Hemal Somaiya is the head of omnichannel marketing with 15+ years of pharmaceutical marketing experience.
In my opinion, there is a huge problem in the world of pharmaceutical marketing. Last year, companies spent just under $8.1 billion on marketing campaigns, with over $4 billion allocated to target healthcare providers. But that is not the problem. The problem is that lacking the correct strategy, it seems most of that $4 billion was wasted.
Since the global pandemic largely shifted pharmaceutical marketing into a digital space, physicians and healthcare providers have been inundated with an overwhelming amount of digital marketing materials.
Unfortunately, overwhelming marketing can sometimes lead to complete disengagement by busy healthcare providers. Between seeing patients within a 15-minute window, trudging through a mountain of paperwork and taking on extra shifts, the last thing healthcare providers need is to be haphazardly bombarded with marketing content.
Like all great orators know, understanding your target audience is critical for the success of delivering any message. An astrophysicist actively seeking information about the newest advances in the field does not want to be marketed the latest furniture collection at Macy’s, just like an oncologist seeking a novel lymphoma treatment does not want to hear about a new children’s allergy medication. Messages must be tailored to match the audience for them to truly resonate. And to effectively engage with physicians and other healthcare professionals, you’ll need to tap into the power of affinity data.
Affinity data is a treasure trove of information about healthcare providers, revealing their interests, preferences, behaviors and more. It takes the next step past mundane demographics and truly understands what they like and how they engage with the world around them.
By analyzing how your target physicians interact, choose and engage with products, services or content, affinity data helps you understand their unique needs. In turn, this information empowers you to smartly develop and tailor marketing content in a way that they can relate to.
Such personalized content may include anything that will cater to their interests, current professional state and future career goals, such as informative webinars, innovative educational materials or groundbreaking medical articles.
Leveraging affinity data, whether through professional networks, email campaigns or social media interactions, allows one to captivate physicians and other healthcare providers through the channels they actively engage with. With this strategy, it increases the chance of earning their attention—and keeping it.
Companies can leverage affinity data for healthcare providers in the United States to bring a new strategy to the world of pharmaceutical marketing. For example, my company used AI and affinity data to develop the Next Best Action (NBA), a strategy that recommends the best course of action for each individual healthcare provider. Essentially, it tells you what to do next in a customer’s message journey based on their previous interactions.
The creation of the NBA strategy is only one of many ways companies can seek to enhance marketing campaign efficiency and optimize resource allocation. Other best practices when leveraging affinity data include:
1. Having a holistic target list or target specialties in mind before running the affinity analysis for the output to be very meaningful.
2. Keeping in mind budget and resource constraints that can limit you to only one to two channels.
3. Thinking about channels holistically, not just limited to digital.
These models make it possible to offer precisely personalized communications to healthcare professionals at the right time and on the platforms they prefer.
As the digital era retains its post-pandemic grip on the industry, pharmaceutical companies face strict regulations and financial challenges to leverage new digital channels in a meaningful way. With millions of websites, apps and digital platforms, companies must be smart to decide where to play, how to play and who to play with.
The “spray and pray” method, wherein one deploys a digital campaign across all possible channels, is not only ineffective, it’s unnecessarily wasteful.
Leveraging affinity data may just be the key to keeping you and your company from contributing to the billion-dollar waste bucket of pharmaceutical marketing spend.
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