An industry in transition: current opportunities & challenges in digital customer engagement

In the past three years, the pharmaceutical industry has undergone a massive process of change in the area of customer engagement, particularly as a result of the pandemic.

The new circumstances and the associated difficulties in reaching HCPs (healthcare professionals) in the conventional way by the sales force have brought a significant investment into the area of digitization and greatly accelerated the transformation process at many companies. A large part of this has been due to the increased willingness to change on c-level and the sales organization, who were no longer able to get in touch with doctors face-to-face.

In the era of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), data privacy compliant HCP opt-ins, an intact and powerful pipeline to create new marketing materials and the effective activation of collected customer interactions quickly became the new industry benchmark. What was surprising to our experts is the different tactics, approaches and development stages of the individual customer engagement capabilities, functions and channel preferences of the different players. A more uniform picture emerged with regard to the technological difficulties involved in the efficient activation of customer data, which poses major challenges for almost all market participants in the same way. In particular, the centralized provision and activation of relevant customer data, the effective use of CDP solutions (Customer Data Platforms such as Tealium), and the implementation of scalable and reliable marketing tactics (Data-Driven Marketing & Automation).

Breaking down data silos, ensuring data integrity and preventing vendor lock-in

The automated, seamless and validated aggregation of all customer data in a central data pool – even beyond the CRM data held in Veeva – is a crucial prerequisite for the successful implementation of Data-Driven Marketing initiatives. From the right choice of technology to the effective management of customer data, companies in the pharmaceutical industry often face very individual challenges, depending on the advertised product and indication. Among other things, the high complexity in the correct handling of dynamic customer segments, the assignment of valid specialist groups of physicians and other important characteristics for the effective attribution of data-driven campaigns should be emphasized. Ensuring consistent documentation here helps to sustain data quality and integrity.

Despite the usually high use of resources, too little attention is often paid to a resilient, future-proof and interlocking platform strategy, as well as the right course in the purchasing process. In this respect, we pay attention to a clearly regulated ownership of the complexly compiled and aggregated customer data for our clients, in order to be able to keep this data available in a valuable form and independent of individual platforms or service providers. The goal is to establish a central data pool with granular access options and the provision of standardized exchange protocols for simple and rapid data access by market-leading marketing solutions and platforms.

Building an efficient digital publishing pipeline to increase content frequency

After successfully centralizing key customer data and creating initial automated campaigns, consistently and quickly delivering relevant content to engage customers is a key success driver. Information officers, medical professionals and other functions involved in the approval process, need to deliver content at an even higher frequency, securely and reliably. Few organizations are taking advantage of the opportunity to adopt agile working practices or similar project management tools for regulated content creation (e.g. Adobe Workfront) that go beyond the standard functionality of Veeva Vault (or similar approval platforms).

Similarly, there is a growing expectation for customer engagement teams to continuously increase and expand the number of value-added customer contacts. However, there is often a lack of suitable software solutions for the efficient management of campaign content or the systematic monitoring of approvals. Efficient tagging of content and its provision in the marketing automation engine used also usually involves considerable manual effort. Investing in automated solutions to support the digital publishing pipeline quickly delivers measurable competitive advantage and improved go-to-market performance.

Measurability of campaign success and cross-channel identification of target groups

In order to use limited marketing budgets effectively, constant monitoring and continuous optimization of campaigns is imperative. Growing privacy requirements and technical protections (such as browser-side measures to prevent user identification) are making it increasingly difficult for customer engagement functions to gain visibility into campaign success (or failure). Therefore, the effective and cross-channel use of user-friendly authentication methods (SSO, single sign-on solutions, such as SAP Customer Cloud) is becoming increasingly important. In particular, to be able to reliably identify HCPs unambiguously and without the use of cookies, in addition to the simple login for verification as healthcare professionals. Through automated matching with CRM data, it is thus possible to derive and track resilient KPIs about the people in the relevant target group who were actually reached with the campaign.

About us

As a healthcare consultancy, 8awake supports leading global pharmaceutical & life science companies in the successful strategic alignment, development and optimization of effective customer engagement activities.

Stephan Salat
Stephan Salat
Managing Partner & Founder

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