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Using dynamic messaging to market effectively to healthcare professionals

October 2013


Introduction 3 Moving from static to dynamic 4 Creating a dynamic messaging program 5 Optimizing measurements and results 8 Epsilon recommendations 9 Conclusion 9 Epsilon solutions 10 Our approach 10



The job of the Healthcare Professional (HCP) has changed drastically since the days when the general practitioner treated the medical issues of an entire family.
An increase in insurance paperwork and other administrative requirements, heavier patient caseloads due to payer requirements, and an influx of communications via multiple channels have placed significant constraints on HCPs’ time and have complicated your ability to capture their attention, let alone effectively market to them. While face-time via sales representatives continues to be the most impactful driver of the HCP relationship, incorporating multiple channels—email, direct mail, the Web, and mobile—into your marketing campaigns will boost your chances of reaching more HCPs. But reach is only part of the equation. You must also command the limited attention of HCPs and engage them with unique and relevant content. By gathering data about each HCP’s engagement with your brand or brands, you can begin to develop dynamic messaging across channels that will speak to each customer and prospect to achieve stronger and more enduring relationships.


Moving from static to dynamic
HCPs who used digital sales material

Physicians and HCPs today are inundated with messages. They’re often so preoccupied with caseloads and administrative work that they have little time to meet with sales reps. Case in point: only 20 out of 100 reps that visit physicians’ offices actually speak to a doctor, according to eMarketer 1. And with the proliferation of mobile devices and the accessibility of online information, the new reality is that HCPs are using many different channels to stay engaged. To be effective, you must begin to leverage data and insight to support an approach to omnichannel engagement that delivers the most relevant and compelling messages through the channels that physicians are most receptive to using. By nature, healthcare companies tend to be conservative and risk-adverse, qualities encouraged by the FDA and other government agencies they work with. This is one reason why many in the industry have been slow to move from static marketing to dynamic messaging.

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However, now that other industries like retail and financial services have proven the effectiveness of dynamic messaging—using a recipient’s preferences and responses to tailor subsequent messages and boost engagement—healthcare companies are beginning to follow suit. That means you should implement a dynamic strategy, or risk losing market share to those that already have. “It’s a matter of optimizing sales rep touch points by layering on relationship marketing activities,” says Joyce Nichols, VP/GM, Healthcare Sector, Epsilon. “Companies need to build a relationship with healthcare providers and engage them so that they’re continuing to think about their brands, especially when budgets are constrained and sales reps are focused on top tier accounts only.” How do you do this? You need to augment the sales force. There are two ways to achieve this. First, you can optimize sales rep touch points, such as extending the rep call. Secondly, you can supplement the sales force by leveraging digital programs to reach hard-to-see or no see HCPs. Both programs when used together produce strong ROI.

One in four physicians in practice refuse to meet with sales reps

eMarketer, Jan. 2013


Physicians and the Internet: Where They Go and What They Do Online, eMarketer, Jan. 2013


Creating a dynamic messaging program

Amount that HCPs decreased spending on printed sales material While the prospect of transforming a relatively simple contact strategy into a dynamic messaging, omnichannel marketing program may seem daunting, it can be broken into three stages:

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Hunt and gather
The first step is to conduct a data audit. Assess the information you have, determine what you need, and decide how to fill the data gaps. Most companies have HCP data that their sales reps have logged in to their sales force automation software following each HCP visit. This information varies from the basics—specialty, samples provided, email addresses—to which follow-up direct mail and email messages HCPs have responded. Establishing an online preference center is perhaps the most efficient way to obtain additional information about how to engage HCPs, but you may need to encourage HCPs to offer this information by giving something in return: free samples or access to patient savings cards. Alternatively, tagging and tracking activity over time is a more reliable approach. “While preference centers can provide a wealth of critical data, they can be a double-edged sword,” cautions Stacey Raiche, SVP, Strategic & Analytic Consulting, Epsilon. “They allow an HCP to very clearly note his preferences, but once you ask, you’ve got to deliver.” Past behavior also provides useful insight. If an HCP consistently interacts with formulary rather than clinical messaging, make formulary messaging more prominent. Likewise, if in the past year an HCP failed to click through any email messages, but regularly downloaded papers from your website, encourage him to opt in to receive alerts of new papers once they’re posted.

With omnichannel marketing, the sales rep is no longer the sole or primary connection between HCPs and the pharmaceutical company. In this model, reps may feel that their role is diminished or marginalized, and as a result, they may be less cooperative in providing information and ceding what they consider their “ownership” of the customer relationship. “It can take a while to get the sales force on board,” admits Lindsey Himstead, VP/GM, Healthcare Sector, Epsilon. “You need to reassure them that it’s not going to affect their relationships or incentive plans.” Hands-on, in-person training on the new procedures and systems is critical. Also important is ensuring that the reps continue to have a sense of investment in their customer relationships. For instance, when contacting HCPs who requested email as a primary channel, you could ensure that the emails not only have the doctor’s name in the header, but also have the rep’s name in the footer, reinforcing the one-on-one relationship between rep and customer.



Segment and conquer
Database segmentation enables you to personalize your contact strategy in a practical, manageable way. For HCPs, segmenting by specialty and prescribing behavior are most logical. However, as you collect more data and gain a greater level of insight into HCP behavior, consider creating distinct segments for prospects, one-time customers, and repeat customers. Also, consider creating more useful attitudinal segments such as patient centric or cost sensitive. These will allow you to tailor your communications with things like patient testimonials and managed care information, respectively. Segmentation can also help you tailor the content of your messages. This can range from simply including each recipient’s name in the heading of an email to referencing a recent conference in ad banners to attendees who visit your website. Effective dynamic messaging that resonates with the HCP should employ a strategic and sophisticated, data-driven methodology. You need time and effort to build a program that has lasting effect.



Map and message
Identifying your segments goes hand in hand with your contact and content strategies. Dynamic messaging entails much more than simply sending every HCP the same verbiage via their preferred medium. It requires strategically thinking about your overarching messaging platform and the various components within it, and a long-term communications plan.


“If a brand has three core messages to deliver—let’s say efficacy, safety, and affordability—to support a dynamic messaging platform, the marketer needs to think about the various ways in which to communicate each core message and think about the creation of modular content assets that allow him or her to dynamically generate the most relevant and impactful messages,” Raiche says. “It’s important to think through the desired sequence of message delivery and how to adapt your

messaging platform as HCPs engage with it and you learn more about them. Much like your personal relationships, a dynamic messaging strategy is an organic program that evolves and changes over time.” Dynamic messaging, when done properly, and when based upon known HCP insight and preferences, will resonate with and create a stronger dialogue with each HCP, differentiating itself from the typical batch and blast messaging.

Think of a dynamic messaging platform as a decision tree of ‘if/then’ statements
For example, if Dr. A frequently checks managed market status of your brand, you can send him cost comparisons followed with an offer for savings cards. Similarly, if Dr. R is a newer/ lighter prescriber, you might send her an offer for samples. Finally, if Dr. Z is patientcentric, you might want to target him with patient testimonials and savings cards. This type of modularized content allows for highly efficient, personalized dynamic touches.

Yes or No Yes or No Yes or No Yes or No Yes or No No QA/No QA/No Yes or No Yes or No Yes or No

QA/Yes QA/No Yes


direct mail




Optimizing measurements and results

Once you’ve implemented your marketing efforts, the dynamic aspect of your campaigns becomes even more important. And as you monitor response, you must continually modify your messaging strategy to improve effectiveness. You must start by setting attainable goals for your program. Do you want to increase prescribing? Do you want to correct dosing issues or get more HCPs to use the savings card program with their patients? These goals should be defined at the beginning of any program and then followed with a well-designed measurement plan.

Since you can’t improve what you don’t measure, establish from the beginning Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each element of your campaign, and determine how to measure them. “Improved customer satisfaction” may be a worthy goal, but how will you measure it? What about email open rates or time spent on your website? Without tangible, easy-to-track metrics, you will lack the ability to determine how well your program is working or whether you should implement changes during the program. These changes can be a matter of optimizing the messages themselves. If email response falls short of expectations across all database segments, consider reviewing the creative and testing changes in the design, the copy, or the call-to-action. If the response to certain messages varies wildly within several segments, reevaluate how you’ve segmented your database or assign certain customers to new segments so they receive different messaging. The beauty of a dynamic messaging program is that it goes far beyond “one and done.” If one particular message results in a disappointing response, use the learnings to improve subsequent messaging.

“Much like your personal relationships, a dynamic messaging strategy is an organic program that evolves and changes over time.”
Stacey Raiche, SVP, Strategic & Analytic Consulting, Epsilon


Epsilon recommendations

As you adapt your existing marketing program to a more sophisticated, more effective dynamic messaging strategy, you should:
1 Think big, start small. It takes time to create a fully dynamic system. But you can start introducing dynamic elements into your current marketing now. If your platform can only handle A/B splits rather than multivariable segments, start with A/B segmentation. Also, consider testing dynamic messaging in a single channel (e.g., email) and with a single content asset (e.g., call-to-action). Test, learn, and work out any kinks before you entertain a larger roll out. 2 Partner, partner, partner. Successfully designing, implementing, and managing a dynamic messaging platform requires the coordination and alignment of
several key stakeholders. Brand marketers, agencies of record, the sales force, media partners, IT, etc. must work together to ensure that the strategy, content creation, business rules, and supporting infrastructure are in place to support a dynamic engine.

3 Establish performance metrics, and track response avidly. Determine how to measure the success of the program and each of its components before implementation. Rather than simply setting an end goal, develop incremental goals to gauge the effectiveness before the program concludes. By getting a read on response quickly, you can optimize your efforts faster to achieve better results.

HCPs have more media and channels competing for their attention. Fortunately, you have those same outlets at your disposal to grab their attention. By compiling and organizing information about HCPs’ individual engagement history and preferences, you can create dynamic messages that will resonate with and engage each. If you know how individual HCPs interact with your messages across multiple channels, you can then determine subsequent interactions, strengthen your company’s relationship with them, and build a better dialogue between HCPs and your brands.


Epsilon solutions
Epsilon is the proven leader in creating, executing, and managing dynamic messaging needs. With our world-class, data-driven digital marketing capabilities, we offer the strategic, creative, and analytic services you need to design, create, and manage your dynamic messaging strategy. As your data expert, we can combine proprietary and third-party data sources to help you better understand your customers and prospects. Through Agility Harmony, Epsilon’s next generation digital messaging platform, we provide the technology that drives omnichannel dynamic messaging. Our full-service agency teams can help define the strategy behind your relationship marketing programs and develop the creative platform for them. And our advanced analytics expertise helps us dive deep into results and interactions to ensure that your efforts are as effective as possible. As your partner, we can help you act on HCP behavior instantaneously, strengthening your engagement opportunities and driving improved business results. To learn more, please call Steve Messina, Business Development Manager, Epsilon, at 905.425.0440.

Our approach
Creating effective connections that drive tangible business results

About Epsilon Epsilon is the global leader in creating customer connections that build brand and business equity. A new breed of agency for a consumer-empowered world, our unique approach harnesses the power of rich data, world-leading technologies, engaging creativity and transformative ideas to ignite connections between brands and customers, delivering dramatic results. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 U.S. Agency from All Disciplines, #1 World CRM/Direct Marketing Network and #2 U.S. Digital Agency Network, we employ over 5,000 associates in 60 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter@EpsilonMktg or call 800.309.0505.

By Jeff Tomaso, VP/GM, Healthcare, Epsilon Jeff brings more than 18 years of experience crafting and executing data-driven, multi-channel marketing strategies and programs for industry-leading healthcare companies, including AstraZeneca, Genentech, Biogen, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well B2B and B2C brands such as Fidelity Investments, Federal Express, Diet Coke, DIRECTV, Bank of America, and General Motors. Prior to joining Epsilon, Jeff held leadership roles at brand, digital and direct response agencies including Digitas, Arnold Worldwide, and Euro RSCG Edge.


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