The phrase “doctor’s orders” may not carry the same weight that it used to, as consumers increasingly conduct their own online research to learn about treatment options. Researchers found that medical-related searches are up 29% since mid-2015. Although 95% of consumers say their doctor is the most trusted source of medical information, 62% of patients say they would research a prescribed treatment online following a visit to the doctor and 53% would research an alternative treatment to the one prescribed by their doctor.
The ability to find out about medications and treatments online is empowering consumers—61% say they are likely to ask for a specific prescription medication by name. As more consumers become actively involved in treatment decisions, pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to reach them through sophisticated digital strategies. Here, we look at two successful techniques pharma companies are using to increase engagement with their brands.
Partnering With Online Information Sources
Consumers have a wealth of medial information at their fingertips. Government sites such as the FDA or CDC, consumer-centric websites like WebMD, and numerous patient education, advocacy, and non-profit organization websites offer access to an incredible amount of health data. But do they feel the information is trustworthy? Researchers found that 53% of consumers visit WebMD when seeking health information, ranking highest among online health resources, and 39% of consumers believe the information they find there is trustworthy. Government websites earned praise for trustworthiness, with more than half of respondents agreeing that the information they found on those websites to be factual—but only 34% of consumers visited government health websites. Advocacy websites were also believed to be credible information sources (59% trust advocacy group websites), but only 16% of all consumers actually visited those sites. Consumer motivation for visiting WebMD above government or advocacy sites appears to be ease of use. Almost 60% of consumers agreed that WebMD is consumer-friendly, as opposed to 29% who believed that government agency sites were easy to navigate. Brands that partnered with consumer-focused sites report an average ROI of 17%, suggesting that medical information websites offer an opportunity to reach a large segment of highly engaged healthcare consumers.
Social media has been an effective tool for pharma marketers when used to listen to consumers and interact on their terms while still maintaining FDA compliance. Sharing press releases on new drugs, devices, and clinical trial results, promoting major investments in charities, community service, and commitment to developing new and better treatments offer opportunities to communicate and build trust with consumers.
Social media communities for consumers and professionals can be a source of rich data for pharmaceutical brands. Creating patient support groups or professional discussion panels allow like-minded individuals to connect and share the benefits or issues with a particular treatment or product. Mining the information shared on these social groups can help to enhance consumer experience, inform research and development, and strengthen the connection to consumers.
Today’s patient is moving from a passive recipient to an active decision-maker—81% of consumers say they want an equal say in health care decisions with their care provider. Pharmaceutical companies that engage patients at every stage of the product lifestyle can create longer-lasting relationships and improve chances of success.
Learn how your brand can reach your key consumer at every touchpoint. Contact Women’s Marketing for a full evaluation of your media plan and discover how we can help your brand thrive.
Sources: Makovsky Health Search 2016, Key Trends & Innovative Activinties in Biopharma Digital Marketing; Best Practices, LLC, PWC Customer experience in the pharmaceutical sector: Getting closer to the patient 2013