Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies’ interactions with healthcare professionals (HCPs) have been highly personalized — primarily via face-to-face, in-office visits. Recently, however, this model has proven less effective. Even the large, expensive field forces of sales reps and medical sciences liaisons are reaching only about 60-70% of the HCP market for most brands. Change is imperative.
Thus, the industry is rapidly activating digital marketing channels, a trend that has been turbocharged by the pandemic: With lockdowns impeding in-person visits, emails, web downloads and webinars became life sciences companies’ only reliable methods of connecting with HCPs. This digital shift has also been the impetus for a new go-to-market model where a hybrid rep is supported by digital marketing components. Some companies engage 100% digitally for select health conditions, products and markets.
Amid these industry-wide transformations, companies are finding that personalization poses a thorny challenge. While the old field-force-driven engagement model was inherently personalized, to retain the human touch with a digital approach requires coordinating communications across all channels and leveraging data to deliver customized content. A small number of innovators have launched and scaled hybrid commercial models by using insights gleaned from HCPs over time, such as channel and content preferences.
They have realized significant benefits, including:
- 5–15% revenue uplifts, driven by increases in prescribers and in TRx/NRx per prescriber
- 10–40% gains in marketing efficiencies, with faster time-to-market and greater cost savings
- Higher HCP satisfaction, as measured by NPS scores
There is a real opportunity for pharma companies seeking to follow suit, but they face daunting complexity. We’ve learned, in our experience working with cutting-edge companies, that the above benefits are realized only when sophisticated marketing tactics (such as customer micro-segmentation) and advanced technologies (automation, AI, etc.) are conjoined. And the best path to success is to establish a minimum viable product (MVP) and then scale from there to drive broader business value.
Key elements of an omnichannel MVP
The MVP journey starts by partnering with brand leaders to establish business objectives — based on a full understanding of the product portfolio (i.e., each brand’s growth curve and relative performance). What measurable goals will best enable growth? The company could choose to focus on reaching more HCPs, for example, raising awareness of new products, etc. The analysis should also include the brands’ commercial strategies and their impact to date. To continue to refine the original growth objectives, deepen the analysis to cover brands’ targeting models, messaging, active engagement channels, data availability and promotional responses.
This initial stage should enable the company to identify which brand or brands have the greatest potential to benefit from a data-driven, omnichannel approach. Just as important, the exercise should result in defining which brands and markets are most open to change and eager to experiment with the new model.
Once there is buy-in from the brands and local markets involved in the MVP, establish a core team of global and local leaders to execute the pilot. Engage with external strategic partners and software vendors to leverage their expertise and talent in consulting, change management, analytics and technology.
The MVP itself should focus on three elements:
1. Value metrics
Traditional pharmaceutical company metrics, based around visits with HCPs, covered numbers of visits by reps, how many prescriptions providers wrote, percentages of eligible patients receiving a particular drug, etc. This led to a focus on how much of an HCP’s attention a pharma company captured, market coverage and reach, and messaging frequency.
Deploying an omnichannel marketing model demands very different measurements for customer satisfaction, the experiences that drive it, and success in creating meaningful relationships with customers. This more holistic approach means going beyond open/click rates, number of website visits, time spent on pages, display ad views, etc. New metrics are aimed at understanding the customer journey and measuring the effectiveness of moving HCPs through it.