In the past, finding ways to increase digital marketing ROI in pharma was difficult due to regulatory uncertainty, but with FDA’s release of guidance and as customers are primarily interacting with brands through these channels, most executives understand the increasing importance of tracking these interactions. As digital marketing platforms are constantly evolving, marketing managers must scramble to tackle the daunting task of measuring ROI of digital marketing strategies across multiple platforms.
It is important to note that ROI of digital marketing in this industry may not be tangible in the sense that you will see a direct increase in sales for your product in the present (though there are exceptions). The importance of digital marketing in the pharmaceutical industry lies in building brand reputation and long-term sustainable growth as a company. Below we will discuss increasing campaign ROI:
How can we increase digital marketing ROI in the pharmaceutical industry?
The best digital marketing strategies involve a combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches. This is not a one-size-fits-all plan. Each organization already has specific business structure, platforms, and strategies in place, so the most effective metric system will not only utilize what already exists in the organization, but closely align with the desired outcome.
The fundamental question lies in how to measure something in a meaningful and applicable way so that it is possible to obtain actionable outcomes and data driven measures for continuous improvement.
Analytical capabilities to understand your customers:
- Identify your goals and what you are trying to measure (KPIs)
- Define your goals by assigning values to intangible assets for benchmarking purposes (turn qualitative data into quantitative values—think ECOG)
- Test & Track your campaign; monitor and analyze data
- Adjust and optimize spend towards digital marketing channels based on consumer habits
By following these steps, it becomes easy to distinguish between strategies that are working, strategies that need support to succeed, and strategies that should be eliminated to cut losses. Aligning spend with the former two of those options will increase your overall campaign ROI.
How do you put this into practice?
Here is an example:
A client could not figure out why there was no one signing up for their product when their site was generating 35,000 clicks per month from paid advertising.
1. Identify – here we want to increase conversion (sign up for product), so number of sign-ups will be the final number we look at.
2. Define – think of this process as a timeline and we’re working in reverse; what needs to happen before we can reach one person signing up? Target audience (person) needs to click on something (call to action) that then takes them to a site and if they like what they see they will sign up (conversion). Simply put we have three benchmarks:
- Delivery method
- Call to action
- Landing page/Conversion
3. Test & Track – we have three different benchmarks that each have different variables to be tested and all of this needs to be tracked along the way.
4. Adjust – after the testing and tracking stage we focus on the methods that are driving the most conversions
In this example, we use Google AdWords Search as our delivery method to drive our target audience to the site, but keep in mind different processes need to be implemented for Facebook, Twitter, a poster in a physician’s office, etc. When the lead arrives at the site they land at the second delivery: the video.
Because this is a different delivery method we need to implement a different but similar strategy. How can we test and track the video? As our client’s video was embedded, we decided to create a tracking tag in Google Tag Manager to track variables such as play, pause, watch to end, 25%, 50%, 75%, etc. to identify 1. how much of the video was being watched if any and 2. if it was leading to conversions.
It seems like a lot of work, but we see that it’s possible to consistently increase digital marketing ROI in pharma by allocating time and resources towards the most effective practices to achieve desired results rather than spreading marketing efforts thinly over an array of delivery methods.