Building a culture of maturity: applied omnichannel marketing in life sciences

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By Will Reese, Chief Innovation Officer, Inizio Evoke

In today's digital age, omnichannel marketing is necessary for brands looking to remain competitive and more efficiently serve customers. This is particularly true for the life sciences industry, where personalized and integrated customer experiences are crucial for building trust and loyalty. However, achieving omnichannel marketing maturity requires more than implementing the right technology or processes. It requires a cultural shift within the organization to prioritize customer-centricity and cross-functional collaboration. In this article, we explore the steps necessary for building a culture of omnichannel marketing maturity in the life sciences industry. From aligning leadership and creating a shared vision to fostering a data-driven culture and empowering employees, we provide practical insights and examples to help life sciences companies take their omnichannel marketing efforts to the next level.

The pandemic accelerated many companies' omnichannel efforts, with some organizations beginning their omnichannel journey years prior and others just starting to create their vision post-pandemic. When it comes to the question of maturity, it doesn't always correspond to abject size, financial investment, or proliferation of channels. Instead, it is how organizations' leadership and culture have embraced change while maintaining a consistent north star on their customers. Mature organizations move beyond omnichannel theory and build a strong applied omnichannel capability with tangible results.

Let's explore five things organizations can do to increase their omnichannel maturity and improve their effectiveness:

  1. Lead to outcomes
    Omnichannel is often handled as a destination instead of a means to an end. Mature organizations begin with a clear focus on opportunities and outcomes that are unlocked with an omnichannel approach. However, omnichannel does not solve all brand or customer challenges and doesn't replace good marketing fundamentals. Leaders are essential in shifting the mindset towards data-driven decision-making.

    Anchor teams in a deep understanding of your customers' journey and the associated insights and data at each touchpoint. Use this information to ensure consistent decision-making across customer touchpoints. Omnichannel success requires leaders who measure omnichannel success through the lens of business and customer outcomes and the moments of strategic advantage created along this journey.

  2. Embrace the scientific method
    Mature omnichannel requires comfort with a test-and-learn approach. There is art and science in great marketing; this is a case where the scientific method is your friend. The scientific method provides a systematic framework for exploring and understanding complex phenomena.

    Omnichannel experiences are best when optimized through testable hypotheses and measurable experiments. This approach comes with failure. It is about making a series of informed $5 bets, winning some and scaling, losing some, and learning. Today, many brands are making significant marketing bets with delayed or unknown payoffs. You can use this to fine-tune personalization, conversion, and optimization of modular content. This approach helps mitigate potential risks while improving replicability. Peer reviews help socialize successes and failures and rapidly build best practices.

  3. Foster internal communication
    An effective and efficient omnichannel capability is often a more significant human problem than a technological one. Omnichannel breaks down silos and forces new collaborations. Medical, marketing, sales, access, patient service, and communications teams must collaborate in new ways that look holistically at customers' experiences as they move between touchpoints and navigate within their healthcare system.

    Marketers, technologists, data scientists, and content creators must work together to solve delivery and engagement challenges. Organizations need to keep teams pointed towards a shared goal while building a shared lexicon that helps translate between the disciplines. We are also seeing the rise of multidisciplinary t-shaped talent with experience across marketing, technology, and data, which can help facilitate collaboration. In addition, effective end-to-end orchestration is critical.

  4. Measure your agility
    Change is inevitable. A mature omnichannel approach allows organizations to respond rapidly and effectively to change. Informed agility creates a competitive advantage. Agility can be measured at a brand, process, and individual level.

    Time is one of the most neglected experience and process dimensions to optimize omnichannel efforts. Benchmark your organizational and brand time to respond to positive and negative market changes. Review your recent responses to change and identify ways to optimize the process. Set goals for modular and dynamic content to lower asset creation time to market.

    An agile organization can adapt to emerging channels or technologies quickly. Assess the organization's ability to integrate new channels, such as media platforms, within your ecosystem. Gauge the level of collaboration and communication among different teams and departments involved in omnichannel operations and calculate your speed of decision-making and optimization.

  5. Plan differently
    As omnichannel thinking becomes more deeply integrated into the overall marketing process, the need for more systematic strategic planning arises. Unlike traditional annual brand planning, which may focus primarily on individual channels or campaigns, omnichannel strategic planning requires agility and adaptability to respond to evolving customer preferences and emerging market opportunities. This necessitates periodic reviews and updates to the strategy to ensure its continued effectiveness.

    In the context of omnichannel, it is crucial to recognize that it is not simply an add-on or a separate initiative from the brand plan. Achieving omnichannel maturity requires the discipline to assess and stop activities that are no longer effective or aligned with the overarching strategy. This frees up resources and allows for a reallocation towards more impactful and customer-centric initiatives across channels.

    To ensure comprehensive and well-rounded planning, it is essential to bring additional diverse voices into the process. These voices should represent different perspectives, such as service, experience, and technology. By including individuals from various departments and backgrounds, organizations can leverage a broader range of insights and expertise, resulting in a more robust omnichannel strategy that considers all aspects of customer engagement.

In conclusion, building a culture of omnichannel marketing maturity in the life sciences industry is a complex and multifaceted endeavor. It requires organizations to prioritize customer-centricity, embrace a test-and-learn approach, foster internal communication and collaboration, measure agility, and plan strategically with adaptability. By following these steps, life sciences companies can elevate their omnichannel marketing efforts and effectively serve their customers in today's digital landscape.

The journey toward omnichannel maturity is not a destination but a continuous process of evolution and improvement, guided by a consistent focus on customer needs and outcomes. By embracing these principles and incorporating diverse perspectives, organizations can thrive in the ever-changing world of omnichannel marketing and deliver personalized and integrated experiences that drive trust and loyalty.