In part 2 of our 4 part series, Leveraging the Email Channel Throughout the Pharma Brand Life Cycle, we consider how email marketing can be used to optimize the product launch and introduce a new indication.
The email channel plays a pivotal role throughout a pharma brand’s growth and maturation. This is never more critical than at launch, when the long-term success of the brand is at stake.
At launch, email offers the flexibility needed to identify and engage key audiences, convert prescribers to brand loyalists, and respond quickly to changes in the competitive environment. Introducing a new indication is similar in many ways, and email is equally well-suited to that process.
Hit the Ground Running at Launch
After years spent developing and conditioning the market, product launch is the moment of truth.
Nearly 50% of recent launches failed to meet analyst expectations.
Remember the Bain & Company finding: Pharma brands are expected to derive up to 80 percent of revenue from new launches by 2021, but nearly 50 percent of recent launches failed to meet analyst expectations. More than 25 percent reached less than 50 percent of external revenue forecasts.
Break the Launch Period into Intervals
Email is ideal for engaging key audiences and responding quickly to changes in the competitive environment.
Fortunately, you’re far from helpless once the drug debuts. By breaking the launch process into 30-, 60-, and 90- day intervals, you can analyze performance and make course corrections as needed. For example, you can determine if you need to adjust your promotional mix, increase the frequency of communication with existing audiences, or add new audiences.
The following guidelines will help you steer your launch in the right direction:
- 30 Days After Launch. This is the time to capitalize on your pre-marketing efforts. Begin by deploying emails to all targeted first-tier prescribers, as well as targeted secondary prescribers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The purpose of these emails is to build rapport among your key opinion leaders (KOLs) and networks of influence.
- 60 Days After Launch. At this point, you should continue all your launch initiatives and begin evaluating your efforts. Be sure you’ve reached all key audiences through both email and non-personal channels like print media. You might also consider accelerating trial use and developing campaigns to convert trial participants to brand advocates.
- 90 Days After Launch. At 90 days, you want to reevaluate your launch plan and make any necessary adjustments. Factors like brand uptake, payor acceptance, and competitive response will indicate whether or not you need to make changes. Remember that your goal is to develop a large base of advocates and convert prescribers to brand loyalists.
Ask These Questions to Improve Results
As you reevaluate your marketing initiatives throughout the first 90 days, consider the following questions:
- Have all key audiences received at least one to four "touches"?
- Do you need to increase frequency and reach with existing audiences?
- Does market, audience, or payor feedback indicate you should add new audiences?
- Do you need to adjust the promotional mix in any way?
- Did anything new happen in the marketplace to warrant a shift in strategy?
- How is the competition responding?
- What is the product status on formularies?
- Should you consider any adjustments in pricing?
If you find that your launch campaign is off-course, email marketing can help you get back on track. First you might try making your emails more specific to your brand, offer, and target. This will help you pinpoint the cause of poor results so you can refine your messaging before too much time is lost.
By breaking the launch process into intervals, you can analyze performance and make course corrections.
Alternatively, if business intelligence or market conditions indicate a potential problem, you could develop a series of defensive messages in advance. That way you’ll be ready with a response if and when challenges arise.
Introducing a new indication of an existing drug poses similar challenges to launching a new drug. You have to identify your target audience, build awareness of the new indication, and convert prescribers into brand loyalists.
At the same time, budgets and pipelines are shrinking, payors have more influence than ever, and physicians are inundated with data and media channels. Plus, the pathway to FDA approval is more grueling than ever.
Email and audience identity data enable reps to provide HCPs with timely, relevant information.
With obstacles like these, strategic digital marketing becomes essential. By leveraging the flexibility, precision targeting and broad reach of the email channel, pharma marketers can successfully usher new indications into the market.
Enable Sales Reps with Knowledge of HCPs
Pharma reps play a key role in the introduction of new indications. However, there is a shortage of reps in the field, and low-see rules make it difficult for them to connect with physicians. Again, highly targeted email presents a solution.
When you work with a quality physician email list, your sales reps have access to detailed information about individual physicians. This knowledge can be enhanced further with audience identity data that reports the web browsing behavior of identified HCPs who visit participating websites.
Together, email and audience identity data enable reps to provide HCPs with relevant information based on their current needs. Reps can monitor each physician’s evolving interests and adjust their outreach accordingly.
Respond to a Changing Competitive Environment
As with a new drug launch, introducing a new indication of an existing drug requires an analytical look at the market. The competitive landscape is always changing, and major shifts may occur on the heels of a new indication.
Use email to target high-value hospital systems and group practices, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
A prime example is the battle between Pradaxa and Xarelto. For decades, the market didn't see a new anticoagulant drug. Coumadin remained the gold standard despite its many shortcomings.
Then, in 2010, Boehringer Ingelheim introduced Pradaxa. Though Pradaxa had similar indications, it didn't require the restricted diet or regular blood tests that Coumadin did. Because it had comparable efficacy, but was easier to use, it captured significant market share.
When Johnson & Johnson introduced a similar drug, Xarelto, a few years later, the two were neck and neck in the blood-thinner market. But shortly after its debut, Xarelto received an expanded indication for deep vein thrombosis.
This added a significant number of new patients and potentially millions of dollars to the brand's sales revenue. Johnson & Johnson then had to reexamine its original audience to determine if the new indication could reach an even broader patient base.
Know When It’s Time to Reposition the Brand
When you’re deciding whether to reposition your brand relative to the competition, it’s also important to consider market conditions, reimbursement challenges, and clinical guideline changes. Once your direction is set, you can use email to target high-value hospital systems and group practices, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
The email channel provides a reliable, cost-effective channel for extending the brand, reaching more HCPs, and capturing market share.
Whether you’re launching a drug or introducing a new indication, email provides a flexible, cost-effective channel for extending the brand, reaching more HCPs, and capturing market share.