By Dimitry Schourov

Dmitry Schourov is Strategy and Commercial Operations Director at Pfizer Russia, responsible for full strategic support of the business and all operational support including digital, training, business analytics, sales and marketing support, customer engagement programmes, events and other areas. He shares his expertise on how to unite traditional and digital channels for a stronger presence.

Has there been a shift towards digital marketing channels recently?

The shift towards digital is quite recent; in pharmaceuticals we can speak about it happening for several years, however it will take several more years for it to develop. In order to do so, it requires significant investments in technology and also some mind-shift.

Do healthcare professionals trust digital as much as traditional channels?

How can you build on that to ensure digital is not just considered spam? That’s a great question. Actually, we see that the level of trust in digital among healthcare professionals is growing. To a significant extent, it is a consequence of the overall growing of the digital sphere. I would say that how healthcare professionals consider your messages is very much dependent on how the company builds its communication strategy.

“In omni-channel marketing, you deliver a message to segmented customers and the message is customised for optional delivery through each available channel”

How can you combine traditional and digital marketing?

What does it take to keep messaging and customer contact consistent across the two? You need to remember that face-to-face communications are still critical for healthcare professionals, as well as for any other person in the world. Therefore, each channel does a different job, and combining digital and face-to-face approaches requires significant investment from the company in infrastructure development.

What’s the benefit?

The benefit is that you can build unique communication directed towards each of your customers. In an ideal world, every customer will receive communication through the channels that are the most specific for him or her, as well as the messaging itself being tailored towards the client. You should be able to address each and every need of a healthcare professional through multiple channels.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to pharmaceutical professionals looking to use a multichannel approach?

First of all, you need to remember that it’s a significant change for any company. You need to invest in the infrastructure and to build the right channel, i.e. direct emails or webinars, in close cooperation with marketing. You also need to work a lot on data integration and combine data for face-to-face and digital to make it less apparent and to get more customer views. To do this, you need to have a system behind it to collect permissions, have a customer relationship management system (CRM), enable automated targeting and apply data maps.

In traditional promotion, all customers are offered the same content, meaning it isn’t tailored to the individual audience and offers no evolution of customer profiles. In omni-channel marketing, you deliver a message to segmented customers and the message is customised for optional delivery through each available channel. In this concept, content is king. You need to make the content interactive and personalised, considering channel specifics. In order to do this, you need to be able to segment your customer with your content and update content on a daily basis. Your key performance indicators (KPIs) should also be based on your content.

And finally, data is queen. Using data, you really change the approach to how you promote your product, and how you communicate with your customers. You need to be able to measure campaign effectiveness by setting up the right KPIs. You need to take decisions based on the data you receive by using experiments such as A/B testing, and you should be able to integrate data and understand what your competitors are doing in this area. As you can see, there are a lot of things to do, but it pays off. With precision targeting, automation of processes, personalised content, and campaign reporting data, you are able to build unique communication with each of your customers and offer a unique customer experience.

“You should be able to address each and every need of a healthcare professional through multiple channels”

What else should be considered?

To be successful in channel integration, you need to ensure your marketing is ‘thinking digital’, you’re able to orchestrate channels, your infrastructure is ready, and your compliance and data privacy regulation are followed. Then you will be sure that healthcare professionals will get all the available information, and the patient will receive the required support.