We’ve been talking about the need for the pharma industry to embrace multi-channel marketing (MCM) for some time now. Mobile seems to be less ‘top-of-mind’ in the pharma community than other channels, and we think that overlooking its potential is a missed opportunity. We have even talked about mobile in our key top trends for 2014 that pharma need to capitalise on - you can read that here.
Mobile is huge
Size certainly does matter, particularly when you’re talking about reaching target audiences. Various statistics available show that mobile has reach second to none:
- 250 million smart phones were sold worldwide in Q3 of 2013 (Gartner)
- Marketers spent $3 billion on mobile advertising in the first half of 2013 (Interactive Advertising Bureau)
- 85% of all consumers are open to receiving mobile coupons and 25% of all consumers are already making use of them (Yankee Group)
With these kinds of numbers, even if your pharma target market is a small percentage of the overall consumer market it still constitutes a large group of mobile users. It is proving difficult to find any EU data, however lets look at some stats specific to healthcare in the US:
- 55% of US physicians used a mobile device for learning
- 67% used one for encyclopedic knowledge
However the key question is here – is pharma ready to meet the needs of HCPs?
Immediacy is key
We live in an age of ‘real-time’ everything, where a delay of seconds can cost you a sale or cause a loss of trust and transparency. The role of mobile in pharma MCM has a three-fold advantage in this respect.
Firstly, it can get messages to your customers in an instant without requiring the long and involved production process that print ads, audio messages and even blogging require.
Secondly, it enables customers to take up offers without the typical delay in accessing them, whether they do it in person or online.
Third and most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to respond to customers before they have the chance to look elsewhere to fulfill their needs. You can answer disease-area related questions as soon as the question arises.
One of the primary complaints from the industry about the use of mobile technology is that companies aren’t sure how to make it work. So we rounded up a few ideas that you can mull over, to see if any of them resonate for your pharma company:
- Video marketing – sure, customers can view video on their computers anytime, but given the number of people who use mobile email these days you don’t want to assume they will remember to access your message on their return to their desk. The use of mobile video gives you a powerful medium for reaching them on the spot, wherever they are.
- Push notifications - what can possibly be more direct than sending your customer a notification they have accepted when they signed up to your website? It goes directly to their phone or and alerts them to the fact, regardless of where they are when they get it!
- The QR code alternative – QR codes do not work, end of. To make content more accessible there are more relevant technologies that pharma need to start thinking about such as:
- Augmented reality
- NFC (near field communication) or iBeacons
- Clickable paper
- Google goggles
Streamlining your approach
Most pharma companies are on board with implementing streamlined approaches to their business models, partly because they are simpler to manage and partly because they usually deliver better-cost efficiencies. The inclusion of mobile in your pharma multichannel strategy helps to do just that by narrowing the options to the most commonly used ones. Consumers are accustomed to the constraints of the mobile platform, so they generally accept them.
For example, when beauty giant Lancome Cosmetics went mobile 18 months ago it included easy login using social media profiles. It also added PayPal as a payment option, which means customers don’t have to put down their phones and dig out credit cards or other payment verification to complete their mobile purchase. By the last quarter of 2013, the company’s mobile sales had more than doubled to form 15% of all digital sales.
It really doesn’t get much better than that. Given that a mobile MCM strategy has so much potential, it’s difficult to understand why pharma hasn’t begun implementing it before now. Sure, it takes time. Sure, you’re busy. But that’s why you’re in existence, after all. So do it.
About the author
Ash Rishi is Founder and Managing director of COUCH. Based in London, COUCH is an integrated digital marketing and creative healthcare communications agency focusing on the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life sciences industry. Ash has over 9 years experience in biopharma and has delivered activities across UK, Europe, US, Canada and Latin America. His area of expertise include: mobile, marketing tech, branding, communications, stakeholder development and digital engagement strategies. Ash is also the founder of a digital engagement group on LinkedIn. You can reach Ash at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @We_Are_Couch and @Ash_Rishi