How Healthcare Marketers Can Reach Target Audiences

May 31, 2013
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In 2013, targeting is all the rage in pharma marketing. More and more pharma companies are reserving their funds for use with vendors that can exactly target specific audiences – most narrowly, against a list-match. Today’s smartest marketers use a sophisticated mix of targeting – combined with strategic upfront planning – to achieve measurable results. Here are some tips to help healthcare marketers on the road to effective digital targeting.

In 2013, targeting is all the rage in pharma marketing. More and more pharma companies are reserving their funds for use with vendors that can exactly target specific audiences – most narrowly, against a list-match. Today’s smartest marketers use a sophisticated mix of targeting – combined with strategic upfront planning – to achieve measurable results. Here are some tips to help healthcare marketers on the road to effective digital targeting.

1. Clearly define your targets and segment them by commonalities.

healthcare marketing best practicesMost pharma marketers know their targets, but it’s important to dive deeper to organize them by why they are your targets. As you define sub-sets (segments) you begin to see the differences within each broad grouping that improves your understanding about them. This insight helps guide everything you do in healthcare marketing. Decisions get made differently whether you are targeting newly diagnosed versus treated patients or physicians who prescribe your brand versus those who prescribe your competitor’s. When you segment your audience by demographics, psychographics, and behavior, you increase your chances for connecting with them in motivating ways.

  • Some segments are based on demographic traits (age, gender), professional specialty (PCPs, Cardiologists), or disease/condition (interest in diabetes or arthritis).
  • Psychographic differentiators could include whether prescribers are influenced to Rx by KOLs, journal articles, or sampling; and whether patients are motivated most by being healthy for family, by living an active lifestyle, or by following physician direction, etc.
  • Pharma brand managers often target by prescriber name through a list-match (lists should be organized by segment).
  • Sometimes targeting is based on behavior or lack thereof (person who visited my website, person who did not complete a registration form, etc.).

2. Assign an objective to each segment. Include ways to measure success.

For each segment, define the behavior you plan to motivate. Also establish up-front how you will know whether your efforts have been successful. Once one objective is achieved, that person could move into another segment group as you continue your relationship with him/her.

Here are some examples.

  • SEGMENT: People who dropped off during the registration process
    OBJECTIVE: Motivate them to complete it
    SUCCESS MEASURE: Completed registrations
    NEW SEGMENT: Patients who registered for the program
  • SEGMENT: Cardiologists
    OBJECTIVE: Watch a KOL video
    SUCCESS MEASURE: Increments of time viewed
    NEW SEGMENT: Cardiologists who viewed the video for at least minimum time
  • SEGMENT: List-matched prescribers deciles 3-10
    OBJECTIVE: Write more Rxs of my brand for the right patients
    SUCCESS MEASURE: Rx lift after exposure to marketing effort
    NEW SEGMENT: List-matched prescribers deciles 1-2 

3. Choose the right partner(s) to help meet your objectives.

Already, with tips #1 and #2, there are a lot of moving parts in your marketing plan. You have many different targets, each with different objectives, each needing different messaging, and different means of contact both initially and on an ongoing basis.

Even if you choose to define all these elements yourself, at some point you’re going to need help. You need to partner with companies who can help you execute your plan. These companies need to have the right access to your target audiences and be able to execute your marketing plan with flexibility and fluidity. They have to “get it” like you do from the start or else a good portion of your time could be spent educating them in the upfront, cleaning up mistakes along the way, and making excuses for bad data on the back-end.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing the right partner(s):

  • Is it one partner? Several independent partners? One partner who can coordinate many different options? What’s right for your situation?
  • Who offers large reach to your target audience segments?
  • Who are experts in innovation? Who can help explain new concepts/approaches in a way that helps educate medical, regulatory, and legal colleagues to gain necessary approvals?
  • Who fully understands the opportunities and challenges for pharmaceutical marketing?
  • Who stands behind what they offer by delivering the data you need to know the job has been done effectively and with minimal waste?
  • Who can create the program you need instead of offering the same old, same old?

4. Establish a strategic contact plan designed to accomplish each segment objective.

To achieve the best results, you should create a well-though-out plan at the start. You will find the plan invaluable for:

  • Defining who will be reached by what means, with what frequency, across what messaging sequence, to what end; and how to assess results.
  • Driving program optimization to improve the efficiency of the initiatives and outcomes. 
  • Identifying the types of messaging and creative executions to develop. 

5. Leverage as many targeting techniques as are appropriate and possible. Mix, match, and optimize for maximum brand impact.

  • Contextual – Communicating your messages in an environment that offers other information on the same topic. This type of placement assumes a person is interested in the subject matter so similar ad messaging could be relevant.
  • Interest-based/behavioral – Delivering your message to people who have demonstrated a likely interest in your message based on certain behavior or lack thereof. As part of your strategic contact plan, you will define any online behavior that can be used to help define segments. Certain partner companies offer technology that can watch for these behaviors, segment on the fly, and deliver the right messaging instantaneously.
  • Profile/registration data – Reaching people who have shared information about themselves for the purposes of receiving information of relevance to them. Some partner companies have this type of information from your targets already. That’s part of the value proposition they bring to the table. You don’t have to collect the information yourself to be able to reach people with stated interests or characteristics that imply interests.
  • List-matching/authentication – Making connections solely with healthcare professionals who are verified as prescribers or who are on your target list by name. Many pharma marketers need to invest their limited dollars in reaching only prescribers, or even more specifically, only the prescribers on their target list. Few partner companies can offer this much targeting precision and back it up. Even as this capability grows in the marketplace, it is limited by each company’s reach. Not only do they have to know your target visits their property, they also have to have your target visit during the time you’re running your campaign. The more limited a partner’s reach, the narrower the opportunity for you to make these highly targeted connections to your high-value audience.
  • Retargeting – Subsequent efforts to contact your targets after initial contact. Once you’ve made that first contact with one of your targets, you likely want to continue that connection to create a strong relationship with your brand. The ongoing efforts are based on each person’s or segment’s particular situation according to a planned course of action (i.e., strategic contact plan).
By following these five tips, pharma marketers can create and execute a detailed action plan that leverages insights and technology to drive bottom-line results for their brands.

(healthcare marketing’s target audience / shutterstock)

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