Digital has changed the way life sciences companies run events. From sharing presentations online to coordinating registrations through email, digital now underpins successful event strategies. It also allows companies to meet healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) demand for virtual services. For instance, 87% of HCPs want online access to content presented at live events.1
As digitally native HCPs continue to enter the workforce, their desire for a virtual event experience will only grow. Even today, 78% of HCPs prefer a mix of online and physical events.1 To meet customers’ increasing demand for virtual engagement, organizations must embrace digital as a driving component of a coordinated and impactful events marketing strategy.
The Rise of the Virtual Event
Virtual events have grown in popularity recently not just due to changing HCP preferences. Stricter regulations play a role as 20% of doctors refuse to or are unable to take in-person meetings, and 54% of HCPs say regulatory barriers restrict their ability to meet face-to-face.1 Often, HCPs must rely on virtual events to stay up to date with the latest products and scientific trends.
Beyond regulatory issues, doctors are stretched thin. Staffing limitations and heavy workloads are forcing doctors to reduce time spent outside the office. More than 70% feel these demands hinder their ability to attend in-person events.1
Virtual events circumvent these challenges by providing HCPs the opportunity to network with peers and learn about the latest treatments from the convenience of their office or home. For life sciences companies, virtual events eliminate travel and venue costs as well as offer sales reps the same flexibility to attend from any location.
Bayer is at the forefront of incorporating digital meetings and webinars into their customer outreach. “Traditional events have worked well in engaging and educating our HCP customers,” says Sam Pinner, Head of Integrated Multichannel Marketing at Bayer UK. “Sharing the same high-quality content virtually means that we can go even further to meet our customers’ needs, sometimes even reaching those who otherwise wouldn’t attend a physical event at all.”
Key Ingredients for Digital Success
The success of online events depends on many important elements, but two must-haves:
1. A Mix of Live and Online Connectivity
Integrating online events into an existing strategy requires companies to consider the right balance of live, virtual, and hybrid programs (in-person events with an online component). Despite the accessibility of online meetings, in-person events still provide the valuable opportunity to meet face-to-face with drug company representatives, doctors, and industry experts. Nothing can completely replace this personal connection.
Even so, offering multiple event types lets customers set their own schedules and select meetings that best fit their preferences and availability. HCPs who choose to travel will benefit from in-person networking, while doctors who need to remain in office will still get the chance to hear the latest industry advances. Further, eliminating the logistical and geographical barriers between HCPs and events translates to higher customer satisfaction, more registrations, and a greater ROI.
2. Content that’s Optimized for Online Consumption
Virtual events require more than just a livestream to be successful. After all, when attendees can leave your event with just a click of a mouse, it’s crucial to keep them engaged with quality content designed for digital viewing. A computer screen fills just 3% of a person’s peripheral vision versus being at a live event in front of a stage that is much larger.2 As a result, there are 30 times more distractions than just what’s on screen when attending virtually so the content must be that much more compelling.
Companies must also carefully consider the type of content they produce for these meetings. Optimizing content for digital viewing, especially mobile, is crucial. Small, dense text and contrasting colors won’t show well on all screens, so be sure to test presentations on different devices. Keep content succinct and clear, and sessions short to ensure customers digest the most important messages. Fortunately, many online meeting applications provide built-in analytics and tracking so companies can measure performance, and proactively—even in real time—adjust content according to what resonates.
A Valuable Extension
Meetings remain a valued part of the HCP learning journey. With the opportunities to network and hear the latest insights in their field, doctors will continue to rely on events as an important source of scientific knowledge. Making these programs available through virtual channels allows life sciences companies to continue leveraging events as an important component of their customer engagement strategy, even in the face of stricter regulations.
1. Ashfield, “The Science of HCP Meetings, a 2018 Study,” February 2018. https://bit.ly/2WQdsZs.
2. Skiff, “Virtual Meetings Need More than a Flawless Livestream to be Successful,” by Jaimie Seaton, January 2018. https://bit.ly/2lOIjEH.