What’s Holding Your Marketing Efforts Back?

Perhaps you’re one of those forward thinking, innovative marketers hoping to improve pharmaceutical brand customer experience. Ever wonder why there’s such a disconnect between your industry and leading brands from retail, consumer goods or financial services? It seems too easy to blame the tough regulatory environment. Is something else going on?

As a consumer yourself, you form a relationship, of sorts, with your favorite brands. Some know you’re happy to be emailed—a few can text. Their TV ads make you laugh. You help YouTube videos go viral and may even follow a few brand Twitter feeds. You are a happy repeat customer. The brand creates a customer experience that works for you—and it reaps the benefits.

Life Sciences marketers could learn from this when engaging patients or caregivers—and physicians, too. Probably, consulting services companies have assessed your brand and recommended customer experience improvements. But as a Life Sciences brand team or a supporting agency, you may wonder why a gulf exists between the strategic vision of optimal customer experience and how your brand engages customers.

Many factors improve customer experience: Employing the right in-house expertise, creating a supportive marketing culture and implementing processes that support a shift in your marketing philosophy. You might consider changing creative direction to meet your marketing goals, but without fixing some foundational data and technology issues, these improvements will only take you so far. So let’s start with the basics, which means integrating the right data and a marketing software platform to support a complex healthcare stakeholder and multichannel landscape.

Data Makes the Connection

A wealth of data is available to help you reach the right audience. Marketing data is continuously created and stored both inside and outside of your company, and as part of a brand team, you probably use external marketing vendors to execute various marketing tactics. Start by selecting the “right” data, with a view to the key performance indicators you’ll use to track performance.

Once you have the right data, you need to roll up tactic level data to view campaign and overall marketing performance. If the relevant data is not fully integrated—which it often isn’t—the view is incomplete.

Organizations have invested considerably for years to create a complete view of their customers. But mergers and acquisitions haven’t helped, the landscape constantly changes and the work involved is never ending. In addition to “traditional” data integration challenges, IT organizations supporting brand teams face relatively new challenges.

Data volumes are increasing. Different data types are also more common and more complex to integrate (think unstructured or semi-structured data from digital sources or call centers). And real-time turnaround of data marketing insights is in high demand. Today, a marketing performance slide deck delivered three months after a campaign ends just doesn’t cut it. And these new requirements converge to increase pressure on IT. It’s no wonder so many Life Sciences brands get stuck at this data integration phase.

Assuming you have integrated the right data, a feedback loop must be created from reporting and analytics to refining your marketing and campaign level strategy. This ensures that marketing spend is allocated more efficiently over time.

The starting point is a foundation of integrated data. Without establishing the clichéd “360 degree view of the customer,” implementing your vision of customer experience is unachievable.

The Right Platform Extends Your Reach

Multichannel marketing today is more complex than using spreadsheets and homegrown applications or working with a marketing services provider whose technology dates back to 2005. You must invest in the right marketing platform—a cloud-based solution is a given. But to get your brand quickly where you want it to be, should the platform be horizontal or vertical? A horizontal platform, by definition, is not built from the ground up to support the specific requirements and constraints of Life Sciences marketers. Invest in a horizontal platform and you’ll spend more for a consulting services company to build out the additional “musts” for Life Sciences marketers.

Finding the appropriate data model, missing features and functionality, and ensuring compliance would then require additional work (and money). Since horizontal software vendors must address the needs of many different industries, they may prioritize other industries and offer features with little value to you. And the Life Sciences industry is behind in meeting new customer experience expectations, so carefully consider whether technology will accelerate the pace of change, or slow you down.

Also, take the data integration challenge off of the table by ensuring the right marketing software is in place to not only execute your campaigns, but also to solve the broader master data management challenges. This is the precursor to achieving many of your marketing goals. Various campaign management platforms are available, but many have lightweight data integration capabilities, manage a sliver of customer data and may not scale to meet your needs. With the wealth of customer data available, why base your segmentation strategy on only a subset of it? You can’t create an optimal customer experience if your starting point ignores who your customer is and what they need.

Your Foundation is Everything

Ideally, technology works in the background and supports marketers, freeing them to address more strategic concerns. But the Life Sciences industry doesn’t have that luxury—because our foundation is missing. We have to get back to basics:

  • Integrate all relevant customer and marketing data.
  • Leverage an easy to use (yet sophisticated) segmentation engine to access that data and target the right customers.
  • Place an application layer on top of a rich customer database to execute campaigns.
  • Continually monitor campaign performance—of every tactic, channel and every marketing vendor you partner with. Roll up the information for a complete view of your marketing performance.

Then learn. Then refine. Then repeat.

Remember why you are doing this—for patients, caregivers and physicians who want to make optimal healthcare decisions. We have a responsibility to get that right—as quickly as possible.

  • Simone Bailey

    Simone Bailey is Strategy Director, Technology and Applications at IMS Health. Simone is a marketing and technology strategist who advises healthcare companies looking to execute more successful customer marketing programs. Her background includes business intelligence, customer relationship management technology, and she gained more than 15 years experience within consulting, sales and marketing organizations.

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