Best practices in pharma omnichannel engagement

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A new level of HCP experience

Pharmaceutical and medical technology companies are currently transitioning from multichannel to omnichannel marketing. The ambition is to meet healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) rising expectations for more personalised and connected pharma communications. Companies also want to improve ROI on their content investments. With the number of in-person meetings constrained by field team resources, pharma is seeking to make better use of digital channels to both expand HCP access and deepen existing relationships.

This Insight explains how Anthill partners with leading pharma companies to apply omnichannel principles to their HCP engagement — highlighting some of the best practices that you can implement across your organisation.

Example of omnichannel communication
Upgrade your HCP communications with customer-centric omnichannel

Create a common understanding

Know the difference between omnichannel and multichannel. Even though both strategies use multiple channels, omnichannel and multichannel are very different. Understanding this difference is essential because multichannel is more established in pharma and, therefore, the default option. If people are not clear on the distinction, it is multichannel HCP engagement, not omnichannel, that will likely get implemented.  

In contrast to multichannel, an omnichannel strategy begins with your customers' needs, not by creating channels. Omnichannel is an experience designed to match a specific HCP profile — or series of profiles — with content that is delivered in successive engagements. In other words, you orchestrate a series of interactions that build on each other: 'interaction 1' enables 'interaction 2', which allows HCPs to move on to 'interaction 3'.

Technically, this customer journey could be as simple as a series of emails. But mixing channels and content types improve the experience. For example, an HCP might start with an approved email, which prompts them to learn more on a website, where they book an MSL discussion during which they are invited to a relevant webinar.

Marketing guide: omnichannel HCP engagement. Get started in the right way with the strategy, use cases, and practical implementation clearly explained. Download the guide

Difference between omnichannel and multichannel
Build omnichannel excellence into your marketing and sales organisation

Put the customer at the centre

Design for customer needs. Omnichannel communications are strategic and designed around the customer. Therefore, you start by considering people's needs and then sequence channels and content accordingly. What's critical is switching from providing the same information everywhere to curating individual experiences that unfold over time. The strategy can be as simple or sophisticated as required, but it should describe:

  • The specific audience and their needs
  • The start and endpoint of the customer journey
  • The steps HCPs take (channels and content)
  • Metrics to confirm effectiveness

An 'adoption ladder' is a very simple yet effective framework to underpin your omnichannel HCP engagement strategy. This visualises a customer's awareness of the topic or issues you want to address, e.g. prescribing your product. It consists of three stages that you need people to move through: awareness, belief, and support. Each person's position on the adoption ladder tells you what communication they need. For example, someone who has little or no awareness of your product requires more basic, introductory information than someone more experienced with it.

Example of omnichannel framework in pharma
Provide a common omnichannel framework to guide your engagements

Engage affiliates

Step beyond strategy. Launching a global omnichannel strategy requires getting affiliates on board. Simply describing the approach is not enough. Omnichannel engagement will only get implemented correctly if local markets understand what to do and have the skills to make it happen.  

To get the right results, it is a good idea to work directly with affiliates and help them develop local omnichannel plans for their markets. Starting small — one or two simple customer journeys — builds confidence. Later, affiliates can plan more sophisticated journeys once omnichannel thinking is embedded in your organisation.

eBook: Making the connection. Learn how to empower affiliates to deliver on your omnichannel HCP engagement strategy. Download the eBook

How to empower affiliates in pharma
Empower affiliates to implement omnichannel strategies in their market

Visualise the customer journey

Show how it works. Visualising the customer journey is very helpful for affiliates unfamiliar with the concept. A picture really is worth a thousand words (or Zoom calls, Teams meetings, and Skype chats). Even a simple illustration of a basic customer journey can work wonders when introducing the omnichannel concept. And visualisation is also good practice for affiliates' own local planning — helping to clarify thinking and provide a visual way to share their approach with other markets.

Case study: How to implement omnichannel across markets. Learn how a leading pharma company implemented omnichannel by providing clear explanations and support for affiliates. Read now

Visualisation of omnichannel strategy
Create visualisations to help everyone understand your omnichannel strategy

Match content to profiles

Create ‘experience streams’. Omnichannel is a great way to leverage your market data. Rather than ‘one experience for everyone’, you can use your customer understanding to create more targeted communication flows. These can address different topics or reflect preferred communication styles.  

For example, some HCPs may be more focused on the societal impact of a disease, while others are more interested in the science. In effect, you communicate the same messages (i.e. efficacy) but in very different ways. Accounting for communication preferences not only makes for more effective communications but also meets the rising demands from HCPs for more personalised and relevant information.

Learn more: HCP profiling made simple

How to increase relevance and value of the content using customer profiles
Use HCP profiles to direct content for increased relevance and value

Match channels to profiles

Use the right channels. It isn't just content that can respond to individual needs; your channels selection can do this too. Increasingly, we have preferred ways of receiving information. Some people dislike phone calls, being more comfortable with text messaging. Others prefer speaking to a real person and prize the human contact of eDetailing and remote detailing. Omnichannel communications can account for these individual preferences.

For example, in pharma marketing, we often need to differentiate between 'known' and 'unknown' customers — HCPs who don't have an existing relationship with the company and haven't given any marketing permissions. Engaging these two groups requires very different approaches that are reflected in your channel choices. Where known customers can enjoy direct contact with the company through eDetailing and webinars, unknown HCPs will need to be reached via 'indirect' channels like social media, advertising and search engine optimised websites.

Marketing guide: approved email. One very useful channel is approved email because it can link the different stages of a customer journey. But it has to be done in the right way. Download the guide

How to combine different channels to reach different customer groups
Combine channels to reach different customer groups more effectively

Mix formats

Keep HCPs engaged. The overriding omnichannel objective is to improve customer experience and increase HCP engagement. Content relevance matters greatly but so does the variety of experience you provide. Receiving four emails in a row becomes tiring. But then a fifth? A sixth? Pharma marketers have a far larger toolbox today and the opportunity to curate multiple mini-experiences along a customer journey.

Try to mix things up. We can switch channels, enabling HCPs to experience one-to-one eDetailing, approved email, webinars, brand websites, clinical papers and other documents. And we can switch content formats. In addition to the standard texts, graphics and videos, we now have the opportunity to provide recorded interviews, live discussions, and other content forms that are novel in pharma.

This variety is more intriguing ("What's coming next?") and provides opportunities for multiple kinds of audience involvement. Try thinking about the experience you are providing in terms of verbs. Great omnichannel experiences will have lots: reading, listening, watching, interacting, testing your knowledge etc.

Content formats for pharma omnichannel marketing
Build the omnichannel experience by blending content formats and channels

Speed asset creation with modular content

Optimise the content supply chain. The complexity of generating content in pharma put the brakes on omnichannel HCP engagement for many years. Matching content to customer profiles does require more content. And more varied use of content formats also strains resources. Add the rigours of MLR and a generally slow content supply chain, and it’s clear why many pharma companies have not been able to embrace omnichannel strategies to their full extent.

Modular content changes this. Instead of creating and approving assets one at a time, modular content provides pre-approved content ‘building blocks’ that can be quickly assembled and reassembled in different channels. Rather than approving each asset, colleagues in MLR can now focus on reviewing modules that are used multiple times. This avoids the duplication of work arising from reviewing the same messaging again and again in different assets.

If you switch to modular content, you bring efficiency to your whole content supply chain. Materials can be developed at speed, providing the volume required to match content to different customer profiles. And MLR approvals happen much faster, reducing time-to-market. So if you're looking to implement an omnichannel strategy, modular content makes it far easier, and it is highly recommended.

The latest development — pioneered by Anthill — is to combine modular content with AI. This approach further expands your ability to meet the higher content volumes required by personalised omnichannel engagements. And it avoids the ‘hallucination’ problem associated with generative AI because only pre-approved content modules are being assembled into tactics.  

In this way, compliance is assured while new and far easier workflows become possible. Now you can generate tactics using everyday language — “create an Approved Email with three patient case studies” — and immediately see the results. You can also better leverage your data and improve targeting by instructing the AI to develop tactics that match specific patient profiles or create versions that are most likely to resonate with difference audience groups.  

Online guide: modular content. Read our in-depth guide and learn how modular content works and implement it in your organisation. Read now

How to speed omnichannel content production
Re-engineer your supply chain to speed omnichannel content production

How to get started

The good news is that omnichannel doesn’t have to be complex. It’s possible to design an excellent solution that meets your business objectives while being easy to implement. You can start with your existing content and empower affiliates to create local omnichannel plans and tactics. And later you can increase sophistication with improvements such as more precise customer profiling, additional channels, and modular content.

If you’re looking to get started, reach out. We can help you implement an omnichannel HCP engagement solution that fits your company’s immediate needs and sets you up for the future.

Contact Anthill to learn more

Anthill Agency services

Omnichannel: learn how Anthill enables pharma and MedTech to implement omnichannel HCP engagement. Learn more
: discover how our latest innovation makes omnichannel content creation easier and faster. Learn more  

Omnichannel resources

Omnichannel guide: get the full explanation of omnichannel marketing in pharma, with a clear definition and best practices. Read now
Webinar recording
: learn how Novo Nordisk partnered with Anthill to speed omnichannel content creation. Watch now
Case study
: learn how a leading pharma company implemented omnichannel across their organisation. Read now


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