Direct Marketing Report: The User Experience

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The challenge for the CommonHealth teams (EvoLogue, Qi and Ferguson) was to help Reckitt Benckiser develop a direct program to reach out to individuals with opioid dependence so that they could gain access to treatment with Suboxone.

Among the many obstacles that needed to be addressed was that people suffering from opioid dependence come from all walks of life—they can be young or old, male or female, spanning all professions and social strata.

Lee Unroe, marketing manager for Reckitt Benckiser, explains that using traditional patient-targeting was not going to work because the company could not cost-effectively blanket everyone at all times. “We sought and developed a way to reach out to individuals in need of help by targeting when and where they were ready to take action, and by helping them to connect to physicians who provide treatment with Suboxone.”

At the same time, the company wanted to stay committed to educating potential patients and their loved ones about the fact that opioid dependence is a biopsychosocial disease and not a moral failing. By destigmatizing and medicalizing the disease, Reckitt Benckiser would then be able to encourage individuals to seek help in their doctor's office.

The campaign was an effective answer to another important component of this disease state—that in fact opioid-dependent patients typically do not seek help because they are often ashamed or embarrassed about their condition and they don't know who they can turn to or who they can trust. By making information available to individuals who seek help online, Reckitt Benckiser would be able to provide a connection to a private in-office treatment option.

Unroe says that Reckitt Benckiser teamed with CommonHealth to put a campaign together that put patients' needs first while, at the same time, provide them with a trusted place to go, and an easy way to connect with physicians certified to treat their condition. The program also clearly emphasizes that medication-assisted treatment, in conjunction with counseling, provides patients with opportunities for successful treatment. “The program demonstrates ‘the patient comes first' perspective, which is an element in all of Reckitt Benckiser's marketing efforts,” says Unroe.

What patients want
Reckitt Benckiser's online presence was supported through search engine marketing and search engine optimization to ensure that the information on the website and on other online properties was as relevant as possible to the target audience.

The campaign, that was developed on Reckitt Benckiser's primary website, in 2006, was expanded through the addition of the Addiction 411 site on MySpace in 2007. Facebook and WebMD advertising were added in 2008. A 2007 regional radio campaign was so successful in connecting patients to the Turn to Help site, that in 2008, radio was expanded nationally.

“It was very modular, so that we could evaluate our efforts and take advantage of as many ways as possible to connect with more and more patients in a media that was meaningful to and preferred by them,” says Unroe.
Strategically, all of the brand's activities lead individuals to the Turn to Help site, where they can easily connect with physicians using a physician locator. This focus on facilitating patients connecting with treatment is the cornerstone of the program's success. The website is comprehensive in terms of education for a variety of visitor's needs and answers frequently asked questions.

“We spend a lot of time trying to understand what patients, caregivers and family members are seeking when they come to our site,” says Unroe. “If, for example, they type in ‘opioid dependence,' a search engine such as Yahoo! or Google may connect them to We can then track what information they are looking at and can expand our site by providing increasingly more relevant content,” notes Unroe.

A very successful part of has been the patient tories. These stories help patients understand that they are not alone and provide encouragement by seeing that others who struggled with this disease have found success with treatment.

With the rise of social online media, CommonHealth and Reckitt Benckiser felt this channel presented an opportunity to provide information in a highly targeted way and in environments that were comfortable and private. Reckitt Benckiser designed for specific opportunities and developed the first pharmaceutical property on MySpace. Addiction 411 is a site that can be reached through searches on MySpace and is geared to help young people understand their risk for opioid addiction and gives them the opportunity to connect to Turn to Help.
 “There is no doubt that new media channels such as MySpace and Facebook are gaining momentum,” says Unroe. “I believe that we need to use evolving and multiple media, because this disease affects anyone, anywhere, and we need to reach patients wherever they are. We cannot choose to just be online or in print or on radio; we need to continue to re-evaluate and find the most effective media to reach people in need of treatment.”

Overall, the campaign has been very successful in connecting patients with treatment. To date, nearly a million patients have been treated with Suboxone. In terms of ROI, Unroe says that it's something the company looks at very closely. “We've done very well on that measure and continue to focus on opportunities that will help more patients connect with the treatment they need.”

The experience of the would-be mom
When Abbott Nutrition was looking for a new direction in its market strategy for its Similac brand of baby formula, it turned to Wunderman. The firm designed a campaign that was clearly focused on the user experience—that would-be mom.

“What StrongMoms enables us to do is to leverage the knowledge we have to be a resource for mom, and StrongMoms is a vehicle to do that,” says Jeff Boutelle, VP, general manager of pediatric nutrition for Abbott Nutrition. Boutelle says that Wunderman helped craft a message for moms by understanding what she is looking for and delivering that message in a way that is easily understood and easily used as well as delivered by the most appropriate means of communication. “People want, and we want to have two-way communication and Wunderman has been able to help us out on the technology end and figure out how to reach moms in a way that they want to communicate, not necessarily the way we want to communicate.”

Launched on Mother's Day in 2008, the StrongMoms campaign consists of print ads, a website, email, direct mail, direct-to-patient, in-physician office detailing and a hospital discharge kit.

How successful has the StrongMoms campaign been to date? “We are very pleased with the program,” says Boutelle, “it's one of the best ways we can spend our money in terms of ROI.” Boutelle adds, “by any measure that we use internally, whether it's consumer satisfaction to our brand equity monitors and tracking mechanisms to feedback from moms, to a growing business, when you look at all the measures that we track, we are up, and in most cases significantly.”

The strategy behind the Reckitt Benckiser/CommonHealth Suboxone and the StrongMoms campaign is reflective of a paradigm shift in direct marketing. 

 For years the dominant focus for pharma direct marketers was on the brand. Whether the end user was a healthcare professional or a consumer, it was about getting them the brand information and getting it to them in the way that they wanted to get it.  

“They're moving away from brand messaging and moving toward the user experience. It's no longer about the brand colors, the brand name, what the efficacy of the brand is; it's about giving an entire experience to the end user,” says David Zaritsky, managing director, pharmaceutical markets, for Harte-Hanks. Zaritsky told MM&M that whether the end user is the doctor or the patient, the goal is to create a quality of life around that experience. 

Ann Friedman Ryan, SVP, director of CRM and interactive for EvoLogue, agrees. “It's really that user experience that defines the brand experience. It's about what's important to me as a user, whether it's what the brand does, the problem the brand solves or the emotional benefit that is going to be relevant to me as the user.” 
“Social influence marketing is the third dimension of marketing,” says Lisa Flaiz, VP group director with the Philadelphia office of Razorfish. “It's not direct marketing, because it's one too many, and it's not brand marketing, because it's not from the voice of the brand. It's a matter of leveraging the human behavior of peer influence.”

Zaritsky also sees an emergence of corporate innovation groups from some of the top companies. He pointed out that even when there have been reductions in sales forces and marketing, these innovated groups are popping up and they only focus on two things: CRM and experience. “That's what they concentrate on, where the brands were once the sheriffs in town, now they [the customers] are the sheriffs in town. These experience groups are governing the messages and what the websites say.” 

Zartisky noted that they provide a filter so the brands, even with their messaging, have to go through this experience filter and, on the other side, what's created is something for the consumer that's useful and creates a positive experience around the company. “We are seeing an increase in mail being sent to the physicians because these experience groups are realizing that mail tied together with online initiative actually helps and boosts the online initiatives.” 

Looking down the road, industry experts predict good news for pharmaceutical direct marketing. “Customers are absolutely empowered and engaged,” says Becky Chidester, president of Wunderman's New York office. “Given the opportunities that are out there to reach them and engage with them, you can have a significant impact in a very difficult and challenging environment.” 

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