Additionally, partnering with entities, such as non-profit, condition-specific societies and foundations, that understand various facets of living with specific rare conditions can be helpful in reaching consumers. It is also worthwhile to consider influencer marketing campaigns with patient leaders in the rare disease space. These individuals have developed significant relationships and trust with their followers, many of whom share their conditions.
Unfortunately, some commonly used, broader-reaching digital tactics, such as programmatic and audience modeling, that reach people with more pervasive conditions are not as effective when applied to rare conditions. Working with entities that intentionally reach the rare disease population can be an avenue for casting a wider, yet targeted, net for life sciences companies to offer relevant solutions.
Engaging with People with Rare Conditions
Figuring out the most appropriate or helpful way to engage with people with rare conditions comes down to two key approaches: a) making an emotional connection and b) providing valuable information or resources to educate or assist them in their health journeys. In addition to the primary research a life sciences company might conduct around a specific condition, there are a number of strategies that can be considered universal for people with rare conditions and satisfy at least one of these approaches.
With finding HCPs that treat or understand a specific rare condition being an ever-present challenge, pharma marketers could consider implementing a physician finder tool. Similarly, an interactive symptom checker could be helpful for those who have not yet been diagnosed and potentially drive individuals to an HCP. Integrating either into a branded or unbranded website can help boost engagement among individuals who are early in their health journey.
In terms of establishing an emotional connection, providing videos or testimonials of other people living with the condition can be pivotal in humanizing the condition and the experience. Outside of a pharma branded or unbranded site, marketers can consider partnering with online health communities, forums or other vendors who have established relationships and an understanding of various aspects of the patient journey.
Finally, since rare disease treatments are often linked to financial concerns, providing information about financial resources or insurance reimbursement will contribute to positive engagement and fulfill a frequently unmet need. For example, a 2021 Health Union survey found that, when patients started a treatment plan, financial topics, such as cost, insurance coverage and financial assistance, were not among the top 10 issues discussed with their HCPs.
Measuring the Success of a Rare Condition Marketing Campaign
Unsurprisingly, the challenges with measuring the success of a marketing campaign around a rare condition begin with the rarity of the individual conditions. For many rare conditions, the size of the population often makes it difficult to leverage traditional metrics to evaluate performance.
When it comes to this market, high-value actions that consumers take when visiting a branded or unbranded site can be more compelling and indicative of performance than numbers alone. Some of those actions can include:
- Savings card downloads
- Patient testimonial/video views
- Customer relationship management (CRM) campaign sign ups
Considering the role that various partners, like nonprofit organizations or patient leaders, can play in the success of a rare condition campaign, paying attention to how consumers get there can indicate whether content or tactics need to be modified.
As a result, measurement of rare condition marketing efforts really rely on how effectively a marketer is impacting behavior as a way to understand relevance. Given the size and nature of the rare condition market and the availability and awareness of treatment options, quality measures likely can, and should, outweigh quantitative ones.
Scott Schappell is the chief revenue officer of Health Union.