Integrating the opportunities of digital into a healthcare marketing campaign can be daunting, especially when you are working in a major region covering multiple languages and cultures. In this series on digital campaign planning, I will explore some keys to help you plan a successful campaign that supports your brand strategy and integrates digital with traditional marketing channels.

This first part, “Set Digital Goals”, looks at the role of digital channels in achieving outcomes you can measure against your brand strategy.

Digital goals

Somebody once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”. Sadly, this is an approach I sometimes encounter to pharmaceutical digital campaigns. The digital medium seems so experimental that it is not uncommon to discover campaigns launched with no clear vision of outcomes.

The unfortunate result of such poor planning can be a long-term resistance to digital channels by the business, since no results can be accredited to the role of digital. The fact that no goals had been set or measured is an indication that the digital campaign was destined to fail from the start. In some cases, however, the experimentation is deliberate, with the objective to learn through customer engagement. If this is stated as a goal from the start then even this learning can be measured as an outcome.

Influence on behaviour

So what kinds of goals might you set for a digital campaign? In its early years, digital became notorious for arguably meaningless indicators such as ‘page views’, ‘open rates’, and even ‘website hits’. All of these mean nothing unless they tell you the impact on your customer’s behaviour or your business goals.

Look for activity you can measure digitally that provides an indicator of behaviour. If for example you provide a digital resource to help a healthcare professional discover the benefits of a particular drug, you might measure the level of engagement by tracking which specific content was read and to understand the professional’s ‘journey’ through your digital content.

Meanwhile, if your campaign is designed to influence the behaviour of patients, you might measure what digital actions they have taken. Give them calls to action you can measure, like printing an information guide, taking a survey, or committing to speak with their healthcare professional.

Alignment with business goals

Now, you still need to know what the impact has been on your business goals. If your behaviour changing outcomes from digital engagement have been aligned with your brand strategy, then you should expect to see the results in terms of tangible business outcomes, not just digital actions.

It’s not always easy to make the connection between digital engagement and the outcomes you see, but it is not impossible and it is facilitated by good planning. Build measures into your digital channels that are aligned with your measurement of business goals.

Integrating channels

When planning digital goals, remember that the whole engagement journey is likely to include both digital and traditional channels, since your customer or stakeholder does not operate in a purely digital environment. A consumer might be influenced by Facebook, television, and a poster campaign; a healthcare professional might be influenced by their email, doctors’ social network, medical education and a conference. Each of these channels is likely to have an impact upon the way that the customer interacts with other channels; and several channels may affect the customer simultaneously.

Getting started

Knowing what to expect when you integrate digital channels into your marketing campaign will help you to plan effectively. If this post has made you think again about digital, or you would like to consider the role of digital in your next campaign, Creation Healthcare can help you put into practice the keys outlined here. Why not talk with us?

The next part in this series will look at understanding your customer’s online behaviour.