Amag's in-house digital revamp puts its consumer tactics to work in pharma

Meghan Rivera, Amag digital VP, speaking at Digital Pharma East, on stage with conference cochair Ritesh Patel of WPP Health & Wellness.

When looking for consumer marketing lessons that can translate to pharma, Amag Pharmaceutical needed to look no further than its own operations. Amag recently laid out its effort to apply lessons from the consumer side of its business to the pharma side—and sometimes vice versa.

Speaking at Digital Pharma East last week, Meghan Rivera, Amag's VP of digital engagement, talked about her efforts to cross-pollinate its consumer and pharma marketing tactics.

Two years ago, Amag bought Cord Blood Registry, a newborn stem cell company with samples from more than half a million children. CBR has a popular blog and robust social media presence, where they engage with clients and gain new ones.

The registry also pilots and experiments with different digital tactics, such as a Facebook Live event in July that earned significant engagement and impressions.

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Amag had yet to pull through those capabilities to its prescription business, Rivera said. And meanwhile, as an experiment, Rivera looked up one of Amag's established branded drugs—she declined to say which one—on Google search. She saw that it didn’t appear on the first page above the fold, or below it. The branded website didn’t appear on the second search page, either.

In fact, Rivera went through 10 pages and never found the branded site. But she did learn something—that Amag needed to up its digital game by prioritizing the channel and investing in it.

Rivera, who started at Amag in March after three years at Boehringer Ingelheim, initially found that the company's digital capabilities weren't up to par on the pharma side of the business. The company's investment in digital was low, and it had a fragmented assortment of assets that had been created by outside agencies.

The good news, however, was that Amag management had a strong desire to shift toward a more digitally forward model. So Rivera set out on a mission to create a digital center of excellence to support the company's entire branded portfolio.

Rivera brought together a team of pharma outsiders and insiders, and she restructured Amag's digital system from client-centered teams to three distinct responsibility areas— operations and excellence, digital customer engagement and digital innovation.

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Some of the first results from the new model were for Intrarosa, a nonestrogen treatment for vaginal pain during intercourse, which often affects post-menopausal women; Amag had bought the brand from Endoceutics early this year.

Within two months, the revamped digital team launched a mobile wallet for the drug and began a Twitter reminder ad campaign. While that may not seem like a radical innovation for larger pharma companies, it’s a big step for the small pharma just dipping its toe into social, Rivera said.

And the lessons continue. The new digital system has only been in place for three months, but already Rivera was able to note changes such as increased customer focus, avoiding “analysis paralysis”—or measuring things that don’t matter—and an experimentation approach to digital. Those shifts are demonstrating value across the entire brand portfolio, she said.

Amag, with drugs in maternal and women's health, anemia management and cancer support, is looking to grow quickly into a $1 billion company with the next few years, Rivera said, and digital will play a key role in that growth.