Apr3

Benefits of Rich Media

The digital pharmaceutical advertising market is proving to be a growing and changing market.  Gradually over the past couple of years, more innovative tactics have become more relevant. Rich media is one tactic that has become more widely accepted not only by pharma companies and advertisers, but also by publishers. Some of you may be asking, what is rich media and why is it becoming more popular?

Rich Media Banner—This is an ad that can contain images and/or video and involves some kind of user interaction which can elicit strong user response. The ads can include multiple levels of content in one placement.

what_is_rich_media_small

 

 

The benefits of using rich media:

Ads Expand—The creative expands when the user interacts with the main image (for example, by clicking or mousing over it). This allows for a larger area to display more robust information, creative artwork and messaging while still being able to include a scrolling ISI and creative assets (videos, clinical data, polls/surveys, etc).

Breaks Through Banner Blindness—Banner blindness is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information, which can also be called ad blindness or banner noise. Rich media ads are more attention-grabbing and interactive, which helps separate them from being banner-like. Rich media banners also have proven to outperform standard display banners in key metrics such as time spent and interaction rate.

Information—Rich media banners can contain a significant amount of information, especially compared to standard display ads. This information can consist of videos, charts, clinical data, polls/surveys, or multiple creative messages. This allows advertisers to reach a larger target audience while also providing more options for multi-indication brands in one banner ad.

Metrics—The metrics in rich media banners are also greatly improved. Rich media offers standard metrics and also custom metrics. Standard metrics are more commonly known and consist of metrics like total display time, number of expansions, interactive impressions, and interactive rate. Custom metrics are added to components within a rich media banner, and only three different types are used: exits, counters and timer. These custom metrics can actually track a variety of calls to action within a rich media banner, like links within the banner, time spent on certain screens or data, and of course any click-through calls to action. These robust metrics offer a huge advantage over standard display banners which rely heavily on impressions and clicks.

User Experience—Overall user experience is improved through the use of rich media. The creative messaging can be so robust within a rich media banner that a call to action such as a click-through is not required. This actually allows users to stay on the same page where they saw the rich media banner, as opposed to clicking on a non-rich media banner that takes them to an entirely new page.

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Mar27

What the WWE Taught Me About Persona Development

I grew up watching WWF (now WWE) wrestling. Every Saturday morning I would rush through my morning breakfast with excitement to see all of my larger-than-life heroes. The sights of Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat enthralled me to a point where I was lost in appearance and personality.

Years later the characters are still there—I’m still a fan, and the audience of young kids appears to be stronger than ever. But how did the WWE keep me interested for the last 20 years? I take this thought and apply it to one of my everyday on-the-job questions: why do our targets—doctors—stop engaging with us after years of product loyalty, and what can we do about it?

With the WWE, it started with there being a 1-900 number that I called. I was overly excited as a kid to dial that number and think that Hulk Hogan was actually talking to me. The data/marketing method of the 1-900 number was very simple: associate numeric to selections on your phone to what you prefer and continue marketing to the contact in the way they want to be marketed to.

For example:  the 1-900 number asked me my age group, I choose #1 for 10-15 years old (type of message to give me); for favorite wrestler, I choose #3 for Hulk Hogan (message specific to my needs); and for the key question—if I would allow them to follow up with me via phone with updates—I choose #1 for yes (continued CRM communication).

Just like that, the 1-900 number captured all my information and knew exactly how to speak to me. To the present day, the WWE still sends me information. The below text is a screen shot of my present day phone and is proof that they remember me and my likes. This was a text sent to me just this past Sunday:

AngeloCampano_WWE
They still know I like the Hulk and they know what appeals to the 30-something me.

Clearly they created a digital persona of me and through all the years of technology used what they learned from me 20 years ago to keep my interests (especially the Hulkster).

The hypothesis that is commonly thought of is that we tend to try looking at our targets in the same way, capture what they like and what they know. We as pharma marketers spend a lot of time chasing the doctor when the doctor doesn’t respond to messages we give him or her.

Looking at a standard CRM program (delivered through multi-channel), those who spend some time targeting the office staff for the first communication have 52% more success reaching the doctor in the second and third communication than those who don’t. Much like the WWE did, we need to take the time to understand our audience, who is REALLY making us money, and how.

As marketing continues to evolve, so do the exercises marketers have been doing for decades. Persona development is not exempt from this trend. Traditional persona development is still a powerful tool for marketers to use. However, targeting these personas with traditional means will prove less and less effective and profitable over time. In order to create and leverage digital persona profiles, marketers must rely on technology to both capture Big Data and use it effectively. The goal of which is to get as close to one-to-one marketing as possible by delivering the right content to the correct person at the best time with the channel they prefer.

As a result, tracking and understanding a person’s digital qualities, digital movement, click data, sales funnel and preferences are important considerations for effectively identifying and building outlying digital personas. The WWE was way ahead of its time for this process.

Marketers who can best leverage digital persona development, content personalization, context marketing and Big Data will be best suited to thrive in the near future. The newer the generation, the greater the expectation is for one-on-one marketing. We can all learn a thing or two from the WWE; their model works and isn’t hard to duplicate (we have already come close to mastering it).

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Jan21

Marketing Performance Mis-measurement: Mistaking Strategy for Objective

graph io blogIf you ever wondered why your monthly campaign tracker or reports show stellar results but your brand is underperforming in the marketplace, you may be measuring (and celebrating) the wrong leading metrics. You may be mistaking strategy for outcomes, thus celebrating the wrong “successes.” This piece elaborates on this measurement error and provides suggestions for setting things right.

Strategy is not objective

A common trap analysts, marketers, and advertisers fall into is mistaking strategy for outcome. Strategy is a means to an end, the selection of options intended to ensure the achievement of specific goals or objectives. With regard to marketing, this implies the focus on specific targets, and selection of channels, tactics, and messages intended to enhance the likelihood of achieving some desired outcomes. The effectiveness of a strategy is therefore not in the execution, but how well it delivers on the outcome. In other words, a good strategy (or execution) is deemed successful, not because it is implemented, but because it delivers on the objectives and goals.

With few exceptions, most marketers, planners, and strategists understand the difference between objectives, strategy, and plan. But when it comes to measurement, this understanding seems to blur, disappear or become less important. Just to be clear, you should measure strategy, but do so in order to understand how you have executed the strategy. This should not be mistaken as an indication of marketing success.

For instance, a common objective for launch brands is to achieve a certain level of awareness among HCPs and convince them to try the product. A decent strategy could be a multichannel marketing approach that combines digital and a few offline tactics with a specific message, cadence, and level of investment against a target HCP specialty. Going by this illustration, if the execution of the strategy is flawless, the measures will show timely delivery of the messages, exposure of audience to the message, and good interactions with the respective channels. This is a successful execution of the intended strategy.

But, this same successful strategy could result in 35% awareness compared to the targeted awareness and preference of 60%. In other words, the strategy was well executed but failed to deliver the desired business outcome. It’s no surprise when marketers’ dashboards show very impressive movements in engagements and interactions, while their brands are getting clobbered in the market.

Measure strategy, but know what you are measuring is executional accountability

Executional accountability is measuring how well you are executing your strategy so that insights form the basis for adjusting strategy and evaluating the quality of execution. This is also the primary role of the execution team—clients that have tried to separate executional accountability in the spirit of fox and chick coop concerns are making a mistake. Executional evaluation must be quickly available to the execution team, to ensure a seamless understanding and feedback loop. This feedback is important to both marketers and their agency/consultants; it is in the best interest of the advertiser to understand how well the strategy is being executed. This proximity provides an immediate feedback loop for learning and improvement. Even better, incorporating leading indicators of desired outcomes makes a highly responsive and rapid cycle optimization. That way, consultants also understand what strategy works when they take on a different client engagement. That is the concept of data-driven or data-integrated marketing.

Outcomes, on the other hand, are usually empirical measures and difficult to fudge—eg, sales, market share, awareness. Unlike campaign tracking, these outcomes metrics are fine to assign to independent parties for measurement

Consultants and execution teams who take accountability seriously must track strategy as well as leading indicators of success (outcomes). These help evaluate quality of execution (strategy tracking) as well as quality of the strategy (leading indicators of objectives).

Below are examples of the difference between strategy metrics and outcomes. Specifics will depend on your marketing or campaign objectives.

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At Ogilvy, our proprietary Fusion methodology, the rigorous methodical approach for communications strategy development and evaluation, also provides the basis for identifying the right execution as well as outcomes metrics. The Scorecard from Fusion empowers the integrated team of strategists, planners, accounts, creative, and analyst with clarity of metrics that help evaluate strategy and outcomes.

In summary

  • Measure objectives as the ultimate measures of success, not the attainment of strategy
  • Measure strategy and tactics, but understand these are strategy measures. You may be successful with your strategy execution but fail to deliver the expected outcomes
  • Execution teams should be responsible for, or have almost seamless access to, execution trackers, as this prevents the teams from “flying blind”
  • Execution teams should ensure they include leading indicators in their tracking and analysis efforts, as this helps evaluate strategy’s effectiveness in delivering outcomes
  • Get third parties to evaluate outcomes. Typically, these skillsets rarely reside with execution partners and the measures are hard to fudge. Rx trends, awareness penetration, market share, revenue, patients base, formulary preference—are all key outcomes measures that are difficult to fudge

Happy data-driven marketing in 2014! May your strategy deliver on the intended.

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Dec12

How Fantasy Football Helps You Make Better Marketing Decisions

thumbnailWe’re in the middle of December, and there are a few notable events on the horizon. With Thanksgiving and an early Hanukkah season behind us, and of course Christmas around the corner, the holidays are almost top-of-mind.

That is, unless you play fantasy football. If you do, then you know the fantasy football playoffs are about to get underway—and the value of analytics to your marketing efforts has never been more apparent than right now.

Wait…marketing? Weren’t we just talking fantasy football? Yes, we were, but if you’re headed to the playoffs and a shot at championship glory, you know it’s largely based on the quantifiable research and analysis you’ve done along the way.

If you do them right, fantasy football and marketing have a lot in common. For example, both require you to formulate a strategy and identify KPIs (key performance indicators). These critical analytics methodologies will inform your ongoing decisions in both marketing and fantasy football.

In fantasy football, you’ll use predictive modeling in the form of mock drafts, regression analysis to gauge free-agent pickups and trade offers, and define success benchmarks for both individual players and your team. In other words, you’ll construct a solid analytics foundation that will be a key component to your success.

This same approach should be taken when it comes to clients and their brands. Acronyms including ADP (average draft position), FPG (fantasy points per game) and PPR (point per reception) are often hot topics amongst fantasy footballers. Marketing metrics such as CPL (cost per lead), CR (conversion rate) and ROAS (return on ad spend) are talking points amongst anyone with input on marketing strategy.

Fantasy football success depends upon your ability to assess each player’s value relative to their position and put together the strongest lineup you can. Your brand’s success is no different. With an effective analytics approach as the basis, the optimal marketing mix can be achieved.

Enjoy the holidays and good luck in the playoffs! And if you’re not into football, fantasy baseball starts in a few months. Get out your calculators.

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Nov14

Fax: The Forgotten Tactic

fax machineYou may be missing the proverbial marketing boat by not including fax in your marketing mix when communicating to healthcare professionals and their office staff. Faxing still works, and your audience wants them.

Why do we select the tactics we do?

Historical performance, logic, and strategic context go into creating campaigns for clients. Consideration for the audience, message and product are well thought out when determining the number of responses expected to be generated by a call to action (CTA). The pool of standard non-personal promotion tactics very often includes direct mail (DM), email (EM), outbound telemarketing (OBTM), and Web. Each of these is expected to deliver a benchmark response, which answers the question of why we select the tactics we select.

What’s up with the fax?

One tactic that is very often overlooked or forgotten when defining the tactic mix by strategists and account teams alike is fax. Yes, I said fax.

Patented in 1843 and mainstreamed when machine prices dropped in the 1980s, fax was once a powerful office tool allowing users to exchange information and documents instantly.* (*OK, maybe not instantly, but definitely faster than by using snail-mail). Its popularity over time has faded with increased competition from Internet-based alternatives. Fax machines, however, still retain some advantages, particularly when transmitting sensitive material which, if sent over the Internet unencrypted, may be subject to interception. Additionally, because electronic signatures on contracts are not always recognized by law, and faxed contracts with copies of signatures are, fax machines continue to be supported in business.

Now, let’s consider one of our audiences—healthcare professionals (HCPs). HCPs are a prime audience for communicating with via fax since their offices continue to exchange sensitive patient information. According to the 2012 National Physicians Survey (NPS), of the 1,190 U.S. practitioners representing more than 75 medical specialties,1 nearly 63% said faxing remains a popular method of peer-to-peer communication, second only to the telephone at 95%.  “Knowing is half the battle,” right? So, if we know this audience’s preference, wouldn’t it make sense to “fish where the fish are”?

Sure, we can fax it to you

The Marketing Analytics & Consulting team at Ogilvy Healthworld has put fax communication to the test as a communication tactic for several of our clients’ campaigns and have garnered significant results. One campaign we developed and implemented a few years ago included all of the tactics mentioned above (DM, EM, OBTM, Web and fax) designed with calls to the HCP office as the main driver of the campaign. During conversations between the outbound contact center and the HCP office staff, the top request we heard was, “Do you have information you can fax me?” or “Can you fax something to me I can share with the doctor?” With a target list of approximately 22,000 HCPs, fax was requested by the HCP office staff and sent over approximately 250,000 times over the life of the campaign.

Other than the sheer quantity of faxes that may be requested and sent throughout the course of a campaign, what response rates can be expected from a faxed communication? Responses and results of a fax tactic will vary, but the message and CTA included in the fax is what will help lead to greater responses. A current pilot being executed by our team includes a targeted list of only 2,000 HCPs. The fax designed for this campaign includes pertinent information about the program that is being introduced, such as the 800 number to reach a program representative for questions or follow-up, and the program URL. It also contains the CTA, which is the same CTA contained in the DM, EM and Web experience. Results show that the CTA responses are fulfilled via fax 62% of the time, followed by Web (24%), DM (13%) and EM (1%).

In short, if your target audience includes healthcare professionals and/or their offices, and you’re interested in getting a boost out of your campaign, your team should consider including a simple fax into the communication mix. Creating and deploying faxes is relatively inexpensive and can deliver better results than you may expect when administered properly.

1. 2012 National Physicians Survey, Sharecare and the little blue book, July 2012. http://www.sharecare.com/static/national_physicians_survey

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Oct23

OCHWW’s 2nd Annual Partnership Summit

analytics thumbnail imageMy team, the Marketing Analytics & Consulting team, recently had our 2nd Annual Partnership Summit at the Chocolate Factory on October 10th. The New York office was buzzing as internal teams from OCHWW, greater Ogilvy & Mather, and clients roamed the halls eating, drinking wine, listening to presentations and meeting with various vendors. It was a wonderful turnout of around 200 total people who all found their way to try and win the door prize of the day, a Google Chromebook. A great and successful event, but also got me thinking. We had 10 total outside vendor partners at our event, in our building, trying to “sell” to our clients and teams. We trust them to sell their services and also not say anything wrong that would deter a plan or strategy from happening.

We were 100% covered for the day as each one of the vendors that attended has an agreement and is an OCHWW-approved vendor, but how many times do we invite vendors to our building, our office, our conference room, or our desks to talk to us, our clients, and our teams without a partnership agreement? What are our expectations? How do we partner with them?

Vendor partnerships have a lot of similarities to dating. They often start out with high expectations and aspirations and a common vision, and can end up in screaming matches over money and ex’s! But there is a way to avoid many of the stresses of a vendor relationship break-up – always have a partnership agreement. Think of it like a pre-nup where you and your partners agree upfront about the reason for your relationship and what will happen if either of you disagree or decide the relationship should end.

Having a partnership agreement in place is essential from the very beginning. Don’t leave these matters to chance or ignore it just because there are no problems at a point in time. You never know what is around the corner.

More than any other reason to have a partnership agreement is liability. If there’s no written agreement outlining specific arrangements, all partners are legally equally responsible for decisions made on behalf of the business, and must share profits and cover losses equally.

While every partnership agreement will be different, depending on the nature of the business, there are certain issues they usually cover, including:

  • How much money each partner brings into the partnership
  • What the different roles and responsibilities of each are
  • How disagreements are solved
  • What is to happen if a partner wants out
  • What guarantees will departing partners be permitted to have

Make breaking up easier to do. While a partnership agreement won’t cover you against all eventualities, it will go a long way to saving you time and money in the case of a disagreement or split.

All vendor partnerships are different. Sometimes we’re all friends but still have a clear agreement put together upfront.  It’s worth spending the time and money.

Our Partnership Summit was successful in educating everyone who joined on different services that external partners provide. But without the peace of mind of a partner agreement, the event would have been very stressful.

 

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May21

Don’t Be Fooled: The Core Tenets of Relationship Marketing Are Timeless

DartGoing back to basics on effective communication can lead to a big impact on your audience.

Pharmaceutical marketing at a glance seems unrecognizable compared to a few short years ago: technological advancements, big data, changing sales models, channel fragmentation, mobile marketing, social media…the list goes on. This constant sea of change is enough to overwhelm even the smartest marketers and strategists. Some marketers have followed the whims of change, prioritizing the latest marketing fads over a sound strategy. However, this reprioritization of communication efforts can lead to risky results. Pharmaceutical marketers will be best served by keeping their focus on the following fundamental marketing objective: getting the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Without a doubt, incorporating modern tactics and media channels can strengthen a campaign’s effectiveness, but the core communication objective should be tied to strategic objectives. In other words, the tail should not wag the proverbial dog. These core objectives should drive the decisions behind the channels, the content, the cadence, and the outcomes toward which a campaign is optimized.

The focus on fundamentals is essential across both patient and healthcare professional marketing campaigns. For example, with traditional patient support programs—which educate patients on their disease state, provide them with lifestyle tips, and empower them with condition management tools—the ultimate objective is to increase persistency and adherence. Rather than haphazardly building a program that randomly combines the latest marketing “it” channels, it is imperative to strategically consider the combination of tactics, channels, and content, at the right cadence to achieve the campaign’s goal: increasing adherence and persistency. While a campaign can and should incorporate channels both old and new, it should be the strategy that drives these decisions.

How to Focus on Fundamentals When Determining a Marketing Strategy

So, how can marketers effectively deliver communications in the ever-changing marketing reality? In the era of data integration and two-way marketing, we recommend using these three best practices to guide the process:

1)      Don’t be afraid to ask—so you can know what they are thinking: A behavioral survey can identify how targets would prefer to receive communications, such as by telephone, email or direct mail. Using this information, design a communication strategy that provides relevant information in the way(s) they want to receive it. By simply asking how an individual wants to be communicated with and by fulfilling that basic need, marketers can more successfully deliver the brand’s message and increase conversion.

2)      Observe, adjust, and make them feel special: With the phenomenal growth and availability of campaign response data, marketers have the opportunity to design and cater communications at the individual level. Creating customized communications and educational tools based on a target’s experience can ultimately lead to greater engagement and positive, impactful outcomes.

3)      Think like them—to understand what they need: As marketers, we measure success by driving impact and ultimately changing behavior. With the data at hand, we can now design and adjust strategies, all the while focusing on the brand’s fundamental goals. These metrics and objectives allow us, as marketers, to start thinking like our targets and asking questions that drive stronger campaigns:

A) What do our targets want and need?

B) How can we strategically design a program to meet these wants and needs?

C) How will we know if we met our targets’ wants and needs?

By remembering to follow these three steps when developing a CRM strategy, we can impact behavior by creating custom relationships based on trust, respect, and value…all by delivering the right message in the right way to the right person.

So while the marketing context, customers and channels have changed and will continue to change rapidly for the foreseeable future, we as marketers must keep our focus on our core, timeless tenets of good marketing: sending the right message at the right time and the right place. By applying some of these best practices, you should be well on your way to maintaining a sound strategy amongst the ever-changing marketing landscape.
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Apr25

When Will Pharmaceutical Companies Embrace Behavioral Retargeting to Drive Adherence?

Shopping KeyPicture this: You visit a website, add something to your shopping cart, but abandon the transaction. Maybe you are distracted or decide to shop around to get the best deal.

The next day, you’re on a different website. Suddenly an ad pops up on your screen…for that item you had in the shopping cart the day before. In your mind you’re thinking, “Wow, maybe this ad is an omen that I should buy that item?”

You’ll be relieved to learn that the ad is not an omen. It’s just “behavioral retargeting,” one of the tools that a smart marketer is leveraging to capture your attention. They want you back at their site to complete the purchase.

Digital channels can leverage relevancy (based on action and exposure) to deliver highly motivating advertising. If it works well for consumer products, how would this work for pharmaceutical brands?

The Web as a Research Tool
The Internet is used by consumers to compare prices and features. What we find online often influences both online and offline purchasing decisions. In the early days of the Internet, consumers were leery of making significant purchases online and would compare prices on the web then go to a brick-and-mortar store to make their purchase. With improved mobile technology, consumers now see and touch products in stores, only to make the purchase online. Many consumers are now willing to make major purchases online.

The prescription drug buying process is different. Some consumers see advertising for lifestyle drugs on TV and in print, go online for additional information, and ask their doctor for a prescription. If their doctor agrees, they may receive a prescription. A pharmaceutical website for a prescription drug may play a role in initial patient-doctor discussion, but it can really play a much more significant role in influencing medication adherence.

Behavioral Retargeting to Influence Good Behavior
We see many prescription drugs with elaborate, multichannel medication adherence programs that often have minimal impact on the bottom line. The reasons for this are twofold.

  1. Programs that are dependent on patients signing up tend to have very limited reach against the patient base.
  2. They often attract patients who are adherent, so there is little opportunity to increase sales. We also see programs where enrollment is driven by activating a savings card—but too often patients are unaware they joined the program and don’t engage with the communications they receive.

What if we used behavioral retargeting to increase awareness of compliance programs? Imagine if retargeting didn’t just apply to shoes and baby clothes, but also encouraged medication adherence.

Behavioral retargeting provides the ability to extend reach and deliver highly relevant adherence messages contextually, then bring consumers back to your site for deeper content. It provides an additional channel to get key adherence messages to customers who might not sign up for a program.

Then again, even if we can do it, we may not want to deliver behavioral retargeting. After all, some patients have conditions that they’d rather keep private. They may not appreciate a reminder message from a pharma company that manifests as a banner ad on their favorite website. If this is the case, such issues can easily be addressed with a simple opt-out that prevents future retargeting from the ad server.

These days, behavioral retargeting is closely associated with advanced ecommerce websites. Looking forward, it will probably become another tool for communicating with patients and healthcare professionals. Before that happens, industry thought leaders need to think carefully about how patient health information is used and retargeted across different websites, channels, and platforms.

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Apr9

Painting by Numbers: Using Enterprise-wide Analytics to Guide Marketing Strategy

Paint Brush Man_Thumbnail

Today, analytics is playing an ever-expanding role in developing marketing strategy as clients have become aware of the importance of data in guiding campaign decisions. Like the Paint by Numbers crafts of our childhood, marketers can use stats and data points to guide the creative marketing process, resulting in a more predictable end-product.

However, according to a recent Accenture study, the same brand managers who understand the importance of analytics tend to rely on gut instinct instead of logical recommendations, preferring to paint outside the lines rather than follow the data.

The reason for this departure is that analytics is still typically brought in on a project-by-project basis.  While a team of expert analysts may provide insight on one particular channel or campaign, they do not have a panoramic view of the overarching strategy or history of the brand. The brand manager’s gut, on the other hand, has years of experience in overall performance, customer relations, and sales. This often results in a strategy that conforms to a “more of the same” mentality.

Within the Ogilvy Healthworld Marketing Analytics & Consulting team, we have found that insights and recommendations  can be more impactful when done at a portfolio or enterprise level. For example, we had been performing analytics for a particular brand, observing that over time, the paid search costs were increasing for unbranded terms. Over the next year, we grew our analytics practice across this pharma company’s entire therapeutic department. When the data started to pour in, our analysis uncovered that two brands were competing against each another for the same unbranded terms, artificially driving the costs up. By taking an above-brand look at the data, we were able to identify an issue and resolve it in a way that benefited both brands and became a best practice across the therapeutic area.

While this example looks at a very specific issue, enterprise analytics has a number of strategic benefits:

  • First, it sets a tone of accountability across brands, defining a standard of data quality that can be enforced in measurement and optimization. Not only does this ensure that different groups are using the same metrics to define success, but also it makes it easier to compare performance across brands and categories. Over time, this organized collection of data can serve as a starting point for performing more advanced modeling and predictive analytics.
  • Second, strategic data collection and analyses can offer dramatic cost-savings as each brand does not have to finance its own projects and can anticipate a more organized array of reporting and analysis options.
  • Third, enterprise-wide analytics enables across-the-board education in reporting and data. At this time, many brand managers are in the habit of glancing at a report for information, but not yet using it as a compass by which to navigate. With an enterprise-wide analytics presence, these brand managers are forced to embrace the numbers and start making more strategic brand recommendations. The result is a more consistent and strategic step forward in marketing growth and optimization.

Ultimately, analytics and reliance on predictive modeling are here to stay. As marketing partners, it is our responsibility to make our clients as agile as possible and ensure they have the most accurate information in their toolbox while making decisions. So the next time your clients go to the easel and begin painting their strategic plan, make sure they have numbers to guide their work of art.

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Mar8

SXSW 2013: Small Data in a World of Big Data

KPI-originalMore than ever, modern marketers are using data to drive decisions about strategies and tactics. Clients are asking us to back up “what we think” with real numbers about “what we know.”

The rise of “big data” is a hot topic at this year’s SXSW conference. Thought leaders are sharing their insights on how to interpret and act upon this growing pool of information. Pay attention, since this stuff matters.

But at the same time, we run the risk of ignoring “small data.” That is, if the numbers we have do not hit a certain threshold of massiveness, should we throw it away? Of course not; let’s discuss why.

Aggregate Shmaggregate

A few years ago, economist Steven D. Levitt and writer Stephen J. Dubner released an important book called Freakonomics. This book addressed some interesting ways data can lead to improper and unfortunate conclusions. Specifically, big data can make you think that 1 + 1 = 3. (Note: It doesn’t. I checked.)

Freakonomics revealed that sometimes big data, when combined with unrelated external events, can confuse even the smartest, most experienced researchers. Add to that the idea of “unintended consequences” and things can get downright confusing for people who put all of their faith in big data.

There’s nothing technically wrong with big data. I love big data. Send it over and I will have my big-data brains dissect it. Big data = good.

The problem is twofold:

1. Big data is overwhelming to many people. They draw incomplete conclusions based on their limited view of the numbers. It takes a well-trained, experienced data professional to extract smart marketing insights from gigantic data sets. When a well-intentioned but inexperienced person analyzes data, he or she can easily misinterpret the insights.

For example, if tons of people are landing on a particular page on your website and then leaving immediately, you might conclude they are “bouncing.” We hear this a lot.

But what if they simply found what they needed and left? What if this bounce was really a conversion?

This leads directly to the second problem…

2. Weak KPI mapping. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are designed to help you understand the relationship between your content and the target user. Specifically, how well your content satisfies their needs and moves them along your relationship continuum.

All the data you collect means nothing until you set KPIs and other goals. KPIs give you context to the data. Without this context, you will get data for data’s sake. And really, who wants that?

KPIs need to be an agreed-upon measurement that guides content creation, traffic drivers, and analysis. (That’s it. Please reread that sentence aloud to the whole class.)

And Now, Small Data

So, what’s the takeaway? Well, it’s about how you should be interpreting your data, both big and small. It’s a new mindset that you need to bring to your team, who are probably building a bonfire and chanting, “big data, big data, big data” the week after SXSW.

Big data matters. I completely agree. It’s just not as simple as it seems. You can’t just look at a giant bucket of data and make a snap conclusion (e.g., kittens are popular, hence we need kitties on our website to sell our product).

But small data matters too. Yes, you can learn a lot about the time of day your site is visited. And yes, it can be extremely significant to chart this over a two-year period.

Small data, however, can tell you different things about your target. It can tell you if the user is getting information that influences their decision or engages them  in your resources. Small data can tell you if your content is properly linked within your website and expanded brand footprint.

For example, a “thank you” page at the end of a transaction page may be a KPI. If you’re only looking at the big-data picture, you may not really understand what people are doing to reach this page.

You may not even know how they got to your site to get to this KPI. Search? Banner? Email? Sure, you know how they got to your website, but do you know which channel delivered the user who converted? In too many cases, the answer is “no.”

Everyone from the copywriters to the designers need to know your KPIs. Your SEO team and your media-buying team, too. Everyone needs to know your KPIs, most of which are not part of your “big data.” KPIs are often part of your “small data.”

Looking forward, make this year the one that everyone is measuring data consistently. Understand and optimize your website—and every other tactic in your campaign—according to big data AND small data.

And skip the kittens.

Check out OCHWW’s other SXSW 2013 blog posts:

SXSW 2013: How Zombies Are Helping Us Get Fit

SXSW 2013: BIG Data and Personal Technology at SXSW

SXSW 2013: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution

SXSW 2013: Bad Behavior – the Saga of SXSW

SXSW 2013: Empty Information Calories

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