While pharma continues to lag behind other industries in the transformation of leveraging digital into our ways of working and doing business [Adobe 2017 Digital Trends Report ], we are realising that digital marketing apparently can be cost-efficient according to many success stories at industry events..
So, the boss now wants more out of the same budget or less, and suggests you start using digital marketing instead of the more expensive traditional methods, in your marketing mix.
We know it can be cheaper compared to traditional marketing; however, can it be cheaper and effective? The answer is as you would expect, ‘it depends’.
Two key benefits to using digital marketing are that the results are much easier to measure and a digital campaign can/or could reach a massive audience. It is also possible to tailor a digital campaign to reach a targeted audience if you desire. Digital can be interactive and the interaction can be measured easily and often in real-time. This all makes it a cost effective option as opposed to the more traditional methods whose costs are a direct function of reach and frequency model – the bigger the reach and more frequency, the higher the proportional cost.
So we have to make choices driven by our strategy and our customers’ communication channels choices. The good news is that the digital helps to level the marketing playing somewhat. Big pharma brands with big marketing budgets do not necessarily mean better more effective campaigns. An impactful digital piece can get passed around very large global audiences within minutes at no extra cost to you.
A critical success factor is that you target customers who prefer digital communications or at least, some online communications, on your topic of interest. It is always more effective and efficient to go to their rpeferred channels with topics of interest to them rather than convince them to come to our selected channels.
According to the Adobe Report mentioned above, our industry is focused on seeking the touch-points of the customer journey and providing more content for the patients to make more choices themselves, versus just supplying Healthcare Professionals with scientific and product information, features and benefits. We no longer just provide a pill, but often pills with an interactive website, a self-management and tracking app, along with some health management coaching.
Now, for the other side of the equation: the costs to the business extend far beyond the campaign and digital assets development costs.
- Skills are needed to maximize the opportunities. Skill development is a high cost item rarely included in the ROI analysis. Until you you have developed or hired the required skills to work both effectively and efficiently, the cost of digital marketing is actually very high, often incurring large consultancy fees and even ineffective investments
- The investment in technology and analytics is also is a hidden cost to the business, and yet crucial to be effective in the digital space. Once you commence digital marketing, the amount of data you can track and receive can be overwhelming, and is of little value unless you can make sense of it and use it to drive your decision making.
- An internal lack of buy-in, misaligned culture and/or lack of process integration can be a large cost to the business through inefficiencies, lack of collaboration, time delays, process blocks and more. Ineffective activities, wasted investments, and market penalties can create a very crowded digital asset graveyard.
Ideally leadership will recognize the importance of the digital transformation and place the appropriate investment and support required for long-term success. However, part of the answer to managing these costs is to make more data driven choices and find economical synergies across brands and campaigns versus each brand team working with their own agency. In addition, consider fast small pilots to prove your activities are right before making a big investment in a complex campaign.
So, depending on your brand strategy and goals, you can start by launching your campaign on less, with a very focused approach that supports more traditional marketing. As your success grows, and your customers engage more online, you can harness the full potential of the digital space.
Comapring the cost of traditional marketing to a digital approach is never a straight comparison. It is more about what can you do with your strategy, the budget you have, and the channel preferences of your target audience. However, it will never be your budget size that gives you the marketing competitive advantage, it will be how customer insights have driven your strategy and marketing choices. Do not fall into the trap of creating what everyone else has; just everyone else has a website and an app, does not mean you need one!
If you are interested in our mobile learning solutions on digital channels, contact Actando.
The Actando Consulting Team