How on earth do I get
online more attention
from my doctors?

Unfortunately, stepping into a doctor’s consulting room is becoming less and less of an option. Doctors increasingly prefer contact via digital channels. This massively changes the rules of the game for customer engagement.


Why? Well, online there is an overload of information! So to make sure your content is seen you really need to tap from a different keg. Online, we determine in a split-second whether the content offered is relevant to us. Online, someone can easily ignore you. Putting your foot in the door and pushing through is no longer an option (one from the old days).

Therefore, if you want to play this game well, you have to be open to change. So get inspired by our 6 tips that lead to better online customer engagement.

1. A digital mindset

Of course, we had already come to the conclusion that we should say goodbye to traditional pharma marketing. Corona has accelerated this once again. The proper use of digital channels has become more important to pharma than ever before.

No more turning product-related “leave behinds” into a PDF, but developing content from the needs of your target audience. After all, that’s the only chance for engagement and a longer-term relationship. Realizing a digital mindset is therefore key!

The product should no longer be the focus, but the customer! Because digital is only about: The customer, the customer, the customer, the right timing, short but clear communication and switching between push and pull.

A different way of working that gives you as a pharma marketer nice new opportunities.

The difference between then and now is best represented in a comparison between traditional and digital marketing.

Do less Do more
Product centraal Klant centraal
Push strategie Pull strategie
Marketing op basis van branded campagne en content Middels strategische content marketing en non-branded content
Segmentatie van artsen op basis van recepten en aantallen patiënten Segmentatie van artsen op basis van digitaal gedrag
Nadruk op relatie bouwen met arts via een sales rep Nadruk op relatie bouwen met arts op basis van waarde gedreven content
Multichannel aanpak (website, webinars, advertenties) Omnichannel aanpak waarbij de klant via elk kanaal dezelfde beleving krijgt


Once that digital mindset begins to emerge, you will then need to start making choices. What digital channel will you focus on and what content works for your target audience?

2. Differentiation by making choices

With the digitization of our lifestyle, our attention span is only 8 seconds. And that’s short! You will therefore have to make choices to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Currently, this is not taken into account much. We have all been too hasty in adopting various digital channels without looking at what actually works. Physicians are inundated with many daily emails, LinkedIn messages, invitations to Webinars, online meetings and whatnot.

Therefore, make strategic choices. What available digital resources are we going to use and not use. Start a survey to understand where the customer is and what they need. This will help you differentiate and build digital relationships. This is obviously different from a physical relationship, but necessary to stay in touch.

3. Customer relationships in the digital environment are different

Establishing relationships with healthcare professionals remains important. The goal of working with them to improve patient care will not change. The start of a relationship these days will be digital, but ultimately you still want to take on projects together that deliver value.

We all experience that younger generations interact differently with pharma. They are finding their own way in all the information available. Of course, if we are honest, this is no different than how we ourselves do this in our own daily lives. For example, when we go to buy a new TV, we no longer let ourselves be fooled. We read reviews, consult the consumer guide, talk to friends and only then do we perhaps go to the (online) store with the last question (can I get a discount).

As an industry, we therefore need to think critically about how we want to interpret human contact in combination with virtual engagement models. After all, valuable digital experiences can help strengthen personal relationships. In virtual engagement models, social media plays an important role in establishing a first contact.

4. Embrace Social media 

So embrace social media. It is THE basis for starting a relationship with your customers online. You can compare this game to Tinder. The first choice is made with the eye. Next comes a chit-chat. Then, if there is a click from both sides, there will be a meeting. This is no different with other social platforms. Your chances of success are greatest if you have a clear plan of action beforehand.

Using social media in pharma will not be easy, but it is necessary. We all know that our business is one of the most regulated industries with a high ethical standard. Therefore, creativity, guts and alignment are needed. Regulation and willingness to take on new developments remains a challenge in our industry. We need to change this.

Even though there are many regulatory barriers, as a pharma marketer, you will have to seek alignment internally. We are all aware of the opportunities that social channels can provide, but there is still much to be gained. So go for it!

5. Invest in content marketing

Once the choices are then made and there is more focus for a digital approach, content marketing is the next step. We know that content marketing works, but in pharma we are still lagging behind in this. The challenge is to start thinking beyond your brand. From product to customer-centric thinking. Give physicians a rich content experience that is sharp, to-the-point and value-driven.

There is a lot of value in delivering the right content through the right channel (differentiation). In doing so, presenting content in an engaging format (8 second attention span) is critical!

In addition to creating large amounts of content, it is also important that you spend a lot of time on research (digital mindset). You can develop a well-defined content strategy by understanding what your target audience needs.

As a pharma marketer, you can step up the content marketing game by using “storytelling. People are made for stories. It creates emotion and emotion helps to connect.

6. Implement a customer-centric organizational model

Finally, the most important tip, but also one that may not be realistic in the short term. Because, the organizational structure must change. There has to be a customer-centric structure. There is no more room for product-oriented thinking.

Just look at Coolblue. They sell TVs, but actually they sell a concept where you are completely unburdened. The TV is brought in, everything is explained, it is connected and even hung at the right height. They don’t leave until you are satisfied. So you have zero worries and they do everything for a smile.

I understand that this won’t happen right away, but look, for example, at what you can accomplish with your brand team. Doesn’t take away from the fact that you can continue to rebel internally. Keep coming up with evidence, because product-centric thinking really doesn’t work anymore.

Take aways

The challenges are great, but with guts, perseverance and perhaps some third-party help, it’s bound to succeed.

The right digital mindset is going to ensure customer-centricity. Make choices on which digital channel you are going to deploy, because “Less is more.

The virtual experience you are going to offer your customers will help you build physical customer relationships. Embrace social media and figure out what space you will have to use these channels.

Finally, invest in content marketing. This will give you a clear strategy in the content you will develop.

Have fun!!!

Martijn Brandenburg