A beginner’s guide to digital pharma: part 16 – so long and thanks for all the fish

Faisal Ahmed and Paul Tunnah


Continued from “A beginner’s guide to digital pharma: part 15 – implementation

So over the last nine months we have covered the “what to do” on various subjects in digital, we’ve given tips on what tools to use and mentioned in pretty much every article that relevance is key – think about your end user and how they consume digital first, as you may find the solution to your problem is not even digital to begin with!

We’ve pretty much covered everything we need to at this stage, so it’s over to you now to get involved. But here are some final thoughts on where to begin.

Get out there and do your own research. Go purchase a decent report on the area (Manhattan Research have some good ones) and ask friends, family and your doctor how they consume healthcare information digitally. We’ve always said being relevant is key and it’s easy to test this by being a user yourself. So go out and be a gadget geek – buy a Mac, PC, notebook, tablet, get all network mobiles, get all the smartphone operating systems and download every browser. Test your new digital product on broadband at work, at home and before launching walk down to your local Costa Coffee and test it over their wi-fi network!

“The fastest growing demographic on facebook, which has over 750 million users, is the over 55s – how many pharma drugs are targeted at this audience?”

This might all sound like a lot of hassle, but it’s a lot less hassle than seeing your digital product get two views a month, seeing your bounce rate over 30% and seeing people spend less than two minutes on your site! Your product is a healthcare product and your bounce rate should be low and the time spent on your site should be high if you’re a brand that helps with people lives!

We really do live in a connected world now. Jersey has the second highest broadband speeds in the world, Nigeria is already testing 4G phone networks for faster mobile data and there are more mobile phones in India than toilets!1 When someone says “we don’t need that, our target audience is not using the web or mobile phones” simply smile and run in the opposite direction. The fastest growing demographic on facebook, which has over 750 million users, is the over 55s – how many pharma drugs are targeted at this audience?

But of course there are rules stopping use using Facebook to talk to patients. So don’t shy away – get in a room full of medics, lawyers, PR, patients and regulators and work out some solutions that work in a good way for everyone, without breaking the rules.

There are over 150 million people in Europe surfing for healthcare information regularly and 100 million tell their friends and family what they’ve found. We no longer just peer over the garden fence and have conversations with our neighbours, we have conversations with our (on average) 200 friends on facebook and we tell all our Twitter followers what’s going on too. So just imagine that with all these conversations going on around the web, do we not need a social media monitoring tool? The question more and more companies are asking is why did we not purchase one a year ago!

If you don’t have an SEO strategy and your competitors do – where are you? How can one of the 49% of doctors that recommend branded product sites refer you to their patients? Don’t rely on a branded USB stick with your URL one.

“…please think about the person suffering from the illness that your drug could help and think about if and how digital can help them.”

Find your authentic voice before joining and leading any digital conversation. Don’t send emails just because it’s a cheaper alternative – make sure you have the right email tool, you experiment with a small selection of the database first and then use what works best. Look to send the email out at the right time of day on the right day and to the right people.

And here’s some final food for thought – 95% of European physicians are online for professional use and the same percentage use handheld devices such as smartphones to download applications and access medical information. The recent app by the UK’s NHS was downloaded over 200,000 times in the first two weeks of launch. So do you spend 95% of your marketing budget on digital initiatives?

As a final thought once again be relevant to your end-user – don’t build it just because your competitor has it. Look at what they’ve done and improve it! And don’t do digital just for the sake of it – please think about the person suffering from the illness that your drug could help and think about if and how digital can help them.

Before we say goodbye, here’s a recent video with some interesting stats (and funky music!) so grab some popcorn and enjoy.

That’s the end of the series folks, as always, get in touch with any questions.

Next time: that’s all folks!


1. Wired Magazine October issue http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine

About the authors:

Faisal Ahmed is one of a handful of people in the UK that has been involved with digital for over 14 years, providing digital thought leadership to some of the biggest brands globally, also contributing to some of the best-selling books on digital, having been part of the start-up team at Amazon, defining how we shop online. Faisal has launched digital strategies for 90 football Clubs, the ECB and WRC. He also launched Playboy’s mobile and social media platforms in 2006 and one of the first online social networks. Over the last 2 years Faisal has been working in Healthcare winning over 30 awards and bringing to life both one of the first mobile apps and augmented reality in healthcare. Faisal is currently working at Life-Healthcare and can be found Tweeting here @sickonthenet and contacted on LinkedIn here http://www.linkedin.com/in/ahmedfaisal.

Paul Tunnah is Founder and Managing Director of www.pharmaphorum.com, the dynamic online information and discussion portal for the pharmaceutical industry featuring news, articles, events / company listings and online discussion. For queries he can be reached through the site contact form or on Twitter @pharmaphorum.

Can pharma afford to not invest heavily in digital?