Balancing Opportunity and Responsibility in Healthcare Targeting

The sophistication of targeting techniques available to pharma marketers today is unprecedented. Brands can reach healthcare professionals and patients by leveraging millions of data points across any device connected to the Web to reach their targets.

This introduces key questions for marketers, such as, “How do I leverage this opportunity to drive value for my brand while ensuring I deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time? How do I make sure I don't create a negative experience by pushing irrelevant information to the wrong user?”

See also: What Pharma Marketers Can Learn from Adaptive Perfectionists

To answer this, we must first understand what's possible with targeting. Second, we need to understand how we can use targeting as part of an overall strategy. Finally, we need to apply key tenets of customer centricity.


To understand the targeting capabilities available today, start by considering all of the first-, second-, and third-party data available to you. Among them: Web analytics, geo data (a doctor's office or pharmacy), prescription sales data, coverage data and non-personally identifiable information from third-party providers. All of this data — and I mean all of it — can be operationalized to develop sophisticated targeting strategies to segment and reach users.


To understand how targeting can enhance your strategy, let's consider a real-world scenario. Imagine your brand has a significant challenge with abandonment. Think of all the effort you've expended to get patients to the pharmacy, only to have them walk away when they see the cost of the prescription. Wouldn't you want those patients to know about your copay program? Putting targeting to work for your brand makes the following scenario possible.

See also: Making the Case for the Value of Co-pay Cards

You push a message to a patient's mobile phone when they walk into a pharmacy reminding them about a savings program for your brand if the user is a college-educated male, aged 35 to 45 years old, with a household income of $75,000 or more. That user visited your brand website on a desktop computer and downloaded a doctor discussion guide in Florida, where your brand has optimal coverage. The patient then downloaded a mobile optimized copay card and continued to fill the prescription four more times with the same card.

Would you like to find more prospects like this patient to drive up prescriptions? No problem. Leverage the non-personally identifiable information you have about this patient to find other patients online with the same demographics, interests, and behaviors, and then introduce them to your brand. And that's just the beginning.


Now that we understand some targeting possibilities and how they can be applied, we need to consider customer-centricity when activating our targets. Have you ever become annoyed because you've been retargeted with the same ad too many times? Have you purchased a product online but were still served ads for that product urging you to buy now?

These are just a few examples of what happens when you do not take a customer-centric approach to targeting. We define customer-centricity as identifying the most valuable customers, supporting them and doing everything we can to find more customers like them. To guide us, let's apply a healthcare spin to key tenets of customer-centricity defined by Peter Fader, co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative.

1. Know your prescriber and patient: If you truly understand who your high writers and compliant patients are, you'll understand when and how to communicate with prospects that look and act like them.

2. Focus on those that generate the most value: Leverage the tactics and messages that have proven effective with your high-value customers. This avoids expending energy and dollars on prospecting users that are less likely to be receptive to your message or have a lower lifetime value.

3. Focus your CRM: Ensure that CRM efforts continuously gather data and insights about your customers to enable you to serve those ideal customers effectively through multiple channels based on customer preference.

As pharma marketers, we have an opportunity to leverage data and insights to create meaningful experiences for customers. We have an equal amount of responsibility to ensure that we use these technologies appropriately to drive value for customers and a brand. Technology continues to morph exponentially, but the tenets of customer-centricity remain constant. Being mindful of them while employing hyper-targeting techniques will benefit consumers and brands alike.

Jeff Rohwer is partner of strategy at Sentient.