Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign1
While some industries are seemingly able to execute marketing communication strategies
with ease, it continues to prove elusive for many in the pharmaceutical industry. Developing,
executing, monitoring and analyzing a marketing plan can be challenging, especially when
leveraging information to accurately segment and target audiences through a variety of channels.
With a multitude of customer channel preferences, a growing list of stakeholders, tightening
budgets and increased customer expectations, the pressure of running successful marketing
campaigns has grown. Within the pharmaceutical industry, a greater emphasis is now being
placed on the quality of data, strategic planning and utilizing the full spectrum of marketing
channels to improve customer engagement levels and return on investment.
In addition to clear goals and a comprehensive strategy, the right tools and services are essential
for running effective direct marketing campaigns. These tools help you deliver specific messages
to targeted audiences at peak efficiency and effectively measure their outcomes. Fortunately, the
industry now has specialized technology and experienced providers that can deliver highly-targeted
campaigns and offer significant value.
This report examines the current state of marketing services within the pharmaceutical industry
and the available solutions that may help pharma push beyond traditional marketing efforts and
measure the impact of today's online and offline opportunities.
From analog to digital
Sales and marketing in the life sciences industry is almost unrecognizable compared to ten years
ago. Pharma companies once enjoyed a close working relationship with their sole concern – the
doctor. Sales reps were plentiful, and in addition to boots on the ground, low-cost mailers and
marketing materials sufficed for brand promotion.
Technology has made a tremendous impact on consumers and professionals alike, as access to digital
and mobile technologies have transformed the way we communicate. Although the proliferation
of new communication channels can complicate marketing efforts, it also affords us the ability to
quickly and easily evaluate the success of each campaign.
These times of change have also shifted the balance of power. As influence continues to spread
among payers, healthcare authorities, doctors and patients, it has become clear that a 'one size
fits all' approach to marketing is no longer sufficient. What works for a physician or payer in one
location may not be effective with their counterparts in another.
The pharmaceutical industry is evolving to address these changes, and is trying to take advantage of
the wealth of opportunity that the technological revolution brings. It is essential that they adopt a
marketing approach that helps them clear the hurdles presented by today's healthcare environment,
and deliver greater value from their multi-channel marketing efforts.
Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign3
THE NEW STAKEHOLDER LANDSCAPE
The stakeholder landscape has become far more complex in the face of increasing price and
regulatory pressures. The center of gravity has shifted, and where doctors were once at the center of
the pharmaceutical ecosystem, today’s model now encompasses regulators, healthcare authorities,
patient advocacy groups and doctors, all of whom play a vital role in reimbursement.
This interconnected environment has presented challenges for the pharmaceutical industry, as each
stakeholder has different priorities and goals:
• Payers and policy makers: The need to tighten belts and achieve more with less has
driven payers to the top of the stakeholder pyramid. Today, outcomes are a key priority for
healthcare systems around the globe, and due to the competitive nature of pricing policies,
these stakeholders are focused on data that will illustrate the true value of the brand.
• Healthcare authorities: Local and national healthcare authorities are playing a greater role
in the prescribing practices of physicians. Authorities are interested in results, although
given years of austerity, the pressures of price-effective outcomes are perhaps more acute
with this stakeholder.
• Physicians: Despite the many changes in the stakeholder landscape in recent years,
physicians are a key player. However, the demands made on these healthcare professionals
(HCPs) are on the rise, which makes them more time-poor than ever.
• Patient advocacy groups: Today's patients are more empowered and influential than ever
before. As austerity continues to tighten available healthcare funds, advocacy groups are
becoming more vigilant in the quest for improved quality of life and more practiced in
petitioning other decision makers for drug approval.
Evolution of the customer model coupled with the rise of mobile, data-driven technology has led
to a fundamental shift in the way we communicate with customers. Their attention is now divided
between online and offline channels, and customers engage with specific channels based on
In-person meetings remain highly valuable; however, the number of face-to-face meetings is
declining. By year-end 2014, the industry had seen a 25% decline in meetings, while digital channels
had grown by an impressive 32%. Traditional marketing channels including mailing and advertising
also saw slight rises in usage of 11% and 5% respectively, as per Figure 1 below.
This is the world in which pharma must operate. It illustrates that while not every channel is the
right fit for a marketing campaign, they must think strategically about the available options and
employ a healthy mix of channels, based on user preferences, to ensure a reasonable return on
Illustration of key channel usage during 2014 vs 2013
Source: IMS Health ChannelDynamics
ADVERTISING MAILING/OTHERS DIRECT TO CONSUMER
+5.0% +11.9% +19.7%
Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign5
WHICH CHANNELS ARE BEST?
Pharma’s investment in digital channels has grown significantly in recent years. In fact, industry
investment in digital channels grew by 40% from 2013 to Q2 2015, up to $2.3bn as seen in Figure 2.
Despite the increased investment, success has been varied. This inconsistency in return is not due to
a lack of strategic planning or digital channels not delivering on their promise. It's from the failure
to successfully integrate newer digital channels with more traditional offline marketing channels.
Creating a fully-formed and consistent cross-channel campaign is a complex exercise. Digital
is a powerful tool for communicating with customers, but it is important to remember that each
digital channel is distinct, should be evaluated on its own merits, and complement the traditional
marketing channels for a cross-channel mix.
Industry investment increase in digital channels from Q2 2013 to Q2 2015
Source: ChannelDynamics – Sales Force & Marketing Channel Performance Measurement (IMS Health)
MAT Q2 2013 MAT Q2 2014 MAT Q2 2015
The best channels for an effective marketing mix are the ones your customers prefer – whether it is
email, telephone, direct mail or website. Selecting the right mix is fairly simple when addressing a
small audience, but increases in complexity when addressing thousands. The key to success – whether
online or offline – is delivering targeted messages to a segmented customer base. Highly-targeted
content is the best way to ensure a better than average conversion rate, as it gives your audience the
information they want through their preferred channels and helps ensure your message is heard.
Complications arise when attempting to juggle too many channels and customer groups to maximize
your reach. Technology moves quickly, and marketers naturally feel the need to keep up. This can
lead to over-reaching, and delivering untargeted messages that resonate with no one. For digital
marketing strategies to provide ROI, a unifying system is needed that integrates all channels – both
digital and traditional offline.
• The key to a successful campaign is strategic planning of the message for each target
• A mix of both digital and offline channels should be employed to reach your target audiences.
• Deep integration of marketing channels is required for effective execution and reporting.
Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign7
The three pillars of a successful
For the most effective multi-stakeholder marketing approach, there are several stages and actions
required to ensure that all data gathered and all messages communicated meet a minimum criteria
in quality, and all marketing services are operating at peak efficiency:
1. STRATEGIC PLANNING
Defining realistic goals and cleansing and preparing your data are the keys to unifying your approach
and executing customer-specific campaigns.
The data currently in your possession needs to be properly cleaned and normalized. A single, unified
database works best to gain a clear picture of your market, your customers and your history with
them. Once gathered, the information needs to be properly analyzed and segmented. Here are a few
points to consider when deciding how to best segment your data:
• The desired audience(s) and audience profile (e.g. physician’s area of expertise, patient’s
level of activity, payer’s sphere of influence).
• The goals/objectives of those audiences.
• The preferred engagement channels (traditional vs digital/single channel vs multichannel)
of your audience.
• The best content/message format for those channels.
• Peak times to achieve maximum engagement from those channels.
2. CAMPAIGN EXECUTION
By adopting an approach that leverages a variety of marketing channels that can be centrally
controlled, many of the headaches of cross-platform marketing can be eliminated entirely. The key
to successful marketing campaigns is a unifying platform or partner through which your marketing
services can be implemented, monitored and finally reported.
The right external partner can manage the daunting task of campaign execution using an array
of tools and predefined channels to engage with your customers on their terms. By approaching
customers in a targeted fashion rather than through mass broadcasting, deeper relationships are
built with all stakeholders, strengthening their confidence in the brands.
The key is delivering the right message through the right channel to the right target at the right
time, utilizing a cross-channel approach with both traditional and digital assets.
3. MONITORING AND REPORTING
All operations should be monitored to increase ROI, effectively track performance, and optimize
budget allocation utilizing key performance indicators (KPIs) modeled around your business goals.
This can be achieved through response handling for traditional channels and evaluation reports for
digital. All performance metrics and results should subsequently be integrated into a single customer
relationship management (CRM) system, and all data crunched using advanced analytics.
Case study: High conversion
marketing on a budget
Our client wanted to utilize our robust HCP database, OneKey™, to organize their data and increase
impact with unvisited HCPs. The client operated on a tight budget and wanted to increase sales in a
Blending our expertise with the client, we used their allocated budget and historical customer data as
a starting point to define the best methodological approach to achieve their primary objective. In the
planning stages, we established that a multichannel approach including telemarketing, email, and
product sampling would work best to achieve the targeted ROI.
Working closely with the local IMS Health consulting team, we were able to identify the HCPs most
likely to respond to our client’s efforts using the same channels (digital profile). After targeting the
HCPs, we began a telemarketing campaign to recruit the HCPs. We then sent each HCP an email
reminding them of their participation in this campaign, and then followed up with samples and
information related to the product.
The second wave was executed after the HCPs received the reminder. The HCPs were contacted again
to answer a brief survey. At that time the HCP was presented with the next product, followed by the
same previous action.
Local Marketing Services teams were established to oversee each region and provide regular
At the end, we delivered a digital report based on the campaign results, with campaign KPIs, message
recall with promotional impact, prescription and sales comparison.
At the end of the four-month project, our client's sales to these targeted HCPs increased by 23%
(see Figure 3). Additionally, our client now has a list of high-potential HCPs who are likely to respond
to future digital and telemarketing channels.
Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign9
TO TARGETED HCPS
E-MAIL – ACTION RECALL
E-MAIL – ACTION RECALL
Multichannel campaign implementation
Through intelligent segmentation of data, a unified system integrating each channel, and centralized
reporting tools, our client was able to not only increase sales, but increase the value of their data too.
Critical success factors in this project can be summarized as:
1. A clear and well defined methodology providing a solid foundation.
2. Intelligent segmentation of data to identify the most appropriate HCPs based on historical
impact and engagement levels within the selected channels.
3. Providing tangible benefits to HCPs (materials, information and samples to share with
patients) and thus demonstrating value first.
4. Accurate feedback and results measurement, increasing the value of customer data and
providing demonstrable ROI to serve as a launch platform for future initiatives.
Local approach to marketing
Marketing is a varied discipline - one that pharmaceutical companies are becoming
increasingly dependent on. However, in Germany, where data protection laws are
particularly strict, multichannel marketing becomes not just a means to advertise,
but a means to generate leads in the first place. Holger Hellwig, Marketing Services
Director at IMS Health Deutschland, explains:
"You have to work within data protection laws, and they have an impact on
marketing campaigns. Crucially, physicians must opt in to receive communications
relating to your campaign, and so this is the first stage in any marketing strategy."It
is important that pharma executives in other territories take note – with far stricter
EU-wide legislation currently in the pipeline, this is a practice that other European
countries may have to familiarize themselves with sooner, rather than later.
Using online and offline methods of communication, IMS Health Deutschland
reaches out to physicians to obtain their consent, qualifying them for the digital
marketing campaign. Only once this step is completed, can the marketing messages
begin. But at this stage, German clients have a distinct advantage over their peers in
other geographies, "This is not only a legal requirement, but it works as a qualifying
measure," Holger says. "Because physicians have consciously opted in to your
campaign, engagement and conversion levels in turn are significantly higher than
To illustrate the difference an opt-in phase can make for a campaign, Holger shares
a recent example where his team worked for a client looking to market a therapy in a
rare disease area. Historically, drugs for rare diseases are difficult to market because
of their niche status. "The pre-qualification was a telephone campaign," Holger
says. "The end result was over 2,000 qualified hospitals, and 70 decision makers – all
opted in. It was a real success story for a company working in a rare disease area."
Yet as Holger points out, these advantages only come into play with the right
marketing partner, otherwise there might not be much more depth to your
marketing strategy than a few emails and phone calls. "There are companies
out there without the integration capabilities of an advanced marketing services
business. They'll send the emails, make the calls and then call it a day. They have
no platform for integration feedback, cross-channel engagement metrics, or
monitoring of offline and online channels in any meaningful way.
"The key is always in achieving that unity. Gathering the data – online and offline –
and making sense of it through analytics. Turning it from passive information into
meaningful insight, and then having the capability to act on it effectively."
Planning, executing, and monitoring: The three pillars of an effective marketing campaign11
Technology is fast-paced and constantly changing, and directly impacts how we interact,
communicate and find information. People are constantly searching for a variety of information,
which is what makes digital channels so powerful and important. Using technology to provide
services to organize and potentiate the available information in order to reach marketing objectives
is essential for successful marketing campaigns.
The ease of obtaining information and leveraging the available channels to interact with the
pharmaceutical industry stakeholders is not enough to carry out successful marketing campaigns.
It is essential to keep in mind the key success points to efficiently deliver the right message to the
right audience at the right time.
Utilizing the three pillars – Strategic Planning, Campaign Execution and Monitoring &
Reporting – can help ensure a successful marketing campaign. While setting the stage for a
campaign can be a daunting task, following these three pillars can make planning and executing
even the most complex campaign a simple exercise with a high ROI.
About the author
Marta is a Senior Offering Manager within the IMS Health Global Services division, specializing
in Marketing Services with both local and global experience and background in Sales, Marketing,
Consultancy and Business Development.
Marta also has experience in the pharmaceutical industry in companies such as AstraZeneca and Generis
(Portuguese company), where she launched new brands and introduced generics in the market.
Marta has a masters in Product Management from ISCTE, Lisbon, and a degree in Marketing from IADE,
Lisbon. She is based in Lisbon, Portugal.
Thank you to Holger Hellwig, Marketing Services Director at IMS Health Deutschland, for his
valuable contribution to the report. Thank you also, for the additional support, to Christopher
Wooden, Vishal Khanna, Marisa Farrajota and Portugal's Marketing Services team and Miguel Fino.
About IMS Health
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