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How to Take a First Step Towards Omni-Channel Pharma Marketing

These days, pharma marketers have generally bought into the concept of omni-channel personalization. The age of Amazon has made personalization a near expectation for consumers (and remember – Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) are consumers too). However, progressing beyond siloed, one-size-fits-all campaigns and tactics can seem daunting.

In addition to the organizational hurdles that all companies face in this arena, including acquiring the appropriate people, technology, and data resources, pharma marketers must also contend with stringent legal restrictions on content. It’s little wonder that inertia can take hold, but just taking a first step can help to put pharma marketers on a path to innovation.

A Common Approach: Customer Experience-Driven Omni-channel Planning

To break through this stagnation, we often see our pharma clients take a customer experience-driven approach to omni-channel planning. In this case, a brand or franchise (therapeutic area) individually decides to challenge the status quo and invest in a more customer-centric approach to their marketing, working to design an ideal customer experience based on brand objectives and an understanding of the HCP audience.

For example, if a brand is looking to drive trial, they may consider a trigger program targeting HCPs who have engaged with educational content on the brand site.

This can be a great first step toward creating more relevant and engaging experiences for target HCPs. 

The challenge with this approach is that often, when the program progresses to the execution phase, the brand can run into gaps in terms of what data and technology is available to enable the ideal experience that was designed upfront. This can lead to increased complexity, delayed implementation, and frustration for marketers. As such, it is critical to 1) keep an eye on high-level feasibility in designing the ideal experience, and 2) allow adequate time for a thorough assessment of data and technology needs. 

In the example of following up on HCP brand site engagement, important in-process questions to ask include:

  • Are mechanisms in place to identify individual site visitors?
  • Is that site engagement data flowing into the marketing database? 
  • How frequently is it updated? Will the experience you’re trying to create require weekly, daily updates, or real-time updates?
  • Does it include the required level of detail (date stamp, links to the original touch, etc.)?

Considering these types of variables will help to manage expectations on what is feasible in the short term and help to identify data and technology gaps to address in the mid to long term.

Another Option: Establishing the Foundation

Alternatively, a pharma company can take a more foundational approach to enable omni-channel marketing at an enterprise level.  To accomplish this, Merkle has partnered with various organizations to assess their data and technology capabilities through the lens of enabling omni-channel marketing. This is essential to identifying gaps in the current state, defining the future vision, and building a roadmap that will enable the organization to efficiently progress over time. Building this foundation, with robust consideration around future state, provides scale to new omni-channel capabilities, allowing brands, or franchises across the enterprise to benefit from these investments. 

By its very nature, this approach requires higher-level organizational alignment, which can also be a challenge. It can be helpful to build a business case for such an undertaking to achieve buy-in across the board.

Regardless of which approach makes the most sense for your organization, Merkle is here to help you take the first step. While it can seem daunting, the key is to start with a vision and manageable steps to get there, and a technology/strategic partner who can lean on a wealth of experience. Learn more about Merkle’s expertise in the health space here

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