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Trends That Will Redefine Pharma Marketing In 2021, and Ahead The pharma sector suffered a crippling blow as the pandemic made its way to the world unannounced, forcing sales representatives off the road and blocking them indoors

By Dr Harshit Jain

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The year 2020 posed severe challenges to multiple businesses and unfolded multitude of opportunities for others. How did the year fare for pharma brands?

The pharma sector suffered a crippling blow as the pandemic made its way to the world unannounced, forcing sales representatives off the road and blocking them indoors. Marketers then turned to the medium which had been waiting to be explored to its full potential: digital, a channel long ignored.

The way digital made its presence felt to pharma marketers in 2020, it has become increasingly obvious that it is now here to stay and set to become an indispensable part of the overall marketing efforts. As we step into 2021, let us take a look at how digital marketing is going to shape next and which trends pharma markets should not miss to stay on top of their games.

Programmatic marketing

Reaching the precise target audience at scale while being able to trace the marketing spends has made programmatic marketing a lot valuable, making marketers embrace it in the digital space. COVID-19 not only held back sales reps, it also squeezed marketing budgets. And when pharma brands turned to digital to access physicians, programmatic media buying platforms turned out to be a cost-efficient option where manual interventions are almost nil. Nevertheless, the adoption of the programmatic marketing techniques and platforms is slow on account of regulations and transparency bottlenecks. This is going to change with programmatic players taking a deeper look at the apprehensions and doubts of the marketers and coming up with solutions that can redefine their relevance and value.

And the wheels are already rolling! There are platforms that are ensuring transparency with real-time AI-enabled dashboards to help gauge success metrics vis-a-vis their spends and insights about tweaking the campaigns to achieve better business outcomes. The platforms are also creating efficiencies by being regulatory compliant and adhering to HIPPA guidelines to boost confidence of marketers and make them adopt new-age digital technological solutions without being afraid.

AI & hyper personalization

Hyper personalization means better business outcomes, given the content HCPs receive is far more relevant and appropriate. To deliver such highly targeted content is only possible with artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged by real-time data. The days of mass marketing, though not over, looks numbered as physicians look up to more targeted information. Hyper personalization allows brands to engage them better and develop stronger, meaningful relationships. As per a recent Forrestor report, only 15 per cent of companies are using AI effectively to boost customer experience. Now, imagine its usage in the field of pharma marketing; it is miniscule. AI-backed hyper personalization provides amazing results and its advantages are being felt now. This offers huge scope for it to grow and marketers would sure be moving to such solutions for optimization and control. Clearly, the future of digital pharma marketing lies in hyper personalization, powered by cutting-edge AI-driven tools and technologies.

Optichannel approach

Tracking journey of physicians in the offline and online world is something pharma marketers are already doing to reach them at every touch point available. That is what omnichannel marketing precisely does. Having said that, the strategy only works best when physicians get the same experience throughout the journey while the brand messages stay contextual, meaning by they are developed basis the platform physicians are logged into. That's what optichannel strategy is all about—pin-pointed, more crisp, sharp and platform-centric messaging for a more personalized experience. AI plays a crucial role in achieving this level of personalization. When RoI depends upon engagement and the sheer power optichannel strategy has in improving engagement metrics, it will make fast inroads in pharma marketing in the days to come.

Integrated interface

This year was the year of remote healthcare. COVID-19 made even physicians switch to telehealth platforms to deliver care to patients, via phone, app or a website. Platforms offering care digitally saw exponential growth in the year that was marked with challenges for patients and physicians alike. COVID-19 gave a significant and desired push to telehealth platforms. This has created newer opportunities for pharma brands to market to them on digital domains. Players in the physician marketing space who offer a unified and integrated interface by bringing together digital point of care platforms ensure effective behaviour change of physicians, which is what pharma brands are ultimately looking for.

The scattered ecosystem doesn't favour pharma brands and working independently with them mean exhausting the energies on something that isn't the core for digital platforms. Integrated interfaces are the solution that serve the purposes of both, the pharma brands who can target physicians in the best possible way, and the digital platforms who can earn more revenue by monetizing their platforms while spending their energies on where they must—that is the focus area of their business and expertise.

Dr Harshit Jain

Founder and CEO, Doceree

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