Rx for Success: Five Ways Independent Drug Stores Can Create Loyal Customers with Digital Marketing

For decades, independent drug stores stood as the cornerstone of most communities. With one stop, a customer could purchase over-the-counter medicines and everyday items, and of course, get their prescriptions filled while they shopped. If Norman Rockwell’s portrayals are accurate, you could also enjoy a freshly jerked soda—and the pharmacists undoubtedly greeted you by first name.

While many of today’s drug stores bare little resemblance to their predecessors, their importance has not diminished. In the U.S. alone, over 250 million Americans visit a drug store each week. Some frequent for convenience—most live within 1.26 miles of a pharmacy. Others come out of necessity—70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug.

Independent vs. Chain Pharmacies

Like just about every other small retail business, independent pharmacies (which often include multiple locations) have seen significant disruption in recent years. The emergence of chains like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid now account for nearly 60% of retail pharmacy sales. Factor in other new models like mail-order fulfillment and specialty-drug distributors, and it becomes clear that independent drug stores must not only compete with each other, but those with massive marketing budgets as well.

While the challenge may seem daunting, digital marketing paired with the unique attributes of ‘being small’ can level the playing field. Let’s take a look at some quick-win ideas for leveraging the two.

Build Your Audience

Pharmacists routinely rank among the most trusted professionals. Due to their size and the accessibility of personnel, independent drug stores have the added advantage of direct, 1-to-1 relationships with customers. Are you using every touch point as an occasion to extend this trust to the digital world? A few simple opt-in opportunities that can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively include:

  • Mobile SMS alerts when prescriptions are filled  

  • Email receipt option at POS

  • Newsletter sign-up interstitials on your website

Personalize Your Content

You’ve built your brick and mortar business by engaging each customer as an individual—and they expect the same treatment when you’re communicating via digital channels. It’s easy to configure your emails and website to deliver dynamic content based on individual customer attributes such as:

  • Age (elderly vs. parent of a pediatric patient)

  • Health Condition (diabetic vs. cardiovascular disease)

  • Interests (weight loss vs. smoking cessation)

Anticipate Their Needs

With every open, click, purchase or search, customers are giving you valuable insights into their preferences. This data can be used to build a profile of his or her behaviors, and predict the next best offer, content or product for every individual in real time. A few examples that can be automatically delivered via email or your website:

  • Make-up accessories for those who have purchased cosmetic products

  • Sleeping tips when nasal strips are added to an online shopping cart

  • Photo enlargement offers when batteries and SD cards are purchased together

Deliver Timely Content

Regardless of what channels you leverage, content is always king. Looking for some inspiration? This calendar includes a handy list of healthcare recognition days. It includes dozens of ready-made reasons to reach out to customers. Leverage your data to pair relevant offers and celebrate events such as:

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses during Sun Safety Week

  • In-store specials for American Pharmacists’ Month

  • Nicotine alternatives during the Great American Smokeout, paired with links to an online support community for those who wish to quit

Drive Them to Your Door

Independent drug stores have long relied on print advertising, especially in community newspapers. Today, social media provides an even more direct link to reaching customers. The same data that is used to deliver personalization for email, mobile and websites can be used to target customers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can even go after lookalike prospects that mirror your existing customers. A few opportunities for social advertising include:

  • Twitter ads targeting returning college students with Ramen Noodle deals

  • Facebook Ads targeting cold-prone customers during inclement weather

  • Instagram ads featuring nutritional snacks targeting those who purchased weight loss products

Pharmacists, Heal Thyself

Independent drug stores have a long history of serving their communities. With the help of digital marketing and some well-conceived content, they can continue for generations to come.

Interested in finding out how Salesforce can help you do the same? Check out the Marketing Cloud Quick Peek for more ideas.

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