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  • Writer's pictureKevin Maples

Omnichannel Engagement: Matching Content with the Appropriate Channels

Life sciences companies are always looking for ways to enhance their Healthcare Provider (HCP) engagement and optimize their investments in digital channels. Some medical marketing teams have progressed beyond multichannel engagement, where the same marketing messages are distributed across various platforms, to omnichannel engagement, which involves providing tailored content for different channels and aligning it to the defined HCP journey. This approach can help to improve the HCP experience and increase prescriptions. As a result, many pharma companies are either already investing in or considering investing in omnichannel engagement.

Recently, marketing teams have been utilizing digital channels to creatively animate clinical data with dynamic graphics, showcase patient stories through emotional videos, and receive real-time feedback from healthcare professionals via online portals. However, as we strive for omnichannel engagement to enhance sales performance, it is apparent that there is so much room for improvement in matching content to the appropriate channel. Consider two approaches to content channel optimization:

Content-Centric Approach: Categorizing content and selecting digital channels that best communicate your message

This approach of course assumes you have done your homework and developed rich content based on insights from patient and HCP-centric market research. If you have not, well, that is another topic (#brandstrategy)! So, you classify your amazing content and then move onto channel selection. This is a logical activity to increase the engagement opportunities of your clinical study presentations, patient stories, emotive vignettes, care journeys, etc. But in my observation, selecting a channel that best enhances the content is not always conducive to considering HCP needs. Recently, I visited an HCP who had printed an A4-sized screenshot of a treatment protocol graphic from a Pharma portal, laminated it, and hung it near her desk. The graphic was so helpful to the point where the HCP wanted to refer to it often, but it was buried in a presentation online and difficult to access. It is great to see such initiative on her part, but clearly the channel choice is far from ideal.

Channel-Centric Approach: Selecting digital channels according to their rich features and developing content

This approach is particularly tempting when marketing teams have invested in a new channel as part of a buzzworthy digital initiative. The digital channel can and often does help your company to stand out among the competition in the eyes of your HCPs. In fact, in survey after survey, HCPs indicate their increasing preference for digital channels and expect Pharma to deliver. The challenge with this approach is that it, like the content-centric approach, risks ignoring how the HCP will use the channel. I have observed so many first contact calls taking place in busy, loud hospital corridors with bemused HCP trying to follow the rich infographics and patient videos on a Rep’s iPad. The visuals in the portal are excellent and the HCP can access it later, on their “own time,” and discover its many features and content. But we must question if this was a quality interaction with an HCP new to your product. To ensure optimal engagement with HCPs, a more comprehensive, HCP-centric strategy is critical to consider the context surrounding the channel’s use.

Consider intended HCP behavior change

Admittedly, the two approaches described above are extreme, and the reality is much more nuanced. But they highlight a tendency in omnichannel engagement rollouts to favor digital at the risk of neglecting your target HCP’s needs.

A better approach is HCP-centric, meaning that you consider the behavior change you expect your content to trigger and the way your target HCP will use your channel. This approach allows us to be more methodical in our channel selection to optimize performance.

To select the best channel, the first step is to take your content – based on insights and carefully considered along the HCP journey – and reflect on its intended purpose.

Are you trying to teach your target HCP something completely new?

Are you trying to expand their knowledge?

Are you trying to get the HCP to commit to something?

Some channels are more adapted to conveying new information and others are better for seeking and confirming agreement on an action. Interactive features are less important and even distracting when you are trying to process completely new information. But when seeking a commitment, feedback is critical.

Another HCP-centric consideration is the use behavior surrounding the channel.

How will the HCP access the channel?

Where will the HCP access the channel?

How much time will the HCP need to use the channel?

Will the HCP need to access the channel frequently?

Will the HCP need to transfer the information to a patient? A colleague?

Will the HCP need to provide feedback, ask questions, and receive responses?

Does feedback need to be in real time?

By challenging your channel selections according to HCP needs and use behavior, you can ensure that the channels will work in the right context. Of course, the above questions must be asked per HCP target. If you are targeting both specialists in hospitals and GPs in private practice, responses will vary by target and your omnichannel engagement will be tailored accordingly.

At Trapezie we encourage you to embrace the digital era and be creative with the new opportunities to engage and communicate with HCPs. But be sure to make your strategy work for your product performance and your target HCPs’ needs by selecting the best digital channels to your content’s intended purpose.


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