Pharma Marketing Managers Need to Regain Control of Their CX by Investing in Measurement Methods

Executive Summary

Digital is changing key elements of pharmaceutical firms’ business models: customers, channels, partners, and competitors. Building digital capabilities to protect the business can therefore no longer be a tactical response that plays out in pilot programs; rather, it must be a fundamental driver of a company’s overall strategy. However, our research into the progress toward digital transformation in the past year indicates that the former is happening. Pharma firms still lack a mature capability stack, have made little recent progress, and have poor control over the drivers of transformation success. To move away from the status quo, firms must take a disciplined approach to monitoring digital capabilities—users, maturity, challenges, and opportunities. Successful firms will compare digital capability performance across the organization, identify areas for improvement, and create a culture of continuously increasing maturity.

Companies surveyed for this report: AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Ferring, Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, ViiV Healthcare.

Marketing Managers are in the Dark as to Their Brand’s Digital CX Performance

Senior digital leaders at pharmaceutical firms rate customer experience (CX) design as one of the biggest business opportunities in their industry.[i] Interactions that customers need and find easy to use drive positive impressions about the company that designed them, which eventually develops into a transactional relationship that customers won’t give up on easily. Pharma’s marketing managers share the views of their digital leaders: of the thirty-two marketing managers we interviewed for our study of CX measurement, twenty-nine find it very important to know how well their digital initiatives meet customer needs and contribute to business goals (see Figure 1). However, understanding whether marketing managers can put their money where their mouth is and measure their brand’s digital performance is still unclear. The survey revealed that:

  • Marketing managers don’t know how good or bad their digital CX is. We asked if marketers could confidently answer a series of specific questions using any data they currently had relating to various aspects of their brand’s digital CX performance (see Figure 2). None of the thirty-two marketers could answer all of the questions; only eleven were able to answer more than two of them (see Figure 3). And while many marketers felt that they could confidently answer how user-friendly their CX is, only five could compare their design quality with those of their peers.
  • Lack of measurement discipline jeopardizes digital brand investments. The survey reveals two reasons why marketers are in the dark regarding the performance of their digital CX. Firstly, many marketers do not collect any data to track their customers’ experiences (see Figure 4). Secondly, those who are collecting data use just one or two tools to do so—which is insufficient to answer all of the important questions and perceive the larger picture (see Figure 5). There was a positive correlation between the number of tools marketers use and the number of questions they were able to answer—suggesting that using more methods gives marketers greater insight and clarifies which solutions will help improve digital CX (see Figure 6).
  • Marketers need to regain control and select the right measurement tools. To understand if they’re meeting customer needs, marketers must apply the same discipline and rigor to measuring CX as they do to determining the effectiveness of traditional interactions such as rep visits or congresses. In addition, marketers must know how and when to use the various measurement tools. Luckily, they don’t have to look far; most pharmaceutical firms have core measurement capabilities in place.[i] Any marketers who can’t tap into a centralized capability can use basic digital analytics and expert evaluations to jump quickly into CX measurement (see Figure 7).


DT Associates fielded its Q2 2016 Brand Planning survey to thirty-two marketing and brand team members selected based on two criteria. Respondents demonstrated interest in and familiarity with digital capabilities as part of their role in a pharmaceutical organization and had direct or indirect ties to their firm’s brand planning and marketing departments.

We fielded the survey from April 2016 to June 2016. Respondent incentives included a copy of a report containing the collected survey data prior to publication.

Our sample is not guaranteed to be representative of the population. Unless otherwise noted, data is intended for descriptive purposes. DT Associates fielded its survey using an online survey tool following a personal invitation by email.


Tim van Tongeren crc

Tim van Tongeren

Managing Partner

Tim has worked for more than fifteen years with commercial leaders to navigate their strategic and organizational transformations required to thrive on digital technology change. In his current role as Managing Partner, he leads DT’s Solutions and Consulting offerings to advise the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms on how to best achieve customer experience success through digital transformation.

Dennis van Rooij

Managing Partner

Dennis is a recognized expert on how pharmaceutical executives can take full advantage of new digital technologies to bolster their business objectives. He brings a strategic yet pragmatic perspective on digital transformation for the pharmaceutical industry…
Dennis van Rooij crc

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