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Pharmaceuticals Target Direct-to-Consumer Marketing in '05

  |  December 22, 2004   |  Comments

E-mail marketing, patient support programs, and paid search among key ramp-ups in advertising spending.

With the pressure of product recalls and price wars mounting on pharmaceutical companies, building and retaining brand loyalty through direct-to-consumer online marketing will be a key concern in the sector in 2005, according to a JupiterResearch report.

"The key finding of this report is that there seems to be a shift in strategic focus in pharmaceutical online marketing," said Monique Levy, a JupiterResearch analyst covering healthcare. "While acquisition and retention both remain important, the Web has appeared to date best suited to driving new customers to drug trials. Pharmaceutical companies know this, and have achieved a certain mastery at it. Now, they are shifting their sights to adherence, which in marketing language means loyalty and retention."

The study found marketers will increase their 2005 budgets in the following direct-to-consumer tactics: email marketing (67 percent); patient support programs (58 percent); Web site redesign to improve usability (58 percent); content sponsorships/advertorials (58 percent); and paid search advertising (55 percent).

E-mail, the study found, is increasingly used to influence consumer behavior and retention online, rather than simply provide disease or product information.

For which of the following online marketing and advertising tactics directed at consumers do you plan to increase spending in 2005?
Tactic Percentage
E-mail marketing 67%
Patient support programs 58%
Web site redesign to improve usability 58%
Content sponsorships, advertorials 58%
Paid search advertising 55%
Banners 49%
Web site redesign for search engine optimization 46%
Rich media 39%
Web site search 36%
Pop-ups, pop-unders 9%
Source: 2004 JupiterResearch

Marketers are also making integration of their various online tactics a major goal in 2005. Among respondents to Jupiter's survey, 58 percent said integrating disparate online tactics is among the key challenges they face next year.

But the leading issue, highlighted by 61 percent of pharmaceutical marketers, is to leverage database-driven customer relationship management.

To successfully develop relationship marketing programs across multiple channels, Jupiter suggests marketers should closely consider three suggestions: hire outside marketing consultants; focus on consumers, rather than product life cycle; and improve efficient cooperation between legal and marketing departments, Levy said.

Online priorities for pharmaceuticals in 2004 were somewhat different. With a reported 62 percent of "pharma" marketers having increased their online budgets in 2004, the most widely invested in tactics for the year included: Web site redesign to improve usability (82 percent); banner ads (79 percent); Web site redesign for search engine optimization (76 percent); paid search advertising (67 percent); and content sponsorships/advertorials (64 percent).

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