Great digital should be personal. As the Covid-19 environment continues to cause brands to shift more heavily toward digital and increase their non-physical tactics, it is important to remember this. We must work hard to keep these interactions personal.

Personalization of content, experiences, and support services is already a mainstay of ecommerce and retail. When done well, personalization improves brand engagement, preference, and loyalty. In the life sciences space, however, personalization is often minimized because implementation and measuring the impact is perceived as difficult. A well-designed personalization and data strategy should be combined with a concerted change management effort to make personalization familiar and natural. This guide will provide some practical tips to help inspire more personalization in your digital engagements.

It is important to have a clear picture of what separates purposeful personalization from aimless personalization. Great personalization does 3 things:

  1. Respects your customer’s time. Empathy and time go hand in hand. As you increase your empathy for the day-to-day experience of patients and providers, the value you place on their time and attention increases as well. Personalizing calls to action and content should save customers time.
  2. Is relevant to the matter at hand. Your personalization approach should reflect your customer’s current circumstances. It should be designed to rapidly sense societal and local shifts and flex in response. Personalized experiences come to life through context.
  3. Focuses on what customers value. Your personalized experience should speak to the greatest interest/need/pain point for your customers. Too often personalization is applied in a one-sided fashion that only focuses on what the brand values. Personalization requires brands to listen and appreciate what customers truly value.

Developing and implementing a personalization strategy requires a shift in how organizations operate and how experiences are designed. Let’s look at a few of the best practices that can accelerate this shift.

Walk a Mile in the Customer’s Shoes: Immerse yourself into the daily experience of your professional and patient audiences. Current and real-world insights are critical to foster the empathy and perspective required for great personalization. Take the pulse of your customers outside standard market research and ATUs to uncover daily challenges and current pressures. Tap into your sales force advisory teams to gain insights into how their conversations have evolved. Make social listening an actionable part of you content and editorial strategy. Partner with advocacy to understand how the current environment and society shifts are impacting their patient and caregiver community.

Treat Personalization as a Team Sport: Great personalization requires a strong partnership between marketing, technology, data, sales, operations teams, and agency partners. Marketing technology and automation powered by well-integrated data is important for efficient and optimized personalization. Even the most optimized technology and data environment requires content that fuels the personalized experience. Often these teams have a different lexicon when it comes to personalization. Create a shared vocabulary across these stakeholders. Develop a collaboration approach in which each group provides their discipline-specific ingredients to the personalization experience. It’s important to incorporate Medical, Legal, and Regulatory into the collaboration to establish a process for reviewing and submitting personalized content and experiences.

Find Your “Hold the Door” Moments: Personalization thrives on getting the little things right. I call them Hold the door moments. If you’ve ever visited a Wawa, people hold the door for each other. It’s not terribly difficult to do, but it’s a viral chain of courtesy across a diverse spectrum of visitors. What are those little courtesies or ease of use nods that you can incorporate into your personalization strategy? Well-designed personalization often leads to a pleasant surprise compared to expectation. Personalizing elements of difficult processes like copay support, coverage decisions, and prior authorization can directly improve the start experience.

Create a Value Inventory: What do you value? It’s a broad and often existential question but understanding what you value can help put what your customer values into perspective. As many of us are working from home, we are surrounded by a different environment. Look around right now. What items in your view have value to you?  They may represent social aspects (family), technology (innovation), economic (monetary), or personal achievement (learning). Your patient and professional audiences are surrounded by many of the same reminders of value. For each audience, develop a value inventory that maps what customers value holistically, for your disease state, for your treatment experience. Leverage thought leaders and speakers in a more fluid and real-time manner to pressure test professional value propositions. Co-create with patient advisors your unique value offerings.

Think Global, Act Local: It’s a phrase most often applied to environmental causes, but it has applicability to sustainable and responsible marketing. Most marketing programs and their associated messages are built for large customer segments or designed to work across general audiences of patients and professionals. But positive health outcomes and change are accomplished at the local and community level. The social determinants of health are highly location specific and should be reflected in how we use personalization within disease education efforts. Local context applied to personalization increases the ability to internalize and retain learning and improves the credibility of the conversation.

Embrace the Scientific Method: One advantage for the life sciences industry is its familiarity with the scientific method. Applying the scientific method to personalization helps identify small wins and places to start transforming your experience. Collaborate with your team to develop hypotheses for specific audiences on where personalization will improve engagement, save time, encourage conversation, or impact learning. Prioritize these hypotheses and develop controlled experiments to apply them. Analyze the results and use each trial to improve future experiments and hypotheses.

Personalization is a powerful tool to bring human feeling into a digital world. The following questions can help pressure test your personalization efforts.

10 Questions to Make Your Experiences More Personal

  1. Do we have a clear picture of our intended audience and what they value?
  2. How does this personalized content or service help our customer?
  3. What elements of our omnichannel experience can be personalized?
  4. What are our “Hold the door” moments in this experience?
  5. What elements of this experience speak to your customer’s unique context?
  6. What contextual insights drove our personalization decisions/choices?
  7. How should this experience transform for different audiences in different locations?
  8. What data attributes will drive the delivery of our personalization?
  9. Where are the biggest friction points and time burners in our experience?
  10. Have we established test vs control experiments for our personalization choices?