As a marketer in the pharmaceutical industry, you not only need to plan for how to use social media as a marketing channel, but you also need to think about how to use new channels as they emerge, and all while remaining compliant for adverse events with the FDA. Well, the next marketing channel is here now, and consumers, patients, brands and marketers are starting to use it. In fact, some consumers are even demanding it of brands. The next thing you’ve got to start planning for is here now, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat.
So, we’ll ask you the question, how do you plan to start using messaging apps to help with your pharmaceutical marketing? It’s the next wave of social media. Just like any other new channel, you’re going to need to find how messaging lines up with your business and marketing goals. And like other marketing channels, good planning is what will help you determine how to use messaging.
Planning Your Engagement
To get started you need to ask yourself similar marketing questions as you would for any new channel. You need to be thinking about things like:
- Audience: What is you audience like? Who are you trying to reach; existing patients already with a particular disease state, or new consumers complaining about a new problem or pain online? Do you already know these customers, or do you need to use active social listening to find this audience?
- Strategy: What does your typical strategy look like? Are you trying to reach customers at particular points of their customer journey? Or are you reaching out to help patients at the beginning or end of their patient journey? Does messaging fit into when you market to your audience? Or does it help you fill gaps in the patient journey that weren’t available to you before?
- Content: What is your content strategy like? Do you have the assets you need for all the points along your marketing strategy? Does using messaging apps present new challenges for the content you need to create? Do new processes need to be put into place for reporting and archiving conversations for pharmacovigilance and legal departments?
- Brand Identity: How will you communicate and demonstrate empathy and sympathy with patients? What is the look and feel of the brand and how do you translate that through the channel? Is the audience young and open to using messenger? Or is the audience older, and it’s new to using social media or messaging?
Pharmaceutical Marketing Specifics
What is it that’s unique about the pharmaceutical industry that you need to be prepared for and address if you decide to pursue a Facebook Messenger strategy? Most of you out there already know the answers here, being a pharmaceutical marketer is different than marketing in other industries, even other regulated industries.
The main aspects that must be kept in mind and always addressed by pharma marketers are keeping a keen eye out for adverse events, two, being able to report and archive the conversations with customers and patients related to adverse events, and three, the escalation and routing of adverse events to pharmacovigilance, legal and regulatory colleagues.
Since you will most likely use a software solution, like the one LiveWorld offers, to perform any messaging with customers and patients, make sure you use one that can flag adverse events both manually by humans and automatically with technology. You also need to assure that it can fully capture conversations, with any images or attachments, and has the ability to encapsulate any adverse event in total, and make the reporting and escalation to colleagues easy and streamlined.
Data Security, Staffing and Messaging
And lastly, what are the practical aspects you need to be concerned about when thinking about starting up using messaging apps for your pharma marketing? As a pharma brand you need to be thinking about more tangible aspects such as data and security concerns, you staffing and resources, and the customer experience.
For data and security concerns when using messaging you need to be aware of whether your chosen platform offers end-to-end encryption or not. Some messaging apps use encryption by default; some offer it as an option, and others don’t offer it at all. Make sure you know what each platform offers, what your company requires when conversing with customers, what the regulatory compliance requirements are, and draw in your compliance and legal colleagues early when planning.
You also need to plan for the staffing and resources that are required to kick off and maintain a messaging app program. Is messaging with your brand going to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? Or should you create office hours that messaging is available? Or maybe you could even set appointments with customers for when they will be messaged by the brand? This option can even help to make what can be a very impersonal marketing channel more personal and warm and welcoming. Pharmaceuticals marketers should also consider if they use chatbots to help with simple questionnaires and surveys, and capturing important data easily.
When you’re thinking about your staffing and resources for using messaging, you should also see if there are processes, techniques and best practices that you can derive from your customer service and support colleagues or even from an outside vendor like LiveWorld. We’re a Facebook development partner and have been helping brands with conversations like these with customers for over twenty years.
Marketers at pharma companies also must think about being sympathetic and empathetic when working with customers and patients conversationally. This is especially significant in a very personal and direct channel like messaging apps. As a marketer in the pharma industry you probably already have run programs that have had to be sympathetic and caring, or used especially skilled colleagues that understand the compassionate approach that needs to be used in a channel like this, maybe they are nurses or healthcare providers. Draw in those colleagues and use what they learned when having conversations with patients.
So just like any new marketing channel you may use to reach your marketing goals at a pharma company, like email, social media, and your website in the past, its vital that when using a new platform like messaging apps you plan how the new channel aligns with your marketing and business goals. And how are you going to manage adverse events and compliance, and do you have all of your staffing and resources in place.
Messenger is a once in a decade opportunity. Just like social media was years ago. You should be adding it to your playbook now. Customers and patients are using it with other brands already, and are demanding it from brands more and more. You should be thinking about adding messaging apps to your business planning and your engagement playbook for 2017, not 2018. Need some help getting started? We understand. Learn more about incorporating messaging into your marketing.