Using Data and Channel Variance to Orchestrate Storytelling

Steven Carickhoff, President, BioPharm Communications

Over the past decade, approaches to pharma marketing have made significant swings – from “content is king” and over-reliance on digital, to a scramble for “big data,” and the exclusion of effective channels because physician-level data (PLD) isn’t available. Despite these significant swings in approach, the need for true omnichannel marketing yielding the highest return has been a constant.

Marketing is a conversation aimed at changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Omnichannel marketing accomplishes this. It uses data and channel variance to orchestrate storytelling focused on user experience. It aims to meet the user’s need for relevance and utility and, when executed appropriately, increases the overall impact and effectiveness of marketing efforts. In short, it drives behavior change and impacts prescribing.

Often, omnichannel plans can be too heavily weighted toward tactics that provide reach at low cost and return physician-level data (PLD). This makes sense as a digital strategy, where reach and engagement at low cost are important performance indicators. However, this hyper focus toward PLD and efficiency tends to omit proven channels which have greater impact that aren’t as easy to measure. As marketers, this “efficiency model” has pulled our focus to line-item channel performance as opposed to the overall impact of a campaign. We’ve been trained to look at the “parts” of a campaign – for example, open rates of an individual email – and use it as guidepost for campaign success rather than seeing the sum of the parts.

As marketers, it’s important we reset our beliefs on what good looks like.

No one channel can accomplish the reach and depth of engagement needed to deliver true impact for Brands.  A well-designed omnichannel campaign should look a lot like a good investment portfolio: an effective and balanced mix designed to drive return and manage risk. No one stock (or channel) can accomplish on its own what a pooled set of resources (many channels) can together. Thinking of how healthcare providers engage with marketing in this way can help us understand the importance of mix. For example, some HCPs are high email engagers while others prefer print, and still others are heavy video and website users. In the same vein, some HCPs engage with sales representatives, and some do not.

Channel variance is a critical component of omnichannel marketing.

True omnichannel campaigns are designed using data to determine targeting, spend levels per target, message segmentation, and varied channels with coordinated delivery. Feeding promotional response data into client SFAs, like Veeva, to drive appropriate action by sales representatives truly integrates all channels. In fact, in a client-provided ROI study, it was clearly demonstrated that when an HCP engaged with non-personal promotion and had a personal-promotion follow up, the ROI of each promotional effort increased when compared to non-coordinated activities.

Finding examples outside our industry at best-in-class marketing organizations is often helpful since they tend to trend well ahead of pharma. Looking at the value of utilizing channel mix, including ones that can’t be measured at an individual engagement level, we can point to how a global hospitality and theme park company measured reservations retention.  Guests plan vacations, but for a variety of reasons they are likely to cancel reservations prior to arrival. In this instance, for those guests targeted via email only, they were only 21% more likely to keep their reservations while guests who received email paired with direct mail were nearly 70% more likely. With the overall goal of impacting behavior change, channel variance here drove a higher than 3-fold increase in reservation retention with retention being the primary goal, not individual engagement, or measurability by channel. To further support the use of enduring channels, this Company increased their print spend by 86% when compared to budgets from five years ago. The learning for us as marketers is to not sacrifice impact for line-item measurement.

As we work to address the need for more advanced omnichannel efforts, it’s important that we anchor on the concept of having meaningful conversations with HCPs that drive changes in behavior. As marketers, we can accomplish this by using data and channel variance to orchestrate storytelling and focus on user experience. Equally as important is breaking the habit of viewing the performance of a single channel as a success marker of our campaigns. We should be measuring the impact of the total campaign on the HCP, appropriately across all channels, with a focus on proving that we changed behavior. If this approach isn’t included in your plan, it might be time revisit your omnichannel strategy.

Contact Us

Let’s talk next steps.

Interested in connecting or learning more about our solutions? Drop us a line!