The Value of Unbranded Content in Pharma Marketing
Pharmaceutical brands love unbranded content — and with good reason.
Unbranded content is a type of marketing communication that blends in with the surrounding editorial content on a website or social media platform. It’s designed to promote a product or service without explicitly mentioning the brand, giving pharma marketers an opportunity to reach consumers in a subtle and natural way.
Unlike traditional advertising, which can be disruptive and interruptive, unbranded content fits seamlessly into the consumer’s online experience. This makes it more likely for consumers to engage with a pharma marketer’s content and ultimately learn about the drug or medical product being promoted.
From a regulatory perspective, unbranded content offers a greater level of flexibility than traditional advertising. Because unbranded content is largely outside the FDA’s purview, pharma brands have an opportunity to educate and engage patients without being limited by FDA regulations that govern advertising for prescription and non-prescription drugs. Although regulations vary based on the type of message being conveyed—for example, certain types of content must include a list of medication side effects—unbranded content gives pharma companies a much more direct route to connecting with patients in the real world.
Although most blogs and articles will still need to undergo MLR (medical legal review), pharma brands generally have more freedom when they publish unbranded content on external websites than when they run more traditional ad campaigns.Interviews, videos, and testimonials are all fair game, just so long as the content is truly unbranded.
In certain cases, the language in articles that involve prescription and non-prescription drugs must be approved by the FDA prior to publication. Whether content falls under the FDA’s regulatory scope often depends on the target audience. Is the article aimed at consumers or healthcare providers? Experienced pharmaceutical marketing agencies like EsperienzaRx can offer specific guidance on how to approach these types of challenging situations.
Awareness and Credibility
Unbranded content can increase brand awareness and boost credibility for drug manufacturers. By publishing valuable and informative articles, a pharmaceutical company can establish itself as a thought leader in its industry and build trust with its target audience. This leads to increased brand loyalty and, ultimately, a growth in sales.
Unbranded content can also be highly effective in reaching specific niche audiences, such as patients who suffer from certain conditions.
A Real World Example
Let’s say you have a medication that treats eczema. Rather than writing articles and developing content about the medication your company manufactures, you could develop an unbranded content strategy focused on the condition itself.
An unbranded website all about eczema would be a useful resource for people who suffer from the condition. Once the website is developed and launched, you would be able to publish articles mentioning your medication or directing patients with eczema toward physicians who prescribe your drug.
If developing an unbranded website feels like too large of a task, there is also the option to create content that appeals to a specific demographic or interests, and then place that content on websites or social media platforms that are popular with people in the groups you’re targeting. This can help to increase the reach and relevance of the unbranded pharma content, making it more likely to resonate with the target audience.
Decoding the Dollars
Unbranded content is cost-effective and can be easily trackable for pharma brands. By tracking the performance of unbranded content, companies can measure their return on investment (ROI) and make data-driven decisions about their marketing strategies.
For pharma marketers on tight budgets, traditional advertising opportunities can be prohibitively expensive. Running an ad across 100,000 websites can cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not just that, but digital ads are fleeting. The moment the ad is gone, the message is often forgotten.
That’s not the only challenge with traditional advertising for pharmaceutical companies.
In recent years, a number of ad platforms have placed bans on pharma marketing. Worldwide, pharmaceutical marketing is so regulated that just two countries allow direct-to-consumer advertising in any form. Those countries are the United States and New Zealand. That makes it especially challenging for global pharmaceutical companies to communicate with consumers through digital advertising, and it’s yet another reason why more pharma brands are turning to unbranded content as a potential solution.
Pushing Traffic to Medical Partners
Driving awareness to an unbranded website can be tricky. Certain FDA regulations do limit the way drug manufacturers promote drugs online. However, unbranded content still provides an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to highlight physicians and healthcare providers that prescribe their products.
One of the reasons why pharma companies publish unbranded content is that there is more opportunity to leverage top marketing channels. With savvy targeting and clever headlines, agencies can drive brand awareness.
A Recipe for Success
Is your interest piqued? If you’re considering running unbranded content, then keep these suggestions in mind to give your campaigns the best shot at success:
- Develop high-quality educational content. Content mills proliferate online. Consumers can smell phony content from a mile away, and they won’t engage with articles that are full of errors. Make your unbranded content articles comprehensive and emotionally engaging. Provide examples or links to resources for any points that you make.
- Understand what excites your target audience. As a marketer, your goal is to create content that has the potential to go viral and attract a lot of attention. That means taking the time to develop a creative, original approach — or partnering with a pharma marketing agency that can do that for you.
- Engage audiences on an emotional level. The best content is emotionally engaging. Articles should tell a story using the experiences of real people whenever possible. When you show the face of a person who suffers from the condition you’re describing, you’re giving readers something they can grab onto and making your content more memorable.
- Create free resources for patients. When possible, consider adding interactive resources like calculators, mood trackers, and other tools that people with certain conditions can use to monitor their symptoms, regardless of the medications they’re using.
- Focus on transparency. Honesty and transparency are non-negotiables. Consumers look for authentic, balanced information online, and they aren’t going to trust content that’s blatantly biased toward one drug manufacturer or brand name product.
- Set a regular schedule. For an unbranded content strategy to work best, articles must be published on a recurring basis. One-off pieces don’t give your writers enough time to build long-term trust. To be an effective thought leader, you must publish on a regular basis.
- Track your results. Measuring the effectiveness of an unbranded content campaign means doing more than just running basic website analytics. The most successful brands use A/B testing for content, keywords, and audience segmentation.
Unbranded content is a valuable marketing tool that can help brands reach consumers in a natural and non-disruptive way, but this strategy does take time to develop. It also requires a level of management that agencies like EsperienzaRx can provide.
Don’t let those challenges hold you back. Dive in and experiment with incorporating unbranded content into your pharma marketing strategy without waiting too long — this is an approach that’s here to stay.