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Counting what counts

Measurement is the lifeblood of communications and brand investment in analytics is poised for steep growth
measure success

It was Albert Einstein who said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.“ If the great man was so in awe of 'Big Data', then what are we poor mortals to do with it? Yet, in the pharma world, the rewards for unravelling the opportunities that come with big data are endless.

Measurement is our lifeblood. To improve we measure. To get paid we measure. Being accountable gives us the answers to tough questions. In our demanding and competitive environment, with reduced sales forces, cheaper prices and greater patient power, measurement will keep us in business.

Today, pretty much everything is measurable. And by measuring consumer behaviour you can use it to business advantage. Airlines can sit regular passengers beside someone compatible and enhance their product offering. The weather channel in the US will tell you what forecasts will prompt what purchases in which regions - and how many days after the forecast has happened. These measurements have a clear business benefit.

So when your client drops into the conversation, just as your new campaign is launching, that he wants to know how you are measuring success, it's smart to have a clear answer. 

Business goals and KPIs 
Ideally we need to have been actively engaging with the client from the pitch onwards about what he is measuring and why. The old adage if you can't measure it you can't evaluate it, remains true. Choosing KPIs that can be measured is essential. But you also need KPIs that count and not all of them, as Einstein suggested, are easy to identify. Especially in our changing landscape.

In the next decade the focus for digital marketing in healthcare will be directed towards strategies that promote prevention, chronic-disease management and the wise use of health services. Measurement will play a key role in creating the ongoing digital relationships with HCPs and patients upon which we will increasingly depend.

A lot of this is straightforward and should already be part of good housekeeping for every advertiser. We can track easily how many emails have been opened, web pages viewed or apps downloaded and updated. We can map numbers as customers travel down the conversion funnel. We can identify where they drop off and seal up the holes. We can plot engagements against sales and profit. We can make predictions for the future and quantify the optimal future ad spend.

So we're all busy measuring, right?
Wrong. At the moment our industry sometimes fails to measure even the simple things. We invest relatively little in measuring click through, page impressions, dwell times. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Every year, we waste hundreds of millions of dollars on ineffective digital communication. New figures from comScore show that more than half of digital ads (54 per cent) are never even seen by consumers. 

The situation is made more complex by the fragmentation of channels, growth of mobile devices and new world of social media.

At ThinkDigital in 2012 - Digitas Health's annual thought leadership forum - over 70 per cent of the international pharma marketers attending did not feel confident they could quantify the effectiveness of their current social media campaigns. 

Yet this is exactly the area where we need clarity, measurement, benchmarks. The advent of social media has set high brand expectations from HCPs and patients and if not met in, say, a patient support programme, defection is swift and public. 

Our digital world allows brands to be almost real-time in reacting to customer feedback and changes in the marketplace. Measurement facilitates optimisation and helps to ensure that brands are continuously synchronised with customer expectations. 

Marketing needs to account for the experience that it creates for customers. Accountability should answer the questions - What is the impact of the campaign? Did it achieve a shift in customers' mind-sets? How will it shape their future behaviour? 

If the transformation from product-centric sales to customer driven strategy is to build on its success to date, we need to be continually in synch with the passions and interests of our customers. And, in this insight-driven world, charting market share and product uptake is just the starter. Counting 'Likes' is no more than an amuse-bouche. We need a whole new menu to select from.

Okay, how do we do it?
In other sectors we are seeing massive investment in measuring attitude and behaviour. The financial services industry, for example, uses NPS (net promoter scores) as a matter of routine to set benchmarks for customer support. J&J is now following suit.

We also need to create consistent measurement across the entire customer journey. Patients can touch the brand anywhere, any time and flow in and out of the brand experience at will. A successful campaign will know the crucial touch-points, their hierarchy and their role.

A new generation of KPIs
Classic KPIs such as sales and market share have always been measured in retrospect. Now we need to supplement these 'lag' indicators with 'lead' indicators that track what customers are thinking and doing 'in the moment'.

Classic 'lag' indicators are measured by:

  • Defining the objectives 
  • Measuring the digital contribution to branding 
  • Measuring the impact of online campaigns on offline sales
  • Measuring media mix effectiveness
  • Analysing the impact of online advertising on browsing behaviour
  • Assessing the impact of targeting on all aspects of the campaign
  • Measuring the impact of advertising formats on conversion and branding.

New 'lead' indicators deliver deeper insights based on: 

  • Engagement - look for metrics around re-tweeting, re-posts, replies and comments as well as clicks and likes. Find out how many people are participating, how often and, in what ways
  • Awareness - use volume, reach, exposure and amplification to measure how far your message is spreading
  • Driving traffic - track URL shares, interactions and conversions. Do people move through social media to your website and what do they do once they arrive?
  • Advocates - measure contributors to online conversations by volume and influence. Identify advocates, their followers and their impact on others
  • Share of voice - how much of the overall conversation around the product category is about your brand?

Additional influences on the bigger picture include causal measurement, voice based metrics and trust. Social media is a megaphone for the customer voice and a lot of consumer brands have already recognised that.

The number of brands using NPS to measure buzz/referrals has increased by 30 per cent since 2010 according to a CMO survey, while the number of companies using 'followers and friends' as a key metric has increased by 27 per cent. Trust - and how it is expressed - will play an ever growing role in the future of marketing.

Measuring behavioural change 
Healthcare support programmes - either government services or privately funded - are flourishing and organisations are simultaneously exploring changing patient behaviour and measuring effectiveness. 

The long-term objective is to improve patient health and reduce healthcare utilisation, but short term goals can be defined by reduced healthcare claims, improved patient-satisfaction surveys and increased awareness of one healthcare company over its competitors.

Take Humana, who supplied free pedometers to British diabetes patients. By clearly measuring what motivated their test market, they went on to achieve a highly successful roll out to 20,000 people.

We need to act now
Data justifies our existence and we must look beyond market share to set future goals. Campaigns must deliver against perception, attitude and behaviour. We must measure consistently from the first touch, through the desired shift in mind-set to the full completion of the customer relationship. 

During the broadcast age, it used to be considered impossible to connect all the dots. Today digital interactions and the resulting behaviour can be tracked and analysed in real time to ensure continuous optimisation of the customer experience. We can expect to see brand investment in analytics rise by 80 per cent over the next three years.

Although not the traditional heartland of many advertising and marketing agencies, big data is here to stay. It's time for us all, clients and agencies alike, to give this part of our business the value it deserves and establish guidelines and standards that should be built into RFPs and form part of every agency's response. This way everyone is clear about what is needed and measurement can fulfil its vital role in all areas of sales and marketing.

Article by
June Dawson

member of the EACA Health Communications Council and managing director at Digitas Health

2nd December 2013

From: Marketing

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