Why Is Multi Channel Marketing Important for Healthcare Companies?

Multi Channel Marketing (MCM) refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct digital communication. Traditional marketing platforms such as sales rep visits, meetings, print, live events/education, and trade shows are well established. However, the healthcare sector is lagging behind other industries when it comes to the adoption of digital marketing. Digital Multi Channel platforms include social media, online communities, mobile/tablet apps, digital sales materials (e-mails, webinars), e-learning, videos, and Web.

Companies which employ MCM are able to target a wider range of customers and offer more personalised communication with the aim of providing more targeted campaigns and effective messaging as part of a marketing driven sales model. This is essential for companies, as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve and often presents many challenges. Traditional marketing platforms are being negatively impacted as field force numbers are decreasing and physicians are becoming digitally savvy, often relying on third party information to support their decision making process. As a consequence, physicians are frequently turning to the Web and search engines for their clinical information needs, particularly from the consultation office. This therefore makes traditional marketing platforms less effective, particularly as many doctors have started to restrict or completely stop pharma sales rep access for example. Alarmingly, three quarters of physicians do not trust the information provided by healthcare companies. Other factors such as health authority budget and payer reimbursement pressures, as well as more patient driven treatment choices also fuel the need for marketing initiatives at multiple levels.

Why MCM is Beneficial?

The primary benefit of MCM is the ability to reach consumers across several platforms, in order to: (a) increase the brands presence and loyalty (b) reach a wide range of customers and stakeholders involved in the decision making process.

1. The average consumer goes through multiple channels before they finally make the decision to purchase a product or service

Messages through multiple media channels build a brand story which reaches customers multiple times and therefore is more likely to resonate with them. This is important within the healthcare environment as customers typically need more detailed information for complex drugs or devices.

2. Multichannel customers are more likely to spend more than single-channel customers

Through the use of multi channels, companies are able to increase brand awareness and optimally reach target audiences, therefore increase Return on Investment.

3. Empowerment of Healthcare Providers and Patients

Due to the increasing use of social networks, online health resources, and other digital channels, MCM enables companies to replicate the experience of many patients to help increase the brands’ overall impression. In addition, these are good platforms for education and disease management programmes.

4. Within Healthcare, new opportunities and innovation are driven by converging markets, technologies, and consumerism

Healthcare IT, mHealth, remote monitoring, and video medicine are all contributing to the rise of digital health. Healthcare providers and patients increasingly expect digital interaction. Power patients are interacting with the Healthcare system in this manner and are starting to manage their own therapy path and wellness more proactively.

5. Digital Multi Channel platforms provide companies with a significant amount of metrics to help measure the marketing initiative

Valuable consumer insight enables companies to change strategies when required and reduce marketing costs. This helps to create more targeted campaigns as the motivating factors and specific behaviours of the customers are understood better.

There is increasing focus from healthcare companies to utilise MCM both internally and externally to support communication with healthcare providers and patients. For example, sales reps at MSD are using iPads and digital content and at Roche ‘client reps’ are coordinating multiple channels and tailoring what is needed and when. From the patient’s perspective, Novartis is supporting the multiple sclerosis (MS) community through public events and social networking initiatives. To support healthcare providers GSK uses digital technologies to ensure appropriate product and disease area information can be provided conveniently. In addition, Smith & Nephew and other healthcare companies are increasingly using educational webinars in order to provide information that will empower nurses and other care providers with resources that enable them to successfully use the products, as well as help them select which products to use.

Healthcare is still lagging behind other industries when it comes to MCM. However, as the healthcare industry continues to face many challenges, it must evolve in order to stay competitive. MCM encompasses both online and offline channels, alongside each other, in order to target patients, healthcare providers and other end users across a variety of channels. Marketing managers, MCM managers and other relevant stakeholders within healthcare companies need to ensure marketing channels are being used effectively, in order to engage successfully with their customers. The key benefit of MCM from a digital perspective is the ability to communicate in a more personal manner, with the aim of providing targeted campaigns and effective messaging, as part of a marketing driven sales model. As it is a digital channel, companies are able to track and measure the results straight away and change strategies when required. Therefore, MCM from digital perspective will become increasingly important in the future within the healthcare industry.

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