In the ever-evolving landscape of life sciences, standing out requires more than just groundbreaking science, constant innovation, and a patient-first motto. It demands doing everything in your power to understand how to best connect, communicate, and engage with the stakeholders you care about—be it the patients, prescribers, payers, or policymakers.

One big part of true understanding is continuously meeting those stakeholders wherever they spend their time, and pharma and biotech organizations have absolutely risen to this challenge. However, there is still a layer of inefficiency when it comes to multichannel marketing. Think about all the data, players, and budgets involved with each individual channel. Brands often have separate teams, yet similar audiences, for each channel (think websites, social platforms, email, brick-and-mortar, and customer support), leading to doubled efforts and mismatched messaging which can confuse people—and frustrate you and your colleagues.

Enter omnichannel marketing, an approach focused on bringing all your channels together to operate cohesively rather than in isolation and on making the most of the breadth of data available. When implemented correctly, omnichannel marketing yields consistent messaging, aligned branding, shared visions, and smarter spending—a total transformation of how your company reaches and impacts stakeholders and drives outcomes.

Transitioning to omnichannel is no doubt worth it, but the process can be perceived as complex. Yet, with the right expertise and tools, you can execute omnichannel strategies and take your marketing to the next level.

Here are six things pharma companies should know before kicking off an omnichannel strategy:

1. Data is King
Marketers love data, and omnichannel marketers may love it even more. Unlike multichannel marketing, which keeps information from each channel separate, omnichannel uses tools to integrate data from every channel into a single place, allowing you to personalize content for each stakeholder and deliver it at the right (and most relevant) time—to all the right places.
Pharma companies (and the broader industry) have enormous amounts of data, and centralizing it helps you understand your audiences better, predict their needs faster, and tailor your messages accordingly. This leads to more consistency and complements across every touchpoint. Doing so is proven to build more trust and loyalty between your audiences and your brand.

2. Your Entire Organization Needs to Buy In
Oftentimes, pharma and biotech organizations are structured by brand or service, each with their own product, data, pricing, strategy, messaging, processes—the list goes on. Omnichannel makes it less about each brand team, and more about the end user—which usually, in our industry, is a patient in need. To successfully execute omnichannel marketing, your entire company needs to be on the same page, commit to one strategy, and work together to bring it to life. Omnichannel is not just a sales-related or marketing-related practice—it’s a joint integration between these teams and the rest of the organization.

It can be challenging to unwrite the habits, processes and preconceptions from years and years spent in silos—especially at larger organizations. Leadership also needs to be on board, and illustrating the value is tricky if you haven’t executed omnichannel yourself. Luckily, tools and experts exist to convince your internal teams and help make (and sustain) the shift. We find that leadership is often quite pleased with how funds are spent more efficiently when omnichannel is implemented.

3. Take a Good Look at Your Current Activities
Having a good grasp of the current state of your marketing across every team and channel is key. This brings visibility to what’s working, what needs improvement, and what should be nixed. Sharing is caring, and having each internal stakeholder give a rundown of their marketing efforts and associated data is essential.

At Syneos Health Communications, we’ve helped countless companies at all stages of omnichannel secure buy-in, identify potential blockers, implement campaigns, and solve issues big and small.

4. Don’t Forget About Compliance
The medical/legal/regulatory review process plays a big part in most marketing—but it’s even more important when you switch to omnichannel because of the heavy use of health data. Luckily, pharma and biotech already have regulatory teams in place that understand data protection laws. Getting buy-in from these teams is critical, so be prepared to deliver a clear overview of your marketing plan and address any concerns up front.

It’s also important to clue in IT, customer service and agency partners. They’re all key players in making omnichannel worth your—and your audiences’—time and effort.

5. The Investment Starts With Analytics
It’s easy to overspend when it comes to trying to figure out the ‘who, what, when, and where’ of a marketing campaign. The wrong message, time, or place can also cause someone to opt out of your messaging or choose another brand. That’s why having access to data—and people who know how to analyze it—is the bread and butter of omnichannel marketing.  

You need to collect data from every touchpoint and transform it into actionable insights, and then continue to analyze and refine your communications as you go. You already have the data; omnichannel makes the most of it by bringing it all together and making it make sense.

But remember: omnichannel is still new in our industry, and it’s complex, so don’t feel like you need to completely understand it overnight. Exceptional analytics tools and experienced partners exist to help you implement omnichannel marketing and make the most of the data you collect. When implemented correctly, the ROI is significant.

6. You Won’t Get It Right the First Time…and That’s OK!
Omnichannel marketing isn't just a strategy; it’s a necessity. But that doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. Omnichannel marketing is an ongoing process of testing, feedback, and refinement. Implement your strategy, but also be prepared to adapt and evolve along the way, and then make even more changes if (and when) your products or services change.

One way to ease the complexity of these changes is to break the work down into actionable pilots. By embracing a pilot methodology, your team will be able to fuel rapid test and learn work that builds a foundation towards an omnichannel vision over time.

By understanding omnichannel marketing’s complexity and value, and by taking steps to implement them effectively, you can elevate your company’s presence, engage your audience on a deeper level, and ultimately drive positive outcomes for your brand and the patients you serve. It’s a journey worth embarking on—one in which you and, most importantly, patients, are bound to reap the rewards.

If you’re interested in learning more about how omnichannel marketing strategies can level up your business, contact Melissa Bojorquez at [email protected] to start the conversation.

About the Author:

AJ is an SVP, leading engagement strategy for GSW from the Santa Monica office. He has a 15-year career history in healthcare technology and communications with a track record of strategic multichannel guidance and innovative technology pilots. His global healthcare agency experience spans some of the top global networks, including Publicis, WPP, and inVentiv.  

Prior to his most recent tenure at GSW, AJ spent two and a half years working closely with Apple computers and major academic research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital systems to deliver mClincal research utilizing Apple’s ResearchKitTM and also remote care programs via Apple’s CareKitTM frameworks. The innovative digital research and connected mHealth programs he helped bring to market are fundamentally changing the way healthcare is both researched and delivered in real time.  Some of this work was recently published in the scientific peer-review publication, PLOS ONE. He was recently honored as a PM360 ELITE Top 10 Digital Crusader.

AJ has been consistently active in the cardiology space throughout his career. Notable examples include launching Multaq atrial fibrilllation and co-leading the global digital launch of Pradaxa. Other brands include Ranexa, Crestor, and Letairis.