What are the primary endpoints of your digital strategy?

March 6, 2024

Data. It’s what makes the biotech and marketing worlds go round. But where biotech is focused on primary endpoints, clinical outcomes, and p-values, marketers are more focused on data points like impressions, conversions, click-through rates, and attribution models. For the pre-commercial biotech, a focus on the latter may seem unimportant when you’re preoccupied with advancing your science and programs.

The Digital Marketers’ Dilemma

Or maybe that was just a me problem. I entered the world of biotech over 6 years ago, coming from a background in digital marketing. In my previous role, we worked with companies that had a very clear relationship between their website and their revenue. Whether they were selling software development services or solar panels, each time a customer hit “buy” or “talk to a sales rep,” we were able to track how our marketing efforts directly translated to the company’s revenue through their website.

At first blush, this approach poses a conundrum for the typical biotech that does not have products on the market. Without being able to tie actions taken on a company website to company revenue, what role does a digital marketing strategy play? Is it even worth it at this stage in the company’s life?

A Holistic Approach to Marketing

The answer is a resounding yes. It didn’t take very long for me to shake my naivete and realize that “digital marketing” is more than just growing revenue; it’s leveraging digital tools to advance wider business goals.

This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Biotech business strategies take on several forms. While some may be focused on advancing a particular molecule through the clinic, others may take a platform approach with the goal of advancing several programs to the clinic and partnering with other organizations to see those programs through later stage clinical trials and FDA approval. There are of course dozens more strategies as well, and as such, each requires a digital approach to match.

Pairing Business Goals with KPIs 

The best thing about today’s digital landscape is also the most daunting. There is an abundance of data – so much so that it can be difficult to derive tangible insights without a clear focus. That’s where business goals and KPIs can help.

Say you’re the aforementioned “platform company” – a business goal for you this year may be to find development partners for two of your programs. While there’s no “buy it now” button for “NEWCO-0157” on your website, there are key performance indicators that we can track:

Page views: The first is simply visits to your pipeline page, or better yet, specific program pages if there are certain ones that you’re looking to partner. With more traffic to these pages, we can reasonably conclude that there is an increasing general interest in your platform.

Poster/Publication downloads: Since these assets go into specific scientific detail around a particular program, a download can indicate that someone may have more serious interest beyond what your pipeline page has to offer.

Contact form fills or contact button clicks: Often, a website will have a contact form or a button to get in touch with the company. These are especially crucial for companies where partnering is a core component of your business. While not a guarantee for a partnership, completion of this action can be considered a “conversion,” which indicates meaningful progress toward the goal of ultimately partnering a program.

The above are just KPIs we can measure on your website – there are dozens more we can track through social, advertising, and other channels as well. With these KPIs identified we can design a digital strategy that optimizes for them and continue to evolve our strategy to deliver data-informed results. For example:

  • Website UX modifications to make the pipeline page more easily navigable or the contact form more prominent.
  • A paid social media campaign that drives traffic to a poster or publication during an industry conference.
  • A paid search strategy to increase the visibility of your pipeline page.

Better still, once we start measuring these KPIs, it can open the door for more opportunities. Maybe an unexpected program is seeing more traffic on your site and informs your partnership discussions. Perhaps social posts that highlight a program’s MOA see more engagement than other posts on that program, indicating greater interest in the underlying science. We can then use this data to inform the strategy moving forward.

Going beyond partnerships

This strategy can work for several business goals, with the approach at its core being relatively simple.

  1. Identify your company goals
  2. Identify digital KPIs that ladder up to these goals
  3. Build a strategy to optimize for these goals and adjust as the data rolls in

This can be applied to recruiting, increasing awareness for a new modality, growing disease state education, increasing leadership visibility, and more. So, while you may not be “selling” any time soon, the digital marketers’ toolkit is a vital one for any point in your company’s growth.


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