By Richard Long, an account director in the London office for Cadient, a Cognizant Company. He covers clients throughout the European Union. 

 

 

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is continuing to grow in complexity, impacted by factors such as industry regulations, the rise in digital technologies and changing business models. Most importantly, digitization has transformed everything – from creating brand value to meeting customers’ shifting expectations. As a result, pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations must focus their strategies to play a critical, central role in this digital transformation and revolution.

Capturing this opportunity and driving success is a new and complex challenge, and requires identifying the right initiatives and trends. Brand marketing teams must utilize digital technologies to assess and address the challenges and issues quickly and in real-time, at little cost. This can be done by deploying simple strategies and changes in how companies market their products, while placing a strategic global focus. Looking ahead to 2017, pharma and healthcare organizations should focus on three key areas that will result in highly efficient spending and increased digital ROI.

 

Identify the Appropriate Audience

Given the healthcare complexities in every market around the world, identifying the appropriate audience is a constant and critical challenge. To be effective, every digital specialist must have their customers’ detailed background in mind. Knowing a customer will help drive all brand actions, from how customers find you to how they use your website or app.

Often in healthcare, it’s the “customer’s customer” with whom organizations need to consider as priority – this consists of either the patient of a doctor, or the consumer of a pharmacist. Furthermore, “patients” aren’t always straightforward, and all patients are not the same. With this in mind, companies need to think about the challenges of the willing participant, the rebel and the unknowing patient. Each of these profiles need a different approach and supply of information, and will require unique, personalized brand contact and touchpoints.

Looking ahead, focusing on how each of these individuals uses a company’s digital materials will be different. To be successful online and digitally, local teams should develop tools which continually validate its audience needs, and then promote appropriate information to them in real-time. The key is to give them more of what they want.

 

Ensure Consumer and Patient Literacy

Once pharma and healthcare organizations have identified their appropriate audience, the next trend is to think “how,” by ensuring consumer and patient literacy. More than ever, almost everyone today has time restrictions. In every market, digital has increased the speed of communications, while decreasing the amount of attention we have for any particular message.

In this newly emerging global digital market, brands will have multiple customer touchpoints; the morning commute, catching someone in a hospital hallway, congress meeting, appointment or online hangout. Put simply, content needs impact and the audience will demand formats that are easy to understand so they can bookmark and potentially return later if interested. In fact, a recent Healthcasts survey on HCP engagement found that in regards to self-learning on products – HCPs preferred video, graphics and animations as well as digitally enhanced case studies. This is all before the true advent of Virtual Reality (VR), 360 degree video and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – further showing that the implications for creating a brand’s immersive content are continuing to increase in importance.

The time of pushing out thoughtless, cookie-cutter messaging across multiple markets is gone. Successful strategies are built on a strong foundation of content planning, identified release dates and themes. Producing interesting and unique content doesn’t happen by chance. Progressive and smart pharma marketers have approval teams for medical, legal, or regulatory (MLR) onside early to ensure the shortening of approval time and passing of large volumes of content. Local brand teams working with MLR can pass months of content in one go, further streamlining operations, workflow and overall productivity.

With this in mind, it’s imperative for brands to consider the audience and how different they are. For example, a certain piece of content may need to be adapted, shortened or changed for the morning commute, research at the office or on a mobile device in the gym. Each situation offers the opportunity to repurpose to make it fit for quick consumption.  

 

Real-time Reporting for Improved Effectiveness

Today’s pharma brand marketer has a variety of real-time reporting and analysis tools at their fingertips, making measurement easy. Whether it’s brand sentiment, social media engagement, event popularity or a multitude of other measures – it enables companies to locate click rates, impressions, actions, split testing quickly and more.

Regardless of what region of the world that the organization is working in, the key to success is to align measures with brand position and expectation. If a brand is new to market, it must primarily measure awareness and traffic sources. If it’s in a fiercely competitive market, look to brand sentiment and make competitor analysis the key measures. It is crucial to be flexible and to not measure everything all the time. In order to drive success in the future, organizations must focus on ‘mission critical’ measures and make these their 2017 priorities.

In today’s complex pharmaceutical and healthcare world, simplicity is a globally recognized value. By considering these key digital trends from a global perspective, and carefully measuring a few key performance indicators, brands can successfully supercharge into the New Year and beyond.