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How Three Expert Marketers Measure Success In Life Sciences

May 8th, 2024 Andrew Warren-Payne

For those in consumer-facing industries, measuring the impact of marketing through digital channels is often straightforward. Buying journeys are short and purchases happen through a limited number of channels, most of which have digital elements even in-store. 

However, measuring the impact of marketing within the life sciences sector is far more challenging. To explore this area and to set measurement in the context of findings from ON24’s 2024 Life Sciences Digital Engagement Benchmarks Report, Tessa Barron, Senior Vice President of Marketing, hosted a panel discussion featuring these experts:

Benchmarking Digital KPIs in Life Sciences in 2024

Here are some highlights from the session, which is now available on-demand.

“Omnichannel” is a problematic term

The first theme of the discussion explored the idea of omnichannel marketing, an approach that has become a “buzzword” within the industry. Overall, they advocated shifting to terms like “customer experience” and “customer engagement” that better suit pharma’s needs for influencing prescription behavior.

Andrew Binns of AstraZeneca said he banned the word “omnichannel” in his team at AstraZeneca because it has become misused. While it’s an ideal concept, true omnichannel is not realistic.

“Unfortunately, I think… that it’s like unicorn dust. It’s just not possible, because I don’t believe that we can achieve omnichannel as defined by the scope that all of our pharma agencies and all of the pharma companies define it by. If you define omnichannel as a desire to create an exceptional, contextual experience for HCP, then I think it’s the greatest aspiration you can possibly have as a marketeer. And it’s something that we all try and achieve.”

Sarah Christensen from Novartis said marketers need to deconstruct omnichannel and apply elements to their campaigns rather than using it as a buzzword.

“We’re moving away from targeting or in some countries, in some areas such as the Nordics, where we’re where we’re considered a little bit more advanced than, say, European peers, we are a very tender driven market… often, the prescribing behavior is based upon who won the tender…  So, therefore, you need to move away from share-of-voice metrics… you can use omnichannel in a way to understand if you are engaging with the customers in the optimal way.”

Benchmarking Digital KPIs in Life Sciences in 2024

Justus LeRoy questioned using “omnichannel” as a solution to pharma’s measurement challenges, saying it has led to unrealistic expectations. 

“The CEO came to me because I was the digital guy. And then he says, ‘What is our omnichannel strategy?’ And then I said, ‘You know what, I’ll tell you — if you explain to me what is our company’s strategy, in a world that has become completely digitized and HCPs are going to different channels to inform themselves.’ That’s where a lot of frustration is coming from. And for me, the term is a bit burned because there were so many expectations, and everybody failed to understand the ‘what’… and they actually failed to implement it.”

Meaningful metrics in life sciences need a methodical approach

Group of people around desktop

Given that HCPs are increasing the intensity of their digital engagement, more data than ever can be used to gain insights. However, not everything that can be collected should become a KPI.

The panelists generally advocated starting simply by understanding HCP behaviors and defining desired interactions and customer journeys before trying to attribute complex metrics like ROI in pharma’s complex ecosystem.

Tips that came out included:

    1. Start with the overall company vision and objectives. Sarah said this was an essential first step before addressing marketing strategy, tactics or metrics — particularly when leading metrics may indicate more significant impact.
    2. Think about activities before, during and after an event. For Justus, this enables marketers to then both think about what to track and what can be done to improve engagement with HCPs across channels.
    3. Set content goals based on journey stages. Andrew Binns emphasized starting by defining the desired interactions you want HCPs to have, then measuring performance based on stage-specific goals rather than simply attributing sales to channels.

Want to make your content better? Here’s an AIDA

Person holding phone and looking off.

Finally, Andrew shared a classic framework — famous enough that it earned a place in the film Glengarry Glen Ross and the minds of many a B2B sales rep. That framework is AIDA, which allows some key questions to be asked:

  1. How well can we gain the attention of HCPs with content? 

“What is the point of this piece of content? Is it to grab their attention? Is it to try and take their attention away from our competitors? What are AstraZeneca trying to talk about here?” 

2. How can content build interest and consideration as a treatment option?

“Once we’ve got their attention, how do we prompt their interest? That’s a different type of content with a very focused objective. And that objective is not by artwork, please. Because that’s not how people work. Then the evaluation phase is where we can start allowing these people to validate their decisions. Is this actually something that I feel is going to improve my patients lives?”

3. How will we increase the desire to use this treatment option through content?

“How do we stimulate their desire? How do we make them think I want I want to prescribe this drug?” 

4. Finally, how will drive action through content?

“How do we activate them? How do we get them to sign on the dotted line? How do we get them to perform what we would classify as a conversion goal? Now I can track all that anyone should be able to track all of that, because content has a KPI associated to it against one of those stages.”

To hear the full discussion, watch Benchmarking Digital KPIs in Life Sciences in 2024 on-demand.

Benchmarking Digital KPIs in Life Sciences in 2024