It’s no understatement to say that the speed at which technology evolves creates real challenges for marketers. This is especially true for the advancement of what is commonly referred to as “mobile.” Yesterday mobile was about smartphone and iPad apps and responsive and adaptive web design. Today, marketers are exploring health wearables, beacons, the Internet of Things and virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift.

In order for pharma to rethink and truly evolve its mobile strategy to take advantage of the opportunity, it first must relinquish the notion that mobile is a thing at all. Pharma must move beyond mobile as a channel, platform or device, and embrace the promise that mobile can connect, engage and transform customer relationships.

How can pharma best apply mobile innovation? The following five core beliefs will help steer every marketer in the right direction.

1. Mobile can drive human behaviors. The best uses of mobile technology take a very thoughtful approach to changing human behavior, applying disciplines such as gamification and behavioral economics to influence change. Without this important element, customers will abandon a mobile program quickly.

2. Mobile is a core component of an integrated, multichannel ecosystem. The number one way consumers are searching for and engaging with information is via their mobile device. Mobile offers opportunities for rich targeting through social, video, email, web and apps. Brands must leverage mobile as a primary means for connecting customers across their entire brand experience.

3. Mobile can be the foundation for data-driven research. Mobile is an integral part of our everyday lives, and is therefore a prime resource for data collection methods that don’t burden the user. Today, data on activity, emotional state, physical symptoms and compliance can easily be tracked and synchronized to create massive repositories of information. Apple’s ResearchKit announcement is a prime example of this promise.

4. Mobile combined with medication can impact better outcomes. For decades, pharma has been seeking ways to affect adherence and compliance. By creating the right opportunity with mobile, pharma can actually augment prescription treatments with mobile-enabled systems to help patients be successful. The benefits of a mobile and pill combination can not only be clinically-proven, they can be reimbursed by payers as well.

5. Mobile is connected. Pharma’s approach can no longer be about a single branded app, but instead must take into consideration all integrated apps, devices and interactions. Platforms such as Apple’s HealthKit offer ever-growing possibilities for seamlessly integrating a brand’s mobile strategy into a customer’s existing mobile ecosystem.

To be effective in mobile, marketers must begin with a deep understanding of the customer needs and behaviors, and then leverage that understanding to create the integrated approach that will lead the customer along their journey. For pharma, the opportunity is even greater than that of other industries due to its base need to intersect with human behaviors. Mobile can be that point of intersection.

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