Optimizing HCP engagement through digital marketing will give companies a noticeable leg up, especially now. Life sciences companies that become digital leaders will create a competitive advantage over those who do not in nearly every aspect of the business. Sales and marketing are two key areas of digital investment that have garnered significant interest because of how they can help to grow the business, further the organizations purpose, and serve patients.
To that end, a lot of money is being invested into sales and marketing analytics, often without attention to some fundamental truths of analytics in a space where the difference between true ROI and lack-luster outcomes is a thin margin. Below, we outline 5 myths that exist related to sales and marketing analytics and what you can do to avoid getting caught in these all-too-common traps.
Optimizing HCP Engagement Using Analytics: 5 Common Myths in Digital Marketing
Myth #1 for optimizing HCP engagement: First, build HCP segments based on traditional prescribing groups and then from there determine what content is right for each segment.
Segmentation can be an immensely valuable tool for personalized messaging when conducted using meaningful patterns between the individuals that make it up. Yet many companies continue to build their content strategy around segments that are based on less-than-ideal underlying patterns.
Instead of relying on traditional segmenting attributes, the highest performing companies utilize advanced analytics to identify underlying patterns and group targets into natural segments. Rule-based patterns typically miss the nuances of HCP activities. Advanced analytics is better equipped to deal with “messy” or “incomplete” data and discover these underlying patterns.
From that point, the key to determining the right content is by understanding what type of HCP you’re dealing with. For example, these segments can more accurately reveal where an HCP is on their prescribing journey, allowing companies to avoid common pitfalls like sending dosing-related content to doctors who are already correctly dosing.
Bottom Line #1: Look to analytics to support data-driven segmentation that identifies natural patterns within a target list. A team should then build a content plan with an understanding of what patterns underlay those segments and where they are in the prescribing journey.
Myth #2: Knowing what content did well is enough, we just need to replicate the strategies we used to develop and deploy that content.
There are an endless number of factors that make up a successful marketing campaign. Even with an understanding of the metrics that result from a campaign, there can be pockets of success hidden behind the numbers. For example, a campaign that was deemed unsuccessful by traditional metrics may have been very successful with a hidden segment of HCPs.
The key is to understand why and where true engagement occurred. Statistical strategies can help with the “why”, identifying what components of the content were successful. For example, data models can be created to understand pairs of keywords and learn which are effective. Is a certain effect only eye-catching when it is coming from a medical thought leader? Are certain subject lines less effective when not clearly branded?
Paired with analytics-based segmentation (as opposed to rules-based segmentation), you can learn not just why those campaigns were successful but the natural segments that they resonated with. Additional statistical techniques like AB/BA testing or machine learning principles like Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be applied to further eliminate the noise that crowds out the insights within your content.
Bottom Line #2: Knowing that a certain piece of content was successful is not enough. Modern analytical capabilities can allow you to dig into and answer “why” and “with whom”.
Myth #3: If content scores high on traditional Digital Marketing metrics (view rate, click-throughs, etc.), the team should always determine what’s successful about it and replicate it.
In a digital-first sales and market world, there are scores of engagement metrics that a team can choose to view and optimize for. Nearly endless resources can be poured into increasing these metrics and pushing content, but too often in the Life Sciences there is a disconnect between the pursuit of traditional engagement metrics and the outcomes that Sales & Marketing teams are seeking.
Pumping these metrics alone will not solve the underlying challenge that is a lack of personalized engagement. True engagement instead can only be achieved when the right content is sent and consumed by the right target at the right time (remember, if you want to get all your emails opened, send them the subject line “cutest puppy pictures”).
Bottom Line #3: Traditional metrics only tell part of the story. Instead of aiming to have a message read, a company should leverage analytics to ensure that the right message is being opened by the right HCPs.
Myth #4: Digital Marketers in the Life Sciences industries should adhere to all digital marketing principles of consumer industries, after all HCPs are consumers first!
While Digital Marketing has exploded as a cross-industry vocation in the last ten years, Life Science companies should not lose sight of their targets and what makes them unique while they’re developing content.
There are many points of uniqueness for HCP targets that go against the grain of traditional guidance. For example, would it make sense for a biotechnology company to incorporate the common marketing guidance of making emails more ‘casual’ to get more clicks? No. Do HCPs have the sort of schedules that would match guidance on timing for the average consumer? No.
Instead, focus your messaging brainpower on optimizing elements of the message that make sense for your targets. For example, the timing of an email, the subject line length, sentence case, and quotation have all been shown to be effective in targets with time constraints.
Bottom Line #4: Instead of all taking industry-agnostic advise, digital marketing organizations should develop a list of principles that underpin their content to shape it for their target audience.
Myth #5: Building a content plan begins and ends with the channel in mind because we can measure it.
Every company is looking to find a correlation between digital content and clinical impact. Finding a clear correlation has been eluding the industry for a long time – the reality is that HCPs do not digest a message sent in one channel in a vacuum and then decide to prescribe a product. HCPs may have a takeaway from a given piece of digital content and then take additional steps to learn more or confirm the information they learned.
The most successful sales and marketing organizations are there to engage when and how that next step occurs. Ideally, a company will capture how a message is shared in any channel – for example in the face-to-face context – and merge that with other digital channels to create consistency.
HCP behavior can be very different in each channel, so to truly be prepared to meet an HCP where they are, a company may need a half dozen channels to align on content and message to pull through each of those.
Bottom line #5 for optimizing HCP engagement: True ROI can be found when a sales and marketing organization is there when the HCP decides to take their next step, regardless of what channel that next step is within.
Contributions by Mike Onore