Since we know autumn is a key time for campaign and marketing strategy, we are publishing a 3-part series of blogs about considerations for being ‘Digital from Start to Finish’ with market research so that the research is better designed to support marketing strategy development. This series starts with part 1:

Integrated digital campaign strategy

How many times have you looked at your Facebook today and how many times did you have conversations with colleagues? How many articles have you read online in the past month, and how many in hard copy? How many ‘dips’ did you take into your email inbox in the past week, and how many calls did you receive? How many songs have you heard on the radio in the past week, and how many have you listened to on your phone? For years now digital media has infiltrated our lives in a very integrated way; it is ever-present in our lives; it has usurped some traditional channels, created new channels, and peacefully co-existed with other channels.

It is trendy in pharmaceutical marketing at the moment to talk about “digital strategy”, but we’d argue that because digital media has become a large part of everyday life for our stakeholders and ourselves, designing your media content strategy should be done holistically. As a quotation one of our colleagues shared recently said “Having a digital strategy will soon seem as ridiculous as having an electricity strategy” –Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK – i.e. by all means utilise it to its full potential, but do so in an integrated way; considering all the relevant channels (both traditional and digital) and targeting investment and content at the channels that offer the best growth potential.

In this endeavour, smart market research can help in three key ways:

1. Insight into customer channel use behaviour. You may have had the experience of your brand of yoghurt proclaiming loudly “Follow us on twitter!”. But although you may adore their tasty Scottish raspberry pot, you’re not looking for 140 characters of yoghurt news every hour. Similarly, when planning your communication strategy, it’s essential to consider the specific media channels that your customers gravitate towards when seeking product or health-related news, the content they consume there, and the perceived source/provider of that content. And what makes this a really challenging topic to research is, as with the examples above; you can’t just rely on memory to accurately map this media landscape. At HRW, we have worked with clients to apply a variety of techniques (including options that mitigate channel preference bias) that allow us to capture this detail. And the detail is critical here, because by really understanding the current media landscape and content sought on each channel, you can identify the most appropriate and impactful channels with which to engage your audience, as well as the best way to frame your approach there.

2. Segmenting for smart targeting – you probably have friends who are “digital natives” who work nearly paperless, are early adopters of tech, and are fluent in the best online networking and search methods. You probably also have friends who scoff at the new-fangled gadgets, prefer to stick with paper copies of documents, and don’t regularly engage with online media. Similarly, your customers, whether they are patients, physicians, or payers will be heterogeneous in their attitudes towards digital media and digital tools. But by looking at the groups and segments of media use patterns, we can identify which channels are used by which customers to help choose media targeting. By knowing what the needs are of the specific customer types who engage with those channels, you can engage them on topics that have the most potential to hook and excite them around your content. This means you can have a targeted channel and content strategy to really further your brand.

3. Measurability and return on investment – often digital channels appeal to marketers because they provide lots of in-built analytics about the number of page hits, session duration, source of traffic, etc. however many companies are not (yet) making optimal use of these analytics to help them target their communication more effectively across channels. There are lots of ways that we as researchers can integrate this tracking alongside performance tracking of ‘traditional’ channels (such as face to face or paper communication), to give you the overall picture of how your multichannel campaign is performing: to give you the data-driven insight to help re-prioritise channel spend, design new content, and justify expenditure to senior leadership.

In summary, by providing insights on these three important aspects and providing holistic context for your channel choice your research can help you design and deliver a relevant, engaging, targeted, and measurable campaign for your brand; across channels, in an integrated way.

For more information, get in touch and stay tuned for part 2: digital methods.

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