As the first day of the inaugural Digital Pharma Marketing Australia 2011 conference draws to a close, VIVA! presents our readers with a recap of presentation highlights and top tips for developing digital health campaigns.

Panel members, Cathy Withers from iNova Pharmaceuticals, Maria McManus from Roche Pharmaceuticals and Peter Stephenson from MSD Australia, discuss digital marketing case studies with conference delegates.

1. Forget the technology, develop the idea

Peter Stephenson from MSD Australia provided a timely reminder to conference delegates about the importance of developing an innovative, content-rich and customer-focused campaign before delving into a digital warp.

While digital health campaigns can be exciting, their success relies heavily on how well the company and the agency work together from concept to execution. Peter says there should be a balance between digital capabilities and overall campaign goals; while benefits of the campaign to the healthcare professional, the patient or general public should be at the core.

And don’t forget, content is still King in the digital space.

2. Don’t be afraid of the customer

“By allowing the general public to write on your Facebook page, the sky is not going to fall down,” says Pfizer’s Edward Stening.

As Marketing Manager at Pfizer Australia, Edward presented a case study of how the company’s PawClub is driving the brand through digital media to increase consumer reach.

Social media campaigns are at their core, based on two-way interactions between the company and the consumer, and this should be encouraged if a social media initiative is incorporated into a health program. The campaign should inspire your audience, otherwise nothing will be achieved from your digital presence.

Veronique Toully, Managing Director of UCB Australia explained how her company is utilising digital media to enhance peer-to-peer interactions between medical practitioners. According to Veronique, health specialists, such as rheumatologists and neurologists, are tech savvy and open to utilising digital and social media channels to discuss, debate and learn about emerging health trends in their respective areas of expertise world-wide. Pharma companies, including UCB, are helping to facilitate this trend by providing health experts with a platform for dialogue and engagement.

Veronique Toully from UCB Australia kick-starts the conference with key strategies for improving customer relationship management

Dean Millington from Princeton Digital elaborated on the concept of digital media use by healthcare professionals with his presentation, Toy or Tool? His team found that 80 per cent of Australians are using a smartphone, with the majority using an iPhone or Android device. Interestingly, healthcare professionals are no different in this arena. Health specialists are predominately iPhone users and they are surfing the web primarily through this device, according to Princeton Digital. The team also found that health specialists are more likely to embrace digital media than GPs, with the most popular initiatives being apps that help specialists search for clinical data, pharmaceutical product or device information, and health apps or websites for their patients.

Furthermore, Peter Stephenson from MSD Australia is a fan of keeping social media campaigns simple, social and fun. While this may be difficult to achieve or envision for some pharmaceutical companies, a communications agency specialising in healthcare can tailor a program that takes the company on a journey targeting an online audience to achieve better health outcomes.

3. Agency is your new best friend

At VIVA! Communications, we thrive on developing and maintaining strong partnerships with our clients in order to meet, and even surpass campaign goals. The most successful PR campaigns are based on ongoing collaboration and engagement with the client and the agency.

Delegates at the 2011 Digital Pharma Marketing Australia in Sydney.

So, when Edward Stening from Pfizer Australia suggested DigiPharma delegates “make love with the agency”, we instantly understood where he was coming from. Edward suggests that the key to a successful digital health campaign rests on a close working relationship with an agency that lives and breathes health communications (both traditional and digital), understands the client’s vision and features ongoing input from, and collaboration with the client.

Follow the DigiPharm Sydney 2011 conversation on twitter: @vivacomms #digipharma