How does the current Life Sciences digital marketing landscape look?

Anthony Marshall
Anthony Marshall
8 Jun 2011
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As we engage in more and more projects in the healthcare sector we are constantly keeping an eye on the way the digital marketing landscape develops. Of course, many of our clients operate in other sectors (and for many of them online is their main marketing channel), so it is often interesting for us to contrast their approach to that taken by our healthcare clients (who often consider digital as a bolt on to their “core” marketing).

Here at The Technology Studio we have over 25 years pharmaceutical expertise and our experience of delivering digital projects within that environment can be frustrating with  irrational objections sometimes voiced by Medical, Legal and Compliance departments (among others).

So are things changing for the better in healthcare? Is a digital strategy becoming part of the norm rather than seen as a “pilot”?

We found this recently published report from eCRM Consultants Across Health a fascinating insight into the current  mind-set amongst executives in the Life Sciences industry.

Some of the stats that stood out for us include:

  • 45% of respondents stated that lack of eBusiness strategy is in the top 3 barriers to digital marketing
  • 30% of respondents say that lack of internal knowledge was a major barrier to digital marketing
  • Less than 10% of companies engage in mobile marketing as standard practice
  • 45% of companies are engaging in mobile marketing pilots
  • 77% don’t measure the impact of digital activities

So what is our conclusion from this?

It seems clear that there is a desire from healthcare companies to improve their digital marketing strategy and comparisons made in this study with previous years suggest things are moving in the right direction.

We were particularly interested by the mobile stats. A study by Morgan Stanley suggests that mobile browsing will exceed desktop by 2014 and we are certainly seeing an increasing demand for our mobile solutions. According to this report it seems that whilst few healthcare companies currently have a mobile strategy, the number of pilot’s in place suggest it is hitting their radar. Of course, are these pilots simply the development of an iPhone app (which seems to be the “in thing” to do right now) or are companies taking a wholesale look at their mobile strategy? We also hope that more than the 33% who currently measure digital ROI will be measuring the return from these pilot projects!!

The statistics on internal barriers suggest that Life Sciences companies still need to be given strategic direction (either by consultants or their agencies) as in-house expertise is rare. In our experience, the incumbent Advertising, PR or Medical Education agencies who operate in the healthcare sector often lack the necessary knowledge of the digital world as well. Perhaps it is time for the industry to look outside of the Life Sciences graduate pool for the next generation of Marketers?



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