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Pharmaceutical marketers depend on information and data about their products to drive their campaigns and to demonstrate the value those products bring to customers. But in today’s highly digitized environment, the amount of data generated about a product is vast and difficult to collate.
The challenge marketers face is that legacy IT systems and many of the applications they have in place don’t give them the ease-of-use or customization capabilities they need. Furthermore, difficulties around implementation, costs, and lack of internal expertise make it difficult to manage the marketing data they need.
Many pharmaceutical companies have adopted customer data management solutions, initially to tackle regulatory transparency requirements such as the Sunshine Act, but have gained marketing benefits from such solutions, for example better customer segmentation.
Increasingly, pharma marketers are pushing for a platform that lets them gain easy access to data that exists across the enterprise combined with real-time insights. The need for platform flexibility is made all the more pressing by digitization, which requires pharma marketers to leverage different apps and capabilities to manage data and reach their audiences most effectively.
Traditionally, marketing teams have managed their data through data warehouses, but today with data coming from social media, apps, and the Internet of Things, traditional data warehouses struggle to manage so much unstructured — but often highly relevant — data.
Capturing Big Data
Some of the approaches pharma marketing teams have adopted to manage their data include data management platforms (DMPs) and data lakes.
The benefit of DMPs is that they can make it easier to target audiences by bringing the company’s own data together with third-party data, such as prescription data. However, regulations mean pharmaceutical companies have to be careful how they segment and target audiences. Marketers can use the data gathered to tailor their messaging for certain patient archetypes, but they need to be careful to ensure that the data is not used to personally target individual patients.
Data lakes give marketing teams access to an expanded universe of data throughout the product life cycle — whether structured, unstructured, or multi-structured. Having access to such a broad stream of quality data makes it easier to gain key insights.
The data lake allows marketers to gather all kinds of data and worry about structuring the data when they want to access it – unlike data warehouses where data needs to be structured before it is loaded into the warehouse. However, data lakes alone can simply result in a mass of unusable data, and so require good data governance — for example standardizing terms and campaign codes — and of course data security.
Data lakes make it easier to combine data sources, provide clearer customer insights, ensure data reliability, and give marketers the flexibility to add new data sources.
This is an approach adopted by Astellas Pharma as the company migrated from a data warehouse to a data lake that gave the marketing team secure access to 50 terabytes of pharmaceutical, clinical, and real-world data.
Accurately and securely capturing data is part of the battle. The next important step for marketers is how to use the data.
Information accessed by customers about a company and its products provides useful insights for marketers. Tapping into the data that customers seek from the company as well as through social media sites and analytics platforms (such as Google Analytics) can help marketers decide where best to focus their initiatives.
To achieve this, marketers need a flexible analytics hub that lets them gather key performance indicators and quickly assess data from multiple sources. The types of metrics or KPIs marketers need to be able to visualize include number of views and clicks on a product, treatment, or risk-factor web page, how many subscribers to a particular newsletter or website, comments, and other customer data.
Information about the type of information customers are accessing should be combined with relevant sales data, such as geographic sales data, census data, call center activity, managed care information, and data about samples. All this information should be fed into a dashboard to consolidate data, and thereby simplify analytics.
Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies recognize that they need to be more targeted with their promotional activities and to segment different marketing programs based on the preference of the audience. By analyzing the preferences of physicians and consumers, marketers can assess what type of campaign is likely to be most effective and even when to stop marketing a product.
The importance of effective data management for pharmaceutical marketing can’t be overstated. Inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date information will undermine communications with customers. This is particularly important when it comes to marketing automation, which is increasingly recognized as a valuable tool for reaching patients, healthcare providers, and other customers.
The value of marketing automation in life sciences lies in the ability to guide customers through awareness of their situation, addressing steps to manage their health or that of their patients, and securing customer loyalty to a brand. For a pharmaceutical marketer to effectively leverage data they must manage that data well, including how they collect, organize, interpret, and share information.
That means marketers need access to data across the enterprise and beyond to ensure the message delivered is accurate, up-to-date, and complete. In addition, marketers need to ensure they tag information relevant to the customer, such as the content they access. And, as previously discussed, pharmaceutical marketers need to ensure they adhere to regulations, and so it’s important that marketers work with regulatory on the strategy and messaging in advance to mitigate problems during a campaign.
Managing data for marketing automation requires that teams regularly evaluate their data and strategies to ensure they are effective, and adjust campaigns as needed. (PV)
Cello Health Consulting
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