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Pharma Marketing: The Power of Taking Your Health Message Mobile

Posted on: 03 May 11


Brand managers and marketing leads are always striving to gain that first step of engagement, particularly in our world of pharmaceutical manufacturing. And with good reason. Customer engagement leads to improved understanding, which drives loyalty and ultimately improved health.

Brand managers and marketing leads are always striving to gain that first step of engagement, particularly in our world of pharmaceutical manufacturing. And with good reason. Customer engagement leads to improved understanding, which drives loyalty and ultimately improved health.

I believe that mobile apps present marketers with a tremendous opportunity to encourage the kind of consumer engagement we are seeking in this industry. With the launch of the iPad2, Motorola XOOM, Samsung Galaxy and numerous smartphones including the iPhone4 and Motorola’s Droid line, the capabilities and the use of mobile technology continues to grow, making earlier devices such as the Casio Cassiopeia (which I owned) and early Palm and Windows CE versions look as though they were dug up from some ancient civilization. Today’s mobile world delivers such ease of use, speed of delivery, and quality of experience that even my grandmother is able to get her email, update Facebook and read her Chicago news from Florida while having her morning coffee on the porch. In other words, mobile technology has reached the point where marketers must give it serious consideration as a vital avenue to reach and engage customers as part of the marketing mix.

Mobile apps win
Mobile apps have created a powerful new means of engagement because they offer marketers an automatic ‘opt-in’ from the customer that makes way for immediate interaction. Additionally, I think we have only seen the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what our creative teams and skilled programmers can develop to encourage even further interaction in a mobile environment with our customers. While there are statistics showing that the percentage of ongoing use of apps remains low, especially in the health sector, I still believe apps surpass many other options for reaching a wide base of potential patients. The key to ensuring your app stands out from others will require finding a way to make your app highly interactive and using it as a portal to push valuable information, reminders and resources to the customer, so that it becomes a must have tool in their daily life.

Newsletters, disease state information, upcoming webinars and any other information relevant to the customer are examples of content that could be included in your app. Customizable doctor visit reminders, and medication and refill reminders are also possibilities. Apps are a great way to share valuable resources that help the user manage his health—examples for a diabetic would include a glucose tracking log, blood pressure log, cholesterol log, diet tracker with suggestions for meals, or a recipe book for low sodium and sugar-free options. The list could go on and on when it comes to ideas, but ultimately the ability to combine many of these options and link the app to email, SMS, web, social media, etc. is why mobile apps could prove to be such a powerful option for getting your message out.

Using every channel
Of course, as with any new marketing vehicle, this is not an “if you build it they will come” Field of Dreams moment. You have to market your marketing tool. Marketing your app is going to be what spurs the uptake, and it has to involve every channel from print to web.

The reality is that the consumer is now in full control of how and where they want to receive information. As a result, I believe that mixing a combination of touch points across multiple media that all interact together is quickly becoming the best way to market just about everything, including your app. Developing a multi-channel campaign provides the opportunity to leverage every channel to drive adoption. Whether it is a web article with a link to the download, SMS which directs an iPhone to load the app, or a printed piece with a 2D barcode directing the XOOM or iPad to a mobile site for the download, all of these avenues offer easy access to potential users of the mobile application.

Maximizing your multi-channel marketing around your new app will also require personalization as well as multiple touches. Having the ability to gather demographic data on the potential user will make it possible to set up subsequent touches with customized messages, images and a delivery method tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

Marketing your app should definitely include 2D barcodes. As the new marketing darling for interactive engagement, one popular version is the Quick Response (QR) code, but you could also use MS Tags or other versions as well. These 2D barcodes are read through a mobile device’s camera. A software application on a smartphone or tablet device reads the code and then directs the user to a website, contact information, calendar invitation, etc., to capture the user’s attention. These codes will make downloading the app very easy and quick.

Everyone benefits
All in all, incorporating mobile apps into your marketing strategy is a great way to take advantage of the growing trend toward mobile. With a continuously updated and resource-laden mobile app, supported by a well-planned multi-channel marketing campaign, you can drive that all-important engagement with your customers—ultimately reaching the goal of increasing their knowledge and understanding, improving loyalty, and the pinnacle endpoint of better health and quality of life.

Eric Boothe is director of business development, Life Sciences Division, EarthColor. EarthColor offers complete on-demand marketing and print technology solutions for the dynamic pharmaceutical and biotech industries. For more information about EarthColor and its Life Sciences Division, please visit or e-mail Eric Boothe at

Eric Boothe, Director Business Development—Life Sciences

Last updated on: 03/05/2011 12:21:03

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