How do you measure the success of your campaigns? The answer isn’t always easy. Not only does the definition of success often vary from campaign to campaign, but how you measure it and which key performance indicators (KPIs) to use tend to change as well. But it is more important than ever to find a way as companies’ top brass demand to know their return on investment (ROI). To make is simple, we asked a cross section of industry experts:
- What can companies do to simplify their approach to ROI analysis to make it easier on marketers?
- How should/can you measure the impact of social media campaigns? What metrics are the best to use? How do you ultimately qualify what social means for your brand?
- How should you gauge the impact of multichannel campaigns?
- Are advancements in media buying and tracking technology (marketing automation, programmatic buying, geotargeting, etc.) changing ROI analysis? How?
- What measurements truly matter for defining success? How do these measurements differ depending on the medium? What is necessary to ensure you are getting the full picture of your campaign’s performance?
Whenever I am asked the “measurement” question, I can’t help but reminisce about the movie Caddyshack. In one scene, Judge Smails asks Ty Webb how he measures himself against other golfers. Webb replies, “By height.”
The real answer is both simple and challenging: You measure social media similar to how you measure everything else—against business goals. The goals usually line up to a combination of top line needs, such as brand awareness or acquisition, loyalty goals like retention, and a bottom-line marker such as leads, sales or number of site visits.
The strategies should be developed to achieve those goals such as increasing condition discussions or education. Develop tactics that execute those strategies, such as supporting hashtag growth in a community or influencer outreach. Each tactic should have measurable social platform functions: How many times was the hashtag used? How many times did people mention the program? How long are the conversations we are having on Twitter?
Don’t forget competitive benchmarking. This is where social is unique, because your community and the dynamic between the accounts that make up this network is completely different from one to the next. The best way to measure your efforts is to review your metrics after a month, and benchmark those levels.
Ultimately, the best way to justify social to senior leadership is to measure based on how your leadership defines success, and invest in an on-target social strategy. If your brand purchases a lot of TV ads, measure social in television rating point (TRP). If they’re investing heavily in PR, measure social in sentiment and language change. Yes, social is fundamentally about capturing the way people talk online before making decisions, but it is dynamic enough to be measured in many ways—including height.
A pharma marketer’s ability to create the optimal plan and make effective decisions demands the use of quantitative metrics. No matter the medium—effective measurement hinges on the ability to assess ROI and sales impact.
Marketing success for a pharmaceutical product is ideally defined in terms of 1) reaching the right target population of patients with relevant information when they need it, and 2) achieving a positive business impact at an efficient return. To determine if those goals are achieved, it is important to distinguish between “activity metrics” and “impact metrics.” The former—things such as response rates to savings offers, website visits, brand awareness and television ad impressions—are all contributing factors that are definitely important to know. But they are diagnostic in nature and do not give you the full performance picture.
Impact metrics, on the other hand, are delivered primarily through sales data, which provides an unequivocal assessment of marketing effectiveness. Early in the planning process, the KPIs should be identified. This includes deciding on the benchmarks that will be used to reflect a quantifiable return. When a metrics plan is established in advance, and when it emphasizes impact metrics, the chances for a successful marketing effort increase substantially.
Marketers can then use this data to refine future efforts. For example, if a particular program met ROI goals, a marketer may want to evaluate how to scale it in the future to reach a larger audience. If objectives were not met, the information can be used to adjust strategies and tactics. Lifetime patient value is another critical consideration that cannot be overlooked in the ROI calculation. Marketers should quantify results with respect to not only the short-term impact of the marketing effort, but also the effect over the duration of treatment.
We often speak about omni- or multichannel campaigns independent of the customer experience. While having an ROI on a channel can be interesting, what does it tell us about the customer impact? Are we looking for longer-term behavior change or just a quick hit for the brand?
In my experience building new commercial capabilities, the successful efforts were designed around meeting a customer need with information delivered in the channel of their choice—optimized for that moment of truth. In today’s world that increasingly means digital.
But there is a behavior change at play here: How can we break through the clutter and help our customers recognize that we are trying to engage in a different way and then help them remember this new way of engaging? We need to help them form new habits.
To do so requires using a combination of channels in the beginning to disrupt the normal routine. It may very likely be non-digital—maybe it’s a dimensional mailer combined with a follow-up call to the office, both designed to drive to digital. It can also be a message delivered by a sales representative (as long as you ensure that they get credit for the sale, they will participate). Pure email plays run the risk of getting lost in the customer’s inbox.
Once the customer starts responding, it’s important to reinforce that behavior through additional disruptive communications—but over time the habit should become more ingrained. Once a customer starts responding digitally, that behavior continues cross-portfolio, which drives engagement costs down for each additional product.
Bottom line—multichannel initiatives designed to drive greater commercial efficiency by better meeting customer needs should be evaluated in terms of the integrated mix of channels and continually assessed for a multi-year impact.
As marketers, the primary data point we consider—outside of channel and content performance—is ROI. And while ROI is certainly an important metric, it is often difficult to demonstrate accurately. This is especially true in pharma where marketing and sales influence revenue, but don’t necessarily “close the deal.” Marketing needs to recognize that truly defining success involves a contribution to the fiscal health of an organization. For instance, consider these three areas:
• Profits: Sales managers need to know what type of profits they’re generating, while marketers need to understand their contribution to these profits. This has an effect on discounts, which products are profitable and which solutions and services receive marketing support.
• Digital Body Language: By capturing and analyzing an individual’s online profile across all channels, companies can begin to understand things such as cost of recruitment efforts, cost of acquiring new prescribers, cost and effort to convert prescribers from one decile level to the next, and effectiveness of their communication outreach across regions.
• Sales Rep Revenue Potential: Companies can measure which reps are not only driving the most revenue, but which are also the most engaged, have the greatest potential to grow revenue through prescriber prescriptions as well as convert decile prescribers, and which are generating the greatest ROI. In short, you can identify which reps to invest in.
It’s time marketers begin to evaluate their greater contribution and demonstrate how their organization contributes to the company’s financial picture via revenue growth, profit growth and margin improvements. Marketing organizations can impact income statements, profit, cash flow and owner earnings, balance sheets, inventory controls, capital expenditures and capital investments.
Ultimately, ROI for social media boils down to defining a meaningful outcome for the brand or franchise. But it also depends on the extent of social media adoption by the brand. If the brand is interested in social listening, then social insights reports may be sufficient to inform various commercial strategies. If social media engagement is acceptable, then perhaps the attainment of followers and recruitment of online influencers is enough.
Senior managers often raise their eyebrows at these approaches because the metrics are too soft. They prefer to define real metrics as measurable and trackable actions taken by consumers that draw them closer to a brand conversion. Most often this is achieved by using a combination of engagement and advertising. The engagement drives a credible and authentic social presence for the brand while advertising drives velocity and reach. But first, the brand must determine whether a branded or unbranded approach is best. Generally the branded approach has less success as the degree of expression by the brand is more confined (FDA and FTC guidelines prevail). The unbranded approach is much more successful, allowing the brand to work more freely at a disease context level that appeals to a wider target audience.
So what actions can social media campaigns drive toward? The following examples are measurable and clearly define an action that is considered meaningful to the brand: Find a surgeon using the Surgeon Locator; download the Symptom Tracker and take it to your doctor; sign up and activate your discount card; join the Patient Support Program; call to see if you qualify. Social media also offers another advantage: Cost efficiency. A fully loaded, year-long traditional DTC program can cost upwards of $30M. A social media campaign can reach as many target consumers at a fraction of the cost.
Given the overall dynamics across the healthcare space—with the influence of HCPs decreasing and the rise of importance placed on payer and the empowered patient—it becomes increasingly important to incorporate additional measurement factors to our multichannel campaigns. Now more than ever the evaluation of the overall customer experience is critical.
Often times, it is challenging to isolate tactics for ROI calculation when they are part of an overarching campaign that includes, in most cases, multiple channels and touch points. We are exploring new ways to evaluate the comprehensive journey and satisfaction of our HCP customers that goes beyond baseline metrics of just engagement and business growth.
We see the most success when crafting integrated customer experiences that allow for both push and pull communications that are based on deep, actionable insights that we are able to derive about our customers.
Aim for Actionable Insights
Marketers are, on a daily basis, overwhelmed with data and reporting on tactics that they use in the market. The most valuable approach to ROI analysis for our teams tends to begin with well-defined KPIs, an aligned tactical measurement plan, and topline reporting formats that indicate not just general insights or performance metrics but tease out true actionable insights. Analysis that is not tied back to goals or, worse, not actionable proves to be a consistent struggle for marketing teams.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” counseled the French philosopher, Voltaire. Three hundred years later, this adage is also sage advice for today’s multichannel ROI measurement. Ideal ROI evaluation analyzes everything—the total campaign, individual channels and cross-channel effects—to guide media optimization and boost overall campaign performance.
However, this assumes the campaign has implemented an attribution analysis that tracks individuals across media channels and devices and accurately credits each touch point for its contribution to delivering the desired result. Unfortunately, measurement capabilities are still evolving, so individual channel contributions are not always quantified so rigorously.
While accurate cross-channel analysis becomes more consistent, marketers must evaluate campaigns from additional perspectives. This includes assessing the total campaign, as well as individual media vehicle performance. These channel-by-channel metrics not only ensure the strongest in-market results, but also provide valuable benchmarks to validate and improve the accuracy of cross-channel analysis.
Marketers must leverage analytical tools to surmount the inadequacies of last-touch attribution and quantify the results driven by single media vehicles and in combination. For example, by conducting attribution analyses within media channels, such as digital, marketers can quantify things including the impact of unbranded search driving branded searches or the contribution of search and display when both are deployed together. When brands use both digital and non-digital channels simultaneously, marketers should quantify the impact across channels as much as possible—such as the impact of TV campaigns driving online activity—to give proper credit where credit is due.
Fourth century priest, St. Jerome, probably summed up ROI measurement best: “Good, better, best, never let it rest, ‘til your good is better, and your better is best.” Current measurement methodologies are far from perfect, but rapidly improving.
Social media’s unstructured nature is a part of the issue with measuring its impact. Coupling social’s unstructured data with structured data can result in predictive operations that can be easier to grasp by higher ups—for example, negative sentiment is highly correlated with call center support tickets.
When defining social media metrics we often measure interim results such as attitudes, social dialogue, and response (to call to action), or we measure financial results such as sales or loyalty, which are typically derived from the interim measures. These measures can be engagement in campaign materials, advocacy for products and services, or impact on company or brand image.
Six measurement areas are rising in importance:
1. Where are people talking about your brands and products in your social media ecosystem and what are they saying?
2. What is the brand/product sentiment in the social media space? What do people like/dislike?
3. How effective is your social media push, and who are the key influencers and advocates?
4. Are we seeing any adverse events or issues with quality for us or our competition?
5. Are our competitors seeing increased activity or sentiment changes due to their activity or ours?
6. Can we observe any geographic variances in the attitudes, dialogue or response?
Examples of these analytics include:
- Pinpointing and segmenting top positive/negative commenters by domain to influence the influencers.
- Using competitive interest to understand and create rapid competitive responses.
- Leveraging terms frequency to create and refine campaign interest.
- Tracing click paths to improve the campaign placement.
- Monitoring activity to identify declines and improve campaigns and new offers.
We can now connect unstructured social media data to structured operations data. The upshot is management can use social media measures to make operating and strategy decisions instead of just listening.
Pharma companies embracing a multichannel approach should measure the ROI of each individual channel, as well as their combined impact as part of an overall promotional mix. Evaluating channels in isolation is important to compare their relative performance. However, cross-channel analytics can help predict how adjustments and optimization in the marketing mix will impact campaign results. It’s critical that cross-analytics measurement models integrate both online and offline channels to derive a truly holistic view of campaign results.
Companies should also develop a measurement plan based on the unique goals of their campaign. If the objective is to increase provider awareness during a product launch phase, then measure the extent to which you achieved this goal. That being said, the overarching goal is always to impact the marketplace in a resounding way. Therefore, the most important metric to analyze is the increase in new prescription rates. However, marketers should also be measuring physician awareness and opinion of their products, renewal rates of prescriptions and engagement.
The measurements used to judge the success of a campaign will vary slightly for every channel because each channel drives physician engagement in a different way. For one campaign you might measure prescriptions per practitioner or net new prescribers versus a control group for a point of care print channel and ad exposure versus conversions for a digital channel. But, overestimating the value of arbitrary impressions and click-through rates is a big mistake. To ensure you are getting the full picture of your campaign’s performance, invest in a tool that can gather and organize data from multiple channels. NRx lift, adherence, persistency and new prescribers will tell you immediately the success of your campaign.
ROI in pharma can often be too easily seen as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you spend all your life looking for but never actually get. We need to take a more pragmatic approach and think about tools and frameworks to help make more informed decisions across the marketing mix.
A key challenge in pharma—we still operate in silos:
• Experience: The classic area in tracking our brand’s performance. Did the physician “get” your messaging? Did your clinical trial or real-world research resonate with them?
• Access: The challenge is to not only get your brand approved, listed and at a price that makes sense, but all the other needs in terms of sampling, getting stock into pharmacy, compliance, etc.
• Execution: How we execute our strategy through multiple channels—not only sales or digital, but the right combination.
In pharma, these three areas almost universally have their own teams and KPIs. But only by using some sort of umbrella metric can one truly understand where to act most appropriately to drive the brand and at what point in the lifecycle you should pull each lever. However, these three buckets are not enough, but they do help us focus on where to look—you need to know specifically which levers to focus on.
For instance, a new multiple sclerosis (MS) drug may need to focus on patient ease of use. But what does this mean? To get recommendations that will drive the brand, other sources of data are necessary, such as social media where patients on forums are screaming for help with switching medications—a real opportunity to drive further usage of the brand. As we go further, these levers can be tested with customers to understand whether they really drive further prescribing and compliance—in other words, a RETURN on your investment.