Latest News

April 30, 2019 Kim Carpenter0

Health and wellness, pharmaceutical, and medical-device providers must navigate an ever-evolving and consistently complicated healthcare landscape. Agencies (and corporate marketers) serve a key role in helping their clients problem solve, understand their challenges, and identify critical success factors.

How is this best accomplished? Through the power of thorough, intuitive and intentional listening, and strong engagement – with both the client and consumer.

It’s critical to tap into that certain something that bridges the gap between what agencies (and corporate marketers) think they know and what a client (or brand manager) needs to understand. The reverse is equally true. What does the client (or brand manager) and consumer know and what do we as agencies need to understand? It can only be arrived at through intentional, deep listening. And from that, valuable insights result. Answers rise to the top. Incredible ideas and campaigns are born. If you’re an in-house marketer, this means listening to your team and to your end consumers.

I’d argue that much of the best creative work and constituent engagement is accomplished by listening to, understanding, addressing, and integrating human emotion. You need to know what consumers feel to know how to reach them. It’s critical in today’s competitive marketing landscape, a chilly land of technology and data.

Listening Builds Communication

Communication builds patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional engagement. Engagement is the new currency for building sustainable brands.

Good communication, brought by attuned engagement, is a giant step away from frequently asked questions and data-driven answers. It is not time-consuming, but rather a deal closer. It is what sets you apart from the competition and, ultimately, what builds the bottom line.

Listening Builds Trust

Trust is as important as price for today’s patients. When we understand that today’s patient is motivated by trust and that it is just as important as price, we see a level playing field. We understand that, when all things are equal, the deal breaker could be due to a lack of trust resulting from our own inability to effectively tune in.

“The Art and Value of Good Listening” – an article published in Psychology Today – declares that listening is an art, but that good listening also depends on gauging the mood (and mindset) of your audience. Is the patient / caregiver upset? Are they fearful? If tapping into human emotion requires listening, it also requires compassion and understanding.

Beyond Listening: Emotional Branding

Effectively listening to our audiences on an emotional level involves knowing what to listen to. We need to identify the aspect of the consumer’s life that requires a solution. Then we need to understand the emotion behind this and link the product or service in a way that is emotionally relatable.

Emotional branding insists on forging an emotional connection between products or services and the consumer. Those connections can create brand loyalty among consumers. The emotional connection has to be positive and it always has to be relevant. It is either identifiable to consumers or represents something they believe in.

  • “This medication helps migraines,” for example, is not as emotionally connected as, “This medication will help your migraine, so you will be able to spend more time doing the things you love.”
  • UPS does not simply deliver packages. They deliver happiness and dependability.
  • Nike insists that we aspire to greatness – that we just do it. We may not always see greatness in ourselves, but it is something most of us would like to aspire to. Therefore, we identify. With health and wellness, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, we are inviting people to regain health, to take back their livelihood, and to feel better.

A medical device may keep a patient out of the hospital, which falls in line with the new, value-based care initiatives and the merit-based incentive payment system. And a physician or medical office manager may have an emotional response to this type of marketing – better patient care and adhering to government regulations in a single move.

Branding: What Science Says About Engaging People

According to research and information gathered by The New York Times and Content Marketing Institute, 92% of consumers respond to advertising that feels like a story. Additionally, the human brain can process images or graphics 60 times faster than words. Taken together, this information suggests that a story with disruptive images is our best bet when marketing to potential customers. If we can tap into human emotion using these two mechanisms, we have an excellent starting point.

We gain trust by listening and good communication. We learn where consumers are on their respective journeys, and we deliver what they have asked for or what they need to go forward.

We learn to bring consumers in by allowing our brand to tap into human emotion.

Businesses that effectively engage also do so through value creation, rather than revenue extraction. They provide their audience with something meaningful beyond a sales pitch – an emotional appeal, a smart end-to-end experience, great content that is relatable on an emotional or real-time support level.

Six Strategies to Help Build Trust & Engagement

Relating to your audience begins with understanding them and how they differ from each other. Take the time to see the differences in your audiences, segment them, consider what drives each of them to “raise their hand,” customize your message, and take action. Then engage with them. Our marketing must be organic and customizable to reflect a personalized approach.

Remember, we no longer live in a business-to-consumer world. Given today’s digital landscape, it is a consumers’ market, and they hold all the power through engagement.

Here are six basic strategies to help you improve engagement:

  1. Understand your audience through segmentation and persona development to gauge where they are in their journey. Customization is key. We cannot merely market a package. We have to market customized solutions. Further, we need to make it obvious to the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider that we are tuned in to their specific requests. We understand that their goals or needs are unique and deserving of our laser-focused attention. Remember, no broad strokes! Segmentation is probably as broad as we can go. In other words, optimal marketing strategies must categorize patients, influencers, or clinicians by demographics and behaviors.
  2. Create educational value as defined by each audience; there is no such thing as a successful “one-size-fits-all” approach. Education means it is our turn to speak. We have heard what the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider has to say. We understand the need. We are not merely providing a customized solution. We are educating on how this solution will work and how it will propel them forward and closer to their goal(s). Clients and product managers – AND CONSUMERS – want solutions. They also want to understand how things work. They demand one-on-one connection, and each connection will be customized to run parallel with their need.
  3. Become trusted advisers by looking out for our audience’s needs. When we accurately and consistently address our audience’s needs, not just the product or service’s attributes, we do a better job of reaching consumers. Take the time to draw strong connections between a patient’s or healthcare provider’s needs and desires and your product’s or service’s offerings. Act in their best interests by providing quality information. Your communications will resonate better and be more appreciated.
  4. Develop content that anticipates questions and be in many places. Develop branded and unbranded communication, including non-personal promotions through an omnichannel approach. This affords audiences multiple opportunities to connect and communicate with your brand and the people behind it. We are easy to find. We are everywhere. Try to make sure your solutions fall before the consumer’s eyes. Analyzing your segmentation demographics is an excellent way to anticipate potential inquiries and put forth the information before it is asked for.
  5. Identify, engage, and connect with consumers via social media. Do not be afraid to reach out. Do not be afraid to study a patient’s or healthcare provider’s journey from the beginning and meet them where they are (both in their lifecycle and online) with real solutions. At the same time, we must make our presence known and our solutions easy to find. Stand out by standing everywhere – including on social.
  6. Keep asking what consumers need, including how you can improve. We should be on a continual journey to better understand what consumers want and how to improve the solutions we offer. We can never improve if we do not engage and ask our respective audience how we’re doing.

Through surveys and tuning in, we may discover that a service or product is confusing or that our campaign’s messaging is lost. When we are very close to an idea – from the drawing board on – we may think that our understanding is translating well to the audience when it is not. By asking, learning, and adjusting our communications, we also improve our consumer relationships.

The Bottom Line

Everything comes back to listening, understanding, and effective communications. To discover what consumers need most, you must fire up your listening skills and pay attention to their requests and concerns. Understand where they are on their journey and what is preventing them from reaching the next level.

Through attuned engagement and understanding, we can address consumers’ needs in more effective ways and bring our brands greater success. By carefully listening, we can tap into human emotion and imbue our marketing solutions with a greater chance of penetrating.

It is incumbent on us as marketers to help each healthcare practitioner, patient, or caregiver feel like we are speaking directly to them. Through smart segmentation and marketing customization, we can improve our ability to establish emotional connections and drive engagement.

April 30, 2019 Eric Peacock0

Sponsored Content

Personalized Smart Recommendations in social networks

What if Amazon was in charge of patient activation? Personalized, data-driven healthcare solutions would up-end patient activation as we know it. Some biopharma marketers are already doing this today, leveraging social networks to anticipate and address patient needs proactively. Here’s the formula for how they are doing it.

First, think about what Amazon does right after you’ve put something in your cart — like, for instance, band-aids. You see this message: “Customers who bought this item also bought… Neosporin, Children’s Tylenol” etc.. We at MyHealthTeams do something similar in chronic health.

For example, when one of our MyMSTeam members posts about her frustration with memory loss and concentration problems, we automatically surface relevant information that has proven popular among other members facing similar challenges.

First, a member — “SuzanneM from San Jose” — posts about the fact that she’s having a hard time remembering things, finding the right words or concentrating.

We then automatically surface for her relevant information that other members facing similar cognitive challenges have found useful. We call this a “Smart Recommendation.”

Which makes it easy for her to quickly get to content that addresses her concern and is likely to inspire action. In this example, that content is from the “MS & Cognition” Resource Center we created in partnership with Biogen after research among MyMSTeam members revealed that cognitive dysfunction is a top symptom impacting quality of life and often starts early in the progression of the disease.

We introduced Smart Recommendations with select partners in our social networks earlier this year to personalize patient education and inspire action. They are “smart” in that they are served up contextually based on what a member shares in her post or profile. They are “recommendations” in that we are surfacing information (not medical advice) that others going through the same thing have found helpful. It’s the power of community at work. This is a new way to drive activation.

Fueled by natural language processing and machine learning, Smart Recommendations are possible because our members share information, resources and support every day — for 7 years now. With millions of members, 90% of whom are diagnosed patients, across our 32 growing social networks, we see both the challenges people living with a chronic condition face and the information that proves most useful to them — at a personal level and at scale.

This enables our pharma partners to approach Patient Activation differently and truly empower diagnosed patients with timely and useful information.

The click-through rates on Smart Recommendations are through the roof — north of 20%! This shows how hungry patients are for directly relevant, objective information to help them manage their condition. Today’s healthcare consumer is empowered and motivated to play an active role in managing her health. Pharma companies looking to activate patients don’t have to rely on just the doctor channel anymore — in fact, they can’t. By engaging patients where they are in social networks, these companies have started to deliver more of an Amazon-like consumer experience.

April 30, 2019 Scott Sameroff0

Sponsored Content

Many people associate weather conditions with their health and wellbeing. Perhaps you have family members claim to be able to sense changes in the weather because they feel a migraine coming on, friends who swear they can forecast rainfall better than the meteorologists due to increases in pain levels within their joints, or even co-workers who claim to be allergic to certain types of weather. Observations about the interactions between weather and health are not a modern phenomenon. People have been making them for almost 2,500 years—since the writings of Greek physician Hippocrates—and correlations between weather and wellness, if proven, are potentially valuable information for organizations and companies across the healthcare economy.

Today, researchers are working to validate observations about the weather and health, like those above, in novel ways. Biometeorology is a fast-evolving interdisciplinary science that studies the interactions between living organisms, including humans, and atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity and rainfall on a seasonal basis. This emerging discipline joins meteorologists with epidemiologists, biologists, computer scientists, and technologists to approach these persistent but difficult to verify connections in new and interesting ways.

Studying the impact of weather on human health and wellbeing is a challenging endeavor. Modern researchers are using data collection and technological tools that weren’t available in the past, including smartphones, cheap and plentiful sensors, complex computer simulations, and platforms that make aggregated data available to the general public as well as researchers.

Arthritis patients very frequently cite the weather as a factor in their condition. But joint pain, morning stiffness, fatigue and mood are very subjective factors, making it difficult to gather large-scale, standardized data about them. This is why the Cloudy With a Chance of Pain study conducted by the University of Manchester in conjunction with other arthritis and governmental organizations in the United Kingdom, is so fascinating. The researchers asked 13,000 participants, all of whom had long-term pain conditions, to record symptoms via a smartphone app each day. Using participant’s phone GPS signals and time stamps, researchers are evaluating correlations between participants’ symptoms and weather conditions. As if that weren’t cool enough, the researchers have made the aggregated data available to anyone online, via an analytics module on their website that allows people to see symptom levels by day and weather condition. You can bet that patients and biometeorologists alike will be paying attention when the University of Manchester researchers release their results this spring at

Mobile technology and cheap, ubiquitous sensors are enabling similar advances in the study of how weather conditions affect asthma and respiratory health. Companies including Propeller Health have developed sensors that attach to asthma inhalers and gather data on dosage, inhaler type, and time and location of usage, which can be synced with corresponding weather conditions. Once sufficient data is available, analysis may reveal how different weather conditions worsen or relieve asthma symptoms. The ultimate goal of such research is to reduce the risk of individual asthma attacks though proactive engagement and intervention with patients.

The flu is another illness impacted by the weather being studied in a novel manner. Researchers at leading institutions including University of Virginia’s BioComplexity Institute and Initiative are developing unique flu forecasting methods that use advanced computer simulations to assess flu risk at a highly granular level across the United States. The BioComplexity Institute’s innovative flu forecasting methodology uses a simulated population to model interactions that may lead to the spread of flu. Their model factors in census population data, mobility data (including commuter data and airline travel data), and historical vaccine coverage and efficacy data. When combined with AccuWeather’s weather forecasting expertise and data, these AccuWeather derived localized flu forecasts provide powerful insights at the US county level. To date, the researchers have seen evidence that low humidity and low temperatures allow the flu virus to survive longer, which promotes its transmission. However, more people stay inside during cold and/or inclement weather, which suggests a reduced risk of flu transmission—unless you happen to be stuck inside within someone who is already suffering from the flu.

AccuWeather provides historical, current and forecasted weather data and weather data insights to leading brands, agencies, retailers, medical device companies, analytics firms, and research institutes to help them understand important connections between the weather and wellness. This includes providing weather data and insights to:

  • Research institutes and medical device companies, which want to understand how weather impacts the development and spread of illness and disease;
  • Brands, agencies and retailers, which want to understand how weather influences the demand for products such as cold medicine, tissues and orange juice;
  • Distributors of critical healthcare goods, which need to anticipate logistical disruptions caused by weather events such as snow, hurricanes, and flooding; and
  • Advertisers, which want to boost awareness of products and services at contextually relevant moments to consumers, either on AccuWeather’s digital platforms or their own, e.g, showing ads for hand sanitizer and throat lozenges to consumers located in areas with higher than average flu risk.

Every day, researchers are enhancing our understanding of how weather impacts our health and wellbeing. AccuWeather is proud to work with companies across the entire health care spectrum to ensure that the world’s most accurate weather data can be used to make peoples’ lives better, whether it’s helping a manufacturer develop more effective medical devices or helping advertisers reach AccuWeather users with products and services suited to the health issues associated with the weather they’re experiencing.


About AccuWeather: AccuWeather is the largest and fasted-growing weather media company and global leader in weather-related date, business and predictive analytics.


Disclaimer: AccuWeather is not affiliated in any way with the University of Manchester, Cohero or Propeller Health.  The views expressed by AccuWeather are its own and the studies referenced in this article are solely offered as examples of how weather and wellness are being researched; AccuWeather in no way endorses the outcome of any study.

April 26, 2019 Ingrid Eberly0

Sponsored Content

Healthline Insider Q and A: A series of conversations with experts from the digital, health and marketing industries. Why? Because different perspectives enrich us and make us smarter, stronger, and more aware.

Healthline Insider’s Ingrid Eberly sat down for a conversation with our SVP of Media Strategy & Revenue, Dante Gaudio, on the topic of narrative and the power of narrative in health. In his role, Dante spends a lot of time thinking about ways he can help health brands build powerful stories to change people’s lives.

1. What do you mean by narrative? How is narrative different from “brand”?

While “brand” refers to how a product is represented in a person’s brain, “narrative” is the series of connected events, experiences, and stories that get it there. If brand is the destination, narrative is the pathway to it. Narratives are usually about the people who use brands and are communicated in spoken or written words or visuals.

An example of a brand with strong narrative is Whole Foods. What’s your experience with Whole Foods? I’m pretty sure you all have consistent responses: “helps me live more naturally,” “brings the local community together,” “happy and helpful employees.” Even your negative responses are likely consistent: “expensive” and probably “crowded parking lot.” It is these experiences that form the Whole Foods narrative, which feeds the Whole Foods brand.

2. Why is narrative important in healthcare?

Healthcare is at its core science, which can be dense, complicated, and full of unfamiliar language. Narrative helps make healthcare more understandable, approachable, and human.

Whenever I speak to someone who is anti-vaccine, instead of talking about the public health benefits of vaccines, I tell them about my grandfather who had polio: how he struggled every day and lived in an almost constant state of pain and discomfort. I may not convince the anti-vaxxer to change their convictions, but through my personal narrative, I’ve probably opened their eyes to the benefits of vaccines and how they can far outweigh the risks.

And I’ve learned a lot from the editorial team at Healthline about using narrative in healthcare. In a world where health is full of misinformation, isolation, and stigma, we stand against needless complexity, approach the whole person using human stories, and empower transparency. So, instead of genericizing parenting advice for new parents, they show a day in the life of a new parent in all its chaos and confusion. And readers “get it” and connect to it.

3. How does narrative drive consumer behavior?

There’s a ton of research that shows that the human brain interacts with the world via narrative. Think about how you dream: Do you envision bullet points? Or statistics? Probably not. When you dream, your subconscious brain creates a narrative… sometimes really weird narratives, but a series of connected events nonetheless! So, I don’t think narrative drives human behavior… I think it IS human behavior. It’s literally our operating system for interacting with the world around us.


4. What’s an example of narrative driving a product or category?

The best examples are brands that build their narrative around a shared purpose with their customers. So, for example, if you’re a pharmaceutical drug, you don’t just talk about the efficacy, safety, duration, speed of onset, etc. of the drug. You also show how the condition doesn’t allow patients to be there for life’s important moments. You compile real-world coping mechanisms and share them with compassion. You facilitate social support, maybe even humor if appropriate. You show people that you are living the same reality as them, a shift from what a product can do FOR someone to what a brand can do WITH someone. That’s the power of narrative.

5. How does one build a narrative around a health topic or a health brand?

First, you have to be grounded in facts: who is affected, what obstacles they face, and how you can be an ally. You need to bring empathy and understanding to this knowledge. And if you can, personalize it. Think about how to adjust or update your narrative based on the experiences and expectations of the different audiences you’re engaging with.

With these insights, be deliberate about developing the narrative with key stakeholders. Commit to what you stand for, how you want people to feel, and what change you want to make (be) in this world. Then train your advocates, partners, employees, and agencies to stay consistent.

Once you’ve created your narrative, you need a plan to disseminate your stories internally and externally. Tell them in many ways — on your website, in your ads, through your brand advocates and partners. Put them out there, and let them build their own momentum.

Pharma marketers probably get nervous when they hear things like “put them out there” and “build their own momentum.” Sure, pharma brands can’t go organic with their brands, but they can around conditions or patient situations. And if they can’t do it themselves, they can rely on partners to build the narrative on their behalf.

6. How do you distinguish good content from not-so-good content?

My criteria are simple. Did it engage or inspire me? Did it surprise me? What did I learn? And what am I going to do after engaging with it? Hint: Content grounded in a really good narrative is likely to hit on all of the above!

I’ll close by stating an old PR and communications adage, “If you don’t tell your story… then someone else will.”


Are you tasked with sparking real conversation and brand stories? Come talk to us about leveraging narratives to build brands. Contact us at

About Healthline
As the fastest growing health information source, the Healthline property engages 77 million unique visitors per month (comScore, January 2019). We provide real health information with a real human approach.

April 26, 2019 Craig Mait0

Sponsored Content

A varied media mix that includes effective print tactics, is fundamental to unlock the full value of a Point of Care sponsorship program.

Like numerous other media environments in recent years, the Point of Care landscape has become increasingly focused on digital platforms.  From televisions to touchscreens, providers have created a wealth of technology for marketers to engage patients and consumers.  Yet most doctors’ offices continue to welcome a variety of magazines, posters, wallboards, and brochures throughout their locations.  By capitalizing on these diverse engagement tools, marketers can unlock significant consumer action.  In fact, Nielsen cites that a media mix that incorporates print and digital assets can drive as much as 30% higher ROI[1] – meaning that your campaign can play a vital role in the patient journey. With the ability to “own” platforms that are more transportable and offer distinct take-away value, brands can diversify their POC messaging through print materials, all while gaining 100% share-of-voice.

Reinforcing your brand message with a dynamic media mix

Since its origin, the Point of Care industry has worked diligently to develop its venues to be turn-key marketing environments that offer valuable information to a wide array of consumers and caregivers.  Its channels prioritize efficiency for advertisers by eliminating costly, time-consuming creative versioning through standardized adverting units.  This uniform approach also allows a simplified, multi-channel strategy to engage consumers through multiple touchpoints with only a few required assets.  Waiting room video messaging can be easily reinforced through condition guide sponsorship placed in examination rooms.  Examination room tablet interstitials can boost click-through rates by introducing the brand through a waiting room wallboard before the doctor discussion.  In each case, the brand can boost exposure with static tools by leveraging traditional magazine advertising spreads.  These reinforced campaigns have proven to be incredibly powerful with consumers.  In recent Mesmerize programs, sponsorships that utilized a waiting room wallboard and a hyper-targeted mobile ad unit drove three times greater ROI than standard print programs alone.  Furthermore, those programs prompted nearly five times the national click-through average for mobile banners[2].  Indeed, brand reinforcement across multiple platforms offers a powerful boost, especially for targeted campaigns – and all with cost and time efficiency.

Target your customers by venue and by platform

Targeting remains the consistent recipe for success with all POC tactics – and where the true value of marketing lies in this channel.  Segmentation through client-supplied list matching, medical specialty selection, or audience demographics can curate venue lists to ensure maximum exposure to the appropriate audience.  Since the start of Point of Care promotion, marketers have created media mix strategies that utilized the space for its hypertargeting abilities.  Now that the industry has matured, it is imperative that brands utilize a varied approach within their POC plans as well.

As CMI recently noted, the strategic benefits from print-based tactics complement and reinforce digital messaging and significantly impact consumer engagement.  Furthermore, by understanding the specific audience target, marketers can segment a venue to reach various factions through the tactics they relate to best.  For example, physicians who are accustomed to reading printed materials will likely respond more strongly to a customized guide, while digital tactics in the waiting room can occupy time for patients anticipating their physician visit.[3]

Digital media has a solidified place in healthcare marketing and Point of Care remains a powerful proving ground for those tactics.  However, by adopting a diversified strategy that employs a variety of tools – including static media – marketers can optimize their POC spending to ensure maximum engagement, all with superior targeting and access that has offered repeated success in this channel.



[1] Tsvetkov, Tsventan. (2018, August 8). “Perspectives: The Easier Way To Drive Higher Marketing ROI,” Retrieved from

[2] Mesmerize, (2019, January 21). “Consumer Packaged Goods 2019 Mobile Case Study”.

[3] Marvel, Darcy, Cooper. (2019, 14 March). “The Importance of Print Media in Today’s NPP Channel Mix,” Retrieved from


April 26, 2019 Linda Ruschau0

Sponsored Content

What’s the best pharma ad you see running on TV right now? I bet you could sing the jingle, but do you remember the specific brand? I’m the odd one that uses my DVR to skip TO the commercials – but you and I are not the average healthcare consumers. That’s why, despite the strength of TV, when it comes to messaging to patients, you have to pull that message through when they are going to be most receptive – in the doctor’s office.

There are a multitude of rationale for your TV-driven media plan to include POC to complement it. Here are a few important points:

  • Add POC to the mix, and every other channel benefits. Evidence shows POC can help lift the returns of not only TV, but other media in a plan as well. A recent Crossix study found net conversion rates and new patient starts were significantly higher for those multichannel plans that included POC. (For the full data, check out our white paper mentioned at the end of this piece.)
  • Show patients a deeper side. Beyond traditional TV commercials, POC gives brands the ability to showcase longer, in-depth videos that will resonate with a very specific and sought-after audience. Think testimonials, patient savings, and clinical trial recruitment messages.
  • Secure more face time with patients and HCPs at the doctor’s office. There is no seasonality when it comes to visiting the doctor; patients will go throughout the entire year. Each $1 million spent on POC affords more months of in-market presence than what it buys in primetime TV.
  • Target the right patients in the right locations. Reaching the right audiences based on their viewing, reading, listening, or online habits can be a challenge with other media channels. POC enables you to hyper-target to condition and treatment status while individual office level targeting allows for tailored messaging to these specific audiences.


With media planning, an “either/or” mindset isn’t necessary. Tradeoffs don’t necessarily have to mean excluding an entire medium; you can add POC while not compromising the effectiveness of your TV plan. With a long and proven track record of success, POC has the power to maximize the overall effectiveness of your entire multichannel plan. Even if your plan already generates a high return, it’s worth adding POC to realize even higher ROI and incremental revenue.

Read an industry expert’s point of view on why TV and POC make the perfect pair here:

April 26, 2019 Christian Rodgers0

During a recent dinner among fellow DTC marketers, I asked who believed it was critical for their brand to be on social media. All answered yes. Then I asked how many of the pharma brands they work on have made the leap. Only half answered yes. I turned my attention to the “no” group to dive into their reluctance to take their brands to social media, and their answers surprised me.

I expected the standard excuses regarding MLR headaches, FDA risks, 24/7 Facebook monitoring, and the such. But what I heard was that most of these marketers had a new reason for resisting social media marketing: they simply don’t like social media.

Let’s face it. Trust in social media is declining among consumers and marketers alike. A quick scan of 2018 headlines will bring up allegations of privacy violation, miscalculating metrics, and mass distribution of fake news just to start. In addition, countless recent studies are revealing the perils of digital addiction to our brains, our emotions, and our entire social system. Yet, Facebook remains the backbone of social media and for many people worldwide, it is their entry point into the Internet.

Pharma DTC marketers ask me all the time, why do I need to be on social media? While I hear about people deleting Facebook from their phones, studies show that 68% of American adults, or roughly 171 million people, are still using the social media network. And the same people that claim to be shunning Facebook can’t get enough of Instagram and WhatsApp, social media platforms owned by Facebook. I see it among my peers, too; they say they dislike it, but they keep on scrolling.

It used to be that if you wanted to reach the greatest amount of people, you advertised during the Super Bowl to grab its roughly 111 million viewers. Facebook is like a Super Bowl ad. Every. Single. Day. And you don’t have to spend over $5 million for a 30-second spot. Can your brand afford to not advertise on Facebook?

Accommodating pharma

Maybe it will ease our social conscience to discuss what Facebook is doing right.

Just as Facebook rewards its advertisers for publishing engaging content, the company itself also works at being sensitive to the needs of their users. In response to the unique regulations surrounding drugs and devices, Facebook now allows pharmaceutical companies to turn off comments. While eliminating comments is not ideal due to the subsequent “de-prioritization” of content, this exception is not made for other companies and reflects their desire to make the platform acceptable to the healthcare industry.

In response to industry demands, Facebook has also enabled a scrolling ISI feature so that required safety information can be shared in Facebook ads while not exceeding the available space. As with the comment control, this solution is not ideal. However, it is incredibly encouraging that Facebook is responding to user demands. As more pharma companies create a presence on Facebook, I have no doubt that Facebook will respond to demand and rally their creative genius to find better solutions to ISI, and further adapt their suite of advertising products to better serve the pharma industry.

Metrics + algorithms

Facebook uses big data, deep learning, complex algorithms, and many more advanced technologies in its never-ending quest to balance the demands of its stakeholders. At the moment, Facebook is prioritizing authentic interactions – they want to engage users, and they are using complex algorithms to determine if responses to a post are authentic and credible. While they have offered companies the ability to turn off comments – an idea that frequently appeals to a regulated industry like pharma – they punish you for using this option with lower rankings and less visibility. I recommend to my clients that they encourage and manage comments, but if you’re not ready to do that, the option is there for brands to turn them off.

Just the pictures please

Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, is currently the fastest growing social media network. While Instagram can frustrate pharma marketers with its limited space for legal disclaimers and hyperlinks only available in the user bio, its 1 billion monthly users motivate marketers to overcome the learning curve. In addition, some innovative methods for including ISI information in Instagram Stories or on entirely separate accounts has eased some of the pain of posting necessary legal information.

Who’s doing it right

There are a number of pharmaceutical companies that are doing a good job of managing a social media presence and reaping the benefits of increased consumer awareness. One is Alimera Sciences, a pharma company that makes ILUVIEN – a small drug depot that is inserted into the eye for long-term treatment of diabetic macular edema. Alimera Sciences created a comprehensive program to use Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to raise awareness not only of the drug, but also of the condition itself. They created targeted ads that addressed the concerns of those who might be looking for a solution to potential loss of vision. With a minimal investment in paid outreach on those channels, the campaign achieved nearly 200,000 impressions or engagements with its posts. Facebook provided a space where ads and information about ILUVIEN would be readily received by its audience.

EVZIO is another example of a company, in this case kaléo, Inc., that is successfully taking their consumer marketing to social media channels. A prescription medication used in cases of opioid emergencies, EVZIO chose to disable comments due to addiction being such a hot button issue. Their posts and paid outreach target addicts and individuals who care for a senior citizen who might accidentally overdose on opioids for pain management, and everything links back to their website with its well-developed messaging and product information.

In short, while we love to hate on social media, we’re all still addicted to scrolling. Facebook remains one of the best ways to reach the largest audience.

April 26, 2019 Martha Maranzani0

In today’s world, consumers expect personalized, relevant communications tailored to their specific needs. The consumer goods, retail, fashion, and travel industries all reach these levels of personalization, but how can pharma marketers reach consumers on such an individualized level in such a regulated space? Enter data-driven marketing.

The promise of big data has largely remained unfulfilled for pharmaceutical marketers. Many pharma marketers treat data as an afterthought, using analytics only to see how their campaigns and tactics have performed after the fact and for ROI analysis. But data has the potential to help pharma marketers transform their communication streams. There needs to be a mindset shift that moves data analysis up in the thought process, using it to inform overarching strategies, channels, and creative campaigns from the outset. By using data in this way, brands can get the right messages to the right consumers at the right times, in channel-appropriate formats so they can consume the content in ways that make sense to them. In doing so, pharma content will become more relevant and authentic, gaining the credibility that is currently lacking in the existing “one size fits all” pharma advertising climate.

Read on to see how using data at each step in the strategy process can lead to the ultimate goal of creating long-term customer relationships.

Audience-first approach

Taking the time to understand a target audience is an important first step in creating a strategy, but many pharma marketers stop at researching the demographics of their potential patient population. But in this day and age, that is simply not enough data on which to base an entire patient communications strategy. Not only should demographics be considered, further information such as their likes and dislikes, their wants and fears, their device habits and usage, and where they are in their patient journey will give a much fuller picture of who they are and what content will resonate with them. Using this data will allow marketers to drill down to further levels of segmentation and deliver more personalized and meaningful content to their targets.

Social listening, surveys, and first- and third-party data can give these direct insights into consumer targets so that marketers can better understand them better on a basic level. Brands often assume social listening alone provides an accurate and complete assessment of consumer sentiment, but conversations online about healthcare are vastly different than what happens offline. Combining social listening data with other third-party data can fully capture an audience’s needs.

Further, digital media provides a tremendous opportunity to observe consumers’ engagement habits, their media consumption, and their device habits. Tie this data in with AI and machine learning, and pharma marketers have a powerful backbone of data on which to drive their consumer communications.

Insights that can be mined from this data are vast. Brands can understand why consumers are asking their doctors about certain drugs. They can see how target consumers engage with content, when they are engaging, and on which devices. They can track engagement over time, and see which content is valuable to consumers and which isn’t. Data can help uncover key decision points, actions, and perceptions that drive consumer behavior across the patient journey at any given time.

Segmenting audiences using such data is a basic first step in drilling down into a target audience. Segments can include criteria such as whether they are a patient or caregiver, where the consumers are in their individual patient journeys, and whether they are on your product or a competitive brand. Each of these segments of the audience will have distinct content needs, and using data to inform these needs, marketers can create content that speaks to each one of them at each point.

To understand an audience even more fully, more granular data can be used to create personas. Personas go beyond segments, giving a face and a name to individuals who represent these target segments. It is easier and more meaningful to create content for Susan, a stay-at-home mom of three with type 2 diabetes who doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare her treatment regimen than it is to create content for a female aged 35-45 with the same characteristics. Personas use data to give further insight into the target audience’s lives and give creatives something on which to build their creative campaigns.

Once brands have fully identified their targets, they can choose the channels on which they will execute using their targets’ preferred channels. Different channels might be appropriate for different journey stages, based on the target personas. Different tactics and creative formats might be appropriate for different stages of the journey as well. By leveraging these data insights, pharma marketers can map the most effective opportunities to provide content to consumers at times they are most receptive to receiving messaging across the patient journey. Personalizing the content to each stage can drive engagement and customer satisfaction to help brands form long-term relationships with their consumers.

Using data in the execution

Using real-time data to serve up ads isn’t new. For years pharma marketers have been using programmatic ads based on audience segmentation data to better target ads, optimize spend, and drive greater value because they knew the ads would reach the audience that they were intended to reach. Then came retargeting: serving consumers ads that highlight products they’ve recently viewed on a brand site or searched for on Google.

Retargeting can be even more powerful with more data: if brands know that a consumer is early in their patient journey, they can serve ads for awareness and consideration (real-world data for instance) rather than conversion (driving consumers to talk to their doctor about their product). They can treat visitors to their website’s homepage differently than those who have looked at financial support information by driving the former to ask their doctors about the treatment and driving the latter to a patient assistance program. In this way, using data about consumers can lead to more meaningful patient communications.

Additionally, using data to serve sequenced ads can be full-funnel experience by leading a consumer from awareness through consideration to purchase. As mentioned before, different channels and content formats can play different roles in each stage of the patient journey. By serving up a series of ads in sequence based on the target’s specific journey, the message stays relevant and increases the chances of the consumer interacting with a brand’s content.

Data can also be used for real-time optimization of assets in market. A/B testing of creative, messages, and CTAs can show which assets are performing best with each target segment, allowing brands to optimize to only the best performing creative and focus the ad spend where it will have the greatest ROI.

Beyond banners

Using data is not just for buying and serving banners or other media. Data can be used to enrich CRM programs as well. Most pharma brands treat CRM programs as a “set it and forget it” tactic – all consumers that sign up for the program gets the same sequence of emails in the same order, regardless of whether or not they even open the email and regardless of where they are in their patient journey. CRM programs can be tailored to multiple audience segments, and brands can further target each individual consumer based on his/her response to each item in the CRM stream using the previous engagement data. The use of CRM data can be extended to the social media space as well. Based on the user interaction with the email, brands can retarget the user on social with different ads based on that behavior.

And of course data can be used to track the success of all of a brand’s in-market tactics: media, websites, and CRM programs. Bringing all of this data together in one integrated dashboard can give brands insights into which tactics and channels are working well for which consumers at which stages of their patient journeys, and it can show a brand where it needs to optimize for its next campaign.

Looking to the future

While pharma marketers have access to a wide array of data about their target consumers, some challenges do exist. Consumers are increasingly wary of giving up their data online, and the highly visible data security breaches in the past few years haven’t helped. With regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) expanding globally, marketers will have to be increasingly transparent when collecting consumer data. That said, consumers are willing to exchange their data for content that provides value, so we as pharma marketers need to ensure that the content we are creating solves a need that our consumers have.

The benefits of data-driven marketing are vast and include efficiency, real-time optimization of messaging, improved creative, and extremely quantifiable ROI. When properly implemented throughout the entire strategy and content creation process, it can save pharma marketers time and money and allow brands to create relationships with its targeted consumers, not just advertise and market to them. By leveraging data, brands can glean insights into their target consumers so they can deliver the individualized content that will achieve the as-yet unfulfilled promise of big data for pharma marketers.

April 9, 2019 admin0

Announced on Diabetes Alert Day, March 26th, PatientPoint and the American Medical Association (AMA) are developing content to educate patients and their HCPs about the risks of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. The collaboration will utilize PatientPoint’s in-office technology to encourage patients to have an informed conversation about either condition, with the goal of “reaching and activating patients … to prevent the onset of both diseases,” stated the news release.

Educational materials will include a prediabetes PSA in primary care and cardiologist waiting rooms, as well as interactive banner ads and infographics available in the exam rooms. Content will drive patients to either (which was launched by the AMA, Ad Council, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Diabetes Association) or online, downloadable resources from the AMA and American Heart Association.

Click here to read the full details about this joint educational effort.