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How can pharma bridge the digital gap?

Business pressures and customer needs are forcing pharma to pursue multichannel marketing approach

How can pharma bridge the digital gap?Pharma continues to make painful progress in digital productivity, according to the latest Across Health 2014 Multichannel Barometer survey. Data shows that investment in this area has plateaued to just 15.6 per cent of pharma's total marketing spend, compared to 16 per cent in 2013.

However, the report predicts that business pressures and customer needs will force pharma to focus on multichannel marketing in the next few years just as other industries, which already spend more than 20 per cent of their marketing budgets on digital, have done.

So, why is online engagement such a struggle for pharma? I believe the industry's continued reliance on its own websites, which were identified by the report as the 'most popular tactic', is largely responsible.

While many doctors are keen to access the knowledge and data that pharma holds, evidence shows that they want to do it in a trusted environment. Establishing credibility has always been a problem for pharma, hence its websites are not doctors' first port of call for information.

Indeed, research conducted for – the UK's largest and most active online network of doctors - shows only 3 per cent of doctors think that online pharma resources are credible and 42 per cent never visit pharmaceutical websites. 

So where are doctors going online and how should pharma respond? Manhattan's Taking the Pulse Research Europe 2012 report shows that 89 per cent of doctors use online doctor networks for professional information, while 53 per cent use message boards, communities, social networks and blogs at least monthly.

Rather than trying to 'push market' their products on their own websites, pharma needs to provide doctors with a variety of self-service medical information that they can access across a variety of channels as and when they need it.

Integrating promotional content with relevant and tailored educational resources, such as sponsored research papers, case studies and arm's length education, provided of course that they meet the ABPI Code, can help pharma to build credibility with doctors and 'pull' them towards their online content.  

Using such online resources to inform and enhance offline activity, including face to face sales rep visits and telereach, will also help pharma to ensure that it is leveraging the full potential of its digital spend and delivering real value to doctors.

Article by
Dr Tim Ringrose, CEO of M3 Europe

For more information on M3, the global provider of technology services in healthcare, and its new European Division which includes www.doctors.,, and www.networksinhealth .com, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Tim.

27th June 2014

From: Marketing, Healthcare



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