Three Steps to Engagement: What it takes to be a marketer today in our multi-channel, multi-screen world.

multiscreenI recently returned from vacation and was able to go off the grid but not completely. The grid is the tangled web of the multiscreen universe that we all live in.  The closest I came to going off the grid was going without TV for an entire 4 days. So basically, going off the grid in this case was eliminating one screen –but was I really off the grid? I was still Facebooking (especially after Sir Paul McCartney waved hello), Tweeting and LinkingIn on my smartphone and tablet. A guest post by  Adam Scott Roberts, Senior Vice President, Group Media Director, Communications Media Inc

I moved from screen to screen and maintained connectivity with family, friends, Twitter followers and professional contacts using each engagement for a specific purpose. It made me realize that this is the thing I tell clients all the time – consumers and physicians live in a multiscreen world. Now for me, I do have some rules like not going on the grid while in actual human conversation or in restaurants at the table. Boundaries are needed. But I digress…marketers need to understand that consumers have made screens an indispensable part of our lives.

There are three major things marketers today need to do to best reach and prospects:

  1. Know your audience and understand the media behavior/consumption habits
  2. Prioritize and master engagement and provide value and utility
  3. Measure, be nimble

 Just a few years ago most pharma brands were worried about starting up a Facebook page; a few years before that it was a brand website. Some large brands go on auto-pilot, putting all of their planning dollars into TV campaigns for broad reach awareness. Meanwhile, others are ignoring all channels but digital. I’m amazed how many clients ignore the realities of a multiscreen world and opt to not to live in modern times from a marketing standpoint. If mobile adoption has reached full saturation — and most audiences start a digital engagement from this platform — customize the experience. Don’t fall back on a desktop linear only view.  Everyone goes right to the original tactics: TV, website and print. But all of this is missing the mark. The most important first step is to know your audience – understand your audience’s channel preferences and their existing behavior in media consumption and interaction.

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Once you know your audience, you can prioritize how to engage and provide value and utility across platforms and devices, which certainly creates a whole new set of complexities for brand leads that don’t have the time or resources to operate in today’s fragmented media landscape. Another complication is that review teams in regulatory/legal may not yet have mastered the always-evolving landscape and they need to or will be impeding branding progress. It’s no longer about approving a print ad, but what shape the engagement takes when it’s consumed on a tablet or via an app, shared and distributed. Yes, this is the new reality. Content comes in different shapes and sizes like a Super Bowl pre-party buffet. It’s no longer about 30s, :60s, 4-color bleed and the journal ad but instead it’s now about screen-based media and the digitization of all content being consumed across platforms and devices disrupting the old model of brand marketing.

Of course, if your audience is made up of heavy mobile users you’ll want to have a mobile presence with mobile content for relevancy and value. A physician expects platform-specific user experience and mobile content on a smartphone but this doesn’t mean a brand.com needs the full HCP site to be mobile – optimize the content of most value and relevancy to provide utility. For example, physicians may only care about prescribing information or formulary status, so make that content available.

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But here’s where things get challenging – today’s consumer and professional audience/prospects are expecting the Amazon and Apple experience. These brands have created a very high bar of best practices for engagement and utility. That doesn’t mean pharma brands have to or should deliver the way Amazon does, but we should take a page from their playbook to ensure we deliver what the audience needs and meet that need to match the expectations or risk being left behind. Optimize a mobile site for smartphones and tablets. That includes the little details of copy such as ‘touch, tap, twist or swipe here’ rather than ‘click here,’ since most mobile devices today are touch screen. In addition, customize content for mobile, since screens tend to take longer to load. A 2012 Google/Ispos/Sterling study found that 62% of mobile users are likely to abandon a website on a smartphone if the site is not mobile optimized. Know what your prospects are looking for when they visit your mobile site, and deliver that right away. But if they tend to be more traditional, don’t miss out on print and TV messaging. What works for one audience will not work for another. And remember that many consumers today are using multiple screens – in fact the Google study I referenced above found that 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially, and 77% of TV viewers watch TV while also using another device. As you prioritize, make sure not to put all of your eggs into one media basket.

 Measurement is often seen as an add-on and is sometimes cut due to budget constraints, but in actuality measurement is one of the most important parts of a campaign and should always be included. Not only can it tell you when things are working, more importantly it tells you quickly when something isn’t working, so you can be nimble and change course by trying different messaging or even a different channel when the first campaign isn’t resonating.

Technology is and has always been disruptive, and it can be hard to keep up. Embrace the change and harness the power of technology to provide value, utility and an experience to engage your audiences no matter what new screens enter the market (iWatch anyone?)

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