Pharma companies have a way to go in personalizing their outreach to HCPs and patients. This #TrendTalks panel discussion, sponsored by Evoke Health, explored the level of personalization brands should aspire to, how brands are engaging HCPs and patients on a more targeted basis and how they are surmounting the gaps and barriers that exist as they approach omnichannel strategies. 

Panelists defined personalization as the ability to deliver the right message at the right time using an omnichannel approach, and admitted that pharma marketers are currently at various levels of maturity in reaching that goal.

“The way you use technology to get closer to the customer and how you access data to test and learn are going to change,” noted panel co-moderator Will Reese, chief innovation officer, Evoke Health, but he stressed that in the end, keeping the consumer rather than the brand at the center of communications will remain key. 

“As marketers and brand leads, we need to recognize when personalization needs to happen instead of continuing to force people into segments that are isolating,” said Sandy Sexton, senior director, Dupixent consumer marketing, Regeneron. “Being able to recognize that is where modular content comes in.”

Participants agreed that the key to personalization is understanding the audience and where they are on their customer journey. While pharma marketers are often restrained as to how much they can tinker with messaging, panelists are finding ways to better target their communications. 

For educational messaging, Sonja (Sparkle) Fisher, former associate director, U.S. patient marketing, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, targeted four different variations of personalization tied to the patients’ path to treatment, from following protocol based on the recommendation of their physician to direct treatment at an institution if their physician did not support the protocol.

Kelly Tullo, omnichannel marketing director, AstraZeneca, slots HCPs into three archetypes to better personalize messaging. “In our world, we have known users and unknown users. If you understand what the HCP is looking for, you can personalize your page to an unknown user and be effective with engagement. For known users, you can take it to the next level of where they are on the adoption ladder,” she said. 

Panelists overwhelmingly agreed that field reps can provide invaluable information that can be used in follow-up messaging. Because that intel gathering requires additional steps from field reps, it’s critical that marketers make those reps feel included and valued. 

“Personalization is coming from intelligence we’re getting from the field. Those are the moments that really matter. Reps are the ones that know which key messages resonated,” said Tullo.

Claire Phillips, marketing director, anti-infectives, GSK, also leverages representatives to drive HCP personalization. “It’s easier to personalize in terms of double clicking. If a doctor talks a lot about safety to a representative, we can arm representatives with safety information to reinforce on that topic. If he isn’t searching for this information online, we wouldn’t know that from home office data. Working collaboratively with the sales representative in this instance allows for good personalization,” she said.

Panelists discussed omnichannel approaches, from targeting practice managers more frequently to exploring social media activations. While one panelist noted that TikTok and Instagram are now overtaking Google in terms of healthcare searches, the experts admitted discomfort with using the platform. 

Panelists stressed that to successfully broaden engagement, marketers need to work beyond merely translating creative into Spanish or featuring a mixed family in a commercial. When teams don’t make that investment and fail to understand their target audience, it can be a recipe for disaster.

While most participants agreed that pharma lags behind other industries when it comes to modular, omnichannel approaches, they felt the key to success in the future is a nimble and curious mindset and a focus on keeping the customer at the center of communications rather than merely ticking off tech boxes. Several panelists shared cautionary tales of how creating modular turned into an unfocused mess.

Technology, noted Tullo, should always be viewed as a means to get closer to the customer. “The tools, fads and buzzwords are all going to change, but the way you think about how you use technology as an organization and build a culture of experimentation and a data driven mindset is what will make the difference,” Phillips added.