It’s been over a year since COVID-19 changed the world. Schools closed, workforces went remote, and the healthcare industry became laser-focused on treating and preventing the spread of the virus. While COVID dominated headlines, other health concerns didn’t simply disappear. With over 60% of the U.S. population suffering from at least one chronic condition, pharmaceutical companies had a big decision to make — should they adjust their advertising budgets?
Typically, marketers use existing campaign data to determine whether they should increase or decrease their investments in specific tactics. However, there was no data on what to do during a global pandemic, and the healthcare industry saw concerning downward trends in health behaviors. At the height of stay-at-home orders in mid-April, overall doctor visitation dropped 46% and new-to-brand fills dropped 41% compared to February 2020. With this massive decline, many brands turned to Crossix for guidance. Here’s how three brands used data to validate continued marketing investments and how their decisions successfully drove new patient starts in 2020.
Because of shelter-in-place orders at the beginning of the pandemic, a brand that targeted an elderly population and required patients to be injected at an office saw their sales plummet. This drop caused concern, and the brand needed to decide whether they should continue to invest in marketing. Working with Crossix, the brand was able to see early data and discovered that there was an 8% reduction in new-to-brand prescription fills (NBRx) for those consumers who had seen advertising, compared to a 19% drop in overall NBRx fills (comparing fills from Q1 2019 to Q1 2020.) This suggested that media exposure played an important role in new patient starts, and the brand chose to stay the course with their investments.
After stay-at-home restrictions were lifted in Q2 of 2020, the brand saw an increase in conversion rates, indicating that the demand for the brand did not disappear — it was just pent up. This showed that media exposure helped the brand stay top-of-mind until patients felt safe to visit their doctors again, and the brand made the right decision to keep investing in marketing.
At the end of the year, the brand saw over 30,000 new patient starts as a result of media exposure, accounting for a 15% lift over a control group that was not exposed to advertising.
COVID-19 grounded pharma reps throughout 2020, limiting in-person communication with healthcare professionals (HCPs), and decreased treatment-seeking behavior among patients. One autoimmune brand recognized the value of digital marketing as a way to recreate these lost touchpoints and decided to increase its marketing investments, despite a decline in health behaviors among patients. The additional budget allowed the brand to focus on reaching their target list of HCPs — those that treat relevant patients. By broadening the digital campaign’s reach, the brand was able to decrease the cost per new acquisition by over 30% and doubled their net rate of conversion, driving more than a 250% increase in incremental new prescriptions among exposed HCPs.
A third brand worked with Crossix to understand how COVID affected overall health and media trends to determine its marketing plan. Despite drops in specialist visits (-30%) and prescription fills in the condition (-18%), the brand decided to continue investing in marketing with a more targeted approach. Based on previous performance data, the brand shifted its strategy to focus on endemic websites. These efforts resulted in a 15% increase in targeting efficiency, and the brand was able to maintain its pre-COVID conversion rate despite an overall decline in the market.
Separately, the brand also secured additional funding to advertise on HCP display partners to make up for lost in-person field force visits. These digital display efforts were effective and helped the brand’s HCP media reach more target list HCPs in 2020 than it did in 2019. Additionally, HCPs who were exposed to the targeted display media wrote more prescriptions for the brand than other brands in the category. The brand’s decision to continue (and increase) its investments helped maintain its market share, while other brands in the same category struggled to achieve the same level of conversions.
The healthcare industry, inclusive of pharma, was thrown a curveball last year. While there was no precedent to refer to in terms of marketing investments, many clients leveraged data to validate that their efforts made a difference during a time when doctor visitation and prescription fills were down. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing approach, but there is value in using data to make decisions. Contact Veeva Crossix to learn how you can use data and analytics to make ongoing marketing and media decisions throughout the year.