Modular content is becoming established in pharmaceutical marketing organisations primarily because it simplifies and speeds asset production. But there is a secondary benefit — less well known — that first-mover companies are already experiencing. Modular content doesn’t just speed time-to-market. It also accelerates overall marketing agility and removes barriers to innovation. This Insight explains how this happens and why the efficiency benefits of switching to modular content can turbo-charge creativity in your whole marketing organisation.
The difference between traditional and modular content
Before we dive in, let’s quickly say what modular content means by contrasting it with the traditional way of working with content. The earlier ‘fixed’ content approach was to create something, e.g. an eDetailer, by developing all the content for that particular asset. The key point is that the content is designed for one specific asset and essentially locked into it. So while you can technically take eDetailing content and use it in another channel, the process isn’t easy and is slow to implement because it wasn't designed to be flexible.
A modular approach is different. You don't develop content for one single thing. Instead, you create content that works in multiple channels. It's a system with lots of individual content elements. Each of these is like an ingredient that can be combined to create different recipes.
One immediate benefit of a modular system is that it enables you to be more agile and respond to your market data faster. Remember, with modular content, you're not updating a whole eDetailer but one small element. If it's easy to swap these bits of content in and out, you will. If it's simple to replace a poorly-performing infographic with a better one, you’ll do that too. And if it’s possible to create multiple versions of something for A/B testing, why not?
Even more than this, modular content creates a different mindset. Rather than a ‘set it and forget it’ approach that fixed content encourages, you'll constantly be looking to make improvements. In fact, you'll know that any new campaign material or tactic isn't the final version but the first version. You demand continual improvement. That's a big change in life sciences marketing.
An innovation driver
With fixed content, you create something and then leave it alone until you do a big update. Those updates are a major investment, so you don't want to do them often. You don't do it even when you know something could be better by making some improvements. Even if you have a great idea, you don't do it. It's too expensive and too much hassle.
Modular content is the opposite. Because it consists of many different things, it's no big deal to continually make changes to any of them. That means that your opportunity for innovation is far greater. You can keep changing and improving. You can do it all the time. And you can encourage all your colleagues and agencies to look for opportunities too.
An example from the energy industry
Let's take an example from another industry: solar energy. This is dramatically more efficient than it was just five years ago. It used to be more expensive than fossil fuels. Now it's cheaper – and getting cheaper every year. Why? Because solar energy is modular. It comprises different elements that can be swapped out: solar panels, inverters, battery systems, micro-grid software etc.
Therefore, solar energy benefits from many innovations every year that can be applied immediately. These improvements compound. So solar energy systems get better and better very quickly. Traditional power stations are rarely updated because that's hard to do. It's one big thing that's pretty much fixed. You build one and then perhaps try to build a better one in thirty years. So there's little ongoing innovation.
It’s the same process in your marketing content. Your content can become cheaper and more effective because a modular approach makes innovation possible. When it’s possible to make continual improvements — and it’s easy to do so — things can really change.
Making it easier
To fully benefit from modular content, you need to make it simple for everyone. You need the ability to quickly find modular content elements from a library and add them to assets in seconds. And you need compliance controls too. You must know where every bit of content is, see its approval status and how it was localised, and ensure that only the latest approved content elements can be used. In other words, modular content needs to be more than technically possible. It has to be easy.
To make modular content more accessible for pharma, we created Anthill Activator for Veeva users. Activator is a content management system completely integrated with Veeva Vault. It maintains the security and safety of your Vault content — nothing ever leaves your Veeva system — but Activator makes content easier to work with and update.
Activator also adds more control. It provides you with analytics on every content element, both during its development and its use in local markets. It simplifies the approval process by offering greater transparency and speed, improves localisation with clarity over the status of every content piece, and aids translation with smart workflows. So, when you or one of your agencies gets a great idea — like a jaw-droppingly cool mode-of-action animation — it can be added to your modular content library and pulled into channels as required. Then a month later, you spot a tiny change that would make it a little better. You can update and publish. By making modular content user-friendly in this way, Activator encourages the continual rapid, incremental changes that drive innovation.
How can we help?
Are you thinking of implementing modular content and need an experienced agency partner? Or are you looking to unlock Veeva Vault’s capabilities and make modular content more accessible with Activator? In addition to modularising your marketing content, we can also implement ‘content excellence’ processes that bring efficiency to your whole supply chain.
Modular content: explore how we enable you to implement modular content to reduce asset time-to-market. Learn more Anthill Activator: discover how Activator can turbo-charge your Veeva Vault solution and simplify localisation. Learn more Content excellence: learn how we partner with pharma companies to implement fast and flexible content creation systems. Learn more
Modular content guide: get the full explanation of modular content with a clear definition, use cases, and actionable insights. Read now Pharma marketing guide: read our in-depth guide to pharma marketing technology, strategy and content. Read now
At Anthill, we keep a keen eye on digital marketing and sales innovation. Over just the last couple of years, things have continued to change at dizzying speed. There are new centres of innovation established around the world.