Admit it – multichannel engagement campaigns just don’t work. You know it, we know it, HCPs know it. Case closed. It’s high time we dismissed/forgot/stopped talking about this annoying fad once and for all, and finally got down to real business of engagement through reliable pharma marketing tools. 

…or maybe there’s another, less salty way to start talking about the evolution of multichannel? What if the intro went more like this:

Ever since the term “multichannel engagement” has caused a stir on the web and spread like a wildfire at large-scale pharma events, it has radically transformed the ways pharma marketing used to work and engage with its customers. This year marks the 5th year of the multichannel engagement idea becoming theorized and implemented, and we just can’t unnotice how much it has evolved over time.

Which one is your pick? We think second one would do more justice to the multichannel. It’s in no small part due to the time period – while 5 years is a lot for a trend, even more for a fad, remember that pharma time counts even slower than other industries novelties and tendencies. If that’s not a reason to have a little dive into how the multichannel story unrolled and to see what its future might look like, we dont know what is.

Get the term right

The discontentment cloud around the multichannel  is understandable, not least thanks to the hype surrounding this idea, but it stems rather from wrong implementation, than fallacy of the idea per se. So let’s be on the same page here: what is it, multichannel? In short, it’s:

Lots of various content backed by analytics
existing in common universe of approved assets
that enables to deliver a dispersed
, but personalized CX
through various channels of communication.

Phew! Well, what marketers heard was “Lots of various content”. That’s pretty much it. But we’ll talk about that in the wrong chapter. Let’s return to the reasons why multichannel was the right concept in the first place.

At the time when traditional marketing channels for reaching HCPs lost their efficiency (think snail mail, print, face-to-face meetings, radio, TV), the vacuum of communication has built up. And while yes, sales reps remained an important point-of-contact, alas, they’ve received the no-longer-enough label. In order to increase physician touchpoints, it’s been decided that rep’s efforts to be combined with alternative channels of communication. Oh and were they combined, indeed: think the rise of remote detailing, flashy eDetailing, responsive websites and landing pages, apps, emails, webinars and social media engagement endeavours.

Combining traditional and digital methods provided a long-awaited solution for a comprehensive and unobtrusive communication with the doctors, read: a breath of fresh air. As well as a long-needed push for pharma towards digital transformation. Multichannel became an answer to each step of the customer’s journey  from the initial sales rep contact, to keeping up with HCPs via digital channels and finally to the very prescription and contact with patients.

This way, multichannel was seen as the very synergetic solution for moving forward that everyone has agreed upon. This is the solution that most of the marketers have been longing for, but once they got hands on it, something went wrong.

Wrong turns have been made

Once the green light for the multichannel has been given, the huge mass of content has been produced. [Insert Accenture’s data here]. No, seriously, the Accenture’s reports on content illustrated quite well why pharma marketers are  with multichannel. Even and especially the greatest ideas can be implemented wrongly. Here’s what and how it went wrong:

Quality over quantity? 2/3 of marketers agree that the single most important driver of brand engagement is quality. Yet 2/5 admit that they have more content than their organizations can effectively manage – but that’s across the industries. It’s much worse with pharma, where 4/5 of marketers say their organization is producing a moderate to enormous amount of digital content and assets.

Inconsistency as a result

Only 1/3 strongly agree that their content is consistent in style and tone across channels. And what about markets? Or campaigns?

… and quite a waste

A fifth of that content is never distributed at all. Okay yes, you can’t be 100% efficient with everything you’re working on. But a fifth? That’s costly. That’s a ready recipe of increasing your chances of failing at multichannel.

It’s not hard to imagine how wrong this whole campaign looks for its primary audience –  HCPs. Every time pharma touches base with physicians, instead of  making an impression that lasts,  what we have as the output – a campaign that’s not consistent, with no distinguishable brand identity resulting into bad customer experience, unremarkable and erratic brand story. This whole bulk of content gets conceptualized, planned, designed, approved, paid for by marketers – to be used once, at a wrong time, and forgotten. At the same time, 2/3 of HCPs do not feel that their content-related needs are addressed adequately by their preferred channel. Unfortunately, this deadlock of dissatisfaction is not a rare occasion.

The different. Multichannel 2.0

It’s not a failure, it’s experience as they say. The subject ‘multichannel’ remains a part of every major pharma-related conference, so don’t dismiss this approach just yet. For all intents and purposes, it’s time to reimagine/rethink the multichannel as it is. Now, we don’t need to put any effort into proving that the mobile is the next big thing, that the performance and usability of your website means everything, that personalization is the future and that marketing automation saves your budgets: that’s all a given, a multichannel 1.0. Let’s ask ourselves: what might multichannel 2.0 look like? It seems like the key to progress lies in the ways marketers fill their multichannel campaigns with content.

In order for content to be truly multichannel 2.0, it has to be just that: chanelless, limitless, timeless. Wait, no channel in multichannel? Bear with us. After trials and errors, it becomes obvious that channel is not a purpose, but rather a means. The purpose is to deliver a consistent message across all channels. So multichannel 2.0 doesn’t think channels, it thinks message. Now imagine an omnipresent message that exists across the whole content management system and publishing environments. It can be positioned and measured anywhere, thus being prompt to reuse of any kind. This kind of thinking can only be provided by the content that can be broken down into smallest components for unrestricted use across various channels/campaigns/markets. Can your content do that? Or once it’s been made, it’s set in stone? This whole new approach to content creation brings scalability, automation and big-picture data-thinking:

  • Modular content
    Scalability                        Markets, channels, devices; localization, personalisation
  • Templates and single environment
    Automation                      Brand story consistency, MLR compliance, fast time-to-market
  • Overarching analytics
    Big-picture thinking        Orchestrated collection, interpretation and display of analytics

By making the content modular and scalable, pharma creates the base content that exists beyond devices, formats, channels and markets. The message such content carries can be adapted, reused and repurposed across different channels without the need start from ground zero. The very simple decision on the modular level is making content truly universal, expanding content journey from one spot to a whole universe. And good news! This approach is not a theory, multichannel 2.0 has already set in. If you want to know more about modular content and channel-agnostic strategies, drop us a line or consider following the newest releases on our blog.