New case study: Brand promotion strategy for Ultra-D
We promised to talk more about pharmaceutical case studies, so here is one of them!
Today we want to share the story of our successful cooperation with Orion Pharma, which we started with the promotion of the Ultra-D brand back in 2019.
We needed to prepare and implement a promotional strategy that would increase sales growth and help the company achieve their sales target.
In the process of developing a comprehensive strategy for Ultra-D, we have formed our own approach to promoting a pharmaceutical product in digital – a three-part pyramid: working with demand, with coverage and with investments that will support the brand development strategy for several years to come.
At the same time, it is important to make sure that each previous step helps in the implementation of the next one, and each next one depends on the previous one. We achieved this effect by working in the product logic. And here we want to thank our client who was in constant dialogue with us. Yes, we don’t have technical specifications and a clear plan for the year, but there is a target state that we want to get into (and this is much more important) and a set of metrics by which we understand that we are moving in the right direction.
What's the result? For the third year in a row, the search traffic is steadily growing, and the conversion rate is at a consistently high level. The average session length has doubled over the past year. The number of site visitors has increased six times since the beginning of our work on this project.
Also, the client and ourselves are not afraid of experiments because we know exactly what indicators are important to us –therefore, as an investment, we chose a podcast integration. The result is almost half a million podcast plays with Ultra-D ads per year at a constantly decreasing cost per contact.
Find out more about this project in our new case study!
How to increase sales of pharmaceuticals in digital?
In a pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry was also forced to go digital, but due to specific restrictions, it was more difficult for them than for others. How to build a strategy for promoting a pharmaceutical product online and increase sales without breaking the law? In 2020, we tested our own pharmaceuticals promotion strategy in practice – and now we will tell you how it works and what results we have got.
The pharmaceutical market is quite specific – in order to work with it, you need to understand additional legal and content restrictions. But we believe that apart from them, the set of competencies required to promote pharmaceuticals online is no different than that required to work with any other industry.
It is important to understand the nuances that are not always obvious. For example, you can't talk about symptoms or advertise prescription drugs. Even in the case of dietary supplements that are sold without a prescription, one way or another, you have to take into account the numerous limitations of advertising systems.
We have been working with the medical and pharmaceutical industry since 2016, therefore, we know how to comply with all the requirements of Russian legislation and at the same time convey the necessary information to people and benefit the business. Our portfolio includes:
websites of specialised medical communities in cardiology and phlebology, as well as the Detragel website and support for the Detralex website for the pharmaceutical company Servier.
We will demonstrate the effectiveness of our strategy for promoting pharmaceuticals in digital by the example of working with the Ultra-D brand.
Before telling you what we did, we want to pay attention to why and how we did it. Therefore, a significant part of the case study is devoted to setting goals, analysing the market and organising our processes – don't skip this part – it is important.
Orion is a Finnish pharmaceutical company with over 100 years of history. It develops, manufactures and markets innovative patented drugs, generics and care products and regularly invests in research and development to bring new therapies to patients. All Orion production sites are located in Finland. Orion Pharma has been the official representative of Orion in Russia since 1989.
The comprehensive promotion strategy for Ultra-D, a chewable vitamin D supplement, is our first joint project, which we started back in 2018.
At the beginning of cooperation with Orion Pharma, we formed our own three-part guide on working with pharmaceutical marketing: how to convert demand into the purchase, expand coverage and invest in brand development. (We'll cover this in more detail in the section on strategy.)
Our strategy quickly brought the first results, and after the successful start of work for Ultra-D, the client also handed us over their Fertina and Lactagel brands for promotion (we will do separate case studies about them later).
Illustrations for the Ultra-D website
Goals and objectives
A distinctive feature of the pharmaceutical industry is that they know how to collect and analyse data and calculate everything down to the volume of sales in packages, therefore, together with a detailed brief, we received sales analytics from the client. Thanks to this, together, we were able to formulate precisely where, why and how we were going.
Fulfil the sales plan (in the number of packages).
Expand the target audience through new segments.
Attract a new audience to the consumption of the brand.
Draw attention to the brand as a “mouthpiece” of the target audience's thoughts, to form curiosity about the brand (using a manifesto and messages based on the target audience's insights).
Stimulate first purchase intent.
Gradually generate deferred demand – to increase the audience’s involvement in the problem of vitamin D deficiency and help the audience feel the need for the product.
Develop a promotion strategy
Create a website
Launch an advertising campaign
Select tools for expanding coverage and formation of deferred demand and implement these projects
Processes and division of responsibilities
When working with integrated promotion, it is important to find that participant in the process who could take responsibility and deal with all the issues – that is, synchronise and subordinate all the work to a single vision so that each previous step helps in the implementation of the next, and each next one depends on the previous one. This person understands what the result should be and knows how the team will achieve it. Controlling each stage, they correct the course and tell what to do next.
This kind of logic is called product logic, and such a person is a product owner. In fact, any pharmaceutical company has a product manager, but they are responsible for the offline format. And here, the client has two options: 1) find an agency that can take on this role and act as a connecting link; 2) keep this role within the team. The main thing is that someone has to take on this role in one way or another. In the case of Orion Pharma, we took over the responsibilities of the product owner and became a single product team with the client.
In our understanding, product logic is a format of work in which we go to the goal with small iterations, flexibly managing priorities. At the same time, we don't have a technical specification and a clear plan for the year, but there is a target state that we want to get into (and this is much more important) and a set of metrics by which we understand that we are going in the right direction.
And this is how our workflow was formed in the product logic:
The main thing is that we are in constant dialogue with the client, at each stage we ask clarifying questions, and they answer us.
And now we will tell you step by step how we achieved our goals.
1. Brand communication platform
We start preparing a digital strategy not with the selection of tools but with large-scale research and development of positioning. Therefore, first we:
studied competitors, target audience and their behaviour, the product itself;
identified the strengths of Ultra-D in comparison with competitors.
This allowed us to understand the details, the specifics of the market and the product instead of just using a typical set of tools and fulfilling the formal requirements of the client.
The result of this research was the communication platform of the Ultra-D brand for a narrow target audience – women planning pregnancy. The main message of the campaign – "Your almightiness." Based on the insights of this target audience segment, we built a separate landing page, where we talk about the benefits of Ultra-D in the context of planning for pregnancy.
A fragment of the landing page dedicated to pregnancy on Ultra-D s website.
Later, due to the change in the vector of work to a wider target audience, we redesigned the communication platform and created a second one with the message "Ultra-D – for those who need more." We used it in advertising integration with the podcast “It's good you said that” (we'll talk more about this in the podcast section).
During the pandemic, we also updated the main message on the main page of the site: "Strong immune system – Ultra-D's concern" to match the 2020 trend of increasing requests for immunity and vitamins for the immune system.
A fragment of the Ultra-D site's main page
2. Digital strategy
Based on our experience with medical topics, studying the experience of other agencies and their case studies, as well as analysing the market, we formed our own hypothesis: how to promote pharmaceuticals online legally, safely and effectively. This is how our pyramid of promoting pharmaceuticals in digital appeared:
The base of the pyramid: website, SEO, PPC
There are three components at the base of the pyramid: a website, search engine optimisation (SEO) and performance tools (contextual advertising with PPC, Pay per Click). In the first step, we try to use the most predictable and obligatory tools to convert demand into the purchase.
The middle of the pyramid: reach and reputation
At this stage, when all the basic necessary tools are set up and are already working, we expand the entrance to the funnel. To expand our reach, we use display advertising on social media (for example, display advertising for CPC / CPM), social media (Paid Social) and video advertising (OLV).
The top of the pyramid: investments
Investments are anything that will not bring an immediate effect (especially if the basic needs are not fulfilled) and will be expensive but will support the brand's development strategy for several years to come. These are podcasts, applications and all sorts of other special projects.
When the client approached us, Ultra-D already had an old uninformative site that didn't convert well into target action, so our joint decision was to create a new website.
As a result of the work on the communication platform, we had a presentation reflecting all the features of the market and the product, which made it easier for the designer to dive into the topic.
Together with the client, we have developed a sequence of semantic blocks, which step by step helps the user to learn about the benefits of Ultra-D, find answers to all their questions and proceed to purchase. We complemented the main messages with cute illustrations in the brand's corporate colours.
Fragments of the Ultra-D's site main page
Development and migration
We built a website with integration with an online pharmacy on WordPress in a few days, without the involvement of programmers. We used a ready-made theme for the design but reworked it to match Ultra-D's brand identity.
Then we performed a careful migration to a new address, adapting the old content and setting up 301 redirects to speed up the indexing of the new site and not lose existing positions in the search results.
We fill the site not only with information about the product but also with high-quality content that works not for robots but for people – it answers real questions of the target audience and brings real benefits. All articles are written by an author with medical education, proofread by an editor and a lawyer, corrected and approved by a medical adviser from the client's side.
A block with articles teasers on the main page
We regularly adapt the content plan based on search demand and the current situation, get it approved by the client, and, if necessary, adjust it in the process.
In total, for 2019-2021, we have prepared over 50 articles for different segments of the audience.
We are constantly optimising placements based on statistics and trying to use conversion optimisation strategies where possible.
Advertising banners for Ultra-D
5. End-to-end analytics
With the help of Google Tag Manager, we have improved our analytics system: when a user visits the site, we save UTM tags in cookies, store them for some time and insert them into links leading to Apteka.ru + track conversions and scroll depth on our side.
And thanks to the fact that the client got access to the Apteka.ru analytics segment for some time, we saw the actions of our users in the online pharmacy (and received confirmation of our hypothesis about the effectiveness of our pharmaceuticals promotion pyramid). We use the obtained data further – to optimise advertising campaigns.
Since 2020, we have been running the brand's social media and working on awareness: we test different types of content in different segments of the target audience, actively use targeted advertising, and warm up the audience.
Ultra-D's Instagram account
We are working on the brand's social media together with contractors who conducted a stylish product photoshoot and revived the Ultra-D Instagram account with new photos. The account is now ready to launch new activities. We are also planning a blogger integration soon.
7. Integration with a podcast
As an investment, for the formation of deferred demand, we chose a solution that is not typical for Russian pharmaceutical companies – integration with podcasts. And we made the right choice - the results are great! But first, let's talk about how we implemented this special project.
Choosing the podcast
We contacted Libo/Libo studio, where we were offered several podcasts that fit the portrait of our target audience and the subject matter. Together with the client, we chose the “It's Good You Said That” podcast, in which real people discuss their problems with psychotherapists.
Each episode of the podcast focused on one topic, such as procrastination, domestic violence, or impostor syndrome. The studio told us in advance about the specifics of the season and the theme of each episode, and we adapted the advertising messages of "Ultra-D", taking these materials into account.
As a slogan, at the end of each integration, we used the main message created based on the second communication platform: "Ultra-D – for those who need more."
The integration lasted the entire second season of the podcast – 9 episodes – from November 2 to December 28, 2020. The podcast is very interesting!
A brand promotion strategy is a complex work that requires several years for its full implementation, therefore the results are not immediately obvious. The preparation of the strategy began back in 2018. In 2019, we launched a new website and carried out the first advertising campaigns – laying the foundation. But in 2020, the strategy gained the scale we needed and began to bear significant results.
Over the past year, we have updated the brand's communication platform, scaled up our presence in proven advertising channels, implemented a special project with a podcast, and planned integrations with bloggers on Instagram. Now we continue to develop social media, work on the growth of organic traffic and actively use performance tools.
And here are the numbers and dynamics we got by October 2021.
Search traffic shows steady growth due to promotion through information requests. Weekly performance in August 2021 surpassed the record for the peak of the 2020 season, which usually occurs in November. Thus, we expand our funnel at the entrance due to relatively cheap organic traffic, get users who may be interested in our product, and then convert them to an online pharmacy using retargeting tools.
The dynamics of visits and conversion in 2020-2021
By working on optimising the site and advertising, we manage to maintain a conversion rate of at least 3% in the transition to the pharmacy from advertising channels. At the same time, at the peak of the season, the combination of increased demand and strategies with optimisation for conversions allows us to achieve a threefold increase in conversion – up to 9%. As a result of website improvements, the average session duration has doubled over the past year.
The number of website visitors is growing every year:
2019: 60,000+ visitors, 70,000+ visits.
2020: 380,000+ visitors, 440,000+ visits.
2021, by October 10: 360,000+ visitors, 410,000+ visits.
In 2021, before the peak of the season, the number of visitors almost reached 2020 figures.
We planned the podcast as an investment that would have a delayed effect, and that's exactly how it worked. The profit from integration with a podcast is similar to the growth of organic traffic: at the start, both have a very high contact price, but over time, if the podcast is of high quality and hits the audience well, the number of listens increases, and the contact price decreases.
Cost per contact dynamics
It's been almost a year since the release of the second season of the podcast with our integration – but its popularity continues to grow, as does the number of contacts with our integration.
Data for September 2021:
450,000 plays of episodes with Ultra-D commercials.
Our integration was listened to by at least 70% of podcast listeners.
The price of contact is much cheaper than all other traffic sources (in particular, it is 5-6 times cheaper than a click in advertising).
And this part of the strategy also gave us a Bronze in the “Best artful performance” nomination at the Tagline Awards 2020–2021! We don't work for the sake of awards, but it's a nice bonus)
Despite the specifics of the industry, it is quite possible to promote pharmaceuticals in digital and achieve significant results.
Yes, there are hard limits. On the one hand, it is necessary to take into account all the requirements of the advertising law. On the other hand, there are legal restrictions related to the advertising of medical products. But once you figure it out, it gets easier.
Yes, there is no way to measure the conversion to offline sales. And a lot depends on how medical representatives work, how effectively they communicate with doctors in person or at specialised conferences. We must not forget that a potential buyer interacts with the brand not only online but also by communicating with the doctor who prescribes the drug. As a result, we don't know what will affect a person's decision and how they will eventually act offline. All we can do is to study their online behaviour as thoroughly as possible and quickly respond to the changing needs of the target audience. And here the product logic saves us.
Today you cannot make a plan for a year and just wait for the result. Since the environment is constantly changing, the understanding of what and how to do right now is formed in the process. The product approach allows you to experiment, to try different tools, mechanics, channels, formats and their combinations – and only in this way you can get the desired results and achieve your goals.
If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to answer them and share our experience.
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