How Marketing Automation Helps the Pharmaceutical Industry

How does marketing automation help pharmaceutical businesses? These tools offer a huge range of benefits to just about every industry. According to the 2014 Mintigo State of the Marketing Technology Industry report, health and pharmaceuticals have one of the highest rates of adoption for marketing automation. As the industry evolves, and tools continue to allow processes to be automated, these adoption rates will likely continue to rise as well.

Globally, the pharmaceutical industry represents some of the most well-known brands across the globe. Every single one of these brands generate a large volume of messages showcasing a staggering number of products. Thanks to the rise of connectivity, the growth of omnichannel and the ever-increasing speed of internet, both locally in South Africa and further afield, patients have more access to information than ever before. Doctors and patients alike are bombarded with medications on a regular basis. In order for pharma companies to stand out, they need to be able to compete with many other brands, and reach doctors in the most effective ways possible. Although this sounds simple in theory, there are many challenges that make this anything but easy.

Unlike other industries, pharmaceutical marketers have little to no free reign. This industry is under global scrutiny, with strict guidelines, regulations and limitations imposed on them by numerous health and standards boards. What this means is that marketers within this industry need to be able to find a way to simplify their marketing efforts, so that they have time to focus on their messages.

What are some of the biggest marketing automation mistakes made by pharma businesses? And, more importantly, how can this industry ensure that they stay on message without going over budget?

Marketing Automation Mistakes That Pharmaceutical Businesses Should Avoid

First up, let’s have a look at some of the most commonly made mistakes made by pharmaceutical businesses when it comes to marketing automation. Some of the top mistakes to avoid if you are in pharma marketing include the following:

1. Failing to segment lists.

There is a reason that market segmentation is so successful. In the pharmaceutical industry, segments are seen as trade classes (for example, in-store pharmacy vs hospital), specialities (cardio vs neurology), or even product use intensity (high volume prescriptions vs low volume). Although this data can help, there are many other factors to consider when it comes to segmenting your lists. You may worry about being forced into a niche, but in reality, you may find that niches give you you have a far better result – especially if you break down your audience into unique segments based on behaviour as well as demographics.

Segments that you could consider include age, gender, disorders, health insurance, medicine usage, user status and loyalty, and even average spend. If you do realise that you have a niche, instead of worrying that it will ruin your chances of selling more product, you may find that you have more opportunity over a busy, non-defined market.

Download our Tip Sheet and learn how to maximise your segmentation efforts.

2. Failing to position products wisely.

What is wrong with a very broad market, you may be wondering? One of the biggest challenges when it comes to marketing automation and broad groups is that you have far less chance to personalise your messages and target the customers who are most likely to make a sale. Trying to promote products for broad use when they are better suited to a specific audience, such as diabetics, for instance, or asthma patients, will end up causing your campaigns to fizzle out or even die. This comes down to knowing where your product would be best used.

Wasting time and effort trying to promote products where you wish that they would be used is never a good idea. Unlike consumer products, pharma products are used according to a very specific clinical need, as well as an appropriateness. Doctors will always choose products according to this need and suitability. If you have a natural place in the market, this is where your products will sell. If you are trying to force a product onto a specific market when it is not a good fit, you will end up wasting your time and resources.

3. Failing to use lead scoring.

Lead scoring goes hand in hand with best practices in email marketing and mobile marketing. Some general rules of thumb that many businesses fail to remember include the fact that pushing the same messages on the same lists indefinitely will eventually get you blacklisted. Even if you are not trying to spam, failing to score your leads can result in messages being sent to those who are not primed to buy. It is also a mistake to assume that increasing your message frequency will warm up lukewarm leads. In fact, sending more messages to those who have not yet shown genuine interest may have the opposite effect.

This is why lead scoring is such an important part of your sales funnel. Ideally, you should be creating a funnel that takes your audience through a series of emails designed to target them at each phase. You may show doctors a brand new product in one email, and share the results of a clinical trial in another. You might include testimonials or reviews, or include a video or interactive mobile message. Many doctors have a specific range of medications used for the majority of patients. If your product is not on this set, reminders will not help. Taking a different approach, and focusing on benefits that may not be as widely known can be a more effective way to remind doctors that have adopted your product before. Doctors who have never used your product however will likely not respond. This is where lead scoring comes in… if you know which doctors are more likely to respond, you can focus your efforts on those who are more likely to convert.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Lead Scoring to get insight on how it works and how it can help your business.

4. Skipping over side effects.

Although not really directly related to marketing automation, it is a good idea to be careful of what not to automate. Side effects are a reality of pharmaceuticals that is unavoidable. Despite that fact that the majority of medications have side effects, many marketers fail to mention the more serious effects in their messages. If you are withholding information to try and hold on to sales, you may end up with a far more serious issue than reduced sales. In fact, providing accurate, realistic information can add more value in the long run. If you create an email and mobile marketing series that does not inform doctors and patients of side effects, you may find that the doctor in question will never order from your company again.

5. Not using automation at all.

Finally, it is also a mistake to not consider marketing automation at all. These tools offer a way for companies across all industries to strategise their marketing efforts, convert leads, perfect the sales cycle, improve customer service, build trust and reach more customers. Omnichannel tools that allow you to make full use of mobile, email, lead generation and other strategies has the best chance of helping you succeed online.

To learn more about our innovative marketing automation options for pharmaceutical businesses and every other industry, contact Grapevine today.

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