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How can pharma capitalise on digital channels in 2014?

Working in partnership with online networks can help build credibility

Online physician communitiesStatistics show that, globally, the pharma industry spends only 15.3 per cent of its marketing budgets on digital (Across Health 2013), and most of this continues to be devoted to brand.com websites.

But as sales reps come under increased pressure and the cost of face-to-face engagement grows unsustainable beyond small numbers of high prescribers and key decision-makers or influencers, how can pharma harness the power of digital channels more effectively in 2014?

Evidence shows that doctors have fully embraced the digital world. For example data from Manhattan Research and Google shows the average US doctor spends 22 hours a week on the internet and makes about six online searches a day, mostly for professional purposes. A similar reliance on the internet is evident across Europe, including the UK where statistics show that GPs are more likely to go online to find information about a new product than ask a colleague.

Independent online networks, which now have around 3.5 million doctors signed up to them worldwide, have become a key source of information, education and peer to peer communication. With around 40,000 doctors logging on to Doctors.net.uk every day in the UK alone, working in partnership with this kind of network enables pharma to 'fish where the fish are'. It helps to build credibility too since doctors are far more likely to engage with industry information presented via a trusted third party channel.

Independent online networks can also help pharma to adopt a new kind of relationship with doctors by enabling them to better understand what doctors want and need, and tailor information and resources accordingly. For example, valuable data can be gathered via polls that gauge a quick view, or more formal tools such as surveys (both quantitative and qualitative). Accredited educational content can also be used to identify specific knowledge gaps either before the launch of a new brand, or in an established programme.

In addition to providing unique insights prior to launch, independent online networks can also be used to measure and evaluate programmes on an ongoing basis. Such measurement could vary from basic metrics, such as the number of page views, to deeper insights into how a campaign has been received. By monitoring programmes in this way, pharma can help to ensure they continue to meet doctors' needs; while insights and resources can be integrated into the multi-channel mix to deliver optimum impact and ROI.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Tim.Ringrose@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on Twitter: @doctors_net_uk

22nd January 2014

From: Marketing

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