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Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing in Pharma

difference between multichannel and omnichannel

Marketing is no longer about promoting and selling products and services. It’s about providing  an exceptional and continuous customer experience.

According to the State of the Connected Customer research conducted by Salesforce with the participation of nearly 17.000 people:

  • 88% say that customer experiences provided by businesses are as crucial as their products and services;
  • 73% anticipate companies to understand their unique needs and expectations;
  • 56% always expect offers to be personalized;
  • 43% prefer non-digital channels to engage with businesses.

Digital and non-digital have emerged into a unified hybrid environment where healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients consume and generate terabytes of diverse data across multiple channels using multiple devices.

Here’s a table of available channels and their limitations:

multichannel omnichannel difference

The pharmaceutical multichannel approach has become a tried-and-tested technique for many companies that are still hesitant about adopting the latest customer engagement techniques. Time proved that even being multichannel isn’t enough for a pharma business to create caring and unsuspicious relationships with customers.

The overwhelming success of creating personalized customer experiences in omnichannel e-commerce retail led to the adoption of this practice by pharma businesses of all sizes. Each asked the same question: “What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?”

If you want to compare omnichannel vs. multichannel, read this guide until the end.

What Is Omnichannel vs Multichannel?

The omnichannel approach is a marketing method that unifies different channels companies use to reach out to customers and fosters a consistent brand voice and messaging across all platforms and devices. Omnichannel is a customer-centric approach, meaning that all marketing efforts evolve around ensuring that users have a seamless customer experience every time they interact with a brand.

The multichannel approach also uses various channels to communicate with customers and promote products or services, but it does not necessarily integrate all channels into a unified customer journey. For example, a promotion sent by email might be completely different from an ad a customer sees on Instagram.

Omnichannel Marketing vs Multichannel Marketing: What’s the Difference in Pharma?

The main difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing strategies in Pharma is in the focus of the company’s strategy.

A multichannel strategy focuses on the product or service by promoting it with the same static message across multiple channels that act separately.

An omnichannel strategy focuses on the healthcare professional who gets a seamless experience with consistent brand messaging across all the channels integrated into a single communication environment.

Another important distinction between the two strategies lies in their levels of personalization. It’s true that for both approaches, personalization plays a significant role. However, when it comes to omnichannel marketing, there are many more opportunities to personalize customer journeys and create a unique experience. Based on the information marketers receive about their target audience, it becomes possible to deliver specific content that meets individual customer needs.

How Does Pharmaceutical Multichannel Marketing Work in Pharma?

Search engines and social media revolutionized the way pharma customers consume content.

Patients have more data about their healthcare than ever before. According to Clinician of the Future: A 2022 report by Ipsos, 56% of clinicians worldwide agreed that patients have become more empowered to manage their conditions over the last decade.

HCPs can find feedback on any pharma product or a company that produced it in a wink (of course, if the company has a website or active social media profiles).

In addition to search engines and social media, representatives of multiple communities across pharma and life sciences use many other channels for communication with colleagues and businesses.

They receive messages via email, messaging apps, and SMS. They visit websites and download mobile apps. They attend events, visit websites, participate in webinars, and have face-to-face meetings and video calls.

Multichannel communication has spread marketing boundaries significantly. In the new world where businesses can no longer dictate anything to customers who have more control over their choices, specialists in pharma communications get an unprecedented opportunity to reach target audiences anywhere they want and need.

Along with that, there are a few other key advantages.

Main Advantages of the Pharma Multichannel Approach

A multichannel strategy allows pharma companies to upgrade their marketing on all sides: planning, management, analysis, and execution.

Absolute audience reach and strong brand awareness

When using multiple channels, a pharma business increases the maximum number of customers it can reach, which enhances brand awareness among prospects.

Multichannel distribution of content improves the level of customer engagement. In other words, the more marketing channels a pharma business uses, the more touchpoints current and potential customers can create. More touchpoints make customers remember the pharma or life sciences brand.

And more touchpoints mean more insights that would be useful for future campaigns.

More data & tools for analytics

The success of multichannel pharma marketing is all about data.

Implementing a multichannel approach to pharma marketing is the first step to systematizing customer information and its management. It is the first attempt to focus on the big picture by increasing digital maturity.

Which channels does a target audience like, and which doesn’t? Which channels are effective, and which benefits do they have? What multichannel content methods and formats do competitors use? The multichannel approach can answer these and many other questions through a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

As a central multichannel data hub, a CRM platform can help a pharma or life sciences business automate and optimize key marketing activities. Optimization and automation dramatically reduce expenses and resources necessary for continuous growth and campaign performance improvement.

Enhanced performance measurement

Loads of data received across channels give room for maneuver. With new information continuously upgraded in real-time, multichannel marketers can create different experiments based on a closed-loop marketing approach that includes four stages:

  1. Campaign launch;
  1. Customer engagement;
  1. Data collection;
  1. Data analysis.

Such a cycle allows marketers to test different channel and content combinations repeatedly, which helps businesses make smarter decisions, generate better ideas, and increase the number of conversions and sales.

More conversions and sales

Let’s end this part of the article with the last and most important thing. The advantages we just recalled — a high level of engagement, more customer data, better data management, real-time analytics, and enhanced performance management of multichannel campaigns — lead to boosting sales force productivity and efficiency.

Main Disadvantages of the Pharma Multichannel

Even though pharma businesses have access to multiple channels where they can lure HCPs and patients, they pretty often don’t know how to do that accurately and efficiently. In these circumstances, multichannel interactions result in a few main drawbacks. Here they are:

· No Integrated Experience Across Channels

  • Channels work separately;
  • High Cost-per-Contact;
  • No Holistic View of Customer Data;
  • The Same Message Across Channels.

How Does Pharmaceutical Omnichannel Marketing Work in Pharma?

If multichannel aims to reach as many potential customers as possible, the omnichannel strategy requires a more tactical and on-point approach. A typical modern HCP is usually someone who highly values their time and has no wish to dig into a particular brand’s feed. As the average F2F visit between HCP and medical representative usually does not exceed 4 minutes (whether online or offline), these 4 minutes become a valuable moment to deliver the most important messages directly to the person.

But what is this message, and how do you fit the whole customer journey into a single presentation?

The answer is that you don’t have to.

The omnichannel approach builds communication across various marketing channels and uses highly personalized delivery methods to guide clients through all customer journey stages. This way, the customer gets a customized message required for engagement via various channels (like emails, messengers, F2F, or else) at each stage instead of wading through the flood of posts on Facebook.

According to a customer engagement survey by Axtria:

  • Nearly 77% of businesses only take the first steps in implementing an omnichannel strategy.
  • Around 66% of businesses are in the early stages of omnichannel data management maturity.
  • About 64% of businesses work with a strategic development partner for omnichannel transformation.

Main Benefits of the Pharma Omnichannel Approach

Relevance and efficiency

The omnichannel strategy helps to achieve business goals most appropriately and efficiently because you always work with your target audience’s current reality. Instead of creating a bunch of materials, deploying them to the channels, and waiting for the best (this is what basically multichannel is about), your marketing efforts are concentrated on being “here and now,” providing your customers with what is interesting for them now the most comfortable way for them to engage.

Advanced personalization and deep customer understanding

Personalization is not a destination; it’s an ongoing process of gathering data, analyzing it, and applying it to subsequent marketing campaigns to improve the next communicational iteration. The more you interact with a target audience, the better you know the specifics of their engagement and what works best for them. Next time you design your strategy after analyzing the previous campaign, you may notice an increased number of touchpoints and some new ways to engage customers.

Detailed customer journey and content management

It’s much easier to track customer engagement during successful omnichannel campaigns as you always know the customer journey stage you’re on. The Omnichannel strategy can satisfy clients’ needs in the short term by providing them with appropriate content materials right in the moment of need (determined by the campaign stage). It helps to manage content production better, giving enough resources and understanding for development.

Data-driven decision-making

Omnichannel marketing allows companies to gain better insights about their customers and make decisions based on the data they receive. Instead of investing in another marketing campaign and taking a risk launching it without knowing whether it will meet the demand, pharma marketers can use data analytics to align with the customers’ needs and create campaigns that resonate with the target audience.

So, What’s the Outcome?

The outcome is quite simple: as global digitalization goes on and business needs become more complex, your approach is usually defined by your requirements. When it comes to multichannel vs omnichannel marketing strategies, you must understand the central concept of realizing what is best for your business.

Multichannel works with one channel independently from another, allowing it to target a broad audience at once. It requires stable content flow and works perfectly for newsfeeds, community activities, or crowd marketing. Meanwhile, omnichannel marketing focuses on providing clients with a personalized experience delivered on time by demand or spontaneously — although always personally via various channels. This makes omnichannel work perfectly for pharma and life sciences.

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