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November 26, 2014
What it really means to be multichannel in life sciences
By: Andrea Brueckner

Picture this. A pharma company launches an iPad-enabled sales force, complemented by a public website and physician portal, giving access to educational materials and services, and—that’s where it ends. This scenario is all too often the norm in life sciences. And while it may seem like the company is being innovative, the initiative only goes so far, underscoring a burning issue we’re seeing in the industry today: just because you’re using multiple channels, doesn’t mean your company is multichannel.

Using multiple channels doesn’t mean you’re multichannel

The good news is life sciences companies have started to pivot to the patient. Triggered by the digital revolution and the appeal of a more cost-effective customer model, some have launched a range of multichannel initiatives. But, many life sciences companies stop there. Yes, they’ve added multiple new channels, such as iPads for their sales forces and e-mails to reach patients. We’ve even seen some experimenting with remote detailing, telesales and patient and physician services. But many continue to struggle to become truly multichannel and provide a complete customer experience. Much work to date has been in developing the application—often carried out in isolation—without enough thought given to its impact and reach. Messages are often inconsistent across channels, and what’s more, few companies have put measurements in place to be able to understand the impact of their efforts on the overall customer experience and overall business performance.

Multichannel matters to patients and providers

Now, picture this. As part of its goal to create an integrated experience for diabetics, Sanofi introduced a blood glucose monitoring app,[1] a Diabetapedia where patients can browse diabetes terms,[2] a “Discuss Diabetes” blog,[3] a diabetes Facebook page and Twitter account,[4,5] and a GoMeals app for monitoring healthy eating.[6] AstraZeneca’s genetic test information for lung cancer provides a similar patient-centric approach. The epidermal growth factor mutation (EGFR) testing app for UK healthcare professionals aims to raise awareness of gene testing in non-small cell lung cancer and provides educational information to encourage eligible patients to take an EGFR test.[7] These are just some examples of how life sciences companies are leveraging new digital channels to successfully transition their traditional brand marketing strategies to a more customer-centric experience.

How can you make the transition?

There is little doubt, mastering multichannel marketing and realizing the full potential of analytics is a top agenda for sales and marketing executives seeking to achieve greater marketing efficiencies and efficiently meeting customer needs. Pressure is mounting from customers as expectations grow higher with increasing access to information and services. But, this requires a fundamental shift from the single-message selling model that worked well for blockbuster drugs in the past. This new era requires companies to rethink how they reach patients, payers and providers—at speed and with the right information for each audience. Also critical is better collaboration between physicians, payers, patients and caregivers.

To truly be multichannel—and not just leverage multiple channels—companies will need to:

  • Define the proper customer experience. Leverage feedback, business opportunities and needs to articulate an effective channel mix.

  • Deliver a consistent and differentiating customer experience. Integrate innovative channels and traditional tactics appropriately and allocate resources in line with expected outcomes.

  • Execute and measure. Analytics and data will play a key role in helping companies to better reach the right customer and deliver a more seamless experience. By tapping into these tools, companies are better positioned to put measurements in place to assess the impact of their multichannel approach.

The transition to multichannel customer engagement won’t happen overnight, but those life sciences companies that do successfully articulate a consistent and differentiated customer experience, stand to gain—and give—the most.

Content contributor: Ludovic Gavard

Read more: 

  1. Sanofi’s iBGStar Diabetes Manager app:

  2. Sanofi’s Diabetapedia:

  3. Sanofi’s “Discuss Diabetes” blog:

  4. Sanofi US Diabetes Facebook:

  5. Sanofi Diabetes Twitter:

  6. Sanofi’s GoMeals app:

  7. AstaZeneca UK’s Lung Cancer – EGFR mutation testing app:

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