The word “digital” in “digital engagement” seems superfluous at this point, doesn’t it? Like water to fish, isn’t digital to marketing all-encompassing, ubiquitous, hardly worth a mention? I don’t think so. Although digital platforms have been with us a while, many of us in healthcare marketing are just now starting to articulate and understand the strategic approach required to unleash the potential of our digital engagements: customer centricity.
Throughout its history, most marketing was brand centric. List the differentiators, tell everyone why your product is the best, remind everyone of the company’s reputation. Boom. You’re done. This made sense. After all, for years the main touchpoints for delivering a marketing message were fixed platforms. Think magazine and newspaper ads, television commercials, billboards, and bus decals—mediums perfect for generating awareness, but not much else. There was nothing within the touchpoint itself to facilitate a further action and marketers built their strategy accordingly. Then everything changed.
As computers became more sophisticated, Internet speeds increased, and the smartphone emerged, a whole new world came into being. Today, a customer can use their phone to view a website ad and using that same device they can order the product they saw in the ad, write reviews on the product, learn about other products the company offers, receive updates from the company on new products, along with a million other actions—all of which can be collected as data points and turned into insights to craft more relevant messaging to customers. In other words, brands can understand their customers’ behaviors, map out the journey the customer takes with their product, and so much more.
In a world where blockbuster drugs are rarer and rarer—and therapies and the patient segments they treat are increasingly more precise—a focused, customer-centric approach to healthcare marketing is more than a great opportunity, it’s a matter of survival. The amount of content and messages an HCP (and everyone else) encounters on an average day is staggering. According to Facebook’s Global Creative Director, Andrew Keller, the average person scrolls through 300 feet of content per day—that’s the height of the Statue of Liberty! A customer-centric approach to marketing is currently the best way to ensure your message stands a chance at cutting through the noise and reaching HCPs.
Let’s look at a few of the foundational elements of a customer-centric marketing approach.
1. Customer Segmentation: More than simply “people who need my product,” customers can be segmented according to common characteristics. For HCPs, you might segment by specialty, age, years in practice, geography, prescribing habits, etc. How segmenting is achieved differs from brand to brand but undergirding any segmentation effort is the knowledge that there are many different customer types who might require different messaging tactics to be effectively engaged. Customer segmentation is crucial in a complex digital environment to ensure finite human and capital resources are spent successfully.
2. Customer Journey Mapping: Once you’ve identified your most crucial customer segments, you need to craft a customer journey map—a diagram illustrating the steps your customers take when interacting with your product. Customer journey maps vary in complexity and time-span depending on the customer and the product, but at their core, they’re about moving customers from awareness to advocacy and charted by four key aspects—Actions: What is the customer doing at each stage of the journey? How are they moving themselves to the next stage? Questions: What uncertainties are your customers facing? What other issues do they have to contend with? Motivations: What motivates the customer to move through each stage? What are they feeling and why do they care? Barriers: What stands in the way of the customer moving on to the next stage? Is it structural? Is it personnel?
3. Message Tailoring: Now that you’ve identified your customers and mapped out their journey it’s time to start strategically tailoring your brand messages. Using insights from the previous two steps, you’ll need to create a series of messages accounting for the customers segment and their place along the customer journey. For example, let’s say you have a banner ad for a psoriasis drug on a physician-centric site targeting physicians in the awareness stage—they’re just learning the drug exists. This will include general information and a call to action encouraging the physician to click on the ad and go to the website. On the website they’ll encounter more in-depth information and if they provide their email address, they’ll receive periodic updates asking the physician to provide their feedback or explore new data on the drug perhaps by attending a virtual medical education program hosted by the brand. At each of these touchpoints, the message evolves with the previous message in mind to ensure there’s no redundancy or knowledge gaps—the journey should feel seamless—with each step bringing them beyond awareness and closer and closer to advocacy.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): This is where it all comes together. CRM allows you to manage and analyze all your interactions with past, present, and future customers. Using data analysis of customer history, CRM helps brands manage their customer segments, analyze and refine their customer journey maps, and strategically deploy their messages to their customers at each point in the journey, collecting data along the way to further refine their strategy. There are a variety of software platforms to assist in CRM. Most commonly, a CRM software will create customer profiles that track the customer’s interactions with a brand, generating automated messaging across a variety of platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, email, etc) tailored to the customer’s position in the journey.
For marketers helping their clients sell shoes, smartphones, or software, all of this is old news. However, in healthcare marketing, we’ve been slow on the uptake—a cautiousness reflective of our highly-regulated, sometimes literally life or death environment. No more. Nearly 33% of physicians today are under the age of 45—prime consumers of digital media—and the percentage of physicians who engage extensively with digital media is only going to grow. A customer-centric approach to healthcare marketing is now a necessity. With so many outlets and advertisers vying for an HCP’s attention, a marketing approach which seeks to understand the HCP-brand relationship on a deeper level is essential to cutting through the noise. And with CRM and data analysis platforms getting more sophisticated by the day, the value brands can strive to bring to HCPs is almost limitless.
Do you think a customer-centric approach can transform the value of your brand? Reach out to Avant today.