnichannel marketing campaign.

1. Be strategic

One of the big benefits of omnichannel marketing is the ability to connect online and offline marketing efforts for maximum impact. Be thoughtful. Identify common priorities and create shared objectives for online and offline marketing campaigns. Make sure the campaigns reinforce the desired messaging and calls to action.

Tip: Consistent design and visual imagery play a key role in brand building and will help people remember you.

2. Focus on search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a key element of all successful digital marketing strategies. It is a comprehensive process designed to help brands improve their rankings on search engines’ unpaid or organic results pages by providing relevant information to searchers. Key elements include web design, the effective use of high-quality data and analytics, and engaging copywriting and visuals centred on meeting the needs of the user.

Why is this important? SEO will drive your target audiences to your website, where they can hear from you directly.

Tip: Five SEO strategies for pharma and health-care companies:

  • Research the right keywords that will resonate with your target audience. Be specific. Amazon Keyword Tool, Google Ads Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool and Answer the Public are free tools to help you research and generate the right keywords for your search campaigns.
  • Provide relevant, informative content to improve your search rankings because Google is laser focused on optimizing the user experience.
  • Prioritize title tags, which tell users and search engines what to expect from a web page.
  • Attract more eyes by using multimedia, such as videos, gifs, images, motion graphics and memes.

3. Invest in content marketing

Creating relevant content that will help users is critical to ranking high on search engines. This is particularly true of Google’s algorithms. Understanding what consumers are searching for online and providing information they can use will help offline audiences, too.

For pharma companies, this can include basic information about safety, such as material safety data sheets, as well as medical guides for patients and medical professionals. Content can take the form of blogs, articles and transparency reports about your business. All of this helps build trust and credibility and enhances your brand’s reputation.

Johnson & Johnson has had great success with its Care Inspires Care campaign, which it launched in tandem with its sponsorship of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The focus: build on Johnson & Johnson’s history of caring for others and encourage others to do the same via articles, blogs, visuals and social media. To date, 26 million acts of care have been shared.

Tip: Create frequently-asked-questions web pages to answer your target audience’s most common questions. This is a powerful way to engage and grow your audience.

4. Use social media to educate your target audience

While pharma and health-care brands cannot use social media to generate sales, you can use social channels to inform and build relationships. Share research. Interact with your audience. Introduce them to your culture, vision, mission and people. Be sure to use different kinds of media, and be aware that video is the most popular way to consume content. As a result, 86 per cent of businesses use video to market their products and services, and 93 per cent of marketers who use video say it’s integral to their overall marketing strategy.

Tip: Keep an eye on what people are saying about your products and brand, and implement a review management strategy. Address good and bad reviews. Research shows that consumers want to know brands are listening.

5. Leverage data to deliver high-impact customer experiences

Keep pace with emerging technologies to ensure you capture high-quality data throughout the buying journey. Identify the data and key performance indicators necessary to drive results. Use this data to create and deliver the type of content your audience wants. Measure how users are interacting with online and offline campaigns, and the impact of those campaigns in real time.

Tip: Unified marketing measurement is a framework that brings together Marketing Mix Marketing and Multi-Touch Attribution to create one clear view of how individual users are interacting with online and offline campaigns. Take what you learn to improve customer satisfaction and your return on investment.

Omnichannel marketing is fast replacing multichannel marketing in pharma and health care. It offers an integrated approach to deliver a seamless customer experience to patients and health-care professionals. Just like in other industries, it is cutting through the noise and helping brands reach their target audiences.