Pharmaceutical marketing strategies | Smart Insights

Read up on our latest pharmaceutical marketing strategy recommendations to optimize your marketing plan and convert more customers over the next 12 months

Take stock heading into 2021 after what has been a challenging year for pharmaceutical marketers, healthcare, medical and high-science marketers, and all who work in the industry. The strategic evaluation and forecasting season that comes with year-end means many of you are scanning, benchmarking, and prioritizing to strengthen your pharmaceutical marketing strategies for the coming year.

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When getting ready for 2021, before even looking at your strategy it’s essential to revisit your planning framework. So, let’s quickly take a whistlestop tour of why the RACE Framework is the key to setting up your pharmaceutical marketing strategy for success.

Using the RACE Framework to plan your pharmaceutical marketing strategy

The RACE Framework is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. When planning your overall marketing strategies, ultimately, it’s about using a data-driven approach, applying web analytics and recommended best practices to get more commercial value from your investments in pharmaceutical marketing.

Core Module


Structure a plan using the RACE Planning framework

Part of the Digital marketing strategy and planning Toolkit

Learn how to structure a comprehensive omnichannel marketing plan, using the Smart Insights RACE planning framework

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In particular, the RACE Framework is crucial for marketing strategies as complex and nuanced as those in the field of pharma or healthcare marketing, where customer focus is imperative.

Amy Graham, Client Engagement Officer, Ogilvy Health, describes building a brand story for high-science therapy as like ‘weaving a fine tapestry, where all of the threads need to come together seamlessly to deliver the most compelling picture’.

In this case, each of your digital channels sits within your marketing strategy, which I suppose makes us marketers the weavers of the story! But, how can you manage and optimize your channels to work together and convert more customers? That’s where the RACE Framework can help us:

The Race Framework

To deliver a compelling picture – and, more importantly, to convert your customers – you can plan your pharmaceutical marketing strategy around the RACE Framework of:

  • Reach (search engines, social networks, publishers and blogs)
  • Act (your website, blog, community and interactive tools)
  • Convert (e-commerce, product, price and promotion)
  • Engage (customer advocacy)
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RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path

Part of the Marketing strategy and planning Toolkit

Learn how to create and implement an integrated omnichannel marketing plan

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The 3 recommendations outlined below all stem from RACE, and each recommendation references a module from the appropriate Learning Path, providing a step-by-step process that you can rapidly implement to get set for success.

1) Unleash Digital Transformation to add value to your customer experience

Sheila Curr in Customer Strategist discusses What Healthcare CX Looks Like in a New Reality from the point of view of a ‘bricks and mortar’ healthcare provider gone digital.

Talking about Digital Transformation in healthcare, pharma, high-science or medical marketing is a very hot topic, and no doubt your competitor analysis is telling you the same. What’s really exciting about Sheila’s quote is the scope of the rapid transformation that has taken place in the industry and the opportunities that presents to us as marketers.

“We are currently talking to all of our customers as far as what their roadmap looks like. And it is changing on a daily basis as we moved all of our clients to work at home, and we literally emptied out our call centers and our brick and mortar sites.

Our thought was there will be a period of time in that we would have them at work at home and the clients’ expectation would be, “Okay, let’s get back into brick and mortar.”

There’s been a few of our clients who have already talked about when do we start the thought process around bringing it back in house. But I would say the vast majority have gone the other way, they’re asking us to build out plans for bringing their business potentially 100% work at home ongoing.”

With healthcare and pharma touchpoints rapidly transforming, there is an opportunity for marketers to refresh the digital elements of their marketing strategies to reap benefits. This is not simply a matter of replicating customer experience touchpoints from a marketing perspective, but a question of evaluating and prioritizing opportunities to add value with digital marketing.

Our Digital Transformation Learning Path outlines 4 strategic digital priorities to improve customer experience:

  • Media strategy: Paid, owned and earned digital media, which are used to gain an always-on pharma presence and support specific pharma campaign activity
  • Digital experience strategy: For creating a pharma platform to support selling on desktop and mobile
  • People resources: For implementing your pharmaceutical marketing strategies
  • Governance: Controls on the process and measurement for integrating digital marketing and traditional marketing, as well as sales processes, into your strategy

The graphic below demonstrates the strategic digital marketing initiatives scoring matrix, which Business Professional users can implement to define digital priorities.

Pharmaceutical Marketing Strategy Priorities

Core Module


Select strategic digital priorities

Part of the Managing digital marketing transformation Toolkit

Learn how to define a digital strategy to meet your goals by reviewing alternative strategic priorities and selecting those that are most appropriate.

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2) Build trust through customer-centric content marketing

Content marketing is your go-to pharmaceutical marketing channel for building trust in your reputation – for both customers and the algorithms that determine your SEO rankings.

If content marketing is successful, it can boost your goals in all parts of your pharmaceutical marketing funnel at each part of the RACE Framework:

  • Reach: Pharma content marketing boosts your reach by arming you with share-worthy content to increase awareness and high-ranking positions in search engines
  • Act: Good quality pharma content encourages customers to act for their own benefit, such as by signing up to a pharma-related newsletter to receive more pharma content
  • Convert: The pharma content on your website plays a pivotal role in online and ROPO conversions and sales
  • Engagement: Investing in useful, customer-centric pharma content for customer engagement increases your retention and repeat sales (saving you money on Reach, Act and Convert in the future). Engaged, retained customers breed advocacy, which in turn influences more future customers

Producing high-quality content will also build your reputation as a pharmaceutical company your customers can trust, which, according to Edelman’s annual trust barometer, must remain a priority for all pharmaceutical marketers.

Trust Pharmaceutical Industry

Matching high-quality customer-centric content on your pharmaceutical website with your customer’s search behaviour will also enable you to build a strong SEO foundation to grow and maintain relevant traffic.

Core Module


Understanding consumer keyword search behaviour​

Part of the Digital experience management Toolkit

Learn about consumer search behaviour in relation to keywords and keyphrases

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3) Apply the right media attribution and modelling to your marketing reporting

Finally, you’ve implemented your plan, you’re managing your strategy, and you start seeing results – congratulations! But, when a sale or a lead is generated, do you know how much credit you should assign to different marketing channels when achieving an objective?

We know that pharmaceutical marketing strategies are particularly complex, this means media attribution and modelling in this industry are more important than ever. When you’re prioritizing and planning for 2021, make sure you use this recommendation to inform your data-driven strategies. Welcome to attribution!

Pharma Strategic Model Attribution

Pharmaceutical marketing is naturally an extremely customer-focused industry, but depending on their purchase behaviour, or your investment in digital media, your pharma customers may go through many purchase steps and see multiple marketing messages before they decide to buy from you. So how do you attribute value to your channels?

The Multi-Channel Funnel in Google Analytics allows you to attribute marketing value by:

  • Last interaction
  • Last non-direct click
  • Last Google Ads click
  • First interaction
  • Linear
  • Time decay
  • Position based

Last Interaction Pharmaceutical Strategies

As you can see, media attribution is a crucial strategic tool for all pharmaceutical marketers, since well-developed strategies will regularly track conversions from a number of different digital channels.

You can learn more about this strategic recommendation, including accessing a step-by-step process to put it into place in our Google Analytics Learning Path.

Advanced Module


Media attribution and modelling

Part of the Google Analytics Toolkit

Learn how to use Google Analytics to review the relative effectiveness of different media channels in achieving goals for a website

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Implementation to strengthen your pharmaceutical marketing strategies in 2021

In conclusion, digital marketing offers unprecedented opportunities for pharma, healthcare, high-science and medical marketers. These 3 recommendations will strengthen your strategy so you can keep converting customers in the face of increasing competition and challenging market conditions.


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