Authored by Innovative Edge, now part of Lumanity

Could setting the right pharma launch key performance indicators (KPIs) be the key to product launch success?

Since the pandemic, there has been a significant shift in the pharmaceutical world to speed up product launches.

If you set clear KPIs from the start and secure alignment from internal teams around these objectives, you are much more likely to march towards an efficient, fast-moving product launch. One set for success.

But how do you adapt your pharma launch KPIs to meet this dynamic new environment?

Setting pharma launch KPIs

When setting your pharma launch KPIs, there are two questions you should bear in mind:

  1. First, are your KPIs relevant to the product’s success?
  2. Second, are you able to flex your KPIs down the line?

Don’t set your KPIs in stone; assume there will be changes down the line. The best approach when setting your KPIs is to factor in flexibility, e.g. consider that in 6-months’ time, you may need to add new KPIs in, take some KPIs out and shuffle some around.

For KPIs to be successful, they must be clearly communicated and standardized across the organization. They should run like a thread through the launch team, senior leadership team and other significant stakeholders.

Moreover, it is essential to include a good mix of Lead and Lag indicators and keep track of your KPIs in a launch management platform.

Why are pharma launch KPIs so tricky to get right?

One of the most harmful product launch mistakes we see across the pharmaceutical industry is not establishing relevant, realistic, and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs).

Choosing the best metrics to determine product launch success can be challenging for the following reasons:

  • First, not everyone thinks they are relevant
  • Second, there is a lack of clarity on responsibility and accountability over who owns them
  • Third, there is an insufficient budget to measure them
  • Fourth, there is too much focus on measuring what has happened (Lag indicators) rather than what you want to happen (Lead indicators)
  • Fifth, there are too many KPIs, so they become unmanageable

“Just because you can measure everything,
doesn’t mean you should”

The four types of KPIs for product launch success

We have identified four types of pharma launch KPIs you should focus on for product launch success.

1. Launch campaign KPIs

You can’t expect a successful product launch without a smart marketing strategy. Marketing metrics will tell you how effective your launch campaign is, which methods are the most effective, and which ones need to be tweaked or eliminated.

Typical marketing launch KPIs include:

Leads generated: Generating leads as part of your product launch campaign is the first step in developing interest in your new product. Leads could be trials started, demos requested or even thought leadership content downloaded that is related to the new product.

Omnichannel metrics: Some individuals interpret the word ‘omnichannel’ as a reinvention of digital. But our view is that omnichannel broadly encompasses all channel metrics. Hence, it is crucial to set your KPIs for the whole digital world. Channels like email marketing and advertising will probably be central to your lead generation efforts. But if you track metrics across all of your digital content, you will be able to measure your effectiveness at positioning and promoting your new product.

Website traffic/page views: Be sure to measure views of all of your launch content as well, which includes website traffic or page views to new product pages, landing pages, and related content.

News coverage: For major launches, you may also want to target PR coverage for your new release. Measure the quantity and quality of these articles or mentions to gauge your effectiveness at securing coverage.

2. Product adoption KPIs 

Product and adoption KPIs will tell you whether you have successfully released and marketed a product that serves a market need. As a result, they will ultimately impact your revenue and related business goals.

Product trials: Trials started by customers can be an excellent metric for evaluating genuine interest in what you’ve launched. They are also a significant first step in achieving long-term product adoption.

Customer usage: Setting and tracking goals around customer usage over time. Customers trying the product and continuing to use the product over a set timeframe is a good measure of your product serving a customer’s need. In addition, it will demonstrate whether your marketing is effectively guiding them into that product.

User retention: While the primary goal of your launch may be to generate awareness and interest in your new product, it is also essential to retain those users. This will ultimately impact key business metrics like revenue.

3. Market impact KPIs

Particularly in a competitive market, measuring the penetration into that market and the impact on your sales is vital for measuring the success of this launch across product, marketing, and sales.

Revenue: If you are charging for this new product separately, revenue will be a critical KPI to measure the success and impact of your product launch. Revenue is how customers prove that you have genuinely delivered value with your new product release.

Market share: The odds are, there are many products like yours in the market. It’s important to know what portion of the market your business is capturing for that product. The market share KPI, in other words, tells you how well your product is performing compared to your top competitors.

Competitive win rate: Another measure of your success in overcoming competitors in the market is your competitive win rate. If your new product competes head-to-head with existing solutions in the market, your competitive win rate should increase with a successful launch.

4. Qualitative feedback KPIs

Finally, not all product launch KPIs can be quantitative. Therefore, you can also complement these other metrics with qualitative feedback from internal and external audiences.

Internal feedback: Collect feedback from internal audiences, including sales reps, marketers, executives, and product managers. Be sure to obtain their desired outcomes before the launch to better prepare to meet their objectives. It is also essential to create cultural KPIs focusing on metrics such as the levels of staff engagement with the launch.

External feedback: Collect feedback from customers and prospects to gain reactions and constructive notes about the positioning, channels, and other launch elements. You may even discover areas where you can follow up to maintain momentum post-launch, such as creating additional customer help documentation or marketing content.

How will you know if your KPIs are working?

Once you’ve got started, you can sense check whether your KPIs are working by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are your sales on or above plan?
  • Are your KPIs embedded across the organization, often referred to, and clearly articulated and understood?
  • Is there a strong customer belief in the asset and the organization?
  • Do you have an engaged and motivated team with good retention?

If your answers to the above are yes, you are on the right track! But, if not, contact us today to find out how we can help you.