Why Pharmaceutical Companies are Embracing Omnichannel Marketing for Healthcare Professionals

Pharmaceutical companies are embracing omnichannel marketing for healthcare professionals for good reason! Learn the benefits and challenges, how to get started and the keys to success, and how Search Discovery helped one Fortune 50 client begin their omnichannel sales and marketing journey, resulting in 30% increased brand share for targeted HCPs.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

Twenty-five years ago, when customer and prospect targeting was much more limited than today, companies began implementing multichannel marketing or “media stacking” to deliver related and reinforcing messages across multiple media channels. For example, direct mail response rates increased in markets where Direct Response Television Ads were also running, since the TV messages legitimized and reinforced the message delivered through direct mail. 

Today, the ability to target and engage with customers and prospects across many different channels and leverage behavioral data has led to Omnichannel Marketing.

Omnichannel marketing is a modern marketing delivery model that seamlessly integrates channels to provide an informed and personalized customer journey over time and across customer touchpoints. By leveraging all the sales and marketing channels in designing a holistic customer experience, companies today can move from multiple-but-siloed channels to an integrated messaging strategy that builds upon itself to create a differentiated customer experience.

Covid Gives Rise to Healthcare Professional Omnichannel Marketing

In March 2020, the Covid pandemic accelerated the adoption of a new operating model for pharmaceutical companies. Previously, these companies relied heavily on their sales force delivering in-person sales details to healthcare professionals (HCPs) in their hospitals and practices. Suddenly, the need to provide an integrated, cross-channel messaging strategy to educate HCPs on the features and benefits of prescription drugs or medical devices (many of which require detailed information delivery) moved from nice-to-have to must-have for pharma companies. 

To some extent, the pandemic helped solidify the benefits of creating and operating in omnichannel sales and marketing when engaging with healthcare professionals.

Omnichannel marketing touchpoints for pharmaceutical companies marketing to healthcare professionals.


The Benefits of HCP Omnichannel Marketing for Pharmaceutical Companies

Pharmaceutical companies continue to build more intelligent and integrated approaches to HCP Omnichannel experiences. Some examples and benefits follow: 

  • Informing sales reps about HCPs’ interests and behaviors across digital touchpoints can lead to a more focused and impactful sales call—a must with ever-dwindling HCP face time. 
  • Omnichannel marketing in healthcare can reinforce messages or overcome specific barriers uncovered during a sales call through a targeted delivery of curated content relevant to that doctor across email, direct mail, digital media, etc., significantly increasing the impact of the sales message.
  • Additionally, leveraging technology and machine learning can improve outcomes and streamline the time sales reps spend on call planning and follow-up messaging. 

What are the Omnichannel Marketing Touchpoints for Health Care Providers?

The number of HCP touchpoints has increased significantly. This is partly due to Covid accelerating and changing the behaviors and desires of HCPs as to where and how to receive information. Today, preferred touchpoints typically include a mix of the following channels:

  • Face-to-face detailing
  • Inside sales and hybrid reps
  • Gated portals
  • Dinner meetings
  • Conferences
  • Direct mail
  • Digital channels – display, email, SMS, etc.
  • In-office displays
  • EHR platforms

Challenges of Omnichannel Marketing in Healthcare

The growing number and the specific mix of channels used by brands lead to a challenge: Companies now need to set up a strategy and process for measuring the impact of channels and channel combinations that drive increases in prescriptions and brand recommendations. 

Having an agreed-to measurement strategy and process is a key part of the planning for implementing an Omnichannel program, as fully controlling for all variables is a challenge in this marketplace.

Another challenge is the highly regulated environment of Pharmaceutical marketing. Creating and approving content and messaging for a drug can take time, and making changes quickly is difficult. Modular content blocks can help overcome this challenge, but some companies don’t allow them since the combination of information, once assembled, may not pass regulatory review.

What to Consider Before You Begin

  1. Define your North Star – It seems overly simple to make sure you start with a plan. Still, too often, we’ve seen organizations with disjointed omnichannel efforts across personal and non-personal promotion.

    Have a vision of the end experience for the targeted HCPs across all channels, and use that as the North Star that all the tactical work aligns towards. In addition to defining the vision, have a concrete plan for how to measure the success and impact of moving down the Omnichannel marketing path. Creating a future state experience map like the one below helps others to visualize what an integrated experience might look like from the perspective of the HCP.

    Future state map and visualization of omnichannel marketing plan and next best action capability development for pharmaceutical companies marketing to HCPs.

  2. Evolution vs. Revolution – Once you have the end goal well-defined, take an evolutionary—not revolutionary—approach to achieve it. Build on existing processes to minimize organizational change and demonstrate incremental improvements using a minimal viable product (MVP) approach to learn quickly.

    A simple example might be creating a curated series of follow-up messages that can be systematically delivered to HCPs via email or targeted media after a sales call, varying the content to align and reinforce the face-to-face messaging. 

    These messages can be delivered in an automated, intelligent fashion with minimal changes to the existing sales recording process. This helps your sales reps avoid the burden of manually delivering these messages. Adding more complexity and content over time increases the program’s impact, but remember that you can (and should!) do this stepwise.

    Understanding how all the channels will connect and influence the next message delivered is critical in eventually establishing a fully integrated solution.

    Omnichannel marketing example for pharmaceutical companies interacting with healthcare professionals.

  3. The Craving for More Creative Content – One reality that needs to be well-understood and planned is the need for additional content and variations of existing content that can be delivered across a variety of channels.

    The ability to be more targeted and tailored with the messaging in an Omnichannel environment necessitates brand content with varying tonality and focus. Instead of having two or three messages that discuss the safety profile of a drug, a robust omnichannel program may need two to three times that many to reinforce specific key points along the HCP messaging journey.

    This doesn’t necessarily require ground-up creative development, just versioning and tailoring of existing content and variants for each channel. Again, in an evolutionary approach, content libraries can expand over time as the program grows.
  4. Don’t Underestimate the Organizational Change Effort – Change is hard, and moving to an omnichannel model has implications on almost every aspect of sales and marketing—from operations to measurement—with implications to team member roles and expectations.

    Pilot programs are a great way to begin to understand the impact of these types of programs and where organization alignment, processes, or training is necessary to achieve success.
    Here is a recommended framework and critical success factors for managing organizational change:

    Critical success factors for managing organizational change.

A fully operational omnichannel program, if done correctly, can reduce the level of effort for sales and marketing teams, as automation and machine learning can remove manual efforts in place today around sales call follow-ups, data segmentation, message targeting, etc.

Keys to Success

  1. Develop a practical strategy – A well-formed vision of the future state goal is critical. However, be realistic about the timeline and steps to deliver on that vision. A strategy needs to be achievable and formed to balance what is possible and what is practical. Trying to fully integrate all HCP touchpoints in one giant implementation is cost prohibitive and not practical.

    You can execute many small steps to move an organization towards an Omnichannel vision. Winning the war requires success in a number of smaller battlefields. Think about building integration over time and testing within a sales team or geographic region first.

  2. Recognize the Need for a Flexible Foundation – Despite what many software companies tell you, there is no single “right” answer for how to support this effort from a data and technology perspective. The technology landscape can be confusing and complex, especially when working within the bounds of HIPAA. Still, the key is looking for technology that aligns with your current needs but can also grow with you. Omnichannel strategies and opportunities constantly evolve, so look for a platform that can grow with you as your needs change.

  3. Find a Trusted Partner – As with any newer trend in sales and marketing, many technologies and service firms will rush to capitalize on the opportunity. Pharmaceutical companies can benefit from engaging partners with experience and expertise in Omnichannel programs, as that knowledge and experience is typically not resident with in-house teams. However, just like technology, companies should take a longer-term view and find a proven partner with real-world experience in various data-driven strategies and technologies. Omnichannel sales and marketing is a journey, not a destination, so look for a partner who can lead you as you evolve.

One Pharmaceutical Company’s Journey to Omnichannel Marketing

The following highlights a Fortune 50 Pharmaceutical client we supported in their journey toward omnichannel sales and marketing. This evolution has been underway for several years. The project has demonstrated incremental successes and is moving from one franchise to another as the organization learns and adapts to new working methods.  

Business Problem & Opportunity

The impetus for this change was driven by the need for the existing field sales team to target larger practices to reach both doctors (MD/DO) and Nurse Practitioners / Physician’s Assistants. Recognizing that this would decrease the call frequency at the individual HCP level because the total targets were increasing, the company needed to reinforce ongoing brand messaging through digital channels to provide the halo effect to (the more limited) face-to-face sales messages.

Data Cloud vs. Personalization: Use cases

Search Discovery designed a data-driven strategy to expand the sales team’s reach by systematically delivering reinforcing messages, starting with highly-customized, triggered emails from the sales rep that varied content based on call data captured in Veeva.

Next, we triggered targeted digital advertising timed with email messaging, helping to provide ongoing engagement between sales calls. As we collected engagement data across digital channels for the HCPs, we fed intelligence back into the sales platform to better support call planning and execution for the targeted HCPs.

Business Impact

Compiling more engagement data led to the ability to model and use AI to develop a Next Best Action messaging strategy to dynamically align messages and channels for HCPs across brands in the portfolio.

Overall results showed that HCPs who experienced the omnichannel program and messaging increased their brand share by almost 30% vs. HCPs not included in the program.

Search Discovery has been at the forefront of developing data-driven strategies and bringing those to life for clients embarking on an omnichannel sales and marketing journey. Let us help you deliver the right story to the right audience on the right device.

Browse recent healthcare industry posts:

Overall results showed that HCPs who experienced the omnichannel program and messaging increased their brand share by almost 30% vs. HCPs not included in the program.

Let’s work together! Learn more or get started by filling out the form below.

Related Posts

Search Discovery
Education Community

Join Search Discovery’s new education community and keep up with the latest tools, technologies, and trends in analytics.




Scroll to Top


Catch the latest industry trends we’re watching and get new insights from our thought leaders delivered directly to your inbox each month.