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What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is an approach focused on the creation, sharing, and distribution of valuable content, with two very simple objectives:
  1. Win new customers;
  2. Retain existing customers.

The forms through which content marketing is put into practice are many: 
  • from written articles to interactive videos, 
  • from seminars and webinars to social media strategies. 
What all these forms of content marketing have in common is that the primary objective is not to sell immediately and directly.

Now, let’s consider some statistics to help us define the current landscape and future trends. First of all, 

What are the objectives for which a content marketing strategy is being put in place?

The answers come from an infographic by Mashable.
  • In 69% of cases, the objective is brand awareness.
  • In 68% of cases, the goal is acquiring new customers.
  • In 67% of cases, the goal is lead generation.
  • In 62% of cases, the goal is improving customer loyalty.

Let’s look at some other numbers.
According to CMI, more than half of marketers plan to use content marketing for their strategies. And 72% say it is a great way to increase engagement. Not surprisingly, 78% of companies have a team specifically dedicated to content production. According to the HavasGroups’ Meaningful Brands report, 84% of consumers expect brands to create valuable content.

These are significant numbers, which alone say a lot about the effectiveness of this type of strategy, and how valuable it is to companies. At the same time, 64% of marketers said they would like to learn how to build a better, more elastic, and scalable content marketing strategy. It is on this point, then, that you need to focus.

Let’s say it now: there is no universal recipe that is valid for all types of businesses and for all types of companies.

However, in all cases, you have to go through a 4-step process
  1. define your goals
  2. Identify your target (or, better, your targets, plural);
  3. choose the channels to reach your target;
  4. use the right tools (in relation to your objectives, targets, and channels).

Keeping this awareness firmly in mind, in the continuation of this post, we will try to bring all this down in the context of the Pharma Industry, retracing these 4 steps, and getting more specific.

4 steps of content marketing in the Pharma Industry

1. Objectives: a foundation of information and education
Of course, every pharmaceutical company has its own specific objectives in terms of marketing and communication. Its content production must be based on those.

However, there is a challenge that, with the advent of digital, has become common to all players in the industry. Let’s talk about the challenge of education. Today, every user connected to the Internet can have access to a huge amount of information, news, and opinions. It is a positive fact in itself, but it also has its downside: in the midst of all this, fake news are hidden theories without any scientific basis, even real disinformation campaigns that can be very diffused. The challenge (and the responsibility) for Pharma companies is first of all to put themselves in the digital world with confidence (without this turning into a source of inspiration, which is always counterproductive), but also with the right “proximity” to people.

For companies in the sector, all of this translates into a marked improvement in brand awareness and reputation. And this is where it all starts, today more than ever.

2. Target – From big numbers to personalization
There is no such thing as perfect content for everyone, but there are different types of content that are suitable and effective for different audiences. Here is a summary of its fundamental importance to the target audience.

Attention: the challenges of communication, today more than ever, are played out here and the digital world has provided marketing and communication professionals with the real tool they need: data analysis.

Today, in fact, brands can actually “know” their audience, collecting the digital traces that each of us leaves online. Personal, geographical, and behavioral data, and how all of this varies in real time. This is the revolution of Big Data. But beyond Big Data there are people, and pharmaceutical companies today can really address individuals and establish a one-to-one communication, a personalized dialog that is tailored to individual patients.

Important: it’s not just a question of marketing. The entire Pharma sector, in fact, is moving more and more towards “personalized medicine” (or “precision medicine”), which can only start from an intimate and personalized relationship between company and patient.

3. Channels – The imperative is to be omnichannel
The right message, as we have seen, is the one that reaches the right recipient. But that’s not all: it has to go through the right channel. And, once again, Digital Transformation has changed all the cards on the table, even in the pharmaceutical sector.

Alongside the traditional “physical channels” (from pharmacy to seminars and academia), the digital channels through which to publish their content marketing campaigns have multiplied. There are company websites, where it’s important to utilize tools like blogs or newsletters. Here, it is essential to put an efficient and targeted SEO strategy on track. There are specialized forums and platforms, to be screened and overseen with care; the whole ecosystem of apps is dedicated to health and the fundamental side of social networks.

Above all, there is an imperative to follow: manage your communication in an omnichannel way, optimizing and personalizing it according to the characteristics of each channel, and always with an eye toward the mobile environment. More and more, it is through smartphones that people connect to the internet.

4. Tools – The power of video
The objectives for content marketing in the pharmaceutical sector have diversified. Targets are increasingly specific, and the individual patient is increasingly at the center of the business. Likewise, the number of possible communication channels is constantly expanding. All of this is happening in the wake of Digital Transformation.

As a result, the tools for creating valuable and effective content have also multiplied.

There is the creation and management of well-organized corporate blogs. There are whitepapers, case studies, ebooks, and infographics. An increasingly interesting and exploited tool is the podcast.

Also in this case, it is important to underline that the perfect tool does not exist: it all depends on circumstances, strategies, objectives, and targets. Yet there is a medium that surpasses all others for power and effectiveness of communication, especially when it comes to content marketing: we are talking about video and the motivations are well expressed by the data itself. Here we propose two very significant data points:
  1. 55% of people pay more attention when approaching videos than any other type of content.
  2. when viewing a video, the average user retains 95% of the message contained in it; if we talk about text, this drops to 10%.

Any content marketing strategy for the pharmaceutical sector must pass the numbers test. You need to carefully measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, and understand what worked best and what worked least, to set in motion a process of continuous improvement. Again, it’s all about data, to be used to get “closer” and closer to people, and to establish fruitful and lasting relationships with them.

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