Strong Analytics Can Help You Weather a Storm

There will be times when, despite all your best planning, you will need to change course on a marketing campaign. The pivot will be less stressful if you take time now to make sure that you have a strong analytical foundation that can support nimble decision-making; a foundation that can weather a market event and let you draw on its data to go in a new direction. It’s okay to fail when you have the marketing analytics data to correct the course. To get such a data foundation, you need to champion a culture that encourages continual improvements to campaigns.

Pharma marketing is staring at a potentially major pivot now because Facebook changed its policies for targeted health advertising.1 But brand marketers who have a strong analytics foundation know that they can put other audience targeting options to work. Here’s how you can join them, in this and other moments of change.

Building a Strong Analytics Foundation

While a strong analytics foundation will look different from company to company, they will all share certain common elements.

The first is that the foundation should be based on actual person-level health and media data. It should deliver insights at a granular level, so you can understand the channels, publishers, and tactics that are working, and could work for other campaigns. Finally, it should be able to detect patterns in your data in a way that is actionable and timely. This allows you to optimize and improve campaigns as you go along.

Use Data to Make Smart Business Decisions

Once the foundation is in place, the work begins to use the data gathered to make smart business decisions. The impact of market events is not always obvious. You will need expertise and experience to interpret your data and, if necessary, adjust.

Your company, and others, may be trying right now to understand how Facebook’s update to its ad targeting policies will affect your marketing. It’s almost certain you will be looking at the targeting strategies that your brand has been using and checking to see if they are still available to you. But data can tell you more than that. Brand marketers should be turning to data that can help them determine how competitors are shifting their investments and how other media plan elements are working. For every event, ask the question: How does this impact my analytics?

Given the volume of data collected, it can be easy to get so caught up in the data that you are looking for a different story every month. Don’t do it. Looking at every possible cut of the data can delay smart decision-making. Focus on what’s most important to drive your business forward.

By the same token, you shouldn’t change your analytics foundation in response to a market event. Changing the methodology of marketing analytics mid-campaign can lead to confusion and misreading signals in the data. Instead, use your foundation to react to the event and then use what you learn to improve upon it.

Nurture a Culture That Embraces Optimization

The health and media industries are constantly changing. To keep up with changing consumer behavior and the platforms needed to reach those consumers, you must regularly test and try new tactics—some of which will not work. Don’t let those missteps or missed targets keep you from using marketing analytics to inform your decision-making.

Too often, media agencies and in-house teams are reluctant to change campaigns because they feel personally attached to the work or see a change as a personal failure. Instead, accept that some tactics will fail. The most successful brands embrace that, and make an active decision to fail fast. Use analytics to understand what’s working, and build a culture that embraces changes and optimizations so your campaigns can continually improve.

Doing so will make you even more ready for the next marketing challenge and the next turn of events. Some campaigns may not work as planned, and you will need to find a new approach. To make sure that you are making the right decisions, build a strong analytics foundation and draw on its data to find a new direction.



  • Sarah Caldwell

    Sarah Caldwell is General Manager, Crossix Analytics at Veeva. Sarah is responsible for Crossix measurement and optimization and audience targeting solutions at Veeva Systems. Crossix leverages connected health data to help life sciences more effectively activate, measure, and optimize their marketing investments. Sarah joined Crossix in 2007 and has consulted with pharmaceutical brands across various therapeutic areas and business situations, including launch and loss of exclusivity.


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