Digital marketing and web strategy in pharma – case study series (transcript below)
Today we’re going to discuss digital marketing and web strategy of GSK’s Flonase and its’ entrance into a highly-saturated market. Flonase is a good example of a successful prescription drug to OTC transition, which is notoriously difficult to accomplish.
Flonase is used to treat allergies, so we thought it might be helpful to go over this in detail given the element of seasonality, which is something that we mentioned previously in our vaccine marketing webinar, but have yet to discuss.
Search density, timeline, and seasonality. How do these relate to digital marketing and web strategy in pharma?
We’ll start with the top left graph which shows the adjusted proportion of search density on Google from September 2013 to July 2017 and we see how seasonality will affect marketing of this product. Let’s concentrate on the dark blue line. From search results, we can infer that peak allergy season occurs around March and April with a smaller peak around August. Given this information, we know that it is important to be strategic with marketing and product launch.
The right-hand table shows raw data of the graph on the left. Sections are divided by year. The highlighted values show the maximum peak value for the entire year by search term. We evaluated search density for the terms allergies, Claritin, Flonase, and Flonase Contest. The values are adjusted between a scale of 1-100 where 100 signifies peak search density of the term. If we adjust all values for each search term, they can then be compared apples to apples. You’ll see us use similar approaches with our other analytical strategies as it’s more effective to compare data that has been standardized.
We can kind of think of this table as a timeline where key milestones are highlighted with the yellow tabs. The first event shows when Bayer acquired Claritin from Merck’s consumer goods division in May of 2014. Claritin is one of Flonase’s top competitors so they are included in this analysis. However, Claritin had a 12-year head-start in the allergy market as OTC Claritin was approved November 27, 2002 and GSK’s Flonase made the transition from Rx to OTC in July of 2014.
So then, you may be wondering how Flonase has become so successful despite entering a saturated market and though it did take some time, it was ultimately a function of smart and effective marketing. Again, we will only be examining their online campaigns, but keep in mind that they also launched multiple in-store promotions (Target, CVS, etc.), coupons, giveaways, network ads, and all of this in conjunction in a very concentrated amount of time. However, we will show you how digital marketing can enhance overall marketing strategy. Right after OTC approval is when GSK’s first Flonase ads began to appear on Google AdWords. Given the terms that they purchase we can estimate a monthly Google AdWords budget of 34.9K and spend of around 22.8K—more on this later.
Pharma social ad campaigns on Instagram
Search density and public interest continued to rise right up until their OTC launch February of 2015, which was of course, just in time for peak allergy season. In April of 2015, they launched their first social campaign that used the hashtag #BeGreater24, which we saw evidence of on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, given the parameters of the campaign and the fact that it required photo submissions to win money, we will only look at results from Instagram due to the nature of the social channel.
Instagram is highly visual, so these types of campaigns typically do very well on this platform. This was GSK’s first attempt at “influencer marketing” on Instagram for Flonase. The campaign itself did not have much of a theme other than “24 hours of being greater than allergies”, so they sought out accounts of normal people (photographers) with many followers. They chose six accounts which you can see listed on the chart here. Engagement – Public is the total amount of engagement seen on the photo posted by the influencer, Engagement – Brand is the total amount of engagement on Flonase’s brand account, and Total Engagement is the sum of the two.
It is obvious that engagement with the brand account is much lower than that of the influencer account. The public is not as receptive of advertisement coming directly from a brand as it is of someone else talking about a brand. If we look at the stats for percentage influence we can see that jermzlee was their top influencer for this campaign accounting for 76.8% of all engagement.
#FallOfFame was their next campaign launched in September 2015 in alignment with the second highest allergy peak for the year. This was their most successful social media campaign. What they did this time was appeal to those with pet allergies and they sought out influencers on Instagram with pets. This was a smart marketing effort on this channel because pet photos do well on Instagram. Though they could have further expanded reach with additional hashtags, it was a highly successful campaign regardless.
Pharma social ad campaigns on Facebook
As the brand became more established, they decided to stop these campaigns on Instagram and in 2016 launched their first Great American Road Trip (GART) sweepstakes. Though they did announce this on all platforms, this type of campaign typically does better on Facebook, so what we did was reverse track engagement and link shares on Facebook for the sweepstakes. In 2016, the engagement on Facebook was around 8,035, which is much greater than what we saw in 2017 because they posted about the sweepstakes three times compared to the one time in 2017. LinkedIn data is included to show that this is typically not the best channel for this type of campaign for this target audience.
We won’t be going into too much detail on this today, but did want to show you examples of Flonase’s most successful social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Do take some time to look at those and think about what you can do with your brand.
Google AdWords analysis for Flonase
In July of 2017 Flonase was showing a total of 261 paid keywords and in August this number doubled to 535. This shift was in large a push to counter customers searching for Bayer’s Afrin nasal spray amongst other nasal spray competitors. Here are a few examples of their top AdWords campaigns.
Their Spanish advertisements on Google AdWords are, in fact, their most popular keyword ads and this was due to a relatively recent digital push to target a Spanish market around September to October of 2016.
Flonase’s website is ranked very low for the term “allergies” because this is a very high-competition keyword (note: competition for allergies is noted as low because it refers to competition to purchase the keyword as it costs $6.01 per click). They will not be able to achieve similar results to what Abbvie was able to accomplish with Humira and rheumatoid arthritis. However, they are utilizing Google AdWords to drive awareness for a product which would have been invisible through search otherwise.
We’ve also provided some examples of Flonase display ads in different dimensions—these are generally associated with Google AdSense, which deserves its own case study.
Digital competitive strategy for pharma marketing
The purpose of this webinar was to give you a bit of insight into beginner-level digital competitive strategy for digital marketing of pharmaceuticals online. Though we only looked at OTC Flonase, these concepts can also be applied to prescription products. We see the power of historical data through the transparency of the web and especially for those looking to enter a saturated market. Why would you spend money on running your own test campaigns if you can gain insight from what has already been done and what is successful and either duplicate it or improve on it? Alternatively, this is a very effective way of finding out what has yet to be done and what opportunities remain untapped for this market.
Some social posts were deleted by influencers—deleted posts’ engagement numbers were estimated based on average engagement ratio; note: some influencers have since changed their social handles. All social data pulled on 09/06/2017. Feel free to contact us for the full report. Visit this post for more information on pharmaceutical social media marketing.