Just how eventful has 2018 been for pharma multichannel content “scene”? When asked, marketers and brand managers tend to have no shared point of view. For some, this year was a paradigm shifter that had them rethink nearly everything. For some, it brought revelations like “Multichannel? You’ve been doing it wrong”. In many places, though, the coast was as clear and the skies serene as it possibly could.
One is clear, though: things were happening. We at Viseven can attest this, being not just and end-to-end content vendor but also a solution provider. Some very curious trends have defined this year in terms of not only the way pharma content looks, but also the way it is made and managed. The data you will see here comes both from trusted public reports – and from our own activities from the last 12 months that we have analyzed.
Without further ado, here are seven things that made 2018 what it will be remembered as in the history of life sciences multichannel content.
Email is alive and well (but demanding as hell)
Starting with one of the most frequently mentioned channels in any strategy, of course. Contrary to some predictions from several years ago, email is thriving as a means of HCP engagement. Not that it is the principal channel anymore, but both rep-triggered and automated mailings are performing quite well. In fact, long by the start of 2018, customer response rates had grown by 43%, while prospect response to direct mail soared 190% more than previously. Physicians are not averse to the channel – even when they get bombarded by an average of 2.8 million marketing emails annually, 60% actually prefer email to reps when asked how they would like to get updates from pharma.
It isn’t a miracle, though. The key to email survival is that emails have become, (a) more professional-looking and recognizably branded, and (b) more personalized. In the majority of cases throughout 2018, when Viseven team got requests to develop email templates, quality requirements were reasonably high, and branding consistency was always maintained meticulously.
This ensures that such emails don’t fall to spambox, and represent real value. The possibility to insert personalized information (key messages, content in general) into a professionally designed corporate template is what makes a difference between smart email marketers in pharma and everyone else at this point.
Repositioning eDetailing within the strategy
Gone are the times when interactive eDetailing was a first-world novelty and a subject of efficiency analysis (will it perform better than those brochures?). By now, this established channel has been “repositioned” within the omnichannel paradigm to a place of a much more democratic means of communication. A lion share of eDetailing development requests that Viseven got during 2018 were actually localizations. Brand managers are pushing global eDetailers to local markets en masse. We have witnessed it happening on multiple scales, from full-fledged transcreations to simply using our eWizard platform’s interface for changing texts and images manually.
Another discernible trend is that eDetailing gets diversified. Interactive presentations are increasingly used in remote meetings with reps and KOLs. 96% HCPs claim they want more of these. In a series of our pilot projects, remote detailing session duration was measured at 25-30 minutes. Face-to-face and remote presentations have their own peculiarities, though. Transcreation is the name of the game here.
Pharmas are doing more digital work in-house (but agencies shouldn’t panic)
This is happening on a wide scale: pharmas are discovering in what ways they can sustain digital transformation from inside out. As it turned out, there are areas where you cannot just hire an agency to “do something digital”. Famously, several industry leaders made the plunge by appointing Chief Digital Officers – for the first time ever. Alongside the digital culture issues (that have never been agencies’ default task anyway), there are now activities that no longer require agency collaboration.
Publishing and exporting content to various systems is one of these things. Due to automation, this work has become much less effort-consuming and can now be done by a pharma manager in several minutes. Here’s a practical example: as our eWizard platform allows for basically 2-click publishing to Veeva and IQVIA, we found out that twice as many publishes were performed by pharma accounts as were by agencies’. This is almost the reverse of what was happening in 2017. Content gets created once and then published to… wherever.
However, agencies can stop worrying – it’s just the niche being redefined. For example, nothing has really changed yet with iOS or Android app exports. Creative work, too, is hardly going to be automated anytime soon.
Everything is simple here – content can’t be one-size-fits-all anymore, and we all knew it a year ago. Now this principle is getting very real. As reported by DRG Digital, 76% of physicians who are skeptical to pharma marketing as such report “stale content” in reps’ presentations. That is, “I have already seen it before” – again. To avoid this, content should be easily customizable, and this is the trend.
Currently, we are helping our customers solve this with the help of master templates that can then be quickly adjusted for individual needs and submitted for MLR approval without wasting time (since the master template holds most details that are supposed to comply with guidelines).
PDF is widely used as an “intermediate” format
“Intermediate” in the sense it stands between the various links along the content supply chain: creative and digital, content production and MLR, etc. We were glad that we had implemented HTML to PDF export long ago for eDetailers – even though eWizard platform also provides interactive transportation via protected links. Veeva Systems even created a tool for exporting whole websites as PDF.
Meanwile, we at Viseven also thought of the vice versa scenario, having built a PDF to interactive HTML5 converter within eWizard: this is how agencies’ artworks get into the code. Throughout 2018, we had to make the converter increasingly smarter, working with layers, recognizing texts, etc. The savings by its users amount to 80%.
Channels get blended and fused
At the beginning of 2018, many still thought that omnichannel meant “the more channels you have, the better”. However, it turned out very quickly later in the year that unless the message is consistent, these channels become a pile of useless tools. You have to strike in the defined spot from multiple angles to succeed.
We have experienced creating quite a lot of content like follow up emails tied to eDetailing presentations, videos supplementary to mobile apps and so on, as a result.
Storage, CMS and the concept of connected content
Arguably the most impressive breakthrough of 2018 is the way content is managed and stored – and the rise of completely new approaches to defining “content” as such.
The initial (and still current) problem is that content gets created, published, reviewed and distributed in different systems and platforms. This equals what Veeva’s vice president of strategy for commercial applications even called “colossal inefficiencies”. We can confirm that in many cases, regional departments really use systems and platforms different from that of the global HQ.
The problem is partially solved with automated publishing, as demonstrated previously – but then comes the task of finding and identifying the available digital assets. This is why CMS are getting smarter. For example, we at Viseven practically created a new CMS eWizard NaviGate that is even more powerful than what we offered before.
Now the idea that may blow your mind as much as it did to us. Connected content. We are speaking of content that is not only “CLM-agnostic” but channel-agnostic, existing in the form of flexible modules. Suppose you have something interactive and visual about your product. Depending on whether you incorporate it into an eDetailer, website or email template, it takes on a new, channel specific form. This promises immense savings and redefines quite a lot. Currently, this new idea is undergoing implementation.
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