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online research for pharma

For pharma (and for all businesses) the internet continues to change the business environment. Social media platform adoption has also allowed for new business opportunities; to gain unique insights into consumer behavior, attitudes, and beliefs that drive their decisions. Online research is an ever evolving field.

 

question 1: so, what is online research?

as described by What is Online Research. Using the Internet for Social Science Research by Tristram Hooley, Jane Wellens, John Marriott

  • online research methodologies describe the approaches that researchers take rather than the tools that they use
  • it begins from the question of how do researchers find out about and make sense of the social world, and pursues that question in the context of the online environment
  • online research methods describe an approach to finding out about people and the social world they inhabit, by using the internet
  • many of the online research methods are really traditional research methodologies that we are familiar with in market research and they have only been modified and repurposed to fit the needs of the internet

 

question 2: some specific types / examples of online research methods include?

  • cyber ethnography
  • online content analysis
  • online focus groups
  • online interviews
  • online qualitative research
  • online questionnaires
  • social network analysis
  • web-based experiments
  • online clinical trials

 

question 3: how can pharma use these online research methods towards strategic planning?

  • brand reputation
  • gaining meaningful insights into health care professionals, payer, patient and consumer behavior and beliefs

 

question 4: what are some ethical and legal aspects for pharma to keep in mind?

principles of research ethics and ethical treatment of persons are codified in a number of policies and accepted documents, such as the

At their core, the basic tenets shared by these policies include the fundamental rights of human dignity, autonomy, protection, safety, maximization of benefits and minimization of harms, or, in the most recent accepted phrasing, respect for persons, justice, and beneficence.

  • copyright
  • intellectual property
  • data ownership
  • transfer & storage
  • potentially operating in other or multi jurisdictions, for example when online research is international
  • contractual terms of service (TOS) to which online participants agree when they sign up to, for example to social media platforms
  • identification of adverse drug reactions (ADR) and proper reporting is important for drug safety surveillance

 

question 5: do online methods substitute the traditional research methods?

  • one does not substitute the other
  • consider during the development and decision of methodologies as whether online and onsite experiments can be combined
  • online research may be not appropriate for all research questions, for example, the elderly population
  • consider cross referencing, for example, are there any differences between online versus offline behaviors of individuals?

 

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pharma marketing to millennials

Every generation is different. Millennials have different buying habits and different priorities than Baby Boomers and Generation X. This means companies need to adapt and change their marketing strategies. This goes for pharma too.

question 1: Should pharma be marketing to Millennials?

  • Yes
  • Millennials are now the largest generation in the United States and have surpassed Baby Boomers
  • Definition of Millennials those aged 18 – 34 in 2015

question 2: How are Millennials different than Baby Boomers and Generation X?

  • They are born digital or are digital natives
  • Their priorities are different
  • They care about health and overall wellness
  • They are more likely to use urgent care or walk-in clinics; this is more convenient and quicker
  • Smartphones and social media are the platforms they use to communicate and share information
  • Medicines are important, but they do not like the high prescription prices of medicines
  • They use health and fitness apps and Bluetooth devices to track progress at a rate higher than any generation

 

question 3: Is it a target audience for pharma?

  • Not considered a target audience for pharma, but it is a large audience and they do have an impact in healthcare because of their presence on social media
  • Millennials are tech savvy and help their parents and grandparents to navigate the social media platforms and also search for information

 

question 4: Which priorities should pharma keep in mind when marketing to Millennials?

  • Pharma needs to show empathy – do not just talk about your brand show value that goes beyond the pill or product
  • Pharma needs to be authentic, Millennials do not mind advertising but they do not like it if it is fake and false
  • Millennials want to be engaged with pharma not talked to (this might be the biggest hurdle for pharma)
    • Millennials want conversation and are looking for answers/solutions through technology
    • Excellent customer experience that allows for personalization and engagement options, including the ability to have a one to one conversation where questions can be asked and get honest answers in return

 

question 5: How can pharma engage with Millennials on social media?

  • Forget the traditional marketing mix that pharma has relied on for years
  • Create a sense of community, connection, inspiration, and convenience
  • Remember it is not about your pharma needs but about their needs

 

 

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people are now the media, pharma needs to adapt

Social media platforms have changed our way of communicating. We now live in a society of conversation and empowerment versus what was once a push of information. How can pharma adapt to a world where people are now the media?

question 1: what do we mean by the people are the media?

  • people control the narrative
  • people control the conversation
  • brands need to earn their place in the conversation

question 2: what role do the consumers play in this?

  • people are no longer passive
  • people today can create and contribute and even brand themselves
  • people can contribute with ideas
  • people can either block or share ads
  • people today relate to values and concerns of citizens

question 3: what role do platforms play in this?

  • technology and platforms enables everyone to become producers
  • it allows for people to share or block ads
  • it allows for crowdsourcing – ideas can come from anywhere
  • platforms are easy and free to access

question 4: what role could pharma play in this?

  • people are looking for a solution to problems, pharma can play an active role in solving someone’s problems
  • pharma can make a relationship with customers which is becoming a core competency of every brand

question 5: how can pharma adapt to this?

  • pharma has a huge opportunity to speak to people, not at people
  • pharma can be a part to solve problems, advertising does not solve problems
  • pharma needs to understand transparency is the new mandate, people hold brands accountable
  • pharma needs to stay ahead of the learning curve in understanding tools and platforms
  • pharma needs to be aware transformation may take time and their own bureaucracies may slow the evolution
  • pharma needs to invest in monitoring and measuring communications
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pharma getting creative with content

Creating creative content is key to driving readers and engaging with your audience. How can pharma get creative with content?

question 1: why does pharma need to work on its creative content?

  • creative content is what makes readers come and read your content and also engage with your content
  • companies are getting more sophisticated in their approach to content marketing
  • need to branch out from standard TV advertisement, we do not live in a push information society anymore
  • you need to work hard to engage with people

question 2: what are some common ways pharma is killing creative content?

  • continue to have the *we are different*, *we cannot do that here* approach
  • widespread belief that creativity does not belong in pharma
  • people are frightened to try new things
  • being risk-adverse

question 3: what are some of the biggest obstacles in pharma to becoming more creative?

  • internal approval processes makes it very hard to get work through
  • yes there are limitations but pharma can try harder to be creative (look at examples like alcohol companies and financial institutions)
  • creativity means taking risks, pharma is very risk-adverse
  • creativity seems to be hard to define and quantify

question 4: how can pharma create a culture of creativity?

  • start learning from other business sectors
  • pharma needs to change their attitude towards risk, from avoiding mistakes to taking a chance on success
  • do social listening so that you understand your audience
  • get your approval process in place and to approve quickly if something should come up so you don’t miss the opportunity

question 5: pharma content seems to cover similar topics, so how can each pharma company make theirs stand out from the rest?

  • people love beautiful images or photos
  • great videos, not long, are also captivating
  • get your employees to write content, they are experts in their field
  • get away from traditional PR press release messages, too boring, people want to see content that is fresh and trendy
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pharmaceutical content writing: getting your employees to write for you

 

Great content is what drives visitors to your website or blog and producing great content takes time and needs to be consistent. Pharmaceutical companies tend to be very large organizations with many employees. Just think if each employee could produce one blog post you would be set for the next year and beyond and budget wise probably have spent next to nothing.

question 1: why implement a culture of content writing in your pharmaceutical company?

  • no one knows your product better than your own employees
  • it allows for new insights: employees give unique insights, think of client interaction
  • it allows for a diversity of thought and subject matter
  • do not forget content creators are a critical and vital part of your website or blog & it allows to produce as much content as possible

question 2: so what needs to be in place?

  • good starting point would be to have in place a blog editor
  • start in small steps, for example, get customer facing employees to contribute (for example sales) they  have more client interaction than anyone else in the company
  • create an in-house blogging program or a blogging group:
    • excellent writers that collaborate on writing blog posts, will add content much faster
    • blogging group allows for a place to collect ideas and share learning experiences
    • blogging group allows for understanding metrics on how past post(s) performed and to plan better for the future

question 3: how do you encourage employees to write content?

  • your employees may feel uncomfortable about writing because they are not writers & this is where the blog editor or blogging group can come into play
  • an alternative could be to have content writers interview employees and use the information gained to create great content
  • make it easy for them, give your employees templates or outlines in order for them to get started
  • in the end, there is something exciting about seeing your name next to content on the web, a video, an e-paper or an e-book
  • thank them for contributing
  • convincing coworkers to contribute to blog writing is an ongoing effort

question 4: what kind of incentives can you use?

  • measure success of their content, use metrics and analytics, share these results, this gives them encouragement
  • view this as an opportunity, contributing to a company blog, also gives employees the opportunity to build up their own authority
  • it gives more meaning to their role, they will feel more of a sense of accomplishment
  • should it be made mandatory? no. An option could be to write at least one post per quarter or if your company is large one post per year

question 5: should you get your CEO to help in content writing?

  • Yes, there is something unique about content coming from a CEO, today people want to see the human face of a company
  • besides when employees sense that management is not really *in it* then employees are not truly invested
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pharmaceutical-sponsored clinical trials and recruitment through social media

In occasion of clinical trials awareness week #CTAW2017 I ask myself how can pharmaceutical companies use social media to increase awareness of and participation in pharmaceutical-sponsored clinical trials.

question 1: why use social media to recruit patients in the first place?

  • clinical trials were the second largest category after about support and prevention to be discussed online
  • patients today are more empowered, more informed and more demanding
  • there is a lack of awareness among patient and physicians that clinical trials are available
  • competition for patient recruitment is fierce
  • there is motivation to look into novel methods to recruit potentially eligible individuals in clinical trials
  • social media has the ability to narrow target audience of interest
  • social media serve as a promising solution to improve the public awareness and to support the recruitment

question 2: is there an opportunity to increase pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials recruitment through social media?

  • the internet and social media provides an inexpensive and free access to potential research participants
  • social media is more cost effective when compared to other advertising channels
  • social media has the potential to work with traditional methods to increase awareness of clinical trials
  • online health patient communities and patient advocacy groups often have a very active social media presence
  • orphan indications have patients advocacy groups that are very engaged

question 3: how can pharma partner with online communities to raise awareness of clinical trials and enrollment?

  • twitter chats provide an excellent means of networking and disseminating information on clinical trials
  • do not state what type of patients you are looking for on social media / better to link web page where patients can get further details and information or direct patients to a call center
  • it is critical to protecting patient information at all times: HIPAA and privacy
  • consider your audience:
    • younger audiences tend to use Twitter / Instagram
    • Facebook, Google AdWords, and trial websites reach 30-50 year olds

question 4: what are some of the challenges for pharma of social media engagement in recruiting patients in clinical trial participation?

  • Internal Review Board (ethics committee) approval is needed / same rules apply as for traditional information to patients regarding clinical trial participation
  • pharma needs to make sure how information will be shared during the recruitment
  • geography needs to be taken into account: where is the clinical trial located
  • is the clinical site in a remote location or area with limited internet access, or limited social media adoption
  • difficult to reach low-income areas may be left out
  • remember many may not have a smartphone, people also use free access such as libraries for internet access
  • patients sharing information or their experiences about participating in a clinical trial, this could endanger the integrity of a clinical trial

question 5: what should pharma consider when rolling out an e-recruiting campaign online?

  • know the regulations:
    • FDA guidance documents on social media use / same regulations that apply to other forms of patient recruitment like TV ads and print material applies to use of social media
    • Institutional Review Boards respect to privacy and non-coercive content
    • regulatory approval of social media recruitment portals
  • have a social media recruitment strategy in place
  • understand the pros and cons of the various social media platforms and where your audience is
  • stay up to date on the trends of social media usage and troubleshooting
  • generate social media visibility, going from just posting information to more call to action focused on driving patient referrals
  • using organic versus sponsored posts
  • company accounts versus third party, which do you use
  • medical language versus lay language
  • when designing clinical trials take into account patients use of social media
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pharma building your global content marketing team

This post is an inspiration from a #contentchat held March 20, 2017, with Pam Didner (@PamDidner) and Erika Heald (@SFerika) on Building a Global Content Marketing Team. My focus here will be on pharma and building a global content marketing team.

question 1:  why a global content marketing team for pharma?

  • global pharmaceutical companies have already in place a headquarter and/or global, regional and country structure and mindset
  • having in place global content marketing makes it easier for alignment of business goals between headquarters and/or global, regions and countries
  • often regions or country level have no content marketing team
  • often regions or country level lack ownership of content marketing team
  • often regions or country level budget is embedded in different groups
  • often regions or country level content marketing does not have senior management buy-in

 

question 2: what are some of the challenges a global content marketing team may face?

  • global content marketing team need to be aware of cultural relevancy
  • global content marketing teams should be aware of operational challenges for example:
    • issues with resources, both headcount, and budget
    • people who leave the company
    • new hires or agencies coming on board
    • internal processes that slow down the process or plan
  • global content marketing teams should also be aware of local market regulatory restrictions
  • global content marketing teams need to understand and study the networks local audience is using within each country
  • global content marketing teams and countries need to reach an agreement on the personas to target
 
 

question 3: how do you get started in globalizing your content marketing strategy?

  • start with auditing current regional and country specific content, how effective is it?
  • develop a content marketing plan and discuss with countries how content will be utilized and distributed, KPIs and feedback back to global content planning
  • establish an internal communication process so that everyone is aligned
  • agree or reach a consensus on personas to target based on local behaviors and prescribing habits
  • study and understand the networks the audience is using within each country
 
 

question 4: What are some considerations can increase your chances of success in a global content marketing team?

  • establish a clear internal communication strategy that will help to convey the same message across all geographies
  • establish local editorial boards in each country or region in order to manage proper planning and distribution:
    • local editorial boards should consist of medical, marketing, legal, regulatory, digital marketing, content marketing
  • educate your regional and/or country stakeholders:
    • global or regional product team meetings could be an occasion to educate everyone on the content marketing
  • provide documents with do’s and don’ts
  • some of the critical operational challenges you could encounter:
    • issues with resources, people who leave, new hires or agencies coming on board,
    • internal approval processes that tend to slow down the plan
  • increase internal awareness of content marketing through documentation, list all new content created globally and provide continuous visibility on the editorial plan, this will also help for budget and headcount discussions
 
 

question 5: what are some considerations to keep in mind when repurposing global content?

  • consider creating content centrally and allowing countries to adapt locally

Common Sense Advisory Study

72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language

72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language

56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price

  • consider content topics broad enough to allow for freedom to produce different subtopics or create interesting campaigns
  • consider launching pilots and learn from successes and mistakes:
    • get feedback from your audience on your content
    • identify KPIs to evaluate the pilots: blog (landing page) views, engagement, downloads, conversion rates, leads

 

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Can pharma create customer experience content?

 

Can pharma go from just sharing content to creating customer experience content?

question 1: we are living in an age of customer experience. what do we mean by customer experience?

Forrester defines customer experience as *How customers perceive their interactions with your company*

From a customer’s perspective it must be:
useful – deliver value
usable – easy to find and engage with
enjoyable – emotionally engaging and people want to share or engage with

Forrester customer experience professionals
According to Gartner customer experience is *the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and this increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.*

question 2: what type of content creates that customer experience?

  • you have to care enough about the customer and be interested enough to understand their pain points, motivations, needs and wants
  • listen to your customers and take what you have learned and create the content that will meet their needs
  • create content that is compelling and enticing enough for the reader to cause them to take action
  • remember consumers are no longer passive players in treatment selection and usage they have unique expectations and demands
  • healthcare customers are more self-empowered today, they are more proactive and can educate themselves thoroughly before each purchase or decisions
  • measurement:
    • what was the quality of the customer experience?
    • how did your customer experience efforts affect sales?
    • does it solve a problem? or is it a resource? or is it information?
  • governance:
    • cross-functional collaboration is needed between marketing, medical, legal, IT, call centers, sales, and management
    • sorry but speaking directly to patients via direct-to-consumer marketing is not customer experience
    • in the end, good content experiences lead to good feelings about brands

question 3: how can pharma make the shift?

  • pharma is heavily regulated and it crushes ideas without even thinking, this mindset needs to change
  • pharma needs to start employing people with customer experience knowledge and skills
  • forget the company focus on the drugs
  • learn from retail
  • don’t do it all once, pick a market, a drug, some good people, start investing, tolerate mistakes and go slow
  • be creative with both content and formats, get followers to create content for you

question 4: customer experience content and its role in the customer journey?

  • every phase of the customer journey creates the customer experience
  • you need to plan for the entire customer life cycle and not just for the prescription

anatomy of an experience map here is an example from Adaptive Path for Rail Europe 

 

question 5: how can pharma stand out?

  • do not become deaf to the real voices of real customers, know your target audience and what they want to see
  • do a content inventory and audit, what content do you have and how is it performing
  • new product updates or sales or too much vanity are the surest way to turn people off
  • remember to customize your social content based on social channels
  • always ask your customer what kind of content do they want to see, encourage them to create content and spread the word for you, User Generated Content
  • make sure your sales and customer service teams know about your content and how they can use them – this exposes your content to your customer facing people

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Is pharma spending too much money on the wrong content?

 

When I look at some of the content pharma puts out I often wonder are they spending too much money on the wrong content?

question 1: how much is the right amount of content for pharma?

  • the focus should be on quality rather than quantity
  • is pharma investing necessary resources in creating content or just moving further content down the priority list
  • readers start to experience content fatigue as brands pump out more and more low-quality content
  • creating original content, posting and engaging is the driving force

question 2: what type of content is good content?

  • first who is your audience, pay attention to the conversation taking place online
  • second write content for your audience:
    • good content is content that speaks to the person – not what you want to say
    • good content encourages interaction and engagement
  • too much self-promotion – is not good

 

question 3: what is more important content creation or content distribution?

  • content is king, but great content is critical to success and to building your community
  • experimenting with content is important
  • learn to measure what kind of content works
  • what drives your community – social listening can help you build your content
  • planning and adapting great content to your platform(s) is just as important
  • please no* I want this to go viral* requests

question 4: should pharma have in place a content marketing budget?

  • yes, but before putting a budget together pharma needs to identify first which content needs to be created, for which audiences and which platforms
  • 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing. (Curata)
  • what to include:
    • strategy
    • topics
    • content calendar
    • SEO optimization of your content
    • content development (writing, images, videos)
    • content distribution
    • measurement

question 5: should pharma create a content marketing team in house?

  • first pharma needs to understand how are they going to approach content marketing
  • managing content means being creative, developing, distributing, measuring, seeing what works and what does not work
  • if you do plan to have a content marketing team in house:
    • have a solid strategy supported by roles
    • get the right people in the right roles
  • keep in mind:
    • agency – can be very expensive
    • in house – less expensive, you develop your own strategy and build expertise
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Should Pharma attempt producing their own podcasts?

 

Changing times also brings a need to adapt and be creative. That is why podcasting can be an excellent source of content for pharm.

question 1: what basic things does pharma need to know about podcasting?

 there are many benefits to podcasts:
  • a podcast is relatively easy to produce
  • it allows the audience to listen while doing other things, alias multitasking
  • podcasts allow for easy listening instead of reading content all the time
  • it can be a powerful marketing tool

but also need to make sure you have:

  • the right equipment to record quality podcasts
  • distribute on multiple channels in order to reach a broader audience

question 2: how can podcasting add to pharma’s traditional marketing plan?

  • podcasts allow for easy listening instead of reading content all the time
  • it can be an alternative to video
  • podcasts can help you reach new audiences
  • podcasts can be added to a traditional email campaign
  • podcasts can be highly engaging
  • podcasts can be listened to on demand, while in the car, working out, in an airplane
  • podcasts provides a format for sharing your expertise in your industry
  • podcasts helps you to stand out in the super-competitive online market

question 3: what topics would work well for pharma in podcasting?

 sharing information about:
  • clinical trials
  • disease awareness
  • policy issues
  • industry research
  • drug mechanisms
  • company information, financial and corporate
  • general information related to the industry or sector

question 4: how can pharma assure consistent followers or listeners?

consistency is critical:
  • although there are no rules, listeners like to know what to expect
  • a consistent posting schedule is super important for podcasts, think of it like a TV program certain day certain time

familiarity and structure are good:

  • have guests, which can be more interesting than just one person talking
  • have no guests
  • have more than one guest, more hosts means more ideas and content
  • get your CEO to do a podcast
  • co-host with someone that lives in another state or another country

question 5: how can pharma measure effectiveness on their podcasts?

 some basic ways of measuring effectiveness include:
  • who is downloading your podcasts
  • who is subscribing to your podcasts
  • who is sharing your podcasts
  • who is talking about your podcasts and what are they saying
  • monitoring your traffic with tracking URLs, look at visitor’s interactions with your website

here is a simple equation to measure ROI of your podcast:

revenue generated (minus) expenses (divided) by production hours = return on investment

 

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