Personalization or Commoditization – What Will Indian Pharma Marketers Choose in 2017?

According to the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, personalized marketing halves acquisition costs, increases revenues by almost 15% and improves efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%. It has been observed that customization of marketing content leads to positive changes in response rates, sales and brand recognition. However, pharma marketers have been slow in switching over to personalized marketing campaigns, with most still opting for conventional mass marketing tactics that adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

Personalization Vs Commoditization

When done offline, pharma marketing mainly follows a commoditized model, which although more effortless and less time-consuming, rarely fetches the best outcomes. This is because offline channels such as field force visits, seminars and conferences restrict marketing to a ‘spray and pray’ technique that relies on an incomplete understanding of the latest treatment trends and the specific drug-related information that doctors need while making prescription decisions.

On the other hand, digitization helps pharma establish multiple touchpoints across devices with the medical community. This gives marketers access to precious DATA about HCPs, their opinions, habits and choices. Digitization also helps in mapping the doctor in his/her journey from becoming aware of a particular drug to actually prescribing it. Using these insights, pharma can create a highly personalized engagement strategy targeting specific groups of doctors or even individual doctors.

The outcomes of commoditized marketing tactics cannot be easily measured. Often, pharma marketers continue to communicate the same messages to clinicians without knowing if this is really translating into higher prescriptions of their brand. This ambiguity is greatly reduced in a digitally personalized marketing campaign as it is based on a structured feedback loop. Such feedback mechanism places the marketer in control of the campaign. By engaging in a continuous dialogue with physicians through various digital interactions, pharma marketers can accurately assess the impact of their messages and tweak their content strategy, if required, to achieve the desired results. Moreover, these insights may be incorporated into their offline marketing activities as well.

Mass marketing such as seminars and conferences can quickly exhaust pharma budgets without comparable outcomes. On the contrary, targeted digital marketing channelizes resources in the right direction, leading to optimization.

Why Personalization Works for Doctors Too?

Business advisory firm Deloitte notes that 1 out of every 3 consumers favors personalized experiences. Marketo, the maker of marketing automation software, finds that personalized emails improve open rates by 26% and click-through rates by 97%. This gives us an idea of the huge impact that personalized content has on the target audience.

Like other professionals, doctors too are increasingly accessing drug and other medical information online. This coupled with factors like the trend of super-specialties and rising medico-legal cases have brought about a change in their content needs. As pointed out in our previous article on online behavior of Indian doctors, about 90% of all physicians crave a personalized experience.

This may be attributed to the following:

It gives them quick access to information that they are looking for – Given their busy schedules, doctors are more likely to visit online spaces that know exactly what kind of information they are seeking.

It gives them a sense of connect – When a customer receives a customized email or sees a page that caters to his/her needs, it lends a feeling of being understood by the company. Doctors are more likely to develop affinity and loyalty to a brand that understands who they are and wat they are looking for.

It makes it easier for them to update themselves – Depending on the expertise, level of experience, geographical base, etc., doctors’ information needs change. Pharma companies can engage them with the right content when they know exactly what kind of drug and therapy information is being sought.

Key Considerations for Personalized Pharma Marketing

One of the main reasons for pharma to mainly resort to mass marketing is the lack of reliable avenues for fully understanding their customers. A leadership-driven systemic overhaul in favor of digitization will lay the foundation for customized pharma marketing. Once digitization as a concept is fully accepted within the organization, the following factors need to be considered:

Focus on behavioral data – Real personalization would be possible only when pharma marketers gain a complete understanding of their target segment’s behavioral traits on all devices and channels. Qualitative and quantitative data is the king for true personalization. Pharma’s digitization move should be designed in a way that enables accurate and comprehensive collection of data.

Customize your content to make it more responsive to the device being used – Pharma digital marketing’s success largely depends on a seamless, user-friendly experience for clinicians. Today’s medical professionals want to see information that they need, on the device of their choice and at a time that is most convenient to them. It is essential that marketers identify their consumers as the same person across channels. Marketers must adapt their digital offerings to suit a device’s unique requirements. Mobile versions of their marketing portals should include features like swipe and one-touch clicks. This can be made possible through the convergence of analytics, mobile and digital interface platforms.

Arm yourself with the latest technology – Technology often acts as a barrier to exploit the huge potential of personalization. Using the latest digital platforms and tools will ensure that marketers have access to the most accurate insights into doctors’ opinions and treatment styles. In this digital age, only those marketers that leverage technology to gain a complete understanding of their core audience can stay competitive.

Invest in predictive analytics – Personalization goes beyond customized messaging, to include a comprehensive user experience. Companies like Amazon and Google have set new standards of delivering personalized content. Advanced personalization calls for marketers to know his/her audience’s product needs before they are made obvious. Using predictive models, pharma can effectively analyze current data and combine it with historical facts to make fairly accurate predictions about future drug prescription patterns and related content needs. It is imperative for pharma marketers to invest in techniques such as data mining, machine learning and statistical modelling in order to stay ahead in the race to ‘know’ their customers.

Get personal but respect the consumer – There is a very thin line between delivering personalized content and encroaching privacy. A key to not crossing the line is to use only that information which has been offered by the doctor. Although digital marketers are privy to a vast amount of information, they need to ensure that it is used ethically.

Partner with the right platform – Personal marketing demands extensive resources for planning, preparation and implementation. Partnering with a digital service provider that has the widest reach within the targeted audience, a sophisticated technological architecture, and a team of skilled content strategists will help pharma companies achieve their personalized marketing goals.

How can Docplexus help?

Access to accurate data and the effective use of that data by employing resources and expertise are crucial for delivering the best personalized experience to physicians. Pharma cannot afford to deviate attention from its core activity which is drug development. Therefore, a reliable digital marketing partner like Docplexus is critical to pharma’s personalization drive. While our broad user-base gives pharma marketers a large target audience, our structured analytics and feedback mechanism gives them accurate insights that may be used to create customized content marketing campaigns.

Docplexus conducts mindset analysis using various tools like surveys and discussions to understand its users’ preferences. Based on the results, we suggest and help execute a personalized content strategy suited for the needs of specific groups of doctors. Sentiment analysis also alerts clients regarding any negative impressions about their products. They can then tailor their content to address these specific concerns.

To conclude, personalization is extremely important for successful pharma marketing. Leading pharma vendors have already made huge investments in personalizing medical treatment by understanding the biology of a disease, spotting biomarkers and conducting tests to match patients to therapies. They now need to focus their attention on personalized digital marketing to take these personalized treatments to the relevant healthcare providers.


Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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