We’ve talked about modernizing pharma marketing for a long time. We’re all constantly striving to understand our audiences and their behavior better and faster, so our work can be more responsive, even anticipatory.
Today, we can finally say that we hold the tools in our hands. Artificial intelligence (AI) will power the evolution—the revolution—of modern marketing.
AI isn’t futuristic; it’s present tense. As evidence, notice the coming proliferation of chatbots—programs that simulate conversation which are often powered by AI. One in four consumers already use chatbots daily. About 30% of the public prefer to use chatbots rather than calling or emailing an online retailer (http://bit.ly/2iPwCef). And, from September 2016 to July 2017 alone, the number of chatbots on Facebook grew from 30,000 to 100,000 (http://bit.ly/2xpkb0u).
It’s still early. Only 4% of companies have chatbots and 31% plan development. But in one study of consumers aged 18-34, 58% had interacted with a chatbot, and among those who had not, 53% were interested in doing so (http://bit.ly/2kYAsSs). Moreover, another study found that 83% of consumers would be more loyal to a brand that offered a chatbot to make appointments or answer queries (http://bit.ly/2xpkb0u).
Our world is changing rapidly—and we are already accustomed to AI-powered service. When I got my first checking account, I was mailed a monthly bank statement. Today, I receive an alert from my bank before I’ve even completed a transaction. Customers today no longer expect to wait. These expectations are infiltrating and changing every industry. To meet the needs of our audiences, we’ll have to quickly keep up—and AI will power that speed.
From strategy to implementation to customer retention, AI is already in place and making the difference. Today, our teams use predictive modeling to target healthcare professionals, patients, payers, and caregivers in ever more accurate and effective ways. Our virtual assistant program works with Amazon’s Alexa to talk a patient through proper drug administration, order refills, make appointments, connect to a nurse, and more. And predictive analytics engines can ensure that pharma’s self-learning AI responses are compliant.
How to Maximize AI
Pharma marketers need to know two main paths—and one main caution—to maximize AI.
1. These technologies can analyze datasets far larger and far more rapidly than ever before while making it possible to draw more accurate conclusions. So if your brand isn’t using AI and behavioral science to predict, model, and analyze your customers, you will soon find yourself falling behind your competitors.
2. AI makes it possible to triage simple tasks like scheduling or answering basic questions, leaving humans—i.e., MSLs or sales representatives—free to address complex issues that need expertise and a personal touch. Whether addressing a physician, a pharmacist, a payer, a patient, or a loved one, the ability to focus people on what matters most is going to rapidly change customer service as we know it.
The caution lies in implementation. For all the talk about big data, AI, chatbots, and the future, effective implementation is no easy feat. In a business where getting it right can mean the difference between life and death (never mind the difference between compliance or a warning letter), experience matters.
Modern marketing that works on the fly has been presaged for years—but today, AI is making it possible.