Sep 29, 2010

Measuring Marketing Promotions? -- Have a Plan

If you are about to launch a major marketing initiative, whether local or national, awareness or direct response, you probably are being asked to "measure the impact." or to "calculate ROI." Be aware that planning your measurement is part of planning the project itself.

One has to translate the business objectives of the promotion, or the RM program into measurable quantities that can assess whether those objectives are filled. Think in terms of the RM continuum. What are you trying to achieve?

* spread awareness: better have surveys to measure if they are aware, before and after

* get people to respond? Better have response mechanisms with data streams, and coded by source

* convert patients to drug? Getting doctors to write Rx? How is this data coming in?

* encourage advocacy? Make sure your advocacy tactics has a tracking breadcrumbs.

This sounds obvious as written, or in hindsight, but really this sort of planning requires a half day workshop of a cross-functional team.

At least.

Sep 28, 2010

The long tail of online media

How well do you understand online advertising, and where your media company is placing your banner ads and search box results?

Try an exercise... go to Google and type in a small business in your neighborhood.
Perhaps's "Joe's flower shop." You might get a search engine result like this where the results are about florists, and where the text box ads are also about florists and related items. So far so good. Now click on one of the local results, adn you might get a a directory listing link like this.

Notice the banner ads on your local flower shop? Not about flowers -- maybe the ads or for cars, sneakers, mobile phones, even pharmaceutical conditions or particular drugs. Why is this? You weren't looking for these things in your search.

This is a combination of several effects. One is that if you are logged in, and you have cookies enabled, there is demographic and behavioral information that can be leveraged for online media placement. (In fact, try the same exercise while not logged in to any email or social media systems). The other major effect is the media industry's design, a tactic called "the long tail." Note that Ford motors, Nike, or that pharma company did not particularly wish to target Joe's florist and other small businesses for media placement. But their media company may have paid an ad network to find people in a certain demographic: age, gender, spending levels.

Now, how likely is it that a person trying to order flowers from a local shop, will suddenly become interested in buying a car, or go to their doctor about a new pharmaceutical drug? The effect is more likely to be very subtle branding, but not much direct response.

So, if you are placing online media for a direct response consumer RM ad, be proactive and intelligent about where your media company is placing your banners. What percentage of your spend is on this "long tail" that is probably not going to get a very high response rate, due to lack of relevance to the search. If you are paying by the impression (CPM), it may be costly, if you are paying by acquisition (CPA), then perhaps the low hanging fruit can accumulate.

Sep 27, 2010

Journal of Case Reports -- Halfway to Social?

Much publicity about Elsevier creating a purely online International Journal of Surgical Case Reports, where physicains pay $400 to have their written case reviewed. Here is an example published case study, with figures. A recent Medical Marketing and Media article discusses this, including the motivation to build a case database for searching valuable cases.

Online advertising may be under consideration by Elsevier, though not currently implemented.

Author fee aside, this new journal is an advance in user generated content in the typically slow moving world of publications. In addition, this seems to only move halfway to achieve a more full potential of professional social media. Why not allow surgeons to post and have discussion threads about the cases, to learn from each other, and accelerate knowledge?

Sep 23, 2010

Tablets - An ever more crowded market

There is a near explosion of the number of electonics manufacturers delivering tablets to market. This Wall St Journal article and table points out how the market for tablet hardware is getting ever more crowded.

What does this mean for pharmaceuticals and healthcare. We have spoken about sales forces delivering messages on tablets, and there will be more options. Lenovo is present for multiple pharma companies. Screen size is an important factor when showing sales visual aids and KOL videos to a physician. But ultimately the winner of the sales presentation race may be based on software adptation -- the SFA contact managment systems, as well as the presentation software, and the feedback loop systems. Which platform allows for the development of these sales force utilizities with continual enhancements and intelligence?

From a consumer standpoint, patients are acquiring tablets like IPads and health related apps are incrasingly coming to market.

From a physician practice managmenet standpoint, if electronic medical records and billing systems can become tablet compatible, then we may have convergence. Patients and doctors can share "apps" and clinical results as their health dialogues become more quantitative and more meaningful.

These developments will be rapid over the next several years.

Sep 21, 2010

Cookies and all the front page news

At one job, we used to say to each other, "Don't end up on the cover of the NY Times or the Wall St Journal." Yet, the WSJ has been running an series on online website behavioral tracking, especially picking on usage of cookies.

The publicity of how cookies and tracking works helps create an informed marketplace. As the WSJ notes, cookies have been legal since 2001 and 2003 court rulings. It is especially the newer "Flash Cookies" that seem to be problematic, as they cannot effectively be deleted by website users wishing to do so, and they appear to replicate.

Let's just not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Cookies do have positive benefits for the user experience in CRM and PRM. They enable automated login, on return visits. Cookies can enable a continuity of experience upon subsequent visits, and well as customization of website content based on what has been viewed before.

Of course, if a user wishes to remove cookies, they sacrifice some of those benefits, but may also prevent other, more frivolous websites from tracking their scent. Caveat emptor: strictest privacy, unfortunately, comes at a sacrifice of quality of digital RM experience.

Sep 20, 2010

Professional Portals: What Behind the Curtain?

Healthcare professional portals are gaining prominence and sophistication among pharmaceutical companies. Some examples are
When designing a healthcare professional portal Pfizer Pro, Merck Services, and Bayer Diabetes' Simple Wins Pro. Increasingly, these portals represent a portfolio of products from the same manufacturer, in addition to other practice management services being provided.

One decision to make when designing and implementing such a portal, is what content to display open to all visitors, and what information is "behind the curtain," requiring the HCP to register, or login.

While there is no hard and fast rule, it depends on the business objectives. Usually a primary goal of professional protals is to expand reach beyond the sales force, and to get product information "details" out to a broader range of professionals, such as remote physicians and "no see" doctors. For this reason, basic product information is usually in front of the curtain.

What goes behind are special value added services that a healthcare professional will find especially worthwhile as a "value exchange" for logging in. These may include electronic samples, information about speaker programs or grants, training programs, or requesting a sales representative visit.

Some items could go either in front or behind the curtain. Patient eductaion materials and key opinion leader videos can help provide valuable information about product benefits. which all may want to see. But they can also be a draw to encourage professionals to sign in and join the communications database.

In summary, plan your professional web portal carefully. The more valuable features behind the curtain, the more incentive to log in. However, that may take away from visit rates, search engine placement, and reach expansion. Even if those visitors are anaonymous, at least they are getting your product messaging.

Sep 13, 2010

Social media spreading behaviors: MIT study

A recently completed
two year study from Asst. Prof. Damon Centola of the MIT Sloan School of Management has shown remarkable behavior spreading differences in two different "canonical" standard types of social networks. This was also summarized in Mediapost.

The two types of health networks that Professor Centola set up werecommunity neighborhood based, pictured at left, and random casual contact based, pictured at right. The blue dots represent the spread of health information and behavior adoption across each types of networks; white dots represent individuals not changing behavior. It turns out based on empirical evidence that spread of behaviors is more rapid in community based networks, moving slowly but effectively from community to community, trransferred through individuals spanning neighborhoods.
I recommend out blog readers see the MIT page and see the video of Prof. Centola.

What does this mean for consumer healthcare RM? Try to introduce your message through multiple well connected network neighborhoods where prospects of paitents have something in common. Do not rely on random chance encounters; do not presume "build it and they will come."

Sep 9, 2010

Interactive dashboards for RM programs

Want to track your relationship marketing programs periodically, and make the results insightful and impactful? Do not just count responses in some tired tables or bar charts.

Here are some tips:

* Have a monthly (or weekly) forecast of estimated responses, broken out by sub-segment and promotional source as well. Track results versus the forecast.

* Use a visual, interactive dashboard to show results, not only high level vs. forecast, but drill down by segment, or by promotional source. Try to use drill down to explain why your campaign is ahead of or behind forecast.

* Show insights, interesting trends, and outliers right on the dahboard, and hyperlink them. Focus your attention on highlighting the insights, not a methodical stack of reports.

Putting this all together, here is an example, implemented in the Spotfire thin-client web player environment. Click around, interact, try the bookmarked insight, and let me know your thoughts.

Sep 4, 2010

The Trend of "Bad," Empowered Patients

While on a brief vacation at my Poconos hotel, I leafed through the free USA today that came by my door, and noticed an interesting headline article about an increasing trend of "Bad" or "Empowered" patients. What was described were guidelines in which patients, empowered by information available on the internet, and increasingly responsible for paying health costs, have been questioning physician decision making regarding test and treatment decisions.

Cited often was a new book by CNN's Elizabeth Cohen on being an empowered patient. Find out for yourself who the best physicians are, whether the empensive tests indicated are necessary, whether the expensive medications are required.

Concurrently, another story gaining publicity that features a desperate kidney cancer patient who has benefitted from Internet communities is that of E-patient Dave deBronkart. "E-patient Dave" has become a strong advocate for patients to seek online information for communal support, and to never give up, or accept a grim fate.

This all reinforces the need for healthcare companies to make sure they are online, participating in the discussions that empowered patients are having. It also emphasizies the benefits of digital CRM, to make sure patients are educated about the benefits of treatments you advocate.