Which channels should we be in; at which stage of the decision journey; with what content; and targeting who? This is a very familiar question for the Multi-Channel Marketing marketer. The question calls for investigations into the Channel Preferences of different types of Healthcare Professionals, the Influence and Reach of different channels, and scrutiny of how different digital channels such as Display (Awareness stage) and Search (Decision stage) have varied relevance across the HCP Decision Journey.
Whereas such investigation is relevant we should not lose sight of the synergetic effects of the channels and how they are behaviorally linked for the HCPs. As an example, even though research shows that HCPs are not heavily influenced by text messaging, at the tail end of a number of channel touches, an SMS can be the tipping point for a prescription, a request for a sales rep visit or any other high value customer action. In other words, the specific context and timing becomes more important than the general potential influence and reach of a channel.
This is why the biggest challenge in a MCM strategy is the integration between the channels in customer flows, not (sub) optimization of each channel and the personalization of content based on context and timing. So what is new?
In the past, the sales rep would know where he left the dialogue during last face to face meeting and continued accordingly at the subsequent meeting. Then CRM and (often incomplete) closed loop marketing solutions emerged to help jog the sales rep memory of the last sales call. In contrast, now the dialogue takes place across channels often without the direct inclusion of the sales rep. This means that the task at hand is to define the system and infrastructure through which we can track the interactions of the HCP across the channels, infer the stage of the decision journey and deliver content accordingly in the channel of choice. Healthcare companies have embraced this challenge by investing in the implementation of (often) huge Engagement Platforms. Engagement Platforms are characterized by featuring modules such as e-detail, event, email, SMS, self directed detailing, CMS, CRM, data asset management, webinar, eCME and similar, all fully integrated from a functionality and data perspective enabling 360-degree engagement and view of the HCP across the channels.
In terms of personalization, one task is to plan, map and author content against the funnel, context, timing and varied according to different stakeholders. Another prerequisite for ongoing personalization is gaining a 360 view of the HCP. However, there is a prevalent issue. A genuine degree 360 view is often planned for “Wave 6” or “Wave 7” roll out of the Engagement Platform at a given pharma MNC. Unfortunately, in my experience, pharma MNCs are almost invariably at “Wave 0” or “Wave 1” for all or a significant number of affiliates. The healthcare tech landscape is scattered with Engagement Platform implementations which don’t currently offer hygiene factors e.g. such as an integrated view between website visits, email responses, e-details presented face to face. There are good reasons for this, as multichannel is a part of an overall Change Management across Technology, Processes and People, but in the middle term Multi-Channel marketing executions suffer accordingly.
So what does the modern healthcare marketer do when, on the one hand, she needs to meet KPIs for a multichannel marketing execution and specifically personalization, but on the other hand, has an incomplete set of tools available to carry through on the strategy?
Pending the full implementation of a single integrated Engagement Platform, most companies deploy an array of separate IT tools spanning CRM, CMS, marketing automation, email, social management and more.
Separately, these tools can be strong additions to the marketing toolbox. They are tooled to reach HCPs in different ways. All with an important caveat: Each is focused on a specific task that it is built and designed to accommodate. This approach is inherently challenging in a MCM world, where you spread engagement data over a subset of software platforms; with next to no communication with each other out-of-the-box. For this and many more reasons, such infrastructure is not a long term solution, but it’s what we have currently.
The challenge is how to consolidate relevant data across these disparate tools, and activate this knowledge in separate channels, so we can guide the customer in their current journey.
More importantly, how do we do it without embarking on another big IT project, but rather make it manageable within the scope of a single project such as a pharma project launch?
In my opinion there is a need to be pragmatic, and only define the data which you absolutely need for the required personalization in the campaign. As an example, an Engagement Platform’s email module would typically gather all possible data such as Recipient; Sent Emails; Open Rate; Click Through segmented according to Topics in the email(s) and Landing Page Behavior, with a dynamic rules-based next action. This data set supplies almost infinite opportunities for optimizations and personalization within the modules and across modules on the platform.
But lacking the full implementation of the Engagement Platform, we may choose simply to extract data from our basic, non-integrated email tool, that a Email X has been sent to Recipient Y. Consider that we don’t even need to extract them, it’s already collected automatically through webhooks or similar API integration. Not the full data points, just enough to ascertain a current action has taken place in a user journey.
As a response, we could opt for everyone that sent Email X should also receive SMS Z with an invite to Webinar W on the same topic. This would require a hook into your bespoke SMS system, or similar third party service that’s already integrated and prepared for this action.
Next, all Recipients who click on the link in the SMS Z could also get an email notification: Email X2–2 hours before the webinar. Ultimately, anybody who got the first mail, and attended the webinar should get a follow up call by a Medical Science Liaison M. Set up 4 such flows targeting different HCP stakeholders, and you have a personalized multi channel execution more sophisticated than most MCM executions via an Engagement Platform which I have seen. It is NOT the full personalization we dreamed of, but we are now online and ready to take advantage of the data that’s already there.
The flow behind this data collection can be visualized like this:
We are using an endpoint and database to receive the simple data sets from the different disparate IT marketing tools. A lot of these already offer several integration options, as well as webhooks that can be added on the fly. Webhooks offer a simple way to notify third party systems of changes, and actions within independent marketing platforms.
This approach can seem cumbersome, against common wisdom and involves manual routines (that was ultimately unavoidable anyway), but technically only requires developing a few endpoints, to the email engine, SMS system, webinar, and feed existing data into a simple database. And, obviously, data needs to be secured safely.
This approach is scalable, since the more systems you plug in, the more data you collect and are able to segment accordingly. Providing something resembling a true 360 degree overview of the HCP journey. Action points can be added anywhere between events, such as an email having being sent, a web form filled out, or possibly even a particular page being read by the HCP.
All this allows you to get going with a meaningful MCM execution; awaiting the arrival of Wave 7 of your IT road map. You also regain control of your data and most importantly your MCM supported sales effort.
Smart marketers recognize that there will be a distinct “before” and “after” in consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic. You must start now to create the digital tools needed to embed your brand in the customer’s post-COVID life.
Take the time now to identify and understand the new expectations of your customers, and how have their habits and priorities shifted during this time