The digitalization of pharma was slowly underway pre-COVID, but there’s an immediate sense of urgency to make this shift now. As face-to-face sales calls are still a no-go, pharma companies are racing to accelerate their online sales and marketing strategies.

HCPs’ habits have been radically disrupted. Their attitudes, practice behavior, decision-making processes, and prescribing habits have changed. New needs are emerging.

As a pharma marketer you know you need to revise and reshape your multichannel strategy to these behavioral shifts, but restructuring to a digital-first communications strategy is much easier said than done.

What digital marketing channels and approaches are you experimenting with for physician communication and engagement?

Now is the perfect time to pave the way for digital success. So, here are three practical tips to start building an effective multichannel pharma marketing strategy.

1. Prioritize your digital marketing strategy based on new HCP content and communications preferences

While no one can predict which new HCP habits will stick, a hybrid approach of in-person and digital interactions (i.e. multichannel) is likely to become the “new normal” post-COVID. 28% of surveyed physicians indicate that the crisis will have a lasting impact on their willingness to welcome pharma reps for live meetings (McKinsey).

Digital pharma marketing tips covid

So, you can’t afford to build a post-COVID marketing plan on outdated insights. Your digital marketing strategy and spend should be based on how physicians’ information needs have changed.

Ensure you have a deep understanding of these key questions to shape your digital marketing priorities:

  • What kind of information are HCPs looking for? These insights are key to understand which information should be prioritized in your HCP content strategy.
  • Where are HCPs currently looking for information? When you’re armed with this knowledge you can optimize your spend by prioritizing the most effective channels first.
  • How do HCPs want to engage with pharmaceutical companies and sales representatives? This information lets you develop more engaging interactions and content to strengthen your relationship.

2. Adopt a test-and-learn digital HCP marketing strategy

As the whole world finds itself adjusting to a totally new situation, no one expects perfection. There is a shared understanding among HCPs and pharma companies that this is a time for trial and error – from experimenting with digital communications to online training or mobile apps.

While the consumer industry is currently optimizing their omnichannel strategies to thrive during this disruption, many pharma companies seem to struggle with the shift to online.

As such, apply the concept of a minimum viable product, whereby learning and optimization is an ongoing process, to your digital marketing strategy. It is during these times that we can try and fail, try again, fail better, try again and optimize what works best.

HCP information seeking - digital channels

Companies that do this well ensure they have the right measurements in place to measure success. In order to evolve, it’s important to set clear KPI and track them, while keeping a close eye on the “why” behind those metrics. What do you want to achieve? When do you consider it a success?

KPIs that not only measure HCP decision behavior, but also uncover the emotional dimension of engagement, are crucial to the success of digital activities. This is how the learning and optimization process will be most impactful.

For example, if you measure the success of an online campaign with click-through rates or average time HCPs spend on your website, you should also aim to understand why visitors are engaging with that content.

Digging into physicians’ opinions or sentiments around specific content will help you better understand their needs and guide you in reshaping future content.

This approach will also allow for comparison and benchmarking between the different channels, allowing for the optimization of your minimum viable product and the validation to take place on the go. Repeat this optimization process and update your plan to ensure optimal reach, frequency and tone of voice across key channels.

3. Opt for agile and mobile-first HCP research approaches

Mapping physician customer journey
Learn more about physician and patient journey mapping

Mapping the physician and/or patient decision journey prior to developing a multichannel strategy is recommended, as it allows companies to prioritize and focus on the elements that really have an impact.

Yet, in times when traditional market research may seem time consuming and time is of the essence, what else can you do now to fast-track shaping your digital marketing strategy?

  • Choose where to evolve: Start small and focus on a communication piece where you can move quickly and measure impact: a specific educational topic, a new key message, most recent study findings. For example, since many conferences are going digital, you may fear that the real-world data won’t fully reach your target audience in a virtual meeting. This could be a perfect key piece to build your first digital communications on.
  • Go mobile: consider quick turnaround and mobile research solutions to gather quick, specific, and actionable customer insights. Mobile technologies lend themselves perfectly to test the stopping power of your content – which content, visuals and formats are best at grabbing attention. Consider a mobile, implicit-based research solution for fast actionable insights.

Final thoughts on multichannel pharma marketing strategy during disruption

Understanding your customer’s decision behavior is pivotal in building an effective multichannel marketing strategy – in “normal” times and in times of disruption. Collecting these insights on an ongoing basis will allow you to evolve, refine and keep up with the rapid changes in today’s digital world.

As experts in HCP decision behavior and a thorough understanding of specific therapeutic areas, we can help you mark the path to digital success. Our interactive (and virtual) workshop can help you find the right first communication to evolve into a strong digital piece. Our mobile-first research solutions can assist you in optimizing your current digital communications.

Contact us to learn more about how these approaches can help accelerate your online success.

Impact of digital healthcare on the patient experience

COVID-19-and-disrupted-consumer-decision-behaviorVisit our COVID-19 and Decision Behavior Disruption knowledge center for more content in this series.

We are sharing additional theories, best practices and tips on decision-making, eCommerce, innovation, and revenue management strategies.

Our goal is to provide inspiration, answers to common questions we’re receiving and help you navigate the new normal.