Pharmaceutical Industry: Knowledge and Organizational Gaps Hamper Implementation of Digital Marketing Tactics and Tools

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Regulatory Issues Also Prevent Full Integration of Digital Strategies into Marketing Mix, Finds New MarketBridge Study

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While pharmaceutical companies are paring expenses by reducing their sales forces, it's crucial that they rethink the way they acquire new customers and retain current ones

A lack of digital marketing experience and understanding, coupled with organizational shortcomings and regulatory compliance issues, prevent pharmaceutical marketers from fully integrating digital marketing into their marketing programs. So says findings from "Digital Marketing in Pharma," a survey fielded by MarketBridge and Pharmaceutical Executive magazine gauging the depth and breadth of digital marketing deployment within the industry. Click here to access the full report.

This study is the latest in a series of MarketBridge research initiatives around Digital Marketing, most recently examining Digital Marketing in Financial Services.

MarketBridge is a marketing and sales professional services firm to the Fortune 500 and leading global companies. Pharmaceutical Executive is a leading source of news and insights about the pharma industry.

With digital marketing--the use of email, blogs, search, online ads, social networks and more--becoming more prevalent across industries, MarketBridge and Pharmaceutical Executive partnered to find out just how it's being used in the pharmaceutical industry. Recently completed, the study drew 220 respondents across a variety of titles and functions. 20% had executive-level titles and 27% had marketing budgets of $100 million or more.

"While pharmaceutical companies are paring expenses by reducing their sales forces, it's crucial that they rethink the way they acquire new customers and retain current ones," said Tim Furey, CEO of MarketBridge. "Digital marketing can help pharma develop stronger relationships with customers, whether consumers, doctors, hospitals or pharmacies, and can be implemented cost effectively."

Among the key findings:
Knowledge and Organizational Gaps: When asked to rate their understanding of digital marketing nearly 45% said they "need to know more." This ties directly into one of the respondents' top concerns: that regulatory issues hamper digital marketing understanding and implementation. When asked how organized their companies were to plan and implement digital marketing strategies, only 12% said they were "well organized."

Experience, ROI Measurement Top Concerns: Respondents were equally concerned with their lack of experience with new digital marketing platforms, and the inability to prove ROI with them--which is interesting in that with many of the latest digital marketing tools and techniques, it's easier to measure ROI.

What Works and What Doesn't: Not surprisingly, Pharma marketers cite Web 1.0 tools such as search engine marketing, Webinars and organic search as their most effective digital vehicles. Least effective: blogs and virtual networks. Interestingly, social networks, considered promising within the industry, were also on the low side of effectiveness.

Budget Issues: The Digital Revolution has yet to hit Pharma….while they do use digital marketing channels, half of the respondents say they spend just 0-10% of their budget on digital. The majority of Pharma marketers (57%) are spending the most on what they are familiar with, mainly their own Web sites. Relatively few (10%) are spending toward "Web 2.0" vehicles like blogs, social networks, video, etc.

"There has always been a perception in pharma that it's lagging behind other industries in the implementation of digital marketing strategies and tools," said David Johnson, MarketBridge Vice President. "With customers utilizing digital tools that foster interaction amongst one another, pharma is missing out on an important opportunity to really understand product perception in the marketplace."

MarketBridge will further interpret the survey results in the "Digital Marketing in Pharma" VODcast, to be held on January 15th. Click here to register.

About MarketBridge
MarketBridge ( is a global professional services firm focused on sales and marketing effectiveness. Founded in 1992, MarketBridge leads go-to-market strategies, operational transformations and managed in-market programs for the Fortune 500 and other leading global companies. Through a combination of deep expertise, analytic rigor and industry focus, MarketBridge solves the toughest sales and marketing challenges, helping CEOs, CMOs and CSOs improve performance and effectively integrate sales and marketing operations. MarketBridge is headquartered in Washington DC, with offices in San Francisco, London, Seattle, and Toronto.

About Pharmaceutical Executive
Pharmaceutical Executive ( provides news and insights about the pharma industry, and how pharma companies should respond with strategy and marketing. Pharmaceutical Executive delivers superior subscribers from the industry's leading product managers and brand marketing teams, as well as from a broader spectrum of senior executives who affect strategy across the entire pharma value chain.

Andy Swick
Director of Marketing
(240) 752-1882


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