How do you start inbound marketing in the Pharma and Health sector?

Inbound marketing is a marketing philosophy that puts the customer at the center of the purchasing process. This is at odds with the approach of many organizations that place their product or organization at the center of the interaction with their target group. As experts in the Pharma and Health sector, we often see this happening. Many pharma companies have a product strategy in which they want to convince HCPs or patients of the advantages of their product and/or treatment method compared to alternatives. While inbound marketing can serve the same purpose, the approach is quite different.

With inbound marketing you ensure that your target group comes to you instead of the other way around. You do this by offering added value in the form of relevant content. In an inbound marketing strategy, the target group is supported in all phases of the customer journey with relevant content. You can imagine that a healthcare professional needs different content at the beginning of his journey than at the end of the journey. When applying inbound marketing, it is therefore important to investigate the information needs of the target group, and, subsequently, respond to this by offering exactly the necessary content at the right time.

Create buyer personas

Just the right content, at the right time and on the optimal channel – that sounds easier said than done. Because what kind of content does the target group need? Which channel is the most suitable? And how do you determine when the right moment is? Answering these questions requires thorough target group research. Unfortunately, target group research often costs a lot of time and money. An alternative to this is to interview people within your organization who regularly interact with the target group. For example, account managers at pharma companies have contact with HCPs on a regular basis. In addition, there are often customer service teams that answer questions from HCPs or patients. These colleagues possess valuable knowledge that can help you map out the information needs of the target group. Talk to them and ask, for example, the following questions:

  • What motivates the target group to choose a product or treatment?
  • What objections does the target group have regarding a product or treatment?
  • How does the target group become aware of new/different treatment methods?
  • With which frustrations does the target group have to deal?
  • What information does the target group miss?

Answering such questions allows you to create buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of the ideal customer. They are based on data, interviews, and workable intuition. Buyer personas are indispensable within the inbound marketing methodology and essential to work out well before execution. All interactions with prospects and customers, whether through the marketing, sales, or service team, should be based on the characteristics and behavior of these personas.

Data and channel research

After creating buyer personas, you should have learned more about the information needs of the target group. It is then important to translate this information need into relevant content. Data and channel research help to determine when a lead from the target group is ready for a specific interaction with your content. You try to map the behavior of the target group based on (analytics) data. For example, it is relevant to know which social media channels are popular and which website pages are well-viewed. In addition, it is valuable to analyze when the target group is willing to provide contact details.

Our experience shows that social media is also an excellent channel for companies in the pharma and health sector to reach the target group. At the beginning of the customer journey, at which point the target group has had little or no interaction with a pharma company, Linkedin and Twitter are suitable for reaching HCPs. For organizations that want to reach patients, Facebook and Instagram are more relevant. The Campaign Managers of LinkedIn or Facebook, for example, offer you many insights about your target group. The targeting options make it possible to reach a very specific target group. In addition, you can see exactly how many people your target group consists of. In the initial phase of the customer journey, the trick is to bind the target group to you with relevant content that perfectly matches the information needs. It is best to avoid product-related information at this stage.

Would you like to know more about this marketing philosophy? We have created a page where you can find everything about the design and execution of inbound marketing.

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