Multichannel Marketing with Physician-Level Data

Pioneering Philadelphia retailer John Wanamaker is often quoted as saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” In the 100 plus years since Wanamaker’s lament, marketers have worked tirelessly to solve the “which half” question. During the past 20 years, online retailers and digital marketers have evolved hyper-targeted marketing and advertising strategies with channel preferences, demographics, geotargeting, behavioral data, and more, which allow for unprecedented precision in messaging.

Conversion metrics pinpoint the exact moment when a targeted user engages and converts via a specific piece of content in a given channel. Marketers then use advanced data analytics to parse user behavior and target spend more efficiently than ever. The “which half” question is nearly solved.

Can marketers duplicate this success in pharmaceutical marketing, given the rather fuzzy line from marketing message to a dispensed product at the pharmacy counter? Is there a way for pharma marketers to tie marketing efforts directly to script lift in a meaningful way? There is. Carefully designed and properly executed multichannel marketing (MCM) campaigns targeting healthcare professionals offer pharma marketers their own opportunity to use data to prove marketing ROI. Starting with a solid brand strategy and tactical set—including goals, objectives, and KPIs—there are four elements necessary for the execution of a successful, highly measurable MCM plan that solves the “which half” question.

1. Understand the customer

Patients may be the end-users of pharmaceuticals, but physicians and other HCPs with prescribing rights are more directly responsible for sales volume—and their prescribing behavior can be influenced by MCM campaigns. Carefully crafted channel messaging must target these HCPs with content that drives brand strategy to effect prescribing behavior. In order for an MCM campaign to be effective, pharmaceutical companies must carefully cultivate target lists of HCPs to whom they will send multichannel communications. These target lists might be culled from prescriber data, lifted from in-house relationship management opt-ins or rosters of physicians in a given specialty, or rented from third parties. Opt-ins through corporate and brand websites can expand an original list.

While names and email addresses are essential to a MCM target list, the real magic happens in the segmentation. Companion data points on HCP demographics, prescribing behavior, sales call frequency, and more, allow for granular message targeting and performance analysis. A properly segmented list is the foundation of a successful MCM campaign.

Most importantly, the target list must include as a data point each HCP’s National Provider Identifier (NPI) number. The NPI number is the “secret sauce” that allows pharma marketers to tie together various and disparate data points to paint a 360° picture of their customers and understand how various marketing touch points change HCP behavior.

2. Create channel-specific content

In understanding the customer, pharma marketers will learn that each identified segment consumes media with different channel preferences. Matching channels to segment preference is a fairly straightforward exercise. Less obvious, surprisingly, is the need to create content specifically for each channel in the MCM mix.

Populating channels with repurposed content copied directly from a printed CVA probably would not produce positive results in a MCM campaign. Pharma marketers must take the time to create a content matrix to address the specific needs of each segment in their target lists and to create compelling content optimized for each delivery channel. Content is still king. No amount of targeting and segmentation will overcome difficult-to-consume content.

3. Select platforms that offer physician-level engagement data

Opportunities to market to healthcare professionals through digital channels are well established. Pharma marketers traditionally measure success by tracking aggregate engagement metrics, such as open rates, page views, clicks, and video views. The problem with these metrics is that they tell an incomplete story. There is no direct line from email open rates or time on websites to changes in prescribing behavior. Even common on-site HCP conversion metrics such as RM opt-ins or engagements with online tools such as dosing calculators provide only directional insights at best.

The solution is to leverage channels that offer physician-level engagement data. These channels offer access to groups of HCPs that are fully opted-in to receive marketing messaging through the community. Via list matches, pharmaceutical companies can utilize third-party platforms to market directly to their target HCPs. Examples of platforms and communities that offer individual physician-level engagement metrics include Healthcasts, SERMO, Epocrates, MedPage Today, Doximity, and Skipta. Combine these platforms with list-matched, automated email marketing and pharma marketers now have the ability to understand target physician behavior at the individual level, all keyed to an NPI number.

4. Create a data structure

Here is where the magic happens. Pharma marketers armed with individual physician engagement patterns by NPI number can match this information with sales call and prescribing data to begin to understand how MCM campaigns move business goals. Marketers need to engage with business intelligence and data analysis teams early in the process of planning a MCM approach to gain an understanding of how disparate data sources will be structured to allow for meaningful insights.

The goal is to build data relationships in a way that allows data analysts to examine MCM engagement by user segment and correlate that data with prescribing behavior to determine the optimal mix of channels and content for each segment. By examining these physician-level and segment-level data points against actual prescribing data, pharma marketers begin to uncover the answer to “which half.”

  • Don Feiler

    Don Feiler is Partner/Chief Digital Officer at Calcium. Don brings a wealth of experience scoping, designing, creating, and deploying online applications and multimedia for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. He has worked with Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Janssen, and many others over the course of his 20-year career.


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