AvantSpeakDigital in Pharma

Multichannel Marketing: Meet the HCP Moment

It’s 8 pm on a Tuesday night. Do you know where your target healthcare professionals (HCPs) are?  

  • Are they taking out the trash?

  • Driving a child home from sports?

  • Finally grabbing a quick bite after a long day?

  • Going into surgery?

HCPs are highly trained, highly specialized individuals, but most of all, they’re people. They have busy schedules, they juggle multiple priorities, and they’re swimming against a sea of information every second of the day.

Is your channel marketing strategy built to meet HCPs where they are—whether it’s a “lab coat” moment or a “blue jeans” moment—or does it still live within the narrow confines of traditional HCP marketing channels? How you answer could mean the difference from gaining or missing out on a wider array of HCP engagement.

It’s an multichannel world out there 

Think about your last big purchase—a car, perhaps. Maybe you saw an ad while browsing through your social media feed. You decided to click on the ad to learn more about this car that caught your eye. As you scanned the landing page, you saw a link to customer reviews. The four-star ratings convinced you to go to the showroom and take a test drive.  

When you arrive at the dealership and get behind the wheel, you already feel at home because you’ve had a consistent, positive experience at every point along the buyer’s journey—from online to in-store.  

HCPs are no different. When they decide on a new drug therapy, they move through the same emotional touchpoints of the buyer’s journey—starting with awareness, consideration, and trial, and ideally ending with conversion and advocacy. Also, just like “run-of-the-mill” consumers, HCPs expect a consistent, seamless experience as they “test drive” your marketing message across HCP engagement platforms. 

Creating a consistent audience experience is especially important within the digital space. HCPs have increasingly turned to digital sources of information since the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it was reported in 2020 that one study saw a 73% rise in digital activity and a 46.5% jump in online research to gain information that HCPs used to receive from sales reps.1  In another recent survey of 200 psychiatrists by Sermo, self-guided content, interactive modules, and one-page downloadables were listed as the top three channels for promotional medical education tactics. 

If you want your brand’s story to be seen and acted upon, it has to be told in ways that meet the right HCPs at the right time—with information that’s served the way they like it. Depending on learning styles, you may need to share a bigger story or a bite-sized one.  

For example, do you produce a thought-leader-led congress presentation or a five-minute on-demand video? You may need both. Connecting with HCP audiences today means surrounding them with the most relevant and impactful information within those channels where they actually live and work. Then, at every touchpoint, your story needs to lead HCPs to the next action you want them to take. 

Leave a few breadcrumbs along the customer journey

An omnichannel approach enables you to reach HCPs wherever they are in the buyer’s journey. However, it’s critical that your channel strategy is designed so it motivates HCPs to move to the next step in the buying process. Always think about the next best action. If you can’t move your target HCPs to the desired behavior right out of the gate, leave an intriguing data point or another content “breadcrumb” that will entice them to move deeper down the decision path.  

Working with a strategist and an experience planner can help you get the most from your HCP multichannel marketing. Using market research, a strategist can help you identify your target HCPs, pinpoint where they seek information, and determine what matters to them with regard to your brand story. An experience planner can then map out your brand’s channel experience against the jobs you want to get done at each step of the buyer’s journey.  

Creating an omnichannel customer experience isn’t a matter of placing a social post here and congress presentation there. It’s taking a highly strategic approach to sharing your brand’s story where, when, and how it can most effectively motivate your target HCP audience. Then, it’s going back and measuring HCP engagement, using your marketing channel KPIs, to see how far your audience—and your brand—have come.  

Mind your data 

A rich omnichannel experience can not only guide HCPs along the buyer’s journey to your desired destination. It can also provide you with a wealth of data insights that can inform your current campaign and the next ones you have in the works.

However, in addition to mining your data, you also want to mind your data. It’s important to understand the tradeoffs that today’s marketing channels offer between reach and audience insights. For example, a digital publisher may offer a platform that offers extensive reach, but they keep the audience list to themselves. So, using those kinds of customer engagement tactics may be perfect for raising awareness, but not so much for gathering audience analytics. In turn, a video that lives on your own HCP site can yield more precise audience insights. Even here, you’ll want to keep the changing nature of privacy laws in mind.

With increased digital privacy regulations, site cookies may soon become a relic of the digital past. So, now’s the time to fully utilize opt-in opportunities, such as inviting HCPs to sign up for a newsletter or view an exclusive webinar.

Take baby steps or leap into new channels, as needed 

Is the perfect multichannel plan out there for your pharma company, just waiting to be discovered? Probably, but it takes patience. Arriving at the right multichannel mix often takes small tests and trying out different channels. It’s about looking for the little things here and there that can improve the overall audience experience and seeking inexpensive ways to test out different platforms and messages. It’s not necessary to go all in and invest across a variety of channels. You can start small and build out your multichannel mix as you gather more insights.

Also, as you examine where your target audience “lives,” you may uncover some unexpected channels. For instance, a pharma marketer may dismissdigital channels TikTok as a platform for entertainment—where people scroll through silly cat and trendy dance videos—not a source for professional medical information. However, HCPs do go to TikTok for a wide range of medical topics, from clinical trials to diversity and inclusion to clinical techniques. In the end, if a channel makes sense for your audience and your story, then you should consider including it in your channel mix.  

Spread the word with a great idea

A strong story and multichannel strategy go hand in hand. Think of it as your HCP field of dreams. If you build a compelling, consistent story—and place it where it will be seen by your target audience—HCPs will come. With a clear-cut idea “that has legs,” it’s easier to communicate your story across channels, and it’s easier to adapt it so it resonates with different segments of your HCP audience.

Such was the case for a client of ours, who approached us about building a medical affairs website to raise awareness for inflammatory skin disease and launch it in time for the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) annual meeting. Designed by a cross-functional team of medical, creative and strategic experts, the site featured human models as living topographical maps to show “The Contours of Skin Disease.” Both visually and emotionally arresting, the site’s design became the creative foundation for a broad series of cross-channel tactics, including booth components, handouts, and videos. Whether the dermatologists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants attending AAD walked into our client’s booth or browsed our client’s site afterwards, they were there because they found the right story at the right time—and they wanted to learn more about it.

So, if it’s 8 pm on a Tuesday night or 8 am on a Saturday morning, when you meet HCPs in that moment with a story that informs, inspires, and motivates, they won’t switch channels. They’ll tune in.


  1. Stark P. The Opportunities for Omnichannel Marketing in a Post-COVID-19 World. https://www.iqvia.com/locations/united-states/blogs/2020/06/the-opportunities-for-omnichannel-marketing-in-a-post-covid-19-world. Accessed October 18, 2023.

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