2598_Digital_Pharma_East_Recap_Blog_Image-049891-editedAs a member of the patient and consumer health team at ZS, I know that patients continue to expect easier access to better content. I was eager to hear how industry leaders were innovating to exceed those heightened expectations at the recent Digital Pharma East conference, which was held Oct. 16-19 in Philadelphia. 

After reflecting on the event, three key takeaways emerged that I believe are applicable to successful digital marketing:

1. Embrace authenticity. The perfect family holding hands walking along the beach or the couple riding horses into the sunset is not how (most) real patients see themselves. The desire for realness is even more pronounced in millennials. At the event, many speakers recounted how content curated or influenced by real patients presented alongside more realistic imagery garnered the best results.

Unsure where to start? One presenter shared the profound effect of searching Instagram for hashtags of a certain condition and brand, which helped him truly appreciate what patients experience. This ultimately led the company to partner with key patient influencers to raise awareness of a new unbranded campaign called “Us in Lupus.” The patients’ voices shined through in unscripted videos recorded on iPhones. Sharing the control of content creation can be nerve-wracking, but a few guardrails and a little coaching helped ensure that all content was approved by legal.

2. Keep it simple. One presenter hit on the disconnect between pharma and patients by showing a collage of pharmaceutical company websites proclaiming to be dedicated to patient centricity, even though less than 10% of U.S. consumers believe that companies value their health over profits, according to a 2017 Harris Poll. One of the most fundamental ways that companies can demonstrate patient centricity is by simplifying their content and the way that patients access it. One example that the presenter shared was a drop-down menu that’s front and center on a brand website homepage asking patients “Which statement best describes you?” or “Where are you in your journey?” to quickly direct them to the most relevant content. Two other strong examples included straightforward, interactive checklists for helping parents of children with a rare disease transition their children into adulthood, or allowing patients to check their eligibility for co-pay card programs by answering two simple questions.

3. Align on measurement. The parting advice from a digital marketing director was to ensure that you have an analytics and measurement plan in place before you sign any media contract. In one example, pre-established goals were essential to set expectations with management. Digital lead indicators like click-through rate and time on site were viewed as soft metrics, and many clients are moving toward closed-loop measurement, linking advertising exposure to real health outcomes. This enables marketers to quantify the business impact of their tactics and optimize media to where their target audience is consuming content and pursuing treatment. For example, demonstrating script lift from patients exposed to campaigns was an important metric.

No matter how good you might be at embracing authenticity or keeping things simple, the proof of marketing's impact will be in the data.

For more best practices on measuring the success of a campaign, check out Greg’s video from the Digital Pharma East conference.


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Topics: Pharma, Life Sciences, data, digital marketing, patient marketing, DTC, pharma marketing, direct-to-consumer marketing, DTC marketing, Digital Pharma East, marketing data