Multichannel Marketing Resolutions for 2019 – “Remember the Basics”
Originally published in Med Ad News, with a similar piece also published in PM360.
As 2018 draws to a close, recent data suggests that less than one in five pharma marketers are very satisfied with their digital activities. In our experience, some of that dissatisfaction stems from the pursuit of “new” and “innovative” tactics, often at the expense what is tried and true.
If this describes you, why not resolve in 2019 to remember the basics to drive short-term impact.
What follows are four “quick win” resolutions you can make. They are not the sexiest ideas, but they work, and often are missing from tactical plans.
1. Correct information on third party sites.
Life Sciences marketers tend to focus their time and budget on “owned” and “paid” content (think: brand.coms, digital visual aids, sponsored pages, et cetera). Less attention is paid to how brand messages appear in content on third party sites. This is regrettable because no matter how good a brand’s content may be, traffic to this content will be less than traffic to independently controlled Web pages.
Our work with clients has revealed that critical information about branded products and disease or support messages aligned to brand strategy is missing, incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate.
For example, we recently mapped message accuracy for multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and liver disease brands and discovered that numerous high traffic sites lacked disease messages aligned to our clients’ messages; and, worse, some sites had inaccurate information about our clients’ brands. One even reported the wrong indication!
Given the visibility of these pages, brands who ignore them miss a large opportunity to influence patients and providers where they congregate. The good news is this content can be fixed through coordinated outreach facilitated by medical, patient advocacy, public affairs, or corporate communications, depending on the nature of the message.
2019 resolution: Audit how your brand and its key messages appear on 3rd party sites. Take steps to correct the information that appears.
2. Engage “Digital Opinion Leaders.”
“Digital Opinion Leaders” are patients and providers active on social media, capable of influencing your customers. While commercial teams regularly engage “KOLs,” they often overlook “DOLs” who may have equal or greater value.
Our work has shown that DOLs are interested in partnering with Life Sciences companies on projects that are mutually beneficial. Beyond one-off meetings, DOLs want to partner on a ongoing basis to share their insights and support disease awareness and education, disease management, medical education, and news sharing, among other things.
For example, our work in rare and chronic diseases has shown active and vibrant patient DOL communities who are keen to lend their support to like-minded brand teams. Similarly, our work with HCP DOLs has revealed that as many as 25 percent of high-influence DOLs were not on the radar of brand teams.
2019 resolution: Map the DOL community within your disease area. Identify DOLs with high reach, message resonance, and relevance to your brand. Engage a group of DOLs to partner on a mutually beneficial project.
3. Optimize “owned” content and channels.
Commercial teams dedicate extensive effort to creating “owned” content and channel tactics. But once the heavy lifting is done, few spend time evaluating and optimizing these tactics. Why is this? First, marketers are often recognized for launching programs versus incrementally improving them. Second, agencies often aren’t skilled in evaluating their own work and improving it. The money and glory is in “design and build” versus improve. Third, brands simply don’t budget for optimization.
What’s needed is the discipline to evaluate work against best practice, and to then identify, make, and test changes. We’ve found budgeting for one to two rounds of optimization per year (given lengthy medical/legal/regulatory cycles) is adequate to drive results and establish a culture of continuous improvement.
For example, one of our clients has been conducting twice-annual optimizations for several years and has been able to demonstrate significant “lift” from very minor changes to web pages and email assets.
2019 resolution: Budget 10 to 20 percent of total MCM expenditures to implement a basic optimization process. Identify improvement opportunities based on codified best practice. Test and measure the impact of changes.
4. Upgrade approach to measurement.
Many brand teams we encounter are awash in reports, but starved of context and meaning. They want to know how their investments contribute to business impact, and what they can do to improve customer engagement. Instead, they receive agency reports on “activity-based” measures like clicks, which tell very little about impact and even less about how to improve it.
Start to fix this problem in 2019. Begin by defining meaningful metrics that link brand communication objectives to content consumption behavior to business impact. Choose metrics connected to consumption or sharing of key message content and rep-reported attitude shifts. Then, design reports that enable marketers and reps to quickly make decisions to improve performance. For instance, reps should see what high-value content their customers consume and where they are in an adoption ladder. Marketers should be able to understand which content and channels are performing best for each segment.
One of our rare disease clients was able to make significant progress in creating “actionable reports” by using an agile development process where the reports we designed were coded and released to the brand and sales teams in a series of releases. This had the effect of building strong momentum around the power of MCM measurement in the organization.
2019 resolution: Define a KPI framework that links content consumption to business impact measures. Design and pilot actionable reports that support decision-making.
While different companies and brands are at different stages of multi-channel maturity, most are still at a relatively low level of maturity. If this describes you, the four quick-wins just outlined are reliable ways to up your multi-channel marketing game in 2019.