A few weeks ago one of my colleagues spoke to the unlikelihood of a broadly accepted, one-stop shop for HCPs, an Amazon-like site for physicians. While that message resonates, it is highly likely that the driving force behind Amazon’s success is coming to pharma, namely, pharma is getting personal. For years, pharmaceutical marketers have observed big industry trends from the sidelines. The age of the customer is changing, however, as we see patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals consuming more digital media than ever before. The ripple effect is that pharma is changing the way it speaks to its audience, as many companies have started to embrace digital media channels to enhance their customers’ experiences.
As digital consumption expands, the collection of anonymous consumer data across multiple devices has given pharma companies the ability to get more sophisticated in how and when they address their customers. Addressability at scale (AAS), a concept introduced earlier in this blog, is the driving force that enables this type of customized communication.
Personalization manages the conversation of optimized content relevant to the customer journey. It integrates channel and media, uses explicit and implicit data, and converses with anonymous and known consumers. Consider that personalization is about more than product recommendations. It can include customizing existing content, such as changing the message, offer, device, creative, and timing. Personalization can be implemented in many formats, such as through call centers, emails, direct mail, apps, paid media, and websites, and can use both customer-driven and market-derived data.
Customer identification, even partial, is not necessary to serve personalized content to consumers. A high level of personalization can be accomplished with anonymous data, a concept especially important in the pharmaceutical world. Where mailing addresses and phone numbers were once key, Facebook, Google, and Pinterest IDs are now able to provide marketers with an abundance of insight.
Different levels of personalization can evolve as business strategy matures. For example, simple customer-centric integration may involve segmented customer/product messaging and offers, whereas a customer-centric conversation will utilize machine learning optimization to deliver the next best message/offer within that conversation. Not all personalization begins at such an optimal level. For example, franchise brands may want to utilize anonymous cookie data to direct ad traffic to the more relevant brand site. True value is unlocked when the customer’s future behavior can be influenced, and this can be a crawl, walk, and run approach.
So where is pharma today?
Companies are trying to navigate through their medical legal review (MLR) process. With so many potential pieces of content to approve, template-based media is one way to create efficiencies. Many companies are currently moving away from attitudinal segmentations to digital data-driven segmentation where business rules connect templates to various cookie-based segments. This addresses privacy and creates MLR competencies. Many are also piloting customized campaigns to pressure test the approach with their customers. Initial measures of impact are beginning to appear.
As we look into the future, there are numerous opportunities for personalization within pharma. While impactful benchmarks exist outside the industry, there is a strong need to understand how to utilize personalization in a scalable and cost-effective manner within pharma. Measuring ROI will be key in the next year. Solutions are now available that enable marketers to speak to the masses on an individual basis. As forward-thinking brands take on personalization, impact will be realized across the industry.