February 24, 2009
Do not forget about search
Though there has been much buzz in the health world about the role of the latest technologies such as online video and social networking – search engines remain the primary gateway for those seeking health information online. In fact, two-thirds of consumers online for health report to begin their quest for information with a search engine. Physicians also rely heavily on search engines for health and product information, with Google being the most widely used among this group.
Search engine optimization and paid search strategies should be aligned to work towards common business goals and all teams, from agency to IT to legal and others, should be on the same page from very beginning of campaign planning.
Reassess the customer service model
Today, companies like banks, airlines, and consumer packaged goods position their websites as the keystones of their customer service offerings. Their use of online help sections, email, text messaging, and blogging to support the needs of their customers has raised the bar on the level of service expected by today’s consumers. Some companies are even seeking out and responding to issues and complaints through sites like Twitter.
Brand teams should reassess their customer service models to ensure they are keeping up with the expectations of their consumer and physician audiences. Brand sites and physician customer portals should be tailored with customer information needs and communication preferences in mind. Some sites, such as MerckServices for physicians, have begun implementing features like online customer service reps, but this example is far from the norm in the pharmaceutical industry. And brands should also look into how to best monitor and manage customer opinions online – a tough, but important, task for the pharmaceutical industry.
Keep an eye on mobile
The evolution of mobile marketing is still in its early stages, but this platform promises to be a key communication channel in coming years. Experts have forecasted that mobile devices will become the primary internet access point within the next decade. When it comes to healthcare, mobile strategies are now most relevant in connecting with physicians. Over 50% of physicians report to own a PDA or smartphone and drug reference databases, dosage calculators, continuing medical education, and other mobile decision support applications are supporting physician decisions on-the-go and at the point of care.
mHealth (mobile health) consumers are still early adopters, but have grown to over 10 million U.S. adults using cell phones or PDA/smartphones to look up health and medical information. This group is poised to grow as mobile technology becomes more advanced and user-friendly. In pharma, some companies have been experimenting with text messaging and mobile compliance programs, but haven’t fully jumped into the mobile advertising landscape. Marketers should keep an eye on mHealth trends and mobile opportunities so they’re ready to play in this space.
Think outside of the bag
Traditionally, “carrying the bag” – referring to the briefcases that sales reps carry throughout the day – was the primary way to provide physicians with product information and updates. But technology affords sales reps many other communication channels with physician audiences. Physician customer service portals allow physicians to download patient education materials, order product samples, and request journal reprints conveniently at any time and any place. Live video detailing has also emerged as a welcome addition to the physician-sales rep relationship – with the majority of doctors connecting with their rep through online video reporting high satisfaction with the experience. Sales and physician marketing teams should take advantage of their physician targets’ diverse channel mix and ensure that these touch points work together for an integrated, full-service experience.
Measure … and keep measuring!
Improving measurement is a resolution that marketers should work on each and every year. But with marketing campaigns spread out over a multitude of channels, it’s understandably difficult to get the full picture of how these efforts work together towards achieving overall goals and objectives. Marketers should ensure that clearly defined cycles of measurement, reporting, analysis, and optimization are in place. Taking action on the data is an integral step in this process – there’s little purpose to analytics if they’re not used to refine marketing strategies and improve ROI.
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