The third blog in our series on pharma multichannel marketing trends looks at how companies can make better use of data analytics. While outstanding marketing will always require creative thinking, in today’s digital ecosystem the field has become increasingly data-driven. Big data has revitalised pharma marketing. As the industry undergoes this important change, it is essential to examine the potential, as well as the challenges, of big data.
Making information-based decisions
Healthcare companies now have the capacity to understand their target markets in ways not previously possible. Persona-mapping, the process of identifying various customer segments and examining their behaviours, has the potential to be more accurate than ever. This allows marketers to refine strategies according to the findings of more in-depth insights, and consequently produce higher-quality content. Increased efficiency in targeting audiences is paving the way for building more engaging customer experiences.
Despite the overabundance of data, it is important to remember that not all of it is useful. Nowadays, companies may easily amass all kinds of information, from social media ‘likes’ and retweets, to demographic reports and mailing lists. But access to these materials does not automatically lead to improved decision-making. The key is to select the pieces of information that will help marketers formulate more in-depth insights.
The wealth of information available can distract companies from the most essential data. To begin making sense of all the data, it may be helpful to outline any marketing objectives. The following are important questions to consider:
- What outcomes are we trying to achieve?
- What things do we need to know first before we can start realising those outcomes?
- What pieces of information will aid us in discovering the market insights we need and help us move toward a certain strategic direction?
Once goals are clear, marketers are in a better position to capture value from the specific types of information they need.
Increasingly, granular data is giving companies a competitive edge. Gathering the most detailed pieces of data is essential in painting a multi-dimensional view of the target market’s behaviour. For instance, it is no longer enough to know whether more patients prefer going to clinics versus going to hospitals. Other details that may help uncover deeper insights include how appointments are made (online, SMS, phone call, email), proximity from the patients’ residence or place of work, family size, frequency of visits, time of visit, type of illness they are seeking treatment for, payment methods available in both healthcare facilities, and other seemingly disparate facts.
There is also an emphasis on collecting real-time information. Every post, click, like, comment, or fingerprint-enabled login can be used to gain more nuanced knowledge about the habits of today’s customer, whose lives are increasingly dependent on mobile platforms.
Processing the information at hand
Assembling the right raw data is only the beginning. The next challenge is to connect the fragmented dots within these vast amounts of information. Specifically, there is a need to extract statistically significant data that can lead marketers to actionable insights. These evidence-based insights are the foundation for the creative process of producing relevant, highly-engaging content. Understanding these mountains of data is no small task. The ongoing evolution of market research has highlighted the need for pharma employees to expand their skills, learn new tools, create new roles, and rethink current practices. Pharma has tended to depend on scientific evidence in terms of research and development, but as big data becomes a crucial part of formulating the marketing mix, data scientists are increasingly essential in the marketing department.
The potential of artificial intelligence (AI)
The use of machine learning in healthcare is becoming more acceptable to consumers. In a PWC survey, more than half of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to receive care that utilised robotics and AI. While the technology is still in its early stages, machine learning shows great potential in advancing healthcare. It is no wonder that AI is also set to transform other aspects of the industry, such as marketing and communications. In recent years, automation has helped fast-track processes like ad targeting and media buying. Soon, marketers may be able to use AI to identify what type of content customers prefer to interact with, and continuously generate the same style of material. Through machine learning, the constant personalisation of customer journeys may also become more accurate and predictive.
Building a data-driven culture
The demands of modern marketing are becoming increasingly dependent on big data, and a paradigm shift is needed among the members of pharma’s marketing teams, from the chief marketing officers to the sales reps. It is essential to keep an open mind about the potential of these massive sets of information. At the same time, firms also need to become more disciplined in studying the wealth of data available. Although machines may soon be crunching the numbers and building the customer databases, it is still the marketers’ creative insights, informed by ever-more precise data, that lead to effective storytelling.