image image


Inbound marketing

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing ensures that the target audience comes to you instead of the other way around. This is achieved by offering relevant and valuable content to your target audience.  It should also be tailored to different stages of the customer journey at the right time. Given the characteristics of inbound marketing, it is very specific and the exact opposite of outbound marketing. An approach where a broad audience is addressed in the hope that you reach the right people.

Why is inbound marketing relevant for Pharma & Health?

Patients and healthcare professionals are becoming increasingly online oriented. The number of online interactions is increasing while return on investments from outbound marketing is decreasing. This is partly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic, face-to-face sales interaction has declined by more than 50% and is only partially captured by chat and video conference solutions. In addition, the number of self-examination of patients had increased significantly. 

The current developments require a new approach from Pharma & Healthcare marketeers. Convincing a target group to buy products or services by approaching them is no longer the most effective way of marketing. 

There is a significant increase in information need by target groups rather than outbound methods. This information need can be met by delivering the right content to them. To ensure the right information reaches the target audience at the right time content should be tailored to the different phases of the customer journey.

Tailoring content to the customer journey phases creates relevant and valuable touchpoints between HCP’s and patients. The customer centric approach that is created by inbound marketing allows effectively reaching the target group. It allows you to highlight the benefits of your product or service at the right time and promptly respond to potential customers in different phases of their buyer journey. This is also called “life cycle marketing”. By using this marketing approach you can successfully reach a target group with a positive ROI.

Only 19% of the customers feel the need for an interaction with sales during the awareness phase when the customer first comes in contact with the product.

In the consideration phase 60% of the customers want an interaction with a sales representative after the options have been researched and shortlisted. 

20% of the customers are interested in a sales interaction when the decision for purchasing a product or service has been made in the decision phase.

Bron: Hubspot 2021

What are the differences between inbound and outbound marketing?

The main difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is the customer experience. The traditional outbound marketing method relies on pushing the product while an inbound approach is largely focused on attracting the target audience. To achieve this it is crucial to respond to the information need of the target audience with content developed for a specific phase in the customer journey. This is not the case with outbound marketing. The overview below highlights the most important differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing.




Focuses on customer needs, informing and adding value for the customer.

Product Focused

Focuses on the USP’s of the product rather than customer needs.


The target audience is known and you are focussed on their interests.


Limited knowledge about the target audience, primarily focused on reach regardless of the interests.


Strives to captivate the audience with content that appeals to them.

One way

Solely focused on bringing attention to the product or service.

Be Found

Through search engines, referrals and social media, customers know how to find you.


Through generic media, you bring yourself to the attention of the masses.

Content drives success

With the right content, you attract the right audience.

Budget drives success

The most extensive budgets buy you the most attention, until the target audience is exhausted.

Long term

Creation and relation are focused on long term and sustainable results.

Short term

Expensive and not sustainable. The results are instant but not sustained.

What is the purpose of inbound marketing?

The inbound marketing philosophy can serve multiple purposes. It is suitable for generating new leads with HCP supporting content. For example, when HCPs want to educate their patients additional practical information is needed. By responding to this information need HCPs are reached and in return you are able to obtain their contact details through an opt-in and download function. The obtained consent and data is the beginning of the leadgeneration process for the organization.

Another purpose is to become a thought leader by positioning yourself as an authority in providing relevant information for a specific sector. It can be achieved by being the first to provide relevant news within a specific sector. This is often a long-term project but can increase your ROI significantly. Inbound marketing is THE way to contribute to this.

See the following inbound marketing example for Pharma & Health.

Pharmaceutical company X has a treatment option for obstipation as a side effect of opiates. This treatment option needs to be brought to the attention of doctors and nurses that are possibly going to prescribe or recommend this product. To reach the chosen target audience an inbound marketing strategy is developed. This strategy is focused on offering relevant information in each phase of the decision-making process.

Doctors within the target audience are primarily looking into how effective the treatment is. There is less awareness around adverse events. By publishing and promoting a whitepaper about it awareness is created. The whitepaper will be about the importance of proper adverse event management when using opiates. Through targeted social media promotion HCPs can be reached. 40 of those will agree to submit their details to be able to download the whitepaper. 

The interest of the HCP in the subject is confirmed. They will receive an e-mail a few weeks later about a relevant adverse event management webinar. When the HCP watches this webinar we know there is a general interest in the subject. The HCP is open to receive more information related to this subject and made the next step in the customer journey. 

After some time the HCP will visit a landing page of the pharmaceutical company with information about the same subject. And will search for more information and answers to the questions he or she has. The HCP is now in the consideration phase. 

In this phase the content is further aligned with the information need of the HCP. The accountmanager is now able to personally approach the HCP with product information. The website content can also be automatically personalized based on earlier interactions with the HCP. In this way the HCP will notice that the pharmaceutical company will offer a solution for his/her information need. As a result it is more likely that the HCP will prescribe the specific treatment of the pharmaceutical company.

Do you want to experience how this strategy works in practice? Register HERE to see our inbound mini flow.

Which online marketing techniques are used in inbound marketing?

There are several online marketing techniques that are indispensable within an inbound marketing strategy. These techniques include content marketing, marketing automation, lead nurturing and SEO. Content marketing is the creation of the right content for a specific goal and target group. This ensures that all content reaches the right people. To be able to do this marketing automation is essential and public texts (and websites) need to be optimized for search engines through SEO. This allows you to slowly build a strong Google position. Improving the position on Google can positively contribute to thought leadership.

There are several paid online tools for inbound marketing automation. The tools are designed to make the automation process scalable and it allows you to effectively manage your campaigns. Automation flows are set-up easily and are able to provide useful data. An example of a well known marketing automation tool is Hubspot. Other automation tools frequently used by Pharma & Health marketers are: Marketing Could and Marketo.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the cultivation process of leads through automated content distribution. By for instance obtaining an opt-in a patient or HCP can be reached. From that point onwards we call them a “marketing qualified lead”. The initial phase of the lead nurturing process is designed to create interactions. When the lead is cultivated long enough and there is a good chance of selling the product we call them a “sales qualified lead”. This is the prime moment to approach leads through a consultant.

How do you create an inbound marketing strategy?

To properly implement inbound marketing a strategy must be established. How are you going to ensure that the target audience comes to you? What kind of people are you dealing with and how can you reach them? These are questions that must be answered when formulating a strategy. Also, communications must be tailored to the needs in the various stages of the buyer’s journey.

Firstly, sales and marketing teams must be aligned. This process started with setting common goals as the sales team is often in direct contact with the target group. Consequently, the sales team has a wealth of important information about the target group which can also apply to the marketing team.

A successful implementation of an inbound marketing strategy within the Life Sciences & Health industry depends on the following factors:

  • Thorough analysis of the customer journey
  • Information available at different stages of the sales funnel
  • The message (content)
  • Available insight into the various online channels that target groups use

In the strategy, the choices that are made and certain tactics that are determined will lead to an effective inbound marketing campaign. This includes setting the inbound marketing objectives, online channel selection for the various stages of the sales funnel, target audience personas, content marketing plan and a media plan (for search, social, native at a strategic level.)

4 elements for inbound marketing

Why is a content marketing plan essential to inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing focuses on attracting the target audience with relevant content. Everything that is communicated should be tailored to the patient or healthcare professional. This ensures that the information that is shared is perceived as relevant and valuable. But even if you know which topics appeal to the target group, you could still miss the mark. Communication through the right channel at the right time and with the right tone of voice is vital to this process. If this is not done you run the risk of wasting a unique and valuable contact moment.

The average patient will have a lower response rate to dry and technical texts.  Just as a healthcare professional may immediately dismiss a standardized text. This can also happen when a claim in not factually supported or does not contain a reliable citation. But opportunities can also be lost by not using or incorrect use of a relevant call-to-action.

With a content strategy such as inbound marketing, you can ensure that all content is aligned and based on this strategy. This includes all the elements within content creation: content type, topics, lead magnets and the style of the content. The strategy is not an alternative to hiring good writers. It however steers the (medical) writer or copy in the direction of creating appealing content with high conversion rates.  

Use premium content as lead magnets (duplicate)

Premium content is a common lead magnet and is hidden behind an opt-in form. The content is of high quality and offers relevant information. For example, before you can download content you have to leave your email address.

E-learnings and webinars

Companies deploy e-learnings and webinars to share their knowledge on a particular topic. HCP’s generally are given access only after they sign up. Live webinars play into the target audience’s “fear of missing out”. The fact that they are only available for a certain amount of time, encourages people to sign up.

Animations and infographics

Animations and infographics can be used as a lead magnet that are extremely good as visualizing information. By using infographics, data is presented in a clear and manageable way for the audience. For example when explaining how an active substance works. Consequently, website visitors do not need to read long pieces of text.


A tutorial is a step-by-step explanation of how to perform certain actions, like treatment techniques. This can be done through a video, but also a PDF download with a numbered action plan.

Free trial

A trial might be the least eye catching, but it is one of the most used types of lead magnets. A lot of organizations offer free trials, trial subscriptions or product samples in exchange for contact information.

Inbound marketing is the way to reach your target audience

But you can’t do this without a great strategy and approach! This is the opinion of many marketing experts. Inbound marketing can be seen as the way to make omnichannel marketing a success. It goes beyond the goal of making all channels fit together but also reinforces a certain message to your audience.

A logical conclusion if we list the recent developments is that outbound marketing methods are decreasing in effectiveness. It is becoming increasingly costly to buy reach with push methods. Also, sales reps experience a decreasing interest in personal contact and patients and HCP’s are increasingly orienting themselves online.

Our clients are also increasingly looking for a different approach in their marketing. With traditional methods fewer patients and HCP’s are reached. That is why we use successful inbound marketing for our customers for product launch, thought leaders and/or (inter)national marketing campaigns.

Roadmap for inbound marketing

Are you ready to start and interested in how we work with our clients? Our process is described in a step-by-step way. This includes the research and strategy phases where the personas and customer journey is made. The setup and configuration phase where the automation flows, and content are created. As well as the execution phase, an ongoing process where we deploy the different marketing resources according to the defined strategy.

roadmap for implementing inbound marketing

How can we help you with that?

Launching an inbound marketing campaign for your organization can seem overwhelming. Perhaps you have no idea about how inbound marketing can contribute to marketing activities and results within your organization. Contact us and we will show you how inbound marketing works for our clients. We have several international case studies. Together we can evaluate how inbound marketing can help you.

Our team consists of certified inbound marketing specialists. We specialize in digital marketing for Pharma & Health. With years of experience for building strategies, to turn your campaign into appealing, result-oriented campaigns

Would you like to know more about inbound marketing in LSH? Send us a message through the form below or give us a call on +31(0)20-3080208!

image image image