As the old adage goes (for anyone who is a Marvel fan), ‘with great digital power, comes great responsibility…’ or something like that, right? As we know, the recent climate has caused an initial trigger for the pharmaceutical sector to embrace a much-needed digital resurgence. But with this resurgence, we need to be smart about how we interact with customers. When standard email campaigns to healthcare professionals (HCPs) can be perceived as ‘spamming’, our strategies need to adapt and evolve to create insight-driven engagement that is valued by our audience.
A balancing act
40% of industry professionals believe the 2020/2021 digital transformation has been accelerated by more than five years. This has also been supported by the changing engagement preferences seen among HCPs, with an increase in ‘digital native’ users welcoming and, in some instances, preferring virtual interactions. But let’s not forget that digital fatigue and what some HCPs are describing as ‘communication bombardment’ is a real phenomenon. Getting the balance right between meeting the needs of individual HCPs and communicating to the masses is crucial to get truly meaningful engagement. This means sincere and genuine connections with our audience through their preferred channels and not just stat padding likes, retweets, comments and conversations through paid advertising or programmes. Ultimately, it means reaching people to change their attitudes and behaviours.
Let’s focus on the opportunities
We have seen an explosion of digital innovations covering a vast area of healthcare, which give greater experiences for customers and an increased opportunity for brands to interact with their audience. Some of these advancements include patient-centric telemedicine, AI-enabled medical devices, blockchain electronic health records, fully remote online sales force and marketing automation software.
When it comes to marketing, pharma has been activating multichannel marketing campaigns, merging traditional and digital channels for a while now. However, the use of two or more channels running relatively independently from one another has its drawbacks: confined data siloes, fragmented user journeys and a low level of content personalisation can result in an overall non-optimal customer experience.
With the ever-evolving opportunities to connect with our audience and an industry-wide shift in focusing on first-party data, it is essential for pharma to move away from these siloes and embrace true omnichannel engagement. Content is key – storytelling is powerful and should be tailored and activated to our audience’s needs. It’s not just about adding more channels to the mix anymore, it’s about purposefully sequencing our audiences’ preferred channels and content. Data is the foundation, helping us understand, evolve and adapt our content to offer truly personalised communications.
So how can we join the dots and create effective omnichannel marketing that will succeed for our clients?
Understand your customer
It’s not just about uncovering basic insights in your target group and the competitor landscape; it’s about understanding your audience as individuals. We need deep insights in order to empathise with our audience – what makes them ‘tick’? What is their purpose? What motivates their behaviour? The more we truly understand the HCP or patient as a person, the more we can unlock greater customer experiences long-term.
Define your vision
Understanding what you are trying to achieve will help define the level of omnichannel sophistication required. Standard metrics do not show changes in behaviour or beliefs – an omnichannel vision is about true connectivity, engagement and a call to action. Therefore, we need to use all the tools available to measure something that is truly meaningful, to fulfil our vision.
Developing customer-centric content
Your content needs to be tailored to both channel and customer segment. It is critical your content is highly relevant, personalised, well customised and provides value. Communicate what the audience wants to hear, not necessarily what you want to say as a brand.
Customer journey and channel planning
Channels need to have clear roles in your overall omnichannel matrix. Define how each channel is interfacing between one another to ensure a seamless customer experience. Don’t underestimate the value of mapping customer journeys across channels to get a clear overview.
This is perhaps the least glamorous but most important part of the process. Develop a closed feedback loop between channels and content for continuous optimisation opportunities. Define your KPIs as well as data collection flows and internal capabilities. By understanding how you will be capturing data and insight on your audience, you can uncover greater understanding into audience behaviour and increase your long-term performance.
All of this should be done in an agile way, with continuous improvement and innovation at its heart. Leverage data and technology in your strategic thinking. Use creativity to deliver immersive, authentic experiences to your audience. Provide benefit and value to your audience and your clients’ brands alike. Embrace a truly integrated approach that, ultimately, creates communications and experiences that make a difference to people’s lives.
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