INTEGRATING YOUR CHANNELS TO GROW AN AUDIENCE
No matter what your HCP education and marketing objectives are, a multichannel approach is important for the simple reason that you need to be where your customers are, and they are everywhere.
In the most simplistic terms, multichannel engagement is all about choice. It refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels including websites, email, print, social media, scientific meetings etc. This enables HCPs to access information using the channel of their choice and to be made aware of that information via other channels. It is a proven way to effectively reach HCPs with targeted messages that will resonate with their clinical interests and priorities.
Our experience and research studies indicate that every pharmaceutical company struggles with the same challenges in relation to HCP engagement. These relate to growing an audience with relevant, valuable and timely interactions while using multiple channels but limited resource. In particular, the challenges appear related to digital transition.
For example, according to our latest research, websites are HCPs’ number one source of information in clinical practice, with 96% rating them important and half accessing them daily via their smartphones. It would therefore be fair to assume that pharma will be focussed on the provision of web based medical content to support this demand. In reality though, it appears that pharma underestimates the value of websites, rating them only the fourth most important channel for delivering information to HCPs after scientific meetings, reps and payers/KOLs.
It’s not just that websites may be underutilised by pharma as a stand-alone channel, their important role within a multichannel approach to HCP engagement also seems to be lacking. Only 21% of pharma stated that their HCP websites are fully integrated with other channels and activities. This may be explained by the fact that 92% of our pharma survey participants consider multichannel integration to be a challenge, ranking it no.3 of pharma's top 10 challenges related to HCP websites.
Overcoming the challenges of multichannel engagement will result in a number of benefits, including (but limited to):
Greater awareness – using a multichannel approach allows you to cast the net wide, reaching HCPs at the right place and the right time within their own journey.
Consistent messaging – repeating core messaging across multiple channels increases exposure to the key educational messages which help change the way HCPs practice
Measurable results – a multichannel approach allows you to track what HCPs have done, where they have come from and what has motivated them to change their behaviour
With 70% of HCPs being digital natives by 2020, it is hardly surprising that HCPs are accessing most of their educational content via online channels - 56% of HCPs follow links in emails daily and 34% follow links from social media through to medical websites each week.
But it’s not only digital channels that you need to consider when growing an audience for your websites. HCPs report scientific meetings as their most important source of information about content available on medical websites, with 64% rating them very important for this purpose. And, while only 16% of HCPs rate pharma representatives as a very important channel of information in clinical practice, 73% said they are more likely to visit a website after a rep shows them what is available. All pharma have these channels, but not all are using them optimally for the purpose of growing an online audience, instead relying on banner adverts which HCPs really don't value according to our research.
At EPG Health we create multichannel journeys to build audiences for pharma-funded resources within our independent HCP website, Medthority. We use channels, including email and social media, to raise awareness within our own HCP networks, but also work closely with our pharma clients to leverage their own routes to audience.
While each pharma client’s educational programme is bespoke and their circumstances unique, they typically all have activities, channels and supporting agencies that may be incorporated into any launch or ongoing strategy. With minimum cost and effort to achieve maximum engagement and ROI, this approach grows audience as well as credibility and trust among HCPs.
From equipping their affiliates and salesforce with the materials and guidance needed to make HCPs aware of their online educational resource (Learning Zone), to generating awareness via their scientific meetings and exhibitions, and informing agencies they work with on PR and social media; effective tactics can be employed to ensure levels of success for their web-based content, way beyond what would be achieved with a stand-alone activity reliant on organic reach alone. See a multichannel case study.