Pharma marketers, like marketers in just about every industry, are pouring more and more of their dollars into digital channels.

A small but growing number are even eyeing new technologies like AR and VR to engage consumers, but according to a new report by CMI/Compas, marketers might not want to ditch traditional channels when it comes to physician engagement.

“While there are always new opportunities in the digital space, there are still plenty of people out there who are still highly valuing print, still highly valuing direct mail,” Kyle Cooper, the associate director of media at CMI/Compas, told Fierce Pharma.

How much do physicians value print? One study incorporated into CMI/Compas’ report found that 66% of healthcare professionals said print journals were important for staying abreast of new medical developments, making them the third-most important medium.

CMI/Compas believes that print’s staying power might ironically be a result of the sea of digital resources physicians and other healthcare professionals have access to. Because print publications, including journals, have traditionally been seen as reputable, trusted sources of information, members of the medical community still seek them out, meaning they can, if used correctly, offer pharma marketers the ability to cut through the digital clutter.

That’s an especially big deal for pharma marketers given that physicians are increasingly elusive.

Interestingly, CMI/Compas found that the appeal of print exists across generations. According to CMI/Compas’ Cooper, millennial physicians, for instance, peruse print just as much as Gen X physicians.

Millennial physicians peruse print as much as Gen X

How pharma marketers can maximize the print opportunity

To make the most of print campaigns, pharma marketers need to do a number of things.

Target the right publications and deliver the right messages

The need to target the right channels – in this case print publications – and deliver messaging relevant to the target audience is just as critical in the print realm as it is in the digital realm.

This said, while bigger is often better online, that apparently isn’t the case in print. Specifically, CMI/Compas found that when larger ads were used across journal ads with eight different target audiences, prices shot up but gains didn’t. As a result, it suggests that pharma marketers consider running smaller ads at higher frequencies.

Integrate digital

There’s no reason pharma marketers should treat print campaigns as being separate from their digital campaigns. In fact, in many if not most cases, they’ll want to do the opposite by using print campaigns to support broader campaigns in other channels, including digital.

For example, print ads can drive traffic to digital properties on which pharma marketers can make calls to action, such as submitting a form to access additional content. To track the performance of print ads and ensure accurate attribution, pharma marketers should ensure that their print ads use custom campaign-specific URLs.

Focus on what physicians want

In trying to leverage print ads to drive physicians to digital channels in which they can be further engaged, pharma marketers need to ensure that they have a good understanding of what physicians want.

While pharma’s reputation, even among physicians, has taken a hit in recent years, physicians have expressed an interest in content produced and distributed by pharma. Specifically, physicians have indicated that they are interested in efficacy and outcome data, as well as clinical guidelines. Unfortunately, according to Deloitte, many pharma companies are failing to take advantage of this.

Integrated print-digital campaigns give pharma marketers the perfect opportunity to change that.

Pharma must use digital to meet the needs of decision makers: report