The Trouble with Cookies

The Problem

For years marketers have relied on cookies to track browsing and purchase behavior on their websites. Yet cookies have their limitations. They typically expire in 30 to 60 days, which means they can't provide a long view of any one person's browsing behavior. Worse, many browsers now block third-party cookies altogether.

Most HCPs currently use several mobile devices throughout the day, further limiting the value of cookies. HCPs favor devices powered by iOS, which blocks third-party cookies. Even when cookies are allowed, they only work by associating a person's identity with a specific device.  That means they can't track an HCP's browsing behavior or integrate an HCP's preferences across devices.

Cookies were once widely used for retargeting, but even that technique is falling out of favor because the data is unreliable. Why spend resources retargeting someone when you can't be sure who the person really is? The stakes are particularly high for pharma marketers who have to comply with strict med-legal regulations regarding their appropriate audiences.

The Strategy

Facilitate Site Registration

To obtain accurate data, pharma marketers need doctors to register on their sites. Yet doctors resist registering because it's time-consuming. They're also worried about their privacy. Like the rest of us, they don't want to give out personal information that marketers can use to target them — unless they consider the content or product on offer to be truly valuable. The solution? Make registration easier:

●     Look for ways to reduce the information doctors must enter.

●     Tailor your registration requirements to the value of the offer you're making.

●     Collect different types of information for each offer. HCPs will be more likely to provide information little by little instead of all at once.

Explore New Data-Gathering Techniques

You can also look for ways to learn more about the individuals who come to your site without requiring a login or registration. This approach is always a win–win. Doctors will choose to engage with your site more often; you'll gain more knowledge about them when they do. Also consider how you might be able learn more about each HCP's activity beyond your website. The more you know about your HCPs, the better able you are to offer relevant content on your site or wherever they travel on the Web.

The Tactics

Build Loyalty, Then Collect Data

It's important to recognize that sometimes just getting HCPs to read your content is more important than knowing who they are. 

●     Start by reviewing your content and identifying some lower-value assets that you could offer without registration. For now, don't worry about collecting the identifying information that you need for lead generation. Simply offer your HCPs some high-quality content to build trust and loyalty. 

●     Next, take a look at your registration form in conjunction with your offer. How valuable is the offer? Does it warrant multiple form fields? Instead of focusing on the data you'd like to collect, think about how your HCP perceives this information exchange. Perhaps a name and email address will suffice. 

●     If your website recognizes your HCP visitors, you can make their lives even easier by prepopulating form fields so that registration or login requires only a simple click. 

Discover Life Beyond Cookies
Marketers are always looking for new ways to manage digital data and track online behavior. Several exciting developments are on the horizon. Just imagine what you could do with an opt-in tracking technology that allows pharma marketers to identify HCPs across devices and websites without logins while still respecting their privacy. It'll be here before you know it.