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Digital intelligence blog

Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools

Pharma's digital directions in 2014

Multi-channel marketing a priority, but mobile websites may be neglected

Digital Futures 2014 pharma marketing survey

For all the chatter that's been heard over the years about how pharmaceutical companies just don't 'get' digital marketing, one of the most striking results from our recent Digital Futures 2014 survey was how well-aligned company and individual priorities seem to be.

The online survey, run by PMLiVE publisher PMGroup in association with Havas Lynx, heard the views of nearly 250 people working in and for the pharma industry.

Among the questions were those that asked what aspects of digital marketing individuals would like to make more use of in 2014 and which ones they thought their company would focus on over the next 12 months.

Before analysing the responses I had expected to find individuals chomping at the bit to launch 'gamification' or 'quantified self' initiatives, along the lines of the sometimes innovative (but sometimes just buzzword-friendly) work that features in the Digital Intelligence blog.

And I did wonder if respondents would witheringly tell us that their company's top priority would be to build yet more product websites in 2014.

Instead, the top answers in both questions included multi-channel marketing, a well-worn phrase with a solid kernel of truth at its heart. What company wouldn't want to better integrate its different marketing efforts, despite the complexity of bringing all the potential strands of digital marketing activity alongside the more traditional elements of the marketing mix?

Multi-channel marketing's high showing in the survey also suggests pharma is moving from experimenting with digital marketing's more recent developments, like mobile and social, as 'digital' evermore embedded within pharma marketing.

The alignment between the digital marketing elements survey respondents wanted to make more use of in 2014 and those they expected their company to focus on didn't end there.

Four of the top five answers crossed over, with only social media use (respondents) and e-details (companies) not matching up. The only difference to note at this end of the scale was the extent to which respondents and their companies were expected to prioritise the different elements - respondents, for example, gave a higher weighting to mobile apps, which they ranked joint first as something they'd like to make more use of this year.

When it came to the areas of digital marketing that respondents said they were least interested in making more use of, online advertising, product websites, search, product websites and mobile websites were the five lowest scoring answers.

The last of those should be a surprise, given that a mobile web strategy was last year described as the latest commercial 'must have', according to web effectiveness consultants Bowen Craggs.

But a closer look at that the top ten pharma companies reveals that, while the numbers have been increasing over the past 12 months, only half of big pharma currently has a mobile website.

What would you like to make more use of in 2014?
What will your company focus on in 2014?
=1 Multi-channel marketing
=1 Multi-channel marketing
=1 Mobile (apps)
=1 E-details/tablet detailing
 2 Healthcare professional networks
2 Healthcare professional networks
3 Closed-loop marketing
3 Closed-loop marketing
4 Social media
4 Mobile (apps)

Digital Futures 2014 survey

The survey was hosted online at and ran for one month from December 4, 2013. During this time it attracted 236 respondents, among them executives from companies such as AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi and Teva.

Just under half (48.5 per cent) of respondents came from the pharma, biotech or medical devices sectors, with the rest mainly split evenly between consultancies and agencies. By region, 46 per cent of repondents were located in the UK, with strong representation from Europe (29 per cent), the US (9 per cent) and Asia (8 per cent).

The survey attracted a comparable split between those in senior management (19 per cent), marketing (23 per cent), and digital and communications (both 17 per cent). Nearly half of respondents had global responsibilities, with local or regional responsibilities each claimed by just over a quarter of respondents.

• See also:

J&J expected to make best use of digital in 2014

Pharma's social media priorities in 2014

Pharma's top digital challenge in 2014? Strategy

Full coverage of the survey, and related analysis, can be found in the Digital Futures section of the Digital Handbook


28th January 2014

From: Marketing



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