| May 27, 2019

Pharma Marketing: A How-To Guide to Marketing to Physicians and Consumers

Alexandra Savidge

Alexandra is Head of Marketing at DAP. She uses her background in digital marketing, UX, content and e-commerce to create... Alexandra is Head of Marketing at DAP. She uses her background in digital marketing, UX, content and e-commerce to create impactful digital experiences for our clients.


Pharma marketing refers to the digital and offline strategies used to attract new patients and increase awareness around a specific drug or treatment plan. Pharma marketing can either be geared towards physicians (the lion’s share of the market) or towards selling directly to consumers.


The pharma industry is one of the big three healthcare segments in the world, alongside medical device and health care services. It’s also the prime recipient of the $3.5 trillion US healthcare spend.


Pharma companies are responsible for discovering, designing and developing drugs used to prevent, treat, cure or diagnose diseases and other medical issues.


However, with tough competition, increasingly complex regulations and consumer attrition, pharma companies are going all out to get their products in front of healthcare professionals and patients alike.


That is why the role of sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical industry has become progressively more and more critical, so much so that pharma sales representatives and marketers now get larger budgets than R&D (more on this below).


But there are fundamental differences between marketing for consumers versus marketing for doctors that every marketer should be aware of.


In this article, we will carefully analyze the main differences and similarities between marketing to physicians and direct to consumers. If your job is to market to doctors, then the first half of the article is for you. If your job is to build awareness and sell to consumers, then jump on the second half of the article.


This article will cover:

  • What works in pharma marketing
  • What doesn’t work
  • How to become better than your competition at marketing a pharma product.


Section 1: How does pharma marketing work today

Section 2: Marketing to physicians

Section 3: Marketing directly to consumers


Let’s dive in!


Section 1: How does pharma marketing work today


How big is the pharma industry?

According to a recent Business Research Company report, the pharma market is anticipated to hit $1.17 trillion by 2021, an uptick of 5.8 percent from $934.8 billion in 2017. In comparison, the industry grew at the rate of approximate 5.2 percent in the period prior to 2017.


New players are also entering the fray, causing market disruption and increasing competition.


Although small pharmaceutical companies and startups are causing a seismic shift in the market, the 10 so-called Big Pharma – namely, Novartis, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Abbvie, AstraZeneca, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck & Co. – are still the formidable forces to be reckoned within the sector.


Of course, there are myriads of factors that can influence the market size of the pharmaceutical sector. These include drug affordability, government & regulatory policies, new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), changing consumer attitude, disease prevalence, and a plethora of supply-chain factors.


Does pharma spend more on marketing than R&D?

Yes, it does. And it spends a lot more on marketing to physicians than marketing direct to consumers.


Pharma companies are betting big on their sales and marketing teams, which isn’t too surprising given that Americans are spending an average of $1,443 on prescription drugs per person.


What’s more interesting, however, is that nearly all big pharmaceutical firms are now setting aside more dollars for sales and marketing than they do for research and development.


In one year alone, the 10 largest pharma companies spent a little shy of $100 billion on marketing, with less than $66 billion going to R&D.


Take Johnson & Johnson, for instance. The perennially big spender ear-marked $17.5 billion for sales and marketing while spending only $8.2 billion on drug research and development.


The same goes for the rest. Even the smallest spender on the top ten list, Abbvie, dedicated $4.3 billion to marketing, compared with $2.9 billion for R&D.


The only exception was the Hoffmann-La Roche. The Swiss drugmaker spent $9.3 billion on research, $300 million more than they shelled out on sales and marketing.


In their defense, big pharma says consumers and doctors aren’t loyal to their products, and they have to market rigorously. That in and of itself isn’t far-fetched because it takes a new drug 10 to 12 years from discovery to market, costing between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion.


That leaves pharma companies with a short window of 8-10 years on the patent to profit from their drugs. As if that isn’t tough enough, doctors and consumers aren’t known to be loyal to a single drug or brand.


So, where are pharma marketing dollars being spent?

Drugmakers spend an average of $3 billion annually on direct to consumer marketing, while the lion share of around $24 billion goes to selling and marketing directly to clinicians and other healthcare professionals, as per PEW.


What do pharma marketers do?

It’s the job of pharma marketers to put pharmaceutical products in front of the people that matter. These are usually consumers or drug prescribers (doctors, clinical officers, and other healthcare professionals).


To do so effectively and efficiently, pharma marketers and sales reps need to have a stronger and clearer understanding of the target audience more than ever before.


Pharma marketers need to know what the customers’ needs and pain points are, what they like, what drives their purchase decisions, and what influences their behavior. This way, they are able to better meet the needs of the customers and healthcare decision makers.


Marketers have to also convince doctors by talking about the efficacy of the drugs they are marketing.


In some cases, pharma companies give out free samples and other incentives to capture consumers’ attention and provide healthcare professionals with an opportunity to test out their products.


On the other hand, pharma marketing has its own set of challenges, and marketers are tasked with the responsibility to measure and quantify these hurdles. After all, they have to justify their spending and how they plan to handle these challenges, as well as prove that their efforts contribute to the bottom line of the pharma company.


Pharma marketers and sales representatives are also required to demonstrate the ROI for their marketing spend. They have to showcase that they are spending marketing dollars in a prudent and wise way, so that their executive team can continue funding their activities.


Ultimately, marketers have to tie their activities (and spending) to the company’s financial result. Given that they get a huge chunk of money, they also have to collect customer feedback, track market response, and show how they impact on overall brand awareness.


How to market a pharmaceutical product?

Pharmaceutical drugs are highly regulated and complex products, which makes the job of pharma marketers far much more complicated and harder.


The proper techniques and tactics they can use to market usually depend on the target customer, whether it’s direct to consumers or marketing to doctors. No matter the case, they have to use either direct or indirect marketing to inspire a purchase.


Direct marketing methods used by pharma marketers include:


Giving out free drug/product samples. This is especially true for little-known or new pharmaceutical products. Several studies have shown that offering free drug samples to clinicians can increase the prescription of a given medication. It promotes loyalty and provides an avenue for efficacy-testing.


Physician detailing. This approach to pharma marketing entails one-on-one selling or promoting of a pharmaceutical drug to pharmacy managers and clinicians.


In this approach, the pharma rep usually visits the physician to pitch their pharmaceutical products. Technically, detailing also involves providing gifts to doctors such as stationery, medical textbooks or even taking them out for lunches. 


Giving out drug coupons. This strategy is designed to help market drugs directly to consumers. Marketers can give out coupons, discount codes, and other deals online or offline, particularly through pharmacies.


Promotional mailing. This is a method that has been used by pharmaceutical marketers for decades now. It’s simple: just send out promotional materials like flyers, brochures, coupons, and other mailings to as many doctors’ offices as possible.


Advertising via web and medical journals. Medical publications and healthcare-related websites receive significant traffic from the medical community. By running ads in these authoritative publications, marketers can win the attention of doctors and eventually sell them on the efficacy of their pharmaceutical products. Journal ads deliver the best ROI for pharma marketing.


Direct-to-consumer marketing. This approach has proven to be quite effective, especially when it comes to encouraging consumers to inquire about brand drugs even when generic alternatives exist.


On the other hand, there’s also a long list of indirect marketing methods the modern pharma marketer can leverage to put their product in front of the right audience:



Providing clinicians with continuing medical education (CME). Marketers can help bring on board physicians and care teams to pharma-sponsored continuing medical education courses that will help teach them about the promoted drugs.


Regulated by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, these courses are great for pharma marketing. It is estimated that the pharma industry spends more than $700 million on these courses.


Providing grants to Health Advocacy Organizations (HAO). HAOs mobile the public and masses on the benefits of a certain drug or sensitize them on a specific medical issue. By giving grants to HAOs, pharma marketers can get their products in the front burner through validation.


Marketing to doctors versus marketing to customers 

Man and Woman discussing in a pharmacy.


Every great marketing strategy begins with defining the target audience and having a deep understanding of users’ needs. For pharma marketers, however, this can be quite tricky because they have a choice of two potential audiences: doctors and patients.


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Sometimes, the patient is the end consumer, and sometimes the sole decision maker (for example when it comes to generic drugs).


On the other hand, the doctor is usually the prescriber of the medication, which means the decision to purchase certain pharmaceutical products rests in their lap.


Marketing to patients is different in various ways from marketing to doctors.


Even more challenging is the fact that patients are now more empowered than ever before. In fact, more than 77 percent of consumers now turn to search engines like Google to learn about drugs treating a specific condition.


When all’s said and done, however, doctors and patients are both after one thing: drugs that work. And it’s upon pharma marketer to demonstrate this.



Section 2: Marketing to physicians

An average US physician controls over $2 million in annual healthcare costs, with doctors collectively responsible for 80 percent of the $3.5 trillion Americans spend on health services every year. That’s why physicians are the number one target of every pharma marketer.


But, let’s face it: marketing to doctors is not an easy walk in the park.


As a pharma marketer trying to market to healthcare professionals, the odds are heavily stacked against you. Why?


Doctors are incredibly hard to find. It goes without saying that today’s physicians are busier than ever, which makes it super difficult to find them. For the little spare time they have, doctors have no room for small talk or boring product pitches.


Doctors don’t spend countless hours watching TV, browsing social media feed, reading entertainment magazines, using mobile apps, and other screens like the rest of us. That means the chances of pharma marketers catching doctors’ attention are slim to none.


The competition is cut-throat. Over 81,000 pharma reps in the US are trying to market to physicians. At the end of the day, doctors get lots of samples, heaps of medical journals, and their mailboxes are bursting at the seams with mailings from marketers. To make matters worse, every doctor has at least two persons hired especially to keep marketers from interruption care delivery. It’s not surprising that pharma marketers waste over $1 billion trying to get a hold of doctors.


Doctors are smart people, and they know it. Doctors don’t fall for run-of-the-mill marketing hubbubs and gimmicks. They have no ears for fluffy pitches; they just want facts, hard numbers, and rationalized marketing.


What doctors do is uber important. They save lives, make life-changing diagnosis, and their job is ever-stressful. This presents another big challenge for pharma marketers.


Most marketing approaches to doctors have become cliche. Just look around. Medical journals, web ads, TV spots, and other marketing directed at physicians all look and feel more or less the same. What will make you stand out?


Yes, marketing to doctors might feel like climbing Mt. Everest, but it isn’t rocket science either. Here are some tried and true tips you need to add to your pharma marketing playbook.


1) Make sure your marketing is hyper-focused

Right from the get go, marketing to physicians should be strategic, tactical, and razor-focused. Remember that not all doctors are created equal. Go through your CRM and the list of prospective leads. Is anyone on your list unable to prescribe the pharmaceutical product you are promoting? Ensure the physicians you are marketing to have a big say in the purchase decision.


2) Define your target audience

Person identifying icons of people with a magnifying glass.

As of March 2019, there were are more than 1 million active doctors in the United States. However, if you take a closer look, you will notice that some doctors are better suitors for your pharma products than others, which makes customer segmentation crucial.


You can segment your target audience and tailor your message based on different factors:


Specialty is the most obvious one. This is especially crucial if you market back-office and clinical pharmaceuticals. The idea here is that you should direct your message at only important specialists. If you carry Ob/Gyn products, for instance, you don’t want to waste your resources on pathologists, urologists, etc.


Geographical area. You may also want to define your audience based on the geographic location. For example, if you are marketing a service or product that is controlled at the state level, you have to know which physicians serve in the said state.


The same goes for a condition that is prevalent in specific regions. If your pharma brand produces products for the condition in question, you have to focus your message on doctors in these particular areas. The price and level of competition can also vary by region, which is something you should keep in mind.


The setting. Physicians who own their practices have more control over daily operations and decision-making at their facilities than doctors based in hospitals. On the same note, those in large-group facilities have far more resources at their disposal than physicians who work in a small boutique clinic.


Model of payment. Think about how each physician on your list is paid. Whether HMOs, Medicaid, private insurance or accountable care, doctors react differently depending on the payment model.


3) Define which doctors you are marketing to

Like everyone, doctors play several roles in their lives. It is important for the marketer to know which side/role of the doctor they are trying to appeal to, whether as a physician, human or business person.


But, given that 41.6 percent of doctors own their healthcare practices, you might want to bring a little business into the mix. If you want to market to a physician as a human, you might want to schedule a home visit or invite the whole family to a nice meal.


4) Leverage content marketing

Person working at a laptop.

Content is king in the digital marketing space, and the same is true when it comes to marketing to doctors.


Nonetheless, a witty ad copy or blog will not sell to physicians.


You need to go above and beyond to create truly remarkable content. Here are a few things to keep top of mind when it comes to marketing to doctors using content:



1. Make sure your content is factual and educational. Right from the tone to the topic itself, the content should ooze information, stats, facts, and stuff that are genuinely useful to physicians.

Doctors have numerous subscriptions to medical newsletters, journals, and bulletins. They attend seminars, conferences, talks, and whatnot. They love learning, and they like facts. They make fantastic students, and it is your task to be an excellent teacher.


2. Choose the subject matter/topic carefully. There are plenty of things that doctors may be excited about, but one thing is for sure: they like clarity and hate ambiguity. If you are looking for ideas or inspiration for the subject matter, here are a few:


  •      Describe the selling points of your pharma product and corroborate your claims with credible statistics, studies, and other sources.
  •      Provide industry use cases or case studies related to your product or area of interest. Give answers to queries that you receive frequently from prospects. Make sure to spice it up with the latest news, industry buzzwords, etc.


Pick an appropriate format. You might want to do a little digging to check out what format works the best for the segment you are targeting. The good news is that just about any format can work when you want to use content to market to physicians. In any case, stick with webinars, eBooks, white papers, video, interactive media, and slideshares.


It all boils down to the offer/call-to-action (CTA). Just like with traditional content, CTA can make or break your marketing to doctors. Similarly, you have to offer a compelling value proposition, whether a free seminar, sample, white paper, journal subscription, and so on. The success of your content depends on it.


Document your content strategy. Your plan of attack should be clear to every member in your content marketing team, so you can be on the same page. It is well-known that 60 percent of successful B2B marketers document their content marketing strategies. You should also leverage an editorial calendar to schedule your content creation, posting, and sharing. For more details on how to create a marketing plan that works, check out our healthcare marketing plan guide here.


Create a separate content marketing budget. Content should be the cornerstone of your marketing plan to digital-savvy doctors, which is why it deserves its own budget. After all, content is 62 percent cheaper and generates 3x more leads than outbound marketing, as per CMI report.


5) Attend medical conventions and conferences

It’s already hard to find physicians. So, make a point of attending medical-related conferences, conventions, and trade shows that are open to marketers or the public. The trick is to pinpoint ones that are designed for your target audience. Take advantage of the seminars, networking mixers and any other opportunity to meet doctors and strike face-to-face conversations.


6) Use email to kick start conversations

Email isn’t dead, particularly to busy doctors. In fact, most physicians prefer it as a means of instating communication, according to a survey carried out by HealthLink Dimensions.


Like any content, keep the content and subject formal, educative and fact-heavy. If your email will make it past spam filters, doctors’ assistants and other major hurdles in between, don’t be surprised to get an invite for a one-on-one meeting.


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For more details on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to overall healthcare marketing, check out our healthcare marketing trends for 2019.


Section 3: Marketing directly to consumers

Person holding medicine and health icons.


Patients have access to sound medical information more than ever before thanks to increased connectivity to the internet and the proliferation of health-related sites/apps.


In such an increasingly patient-centric healthcare space, pharma companies are also shifting their focus, and they now market directly to end consumers – the patient. After all, 77 percent of consumers go online to search for medical information.


Notwithstanding, patient experience is the one thing most pharma companies fail to understand and deliver on.


Patients no longer view themselves as just patients — they want to be treated as consumers of health, too.


And considering that patient experience account for around 30 percent of reimbursements withheld by Medicare, this is a major wake-up call to doctors.


In the era of  “Doctor Google”, people go online to get informed about drugs, treatment options, and so much.


That is why online health companies like WebMD and HealthLine have become multi-billion dollar companies by simply catering to providing information about diseases, conditions, symptoms, and anything in between.


However you look at it, the patient is online.


Consider this scenario: you are a pharma company developing a new drug or treatment option for depression. Your potential customers are jumping on the internet to find tips, treatments and advice on how to take care of stress and symptoms of depression


Just take a look the huge search volume for the word “depression” and other depression related keywords. Here is the breakdown:


If you take the keywords tied to depression with more than 5,000 searches / month, there’s over 2.5 million online searches tied to depression each month.


What do pharma marketers think about marketing to patients?

Marketers know that marketing to patients is complex in and of itself. They understand the importance of providing patients with positive customer experience, especially when it comes to boosting brand awareness.


Pharma marketers want patient experiences to take the center-stage of their marketing initiatives.


Previously, marketers have focused on the 7 Ps of marketing to patients, the seven fundamentals of winning the customer. These are positioning, packaging, place, promotion, price, people, and the product. The new entrant is patient experience, the 8th P.


Marketers are right to think so.


The patient’s personal experience is one of the most decisive reasons healthcare consumers give when selecting their primary care physicians or doctors. Industry leaders have also recognized patience experience, and payers now require it.


They are also aware that patient satisfaction, user experience, and first-person experiences can make a huge difference. After all, the era of the ill-informed patient is long gone, and the tech-savvy ones are pushing healthcare consumerism to the next level.


Pharma marketers think that they should go above and beyond customer satisfaction to truly market their products and brands to patients. Even so, pharma sales reps know that online reviews, word of mouth marketing and referrals depend squarely on customer experience.


Take Paul Milton, for instance. The outspoken CEO of Ellis Medicine thinks that patient satisfaction should be backed by a healthcare system that is not only compassionate but also friendly and safe. More than that, he plans to inspire customers and engage them better by striking up emotional connections with the patients.


As consumers, patients don’t want just experiences, they want genuine and compassionate experiences.


That’s why marketers are also turning to employees to build on their customer-first culture and marketing strategies. Paul Milton, for instance, encourages Ellis employes to leverage video, social media and storytelling to connect with patients on a more human and emotional level.


Marketers want to shift their marketing approach. Pharma reps think that the time for doctor-centered marketing and business model is elapsing. They also think that transaction-focused business model should be revised in favor of patient-first and employee-second mindset and culture.


So, how can pharma marketers reach, delight and market to increasingly empowered patients.


1) Leverage a patient journey as a marketing tool

Family connecting with each other.

Patient journey refers to the path that patients take, from the onset of symptoms and diagnosis to end of treatment. It encompasses all the experiences the patient go through from start to finish of their healthcare journeys.


When marketers incorporate the patient journey into their marketing strategies, they can learn about customer experiences, pin down major challenges they go through, and find out which stakeholders play the biggest role in patient decisions.


The good news is that pharma marketers can showcase their support and influence decisions in many ways throughout the patient journey:


Pharma marketers can offer educational support. Marketers can provide information to patients about specific diseases, tips on how to prevent them, diagnosis, and the best course of action/treatment. They can use print media, how-to videos, blogs, and other ways to educate.


Pharma marketers can provide emotional support, which entails giving patients means and tools for coping with their conditions, whether through phone support, seminars, counseling, and other methods.


Marketers can also offer behavioral-altering and practical support. Whichever route they choose, marketers should ensure to enrich their target patients’ journeys.


2) Pharma marketers should use empathy marketing

Patients are sensitive when it comes to their health, and not every illness or condition is easy to reveal, let alone discuss. In some cases, a patient might not even feel comfortable admitting their medical problem.


That’s where marketers can employ empathy. It helps them know the context in which patients want to access and consume medical information. They should leverage empathy in the way of approach, content and other initiatives to show respect and resonate well with the patient’s comfort level.


3) Pharma marketers must use content marketing to build awareness around a drug or treatment

Content helps pharma marketers speak the language of the patient.


It is also an effective way to educate patients, drive traffic to your digital assets, increase brand awareness, and eventually encourage a purchase.


More than two-thirds (70 percent) of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing activities and budgets, according to CMI. And you should too.


In this section, we are going to walk you through the experience of creating a robust, direct, content marketing strategy that will bring visibility to your brand, pharmaceutical products, and issues that you target.


More crucially, content is far cheaper and deliver more efficacy than other inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Here’s a step by step way to create a solid content strategy.


For all intents and purposes, we are going to pretend to be marketers of DepreX, the depression drug.


How would we do SEO & content marketing for DepreX?

Person holding a post-it note with SEO written on it.


Step 1. Set your content marketing goals

An outstanding B2C content marketing plan starts with a clear mission and well-defined goals.


In the case of DepreX, our mission would be to boost the drug’s online presence and market it to people looking for depression drugs and treatment options.


First, we would start by creating a concise content marketing mission statement. This is a short statement that makes it easy for the whole team to stay on the same page.


What makes a great content marketing statement? It should specify the target audience, what benefits consumers would gain by taking the drug, and what content we will utilize to achieve these goals.


Once the statement is hammered out, it is high time to set specific content marketing goals. For a depression drug, our content goals could be:


  •      To improve sales by using content to acquire more quality leads
  •      To meet sales goals set by the executives for the month, quarter, half year or the full year.
  •      To gain authority in the market – perhaps to beat another brand on Amazon
  •      SEO success – we would want to rank above the fold in Google search results for the most buy-oriented keywords
  •      To improve social media following, engagement, video views or shares
  •      To gain more traffic to specific product pages, increase newsletter subscribers, white paper downloads, etc.
  •      To reduce sales and marketing costs by increasing the quality of your content, etc.


The good news is that content marketing goals are not set in stone. We would review and refine them multiple times throughout the year.


Step 2. Know DepreX’s audience

We would want to know the ins and outs of who is going to see and consume the content we would produce. Obviously,  we would want to reach and target people on the hunt for depression treatment. However, we would also want to think outside the box and go beyond the patient.


First off, we would need to define the target audience and understand both their psychographics (interests, values, aspirations, attitudes, etc.) and demographics (income, education, gender, age, etc.). Beyond that, we would need to know what makes them tick, and what usually influence their decision/behavior.


Ultimately, we would want to create appropriate user personas. This will determine the tone, style, and even the subject matter of your content.


Step 3. Revamp your website and product pages

At this stage, we would create or optimize the DepreX website to make it compelling, attractive and friendly to the end users. We would also optimize the DepreX Amazon page, blog, and other landing pages.


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The endgame here is to determine if the DepreX existing content is actually helping the company meet their marketing goals. We would do a holistic analysis of the DepreX content based on length, description & titles, backlinks, social shares, technical SEO, and much more.


In addition, we would also study the DepreX competitors like Olanzapine. How is DepreX stacking up against rivals in terms of content, SEO, and social media signals?


When all’s said and done, we would make sure that all DepreX pages and site are:


Mobile friendly – after all, 60 percent of all online searches now originate from mobile devices. A mobile-friendly website will rank better in mobile-first Google index.


Offering a positive user experiences (CXs) – if visitors to the DepreX site are finding it hard to navigate or use it, the user experience will suffer.


Fast loading – Google now scores site ranking based on page loading speeds. 47 percent of online users expect your pages to load in 2 seconds or sooner, otherwise they’ll depart.


SEO-ready (more on this ahead).


Step 4. Choose the best content channels & the best content types

Man writing the word "Channel" in a bubble.

It’s important to post and share content in channels where your target audience hangs out. That’s where analytics tools like Google Analytics and Buzzsumo will come into play.


For DepreX, we would check the volume of shares, engagement and other metrics by content type, network/platform, content length, and age of content, just to mention a few.


We might also want to stick to informative channels, including guest-posting in authoritative medical websites, forums, YouTube, your own blog, and don’t forget social media platforms.


When all these tasks are completed, the next question would be which type of content will resonate well with DepreX end users?


Video, infographics and social posts might get the most engagements, but will they improve DepreX sales? More often than not, we will have to stick with highly educative and authoritative content types like white papers, case studies, use case videos/testimonials, and other depression-related articles.


Step 5. Allocate resources & create an editorial calendar

More B2C marketers are planning to increase their content budgets. As a pharma marketer, this is more important than ever, as patients play an increasingly bigger role in their health care.


As we have mentioned earlier, more and more marketers are documenting their content marketing strategies, and with good reason:


  •      Over 60 percent of marketers haven’t documented theirs. That would give us an added competitive edge with DepreX.
  •      It helps keep content costs down
  •      Documentation is great for accountability. It holds us accountable for the marketing progress, so we can identify new opportunities down the road.
  •      It helps guide the overall content team and keep them on the message.


A great tool for content documentation, editorial and scheduling is a content calendar.


Step 6. Craft powerful & impactful content

Phew, what a journey!


By now, we have done the prep work, and it’s now time to bang out amazing content. The bread and butter of any amazing content marketing strategy.


A few things we would keep in mind …


Start with research. We would do some homework on the subject, check out what competitors are doing right, and learn what industry thought leaders say.


The headline is everything. We would need to make sure it’s captivating and interesting to our audience.


Write with SEO in mind. Our content should flow and optimize effortlessly for search ranking.


Keep it sweet, interesting and engaging. Our job would be to make sure the content we create is original, authentic and relevant to people suffering from depression.


Find and stick to your unique voice. Our tone and style should be compassionate, empathic and respectful. At no point should we make our audience feel uncomfortable with their situation. Depression is no joke.


Step 7. Do SEO like a pro

On any given month, online users conduct more than 2.5 million searches related to depression. Search engine optimization will help capture this high-quality audience. The beauty of SEO is that we are targeting users who are already actively searching for help with depression and treatment options. Here’s a quick summary on how we would think about doing SEO for DepreX.


If you are interested in learning more about SEO, check out our articles on biggest reasons why companies fail at SEO and the main differences between SEO and SEM.


What’s SEO?

Magnifying glass with the word "SEO" next to it.

It’s an abbreviation for search engine optimization, which represents all the tactics and practices marketers use to boost the visibility of their sites in organic search results.


Why would pharma marketers want to do SEO when marketing to patients?


More than 75 percent of online activity start with search, or on Google to be exact.


Search traffic is the best traffic any pharma marketer can want.


The first 5 search results get 67 percent of all organic clicks. That’s why we need SEO to help rank our clients above the rest.


Black hat SEO vs white hat SEO

SEO is a long-term tactic. If done right, it can deliver results affordably and consistently for the long run. You only have to refresh your content and links.


Black hat SEO is a spammy way of trying to send your pages or site to the top of Google SERP. It is a method that unscrupulous marketers use. While it might get short-term results, the black hat is a ticking time bomb.


Google, for one, has declared an all-out war against spammy content. You won’t survive for long. And to add insult to injury, Google will penalize your site severely if you are found to practice black hat SEO.


White hat SEO is your best shot. It is all about delivering relevant content to the right audience at the right time.


For DepreX, we would use high authority links and reference credible sources, such as medical studies, journals, and doctors. We would also label all the images within your content properly. Use relevant and unique titles, as well as HTML that complies with WCAG standards.


On-page vs. Off-page SEO

When doing SEO for DepreX, we have to worry about both on-page and off-page optimization.


Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO entails all variables that search engines review when ranking websites, and are not necessarily in our hands. They have little to sometimes nothing to do with DepreX content pages. These include social signals, age of a website, searcher’s history, and other sites in the depression industry.


On-Page SEO

This encompasses all ranking factors that Google take into consideration by looking at your website or pages. These factors are well within your reach and influence. They include the actual content, site architecture, headlines, and so on.


Keyword choice and research

Google search algorithm has been updated several times over the years. It’s no smarter and can fish out spammy content that’s overstuffed with keywords.


It pays to choose the right keywords. In fact, 90 percent of doing SEO involves keyword selection and research. We would make sure to do a bang-up job.


As shown above, patients seeking depression treatment options use a number of keywords, with depression, depression test, clinical depression, postpartum depression, and signs of depression being the top ones.


Pay attention to search intent. What are potential DepreX customers searching for? They are most likely looking for medication, therapy or advice.


Use direct answers and question. Google gives results to queries delivered as direct questions. We would use long-tail keywords and give direct answers like definitions, etc.


Title tags, meta description, and headings

On top of the actual content, we should sprinkle a few relevant keywords in your content title, meta tags, meta descriptions and H1, H2, and H3 headings.


Schema markup and SEO

This is a collection of semantic microdata that coders can incorporate into the HTML of the content to tell Google and other search engines about your page. This structured data can do wonders for SEO efforts.


When Google finds Schema markup in your code, it will deliver a useful snippet of your page in search. For DepreX, you can tell Google what the drug is, what it does, features, the cost, etc.


There’s a lot more to SEO marketing than we can cover in this guide. Google is becoming smarter and smarter, and SEO ranking factors are poised to change. It helps to keep abreast of what’s happening in the pharma SEO marketing space.




A bag with pills in it.

The pharmaceutical industry is worth more than $934 billion, and this is expected to rise to over $1.17 trillion by 2021. With pharma companies betting over $27 billion on marketing, marketers have their work cut out for them.


Pharma marketers face huge challenges, regardless of whether they are marketing to doctors or marketing to patients. They have to create great content, stay on top of SEO, define their audiences, deal with numerous hurdles.


Patient experience will continue to become the center of focus, and pharma marketers should race to meet consumer needs. They have to get a handle on customer satisfaction, deliver user-first experiences, and use content marketing to build rapport and brand awareness.


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