7 must have tools to boost the performance of pharmaceutical digital marketing

As digital budgets increase, Justin Grossman, CEO of meltmedia, ask if pharma brands have the right tools to make the most of their spend?

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Pharma IQ

Digital budgets are increasing, but do pharma brands have the right tools to make the most of their spend?

Healthcare and pharma are predicted to spend a whopping $4.23 billion annually on digital advertising as soon as 2020. And yet, due to the whirlwind speed of innovation in the digital marketing space, marketers are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming number of technology options available.

There are a host of powerful tools you can incorporate into your tech stack to boost productivity, leverage data and meet customer expectations — but where do you start? The following are key factors to consider when updating your martech stack, as well as my top picks for tools that best support today’s digital marketer.


Give Your Existing Tech Stack a Health Check

First of all, let’s talk about your martech stack. If you’re like most marketers, it’s the result of successive generations of incremental development and uncoordinated contributions from various teams. Too often, this leads to clunky and inefficient systems. Sound familiar?

Before I get into my list of must-haves tools, I want to emphasize how important it is to review your existing systems regularly to make sure: 

  • You’re not spending on outdated technology that can’t keep up with a changing digital ecosystem
  • Your integrations allow for streamlined workflows and a seamless flow of data
  • The stack allows you to deliver and report on a true omnichannel marketing strategy
  • Your tools realistically support your goals and budget parameters
  • Platform capabilities are not being under-utilized

When you perform a health check on your tech stack, hold it up against your current marketing team resources and skillsets. Have staffing or areas of responsibility changed since the stack was last fine-tuned? Remember, if your platform can’t support your people ― or vice versa ― it’s time to reassess.


Leverage the Power of These Tools

Marketing technology is evolving fast, and new solutions appear on the scene constantly. While it’s important to be open to leading-edge solutions, you’ll also want to be wary of chasing the latest fad.

The tools below have proven their worth when it comes to expanding the ability of pharma marketers to navigate digital transformation. They facilitate the delivery, testing and analysis of personalized content, and will foster data collection for better journey customization. 

  1. Business intelligence (BI) software: BI tools aggregate, analyze and visualize historical data; look to platforms like Tableau, Google Data Studio and Amazon QuickSight to generate insights, reporting and custom dashboards. Modern analytics platforms (a subcategory of BI) can supplement descriptive data with predictive data; these flexible, cloud-based platforms ― think Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics ― provide detailed metrics to gauge the properties, channels, campaigns and tactics that will generate the greatest user engagement and report on audience segments to inform more targeted messaging. 

  2. Data management platform (DMP): DMPs are data management tools designed to optimize programmatic ad spend and campaign performance; Adobe Audience Manager and Salesforce Audience Studio are two well-known examples. They aggregate anonymous customer data with the primary focus of informing and adjusting audiences. Marketers are increasingly integrating DMP data with CDPs (see number 3) for next-generation audience engagement capabilities. 

  3. Customer data platform (CDP): CDPs are an exciting development in the world of marketing. They centralize, integrate, and measure data from multiple sources to build both anonymous and known user profiles. CDPs like Exponea or Segment can provide deeper, more holistic use and audience segment profiles. Because CDPs collect and connect data in real-time, they continuously update customer profiles based on their behavior across channels. CDPs allow you to deliver deeply personalized custom experiences based on a range of customer action triggers, not just demographic data. 

  4. Machine learning tool: Modern marketing systems can generate an enormous amount of detailed customer behavioral data, which makes it very difficult to distinguish between signal and noise. Machine learning tools such as Adobe Sensei, AWS Machine Learning Services and Google’s AI Platform use artificial analysis to identify trends, predict behavior and recommend decisions. The more data they collect, the more accurate and valuable their predictions become. 

  5. Content management system (CMS): A CMS centralizes website publishing to democratize the delivery of customer experiences. A full-featured CMS will empower your team to manage digital content across screens via an intuitive interface accessible to all marketers (tech-savvy or not). Modern CMS platforms utilize templates to standardize and scale multiple brand sites, and integrate with the rest of your stack to provide two-way data flow. Solid CMS platforms like Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore and Acquia/Drupal provide the needed mix of capabilities and ease of use. 

  6. Email marketing automation: Email remains a critical marketing channel for HCPs and patients. Modern email marketing automation platforms help optimize campaigns by allowing for triggers, branching and customization of customer email cadences. Full-featured enterprise email automation tools include Vero, Marketo and Pardot. 

  7. Digital asset management: Also known as DAMs, these platforms facilitate the organization and distribution of shared assets among large marketing teams. Approved materials can be tagged and released for use by many different parties while maintaining notes regarding usage, ownership and approval status. Commonly leveraged DAMs include Aquia DAM, Adobe Experience Manager DAM and Bynder.


Word to the Wise: Leave Room for Flexibility, Triple-Check Compliance

Even with the guidelines I’ve suggested above, there are still myriad combinations of technology your stack might include. This makes it tempting to fall prey to shiny object syndrome instead of making smart long-term choices. To avoid this fate, I recommend vetting every solution you’re considering to make sure it meets the following criteria: 

  • Security: Does the platform offer the highest standards of data security? Since some pharma marketing data consists of Protected Health Information (PHI) like disease state and/or diagnosis, this is a critical requirement. 
  • Privacy: Privacy goes hand-in-hand with data security. Does the solution comply with the latest privacy laws? Are the proper customer consent requirements in place? What is the vendor’s reputation in the pharma industry? 
  • Scalability: While pharma marketing efforts are typically smaller than those of mass-market consumer items, you never know when your campaign is going to need to scale quickly. Make sure a platform can grow with your organization over a multi-year timeframe. 
  • Compliance: Regulatory obstacles have been known to threaten the rollout of a new tech stack. Make sure the solutions you’re adopting accommodate the pharma industry’s challenging legal and regulatory environment.

 While completing this due diligence is a lot of work upfront, doing so paves the way for growth and success in the long run.