Creating better HCP experiences now with data and omnichannel

Hand on mouse with data surrounding

First published in PM360.

How can online retailers know exactly what color you would like for that silk-cashmere blend sweater? Or that you forgot to purchase trainers you were eyeing yesterday? You’re not alone if you feel your favorite store has as much understanding of your preferences as your best friend.

The rise of big data changed everything we know about marketing. Retail has been at the forefront of omnichannel marketing, deploying targeted messages across strategically selected channels based on customer data. Their ability to quickly capture and capitalize on marketing data led to a boom in e-commerce adoption, and many industries are following suit, pharmaceuticals included.

Lots of Data – Now What?

Regulation makes this approach difficult for pharma brands, despite their eagerness to do so. But pharmaceutical companies are ramping up their digital spend and funneling investments into new channels. The latest Maturometer study from Across Health saw digital spend increase by 42% in two years.

More Money Does Not Equal More Sophistication

Despite pharma’s willingness to heed to the digital wants of HCPs and patients, many fall short. A recent Accenture survey noted 64% of HCPs said they’re getting too much digital content from pharma, and 65% felt at least one pharma company had “spammed” them.

If HCPs view your content as spam, and therefore irrelevant, you are disengaging from them instead of engaging with them—and doing so in less than 10 seconds.

How Will Omnichannel Change HCPs’ Experience?

For pharma to simulate the success of retail requires more than just presence in digital channels. It mandates a sophisticated understanding of the customer journey and reliable data to discern which tactics to deploy. Not to mention flawless execution. There must be coordination with marketing tactics strategically deployed in ways that move HCPs down marketing funnels and communications meeting HCPs where they currently are and evolve as they progress to the next phase. The intent is that an HCP will have a unique experience with varied content depending on the channel they are engaging with.

It begins with thinking through current behavior and understanding what trigger points lead to action. That action could be big (e.g., attending a webinar) or small (visiting a website), but it sets in motion a new-found tailored experience. For example, that activity on a website (i.e., data download) indicates a desire to learn more, which prompts an invite to a scheduled event focused on that action.

It allows you to also tag that HCP in a specific stage (i.e., consideration) and follow them throughout their journey. From here on, the goal is a seamless experience that feels tailored to them. Depending on what you understand from this HCP’s engagement, each message is personalized to ensure they continually move through the funnel—from “awareness” to “consideration” to “conversion” and “loyalty.”

To illustrate this further, a physician may experience the following:

  • They receive an email promoting your brand, complete with the clinical data research and medical education they need to be informed.

  • Later, they are served a KOL video on Twitter where a peer speaks to the benefits they’ve seen in patients and/or practice since prescribing this brand.

  • Within a few days, they receive an alert in their EHR system that patients in their practice may be eligible for this drug.

Three Omnichannel Benefits of Reaching HCPs More Effectively and Authentically

1. Increased personalization through primary data: At the core is data. You cannot begin to build an orchestrated suite of marketing tactics without understanding what motivates your audience, what information they need, what channels they prefer, and when they’re most receptive to seeing tailored messages from the brand. Additionally, these tactics create data, which can inform the future as well as the now.

While compiling this research can be resource intensive (if not equipped with the right tools), brands who do so will be able to better tailor tactics to each audience. This creates a greater customer experience and builds good will that creates long-term brand loyalty and engagement.

2. Ability to measure and optimize in real-time: When each tactic is aligned with a specific key performance indicator (KPI) or goal, a common practice for omnichannel plans, marketers can quickly see the fruits of their labor, as well as which tactics are falling short. If paid media is failing to deliver on its KPI of lead generation, teams can swiftly pivot to new messaging, even a new tactic. This ability to quickly shift allows for real-time adjustments that keep campaigns on track towards their desired end goals.

3. Greater efficiency and ROI: While blasting a single message across all channels may require less resources up front, it can also lead to wasted time and budget—and alienate HCPs. Without the segmentation and orchestration of tactics, it’s difficult to address which specific channels or messaging are generating the best result. As such, many teams will find themselves continuing to invest in mediums that don’t best serve them or restructuring entire campaigns when a fine-tuning is all that’s needed.

Getting Started

Like any new venture worth pursuing, creating an omnichannel approach requires addressing important foundational steps that include:

1. Additional Investments: Brands that are not digitally mature will need more time to prepare for the transition. You’ll likely need to invest time and money in technology (tools or systems), new people, education, and training to successfully move to this model of sales and marketing.

2. Cohesion across marketing and sales teams: The most effective campaigns require sales and marketing teams to be in close contact, working synergistically to stay up to date on their audience preferences in order to convert users into customers. If your organization’s sales and marketing teams are siloed, you’ll need to devote time and energy into bridging the gap.

3. Access to actionable research to get to know audiences intimately:Purchasing research is simple enough, but it’s not quite so simple to acquire high-quality and actionable data. For instance, many studies are broad in nature, and they tend to not allow you to identify preferences of specific, niche audiences—the kind that pharma brands generally need. Furthermore, much research can represent a static point in time. With the digital and customer landscape rapidly evolving every day, research from as short as six months ago may no longer be relevant.

Improving the HCP engagement experience involves much more than just online tactics—it includes better rep visits and better experiences at conferences and during peer-to-peer meetings. Building better HCP experiences is less about pushing out the same message in different channels. It is about creating authentic conversations and sharing. Such authenticity builds trust and confidence over time. The end result will be one where the connections and conversations between HCPs and brands can be more informed, authentic, and helpful for them as well as their patients.

John Fitzpatrick is Senior Vice President, Omnichannel Engagement at PRECISIONeffect, which is based in the U.S. and has offices in London. John’s 15-year career includes developing custom marketing solutions for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Since 2011, he has been building and managing key interactive and digital functions within the agency; he also was the General Manager of the London office from 2019-2022.

“Every day we are working towards changing the standard of care for both patients and HCPs. Not everyone can say they help to change lives in their job, and I am proud to say we do!”

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