Creating a seamless customer journey in the pharmaceutical industry through multi-channel marketing

The pharmaceutical industry is looking at innovative ways to create and convey value to its customers as several blockbuster drugs reach patent cliff. In the current market with reduced access to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and increasing adoption of mobile devices by healthcare professionals, traditional sales force strategies need to be adapted and complemented by digital inventions.

Multi-Channel Marketing has emerged to complement sales force initiatives to reach customers in the most effective and cost-effective way. With the advent of digital technologies, the pharmaceutical industry is exploring the opportunity to reach customers through non-personal digital channels such as email, brand websites, online forums, electronic details to name a few in addition to field strength. Pharmaceutical companies are able to build a seamless customer journey with synchronized and sequential use of multiple channels to communicate with customers.

Multichannel Marketing (MCM) is the way to reach customers through different channels. This has been a very popular concept in various industries, where we have seen credit card or insurance companies try to reach us through multiple channels – emails, direct emails, TV ads, newspaper ads, etc. Traditionally, the pharmaceutical industry has been mostly dependent on its sales forces to convey the message and have not used other forms of communication to the fullest extent. But lately, the environment has changed and doctors will only see / hear the information they need and in the way they want. Access to healthcare professionals (HCPs) for interactive sales rep interactions is declining, and HCPs are adopting digital media to get the necessary information.

This change in HCP behavior causes the pharmaceutical industry to introduce multi-channel marketing to communicate with customers.

But MCM comes with its own challenges. Imagine that fifteen different instruments are being played at random, and you are forced to listen to it – it will be a painful experience rather than an elated customer experience. On the contrary, if the same fifteen instruments are played in an orchestra in a well-organized manner, they create a soothing experience for our ears. Similarly, if a particular pharmaceutical company tries to reach a particular doctor through different channels of uncoordinated messages, communication creates a sense of nuisance rather than a pleasant customer experience.

Current state vs. being State of Health Care Professional (HCP) communication:

(I) Pre-MCM were:

(A) Pharmaceutical company interaction with HCPs: ·

a. Pharmaceutical companies rely most heavily on sales force to provide details of their HCPs brands

b. Knowledge of HCP’s needs

c. Limited time to provide information to the HCPs: 2 – 3 minutes for detailed interaction with each HCP

(B) HCPs experience:

a. HCPs get unwanted information

b. HCPs do not have the required information (eg: form, dosage, product information, side effects, etc.) to prescribe the mark

(C) Results:

a. Incomplete brand knowledge prohibits HCPs from prescribing new brands and limiting to fewer brands

(D) Customer Experience Level:


(II) MCM was:

(A) Pharmaceutical Company Interaction with HCPs:

a. Non-personal channels implemented as a compliment to the sales force

b. Uncoordinated channel interactions with HCPs

c. Pharmaceutical companies provide a wealth of information without any knowledge of HCP’s needs

(B) HCPs experience:

a. HCPs receive multiple uncorrelated communications from pharmaceutical companies

b. HCPs face challenges in using the information received

(C) Results:

a lot of uncoordinated communication creates a feeling of discomfort among HCPs

(D) Customer Experience Level:

Low – Medium

(III) Customer centricity through MCM:

(A) Pharmaceutical company interaction with HCPs: ·

a. Pharmaceutical companies communicate with HCPs through coordinated personal (face-to-face) and non-personal (digital) channels

b. Pharmaceutical companies are familiar with HCP’s channel preferences and interact with the preferred channel.

C. Pharmaceutical companies educate HCPs about their brands through non-personal channels

d. Pharmaceutical companies gather feedback on HCPs through non-personal channels and Field Force

(B) HCPs experience:

a. HCPs receive the information they need in the state (channel) they prefer

b. HCPs are trained and can make informed decisions while prescribing

(C) Results:

a. The synchronized way of informing multi-channel delivery creates an enriched experience among HCPs

b. HCPs are beginning to prescribe newer brands

(D) Customer Experience Level:

Improved experience

Brand loyal

Implementation of seamless customer journey through MCM

The following important steps should be taken to create a seamless customer journey through multi-channel marketing:

Knowledge of the customer:

A multi-channel communication journey starts with knowing the customer. Pharma companies need to create technological infrastructure to collect and store action data about their customers. The data must be collected from:

1. Monthly Sales Data – This provides HCP-level sales data (Total Prescription and New Prescriptions, Competition Information)

2. Marketing Communication Data – This includes details of campaigns targeting HCPs and HCP’s response to campaigns over the last three to six months.

3. Analytics-Driven Data – This provides analytical insight into HCP’s channel and offers preferences, several analytically driven behavioral information and insights, and predictable modeling output to generate customer journey

Communication with the customer through MCM

Customers like to receive the unique information based on their interests and through their preferred communication channels. Ideally, Pharma companies need to create customized advertising campaigns at the individual customer level and communicate through their preferred channel to achieve maximum customer engagement. But this will increase operating costs and dangers. To achieve the optimal result, customers can be grouped into several micro segments based on the customer’s behavioral similarities, channel preferences, offering probability and specialties. A sequence of multichannel interactions can be defined for each customer’s micro segment. The campaign tactics must be sequenced in phases, and each step is triggered by the responses of the HCPs in the previous phase. Therefore, a segment-specific customer journey is defined as a multi-channel campaign plan.

Pharmaceutical companies use various analytical approaches to generate the campaign plan and use campaign management tools to build and execute the plan.

Measuring customer engagement and creating impact

Measuring the level of engagement is a key to understanding the effectiveness of the communication made for each customer’s micro segment.

To measure customer engagement levels, historical sales data and targeted campaign data must be integrated. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be defined to identify the difference in customer behavior.

Based on customer engagement, the campaign plan needs to be revised.


Generating in-depth analytic insights on individual customer segments, preparing a customer journey (campaign plan) for individual segment based on analytic insight, automating the campaign plan using a campaign management tool, and learning and optimizing the customer response campaign plan can help pharmaceutical companies create a seamless customer journey using multi-channel marketing. This allows pharmaceutical companies to collaborate with customers with the specific details they want and to communicate with customers with the preferred medium at their individual pace.