As John Wanamaker famously quipped, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” One hundred years later, the problem has compounded exponentially, as a plethora of both marketing channels and new ways to collect information have emerged. As a result, it has become critically important for marketers trying to understand the effectiveness of marketing efforts to have a clear roadmap on what they are trying to achieve.

Choose the Right KPIs

The first issue marketers encounter when they sift through all the data collected from various channels is that often—because there is so much of it—the key insights are lost. The best way to avoid this is to define your success parameters upfront. Though this may sound both intuitive and easy, it requires tradeoffs, and therefore requires hard choices.

For example, do we measure ROI based on prescription growth only, or does a successful speaker program also count towards the ROI? How do we measure sales force effectiveness for a drug where most sales are driven by “pull-through” marketing from patients (a la Viagra)?

Thinking about these KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), making assumptions, and deciding what is to be measured, and how precisely these metrics get attributed to the success of an advertising campaign are critical considerations. As always, this requires getting the clients involved at a very early stage and ensuring a dynamic feedback loop so clients can see if their KPIs are effective and determine whether changes to a campaign need to be made.

Aggregate All Your Data

The second challenge for determining ROI is that there is no standardization of reports when it comes to measuring metrics. Imagine a world where there were multiple iterations of the Mac and Windows GUI (graphical user interface); computer users would all have to “re-learn” how to work a PC! That is essentially the state of data analytics reporting today. Unfortunately, few marketers today make a conscientious effort to bring together all the data collected on various channels and to analyze and present it in such a way that it helps brands tell a cohesive story.

To meet this need, new products have emerged that allow for a customized, user-friendly dashboard that captures the key metrics and that can be accessed seamlessly across various hardware platforms. Thankfully, the turnaround time for accessing data through such reports and dashboards has come down significantly.

As processing times become faster, these latency times could decrease even further. This would be very helpful in analyzing real-time data from sales reps’ eDetail on an iPad, for example, resulting in better segmentation and targeting of HCPs.

Preparation Requires Coordination

Given the complexities and choices marketers now have, they need to consider not only the best and most effective measurement metrics, but also how best to present those data to their clients. Although this requires significant coordination upfront with all the players—the client’s technology and marketing teams, external vendors, and agency resources—it is well worth the effort.

The preponderance of smartphones and tablets is shifting the landscape. Electronic patient records are being adopted in leaps and bounds, and tablets are now the tools of choice for both sales reps and HCPs. The result is an explosion of digital data that will need to be analyzed, organized and used to evaluate marketing programs. Marketers who fail to keep up with this burgeoning shift will be left behind; those who are preparing for the future are already pulling ahead of the curve.


  • Anders Ekman

    Anders Ekman, recently appointed Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Health Communications, has two decades of experience, including leading digital firms Digitas and MRM Worldwide. He comes to healthcare having helped clients such as The U.S. Army and GM make dramatic shifts to more accountable and cross channel marketing.


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