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What successful digital engagement means

And how should pharmaceutical companies look to measure it?

With a reduced headcount and increased pressure on resources, the need for pharma companies to justify their sales and marketing activities has never been greater; but how can you measure online engagement? How can digital add value to your other marketing and sales activities, and what metrics should you use?

Independent online professional networks are so sophisticated that pharma companies can measure everything from doctors' levels of awareness of a disease or therapy area through to changes in their prescribing intentions and behaviour.

The 'user reported profiles' that doctors create when they join Doctors.net.uk, which include their current post, clinical interests and professional responsibilities, provide a key point of reference for ensuring that sales and marketing materials are targeted effectively. 

However, doctors can also be identified on the basis of their online behaviour, which means, for example, that a pharma company looking to engage with doctors on asthma can identify GPs whose online searches or digital education history point to a particular interest in asthma, as well as those doctors who are easier to identify by nature of their job title or declared clinical interest. 

When delivering key messages and information to specific audiences, Doctors.net.uk can measure the number of unique doctors exposed to key messages; the number of unique doctors visiting content pages, plus frequency/repeat visits and the amount of time spent viewing campaigns. But measurement shouldn't end there.

We can also measure changes in prescribing intention, perceptions and behaviour via research and carefully conducted surveys. Before a promotional programme is launched, it makes sense to assess specific knowledge and attitudes amongst your audience to ensure you create an impact by addressing their needs. After engagement we can then measure the impact that the programme has had on knowledge and behaviour. 

In summary, the level of granularity of data that online communities can provide is more sophisticated than information that can be generated by the field sales force and also complements that activity. In addition to informing and updating the digital campaign to ensure that it meets doctors' evolving needs, the data can feed into other multichannel activity to ensure consistency and message penetration.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on twitter: doctors_net_uk

14th December 2012

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