Omnichannel: Still the Ultimate Achievement for Pharma Marketing

While the term “omnichannel” has been used for the last several years, the pharma industry is still working hard to achieve this modern communication model for Rx brands. It’s important to keep our commitment and recognize why omnichannel engagement is a permanent expectation from our healthcare customers.

We need to educate ourselves further on the difference between multichannel and omnichannel so that we can shift our strategic thinking and operations to this modern model. Lastly, we don’t have to do it alone. Partnerships with marketing technology companies will enable our brands to move, or even leapfrog, ahead to deliver omnichannel experiences for our customers.

1. The Ambition: From CPG to Amazon

Five years ago, many pharma brand marketers were striving to achieve a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) communication model. The last 24 months have upped the game for marketers; who now more than ever seek to deliver the Amazon-like or Netflix-like personalized experience for their customers.

Pharma sees omnichannel as an opportunity to leverage holistic communications to engage customers, create enduring relationships, and develop an interactive brand community. Consumers have this type of relationship with their most adored brands, such as Nike or Disney, who seamlessly bridge the physical and digital worlds to create personalized experiences with us. Therefore, healthcare customers have a new standard of brand experiences that pharma strives to achieve.

A recent McKinsey report1 on MedTech further accentuates the importance of a properly planned omnichannel strategy as a necessity for communicating in healthcare. As the use of telemedicine, the approvals of digital therapeutics, and the use of medical-grade wearables have increased; MedTech has become a prime target to leverage omnichannel strategies for personalized engagement. Omnichannel is good for all customer touchpoints in the healthcare ecosystem. By improving and holding the HCP’s engagement we increase the quality of care, outcomes, revenues, and both the HCP and patient experience. In fact, the potential impact of omnichannel on the patient experience is unprecedented.

“The omnichannel experience legitimizes a patient’s impression of a pharma brand, by creating that personalized frictionless experience,” says Helen West, a patient engagement expert who has decades of work in patient communications. “A natural by-product is increasing the likelihood a patient will engage and stay engaged, resulting in improved outcomes.”

The whole healthcare ecosystem is headed towards omnichannel, and pharma brands medicine (Rx) is a critical component

What can marketers do? Stay committed to developing omnichannel capabilities. Omnichannel is not a trend, but the standard of modern communications.

2. The Reality: From Multichannel to Omnichannel

Multichannel ecosystems are not omnichannel ecosystems. Integrated digital channel ecosystems are also not omnichannel ecosystems. Omnichannel ecosystems are personalized and purposefully orchestrated live and non-live communications with their customers. Most pharma companies have invested in marketing technologies such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Veeva, and Adobe stacks, which have enabled them to excel at well-coordinated multichannel and digital communications (e.g., email, direct mail, web, conferences, sales reps) that interact with customers separately, versus orchestrated and cross-connected.

Vivseven’s thought leadership piece on “How to Engage Like Amazon2 is a great read for pharma marketers. True omnichannel marketing revolves around understanding the customer and creating a “single top-quality experience” for the brand that spills over into the channel preferences. Omnichannel reaches customers via all channels in a “unified and integrated way.”

Modular content3 is an essential part of achieving omnichannel experiences, which requires a shift in strategic thinking and yields incredible flexibility for marketers. Traditionally, marketing strategies start with channel-thinking. Omnichannel strategies place content design first and channel selection second. A data-driven customer understanding will enable design content that will meet customers where they are in their healthcare and information consumption journey.

What can marketers do? Shift strategic thinking from coordination of channels to the orchestration of modular content delivered through unified channels.

3. Get Smarter: With Tech and Data

Pharma companies are in a great position to maximize the investment previously made in those robust marketing technology infrastructures. Integrated platforms enable continuous learning across all content and channels, that become part of a company’s proprietary CRM knowledge database. Integration can happen inside the pharma company’s infrastructure, however, competitively differentiating communications can come from the plug-and-play benefits by working with trusted technology and data partners.

For example, machine learning technologies are accessible within more sophisticated third-party platforms such as Aktana. Pharma can take advantage of built-in AI from partners like these and extend their internal IT and analytics know-how to achieve “omnichannel intelligence.”4 These kinds of approaches enable companies to break through content creation barriers, by speeding up data insights for content creation that can be built once, approved once, and disseminated many times cross-channel.

Whether you are do-it-yourself, or you engage with a partner to create new capabilities, you can leapfrog the competition using the full potential of the marketing technology platforms that already exist. The benefit of using an established and experienced partner is getting omnichannel up and running, fast. Placing this next level of trust in a partner is an important decision for pharma companies, which are managing a highly regulated environment with no room for error when it comes to compliant communications about their brand. Choose your partners wisely.

What can marketers do? Develop trusted marketing technology partnerships to leapfrog omnichannel capabilities, maximize existing infrastructure, while maintaining customer privacy and compliance obligations.






  • Jo Ann Saitta

    Jo Ann Saitta has over 15 years of C-level strategy and operational experience in the healthcare technology field servicing pharma companies, and she specializes in technology, digital marketing, and business transformation initiatives, including product development, M&A, and strategic partnerships. As a sought after thought leader, Jo Ann has been a featured speaker for STATNEWS, PharmaVoice, and The Advertising Research Foundation. She also sits on the Google Health Marketing & Advertising Board.


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