In this article, we will look at the 5 pharma marketing trends that you need to know about. 

This article was originally published at Pharma In Focus as part of a 5 part marketing series.

B2B marketers have been adopting new marketing techniques at a much slower pace than B2C marketers, and pharma marketers have been even slower again.

The slow rate of adoption is mainly due a lack of understanding of how these new approach’s and tools can benefit the customer relationship and create a commercial return.

But we are on the cusp of an exponential digital transformation in which the tools and customer expectations are changing at such a fast rate that been a slow adopter isn’t an option anymore.

Let’s look at 5 pharma marketing trends that I predict will be a marketers’ new normal by 2020.

Personalised Marketing

Your company may have started to use automated marketing supported by its CRM platform, (such as Veeva or Salesforce ) or you may be using a tool such as Marketo and integrating data points into a data warehouse.  If you haven’t started to map out and adopt automated marketing, it’s time to start.

Effective automated marketing requires content and the ability to track and measure customers’ touch points through at least one channel. But even this can feel clunky or single focused.

As we start to have the ability to gather more customer data touch points across all interactions then segmentation and personalisation of messaging becomes realistic.

Customers will no longer tolerate marketing messages that are generic and broad. They expect customised content that supports their practise and patient education.

The technology is available today for personalised marketing but it is a two to three-year journey to fully implement. Don’t wait until you see your competitors it before you start on the personalised marketing journey.

Social Media

Social media is not just Facebook. Social platforms are evolving fast, provide a variety of opportunities to connect, communicate and chat publicly and privately, and social is where you will find your target audience -patients, public and HCP’s .

For example, 55% of Australian GP’s are reportedly active on social at least once per day.

So far Australian pharma companies have tended to use the platforms for building a company brand, and have stuck with LinkedIn and Twitter. In general, companies have yet to create engaging, 2-way communicating communities.

None-the-less social media will become marketers new normal by 2020 because;

  • your target customers are already on these platforms in either a personal or professional capacity and are highly engaged
  • social will enable the move to targeted messaging
  • you can engage with customers without interrupting
  • social doesn’t require a big budget
  • social is video
  • paid advertising achieves reach and conversion
  • private groups can be set up quickly and cheaply
  • social media platforms will continue to drive enhancements
  • social media is accessible on mobile

Live Video Events

Video is a highly powerful communication tool. It can convey a lot of information in a short period of time, people prefer video online, plus video can build trust as the viewer gets to see and hear from you directly.

When used correctly live video is even better. It has the benefit of being timely, allows dual conversations, and it gives people a peak behind the scenes or entry to an event when they can’t be there in-person. A good B2B example is the Salesforce convention last year where they live streamed from the convention in San Francisco using Facebook Live. They live streamed the guest speaker, Tony Robbins. You were able to gain access to over 2 hours of quality content without attending the event. All for free.

A good B2B example is the Salesforce convention which live streamed guest speaker Tony Robbins from San Francisco using Facebook Live, enabling over 2 hours of quality content without attending the event.

Although webinar’s are the most effective channel in the Asia Pacific region right now for pharma, I predict that live video will become the new normal by 2020, replacing them as the more timely and relevant choice for connecting with customers.

Imagine running a speaker tour or an industry event, and then providing a live stream for those that can’t be in the room. With tools like Facebook Live you can do this without all the costs of normal video set-up, and access is quick and easy for your customers.

Content Driven Marketing

Work by DRG Digital (formerly Manhatten Research) shows HCP’s want more educationally based information from pharma companies that can help them support their patients better. So less product information and more educational support. To do this, pharma companies need to either build exclusive access websites/portals, patient support programs and/or online community hubs. All of these will need quality, timely and relevant content.

Man holding a phone

To do this, pharma companies need to either build exclusive access websites/portals, patient support programs and/or online community hubs. All of these will need quality, timely and relevant content.

And, as more companies adopt automated marketing, then content libraries need to be built that depending on a customer action or touch point, the right content can then supplied to them automatically.

Marketers will move their thinking to a longer term view, use data to segment, understand the best content for each segment and then develop a sequence or story flow that supports customers on their journey.

One-off generic push marketing will decline and customised quality educational content will be developed.

IT collaboration

Pharma IT has traditionally been averse to cloud-based tools, third party platforms and naturally concerned about security and data sharing. A familiar set up is that any third party tools are often customised which means updates can’t be maintained and the user interface isn’t friendly or intuitive.

IT departments insist that websites are built on in-house servers that operate with old CMS (content management systems), CRM systems are customised but become outdated quickly, and the ability to use API’s to integrate data is not welcomed or the data mapping doesn’t allow for it (often because of outdated legacy systems)

As a result pharma marketers have operated in a restricted, costly and outdated environment for a long time, and most are not aware of what tools they are missing out on.

But IT departments are definitely changing, and marketers need to take ownership of the conversation, educate themselves about the business tools they require and actively participate in demand conversations. Marketers need to acknowledge that these changes require a joint and long term plan.

A collaborative approach is what the forward thinking pharma marketers will adopt, creating a joint partnership with IT that will propel marketing activities forward. But for that to work well, marketers have to educate themselves about the available tools and appreciate the complexity required to optimise and integrate these tools.

The mindset and skill set of pharma marketers has never required such a shift as what we will see over the next few years. Embracing the changes and leveraging the new tools will bode well for those that make this shift.

Tania Rowland is a digital marketing consultant and co-founder at, specialists in digital strategy, patient support programs and social media.

Pharmacologie builds digital strategies and technology that helps pharma help patients.