"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."

The quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus applies perfectly to marketing in today’s digital world, where hyper-personalization efforts at millisecond intervals are important to delivering engaging customer experiences and meeting the customer “in the moment.” Digital disruption is creating a mandate for every company, including those in life sciences, to transform into an “experience-first” company.

Customer experience design and delivery are paramount to find, attract, retain and nurture customers in a customer-centric business environment. To that end, marketers have adopted many digital engagement tactics in the last few years in an effort to engage healthcare professionals, patients and providers. However, the increasing number of digital channels—along with undifferentiated messages and uncoordinated delivery—is resulting in too much noise and, ultimately, a poor customer experience.

Fittingly, this was a core theme at this year’s Adobe Marketing Summit, held March 19-23 in Las Vegas. At the conference, I observed a few additional themes aimed at all companies looking to become “experience-first” companies. From those themes, here are the three strategic levers that will help life sciences companies, in particular, get there:

1. Know your customer’s profile, interactions and context. Accessing in-depth customer profiles and tracking customer interactions across channels are necessary to design optimal tactic and engagement sequences. According to a survey by Experian, the primary challenges in creating a complete customer view are poor data quality, data silos across business functions and the inability to link customer data. 

As a first step, invest in building customer master and customer interaction hub capabilities to consolidate cross-channel customer interactions in a single enterprise repository. This initiative can be accelerated by pairing your CRM and master data management platforms with a cloud-based solution that offers a customer-360 data model, flexible data adaptors for major data sources and vendors, and a rich set of reports and dashboards purposefully designed for the life sciences industry. Ensure that the data privacy considerations, and opt-in/opt-out information and preferences, are captured and managed as per local regulatory guidelines.

An integrated view of customer preferences and interactions can inform analytics techniques such as preference-based segmentation, customer journey mapping and affinity prediction. It’s possible to predict which customer may engage with certain tactics, and in what sequence and cadence. However, understanding the customer’s context is critical to craft and deliver engaging customer experiences “in the moment.” 

To generate contextual insights that inform content selection and strategies to reach customers effectively, start by leveraging market research to understand the persona, stated needs and expectations of target customers. Conduct an ethnography study to develop a “thick description” that reveals those customers’ deeper motivations, feelings, implicit needs and behaviors. For example, when a healthcare professional expresses safety concerns as a reason for not prescribing a drug, probe further to understand the contextual factors—like specific patient demographics or disease state, or other factors like environmental conditions—that might be affecting the decision. Lastly, leverage technology such as Adobe Marketing Cloud (specifically analytics and dynamic tag management) and other components to capture and track real-time information related to customers’ digital engagement habits, such as the location, time and device used.

2. Rethink your approach to content. In a typical compliance review process, medical, regulatory and legal stakeholders expect a clear presentation of a product’s benefits and risks, solid support of core claims, and prominent adverse event and side effect advisory information. This information should be presented on your website, and across various digital channels and devices, exactly as it would appear to customers.

One approach to presenting this information—and ensuring compliance—is to develop dynamic content structures and modular bite-sized content. For example, instead of designing a standalone, product-specific web page, design a flexible content template to host bite-sized content, interactive components such as web forms or surveys, and collaboration widgets like real-time chat with a medical science liaison or social media sharing. Such a flexible content template can be used to dynamically assemble and render a highly personalized page based on a customer’s profile attributes and context information.

Analytics techniques such as content-preference-based segmentation and propensity models can help in this process. Make sure to define the taxonomy and metadata up front and properly tag the content to facilitate selection, deployment and tracking across customer journeys and channels.

Also, it’s important to conduct training for regulatory, medical and legal stakeholders to introduce new digital channels and help them understand how the end customer accesses and consumes content.

This approach will help satisfy compliance expectations and result in a repository of approved, bite-sized content to use on the website and for promotional materials such as print or digital sales aids and emails.

3. Shore up systems of engagement and consider shifting to an integrated marketing cloud. In-depth customer insights, context and content are of limited value if the systems of engagement can’t connect the dots and deliver the experience in near real time. A few common challenges across life sciences organizations include inefficient operations, ongoing maintenance and integration overhead, and disparate systems of engagement.

The first step in sorting through these challenges is establishing your top three business use cases for a personalized customer experience. Next, conduct a thorough audit of your systems of engagement, including websites, mobile apps and email campaign tools, to assess their ability to meet customer experience needs with efficiency and scale.

Many of our life sciences clients are either considering or already adapting an integrated marketing cloud platform such as Adobe, Salesforce or Oracle. The platforms offer many core components and capabilities to manage customer profiles and deliver an adaptive web experience. They also include digital content and assets, integrated marketing campaign capabilities, multichannel analytics, real-time bidding for paid media spend optimization, and so on. With the right setup, configuration and integrations, these platforms can capture and analyze customer activities and sense intentions in near real time across channels and addressable devices.

Meaningful personalization and customer experience delivery requires time, effort and cultural change, but it offers handsome rewards and sustainable business impact. I’d love to hear your perspectives and how you’re adapting to become an “experience-first” company.


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Topics: customer experience, marketing, customer centricity, Pharma, Life Sciences, CX, personalization, Adobe, Prasad Adavadkar, dynamic content, experience-first company, CX design, CX delivery