Taking It Personally: Building Relationships Online
To connect with customers today, marketers must learn to create personal relationships online. While it may seem ironic to talk about building personal relationships without face-to-face interaction, research shows that it works. With Web personalization quickly becoming the norm in online marketing, pharma companies can capitalize on this strategy to provide meaningful information while building a loyal customer base.
What is Web Personalization?
Personalization allows marketers to tell their product/service story in the most compelling way possible. It provides a fast and easy way to disseminate vital information while gathering helpful brand planning and sales optimization data.
Many consumer marketers already use Web personalization in ways that pharmaceutical companies are just beginning to echo. Google users, for example, can choose how many references they would like displayed, select a specific interface language, and even design their own home page that displays local weather, time, and news. Return visitors to Amazon.com are greeted with a personal hello. When they buy a product, buyers receive merchandise recommendations that may be related to their choice, as well as merchandise that will be available soon—all related to personal interests as determined by past Web site visits and purchases.
Personalization in Pharma
Historically, pharma Web sites have provided information about a product and disease state, as well as the company. Content, tone, style, and graphics remain the same no matter who visits the site; frequent visitors are not identified or rewarded for returning; and information gathered is “lumped” into one or few buckets. T hese Web sites serve merely to disseminate of information—forget about building relationships.
However, a growing number of companies are exploring—and implementing—certain forms of Web personalization strategies. For instance, the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) designed a Web site to help connect with multiple potential audiences and get users to participate in the AOA’s Own the Bone program; a comprehensive program to help reduce the incidence of future fragility fractures (breaks that occur easily as a result of osteoporosis). AOA identified three potential audiences, and the site was constructed with separate sections for patients, healthcare providers, and sponsors. To create the strongest possible personal connection with each audience, the tone and content for each section was customized to appeal to the interests of each group. Additionally, AOA developed three recurring “calls to action” for each of the groups. These calls ranged from following steps and measures to hospital participation in an ongoing database and actual financial support.
As part of their continuing commitment to fight breast cancer, AstraZeneca developed an inspiring personalized Web site called “Celebration Chain,” which allows visitors to create animated dolls that she can “identify” with. Users can choose physical attributes for the “paper” doll (such as hair and skin color), as well as the doll’s relationship to the user. Users are also encouraged to select characteristics that reflect the individual they’re celebrating—from sports fanatic and fighter to someone who “makes you laugh, gives hugs, lights up a room.” After the doll has been built, the information is played back in an animated story format. This site celebrates triumph, relationships, and the use of personalization technology.
The journey toward Web personalization begins with strategic planning and a conscious effort to make Web content is consistent and compatible with offline tactics. This assures a seamless approach to marketing initiatives.
To build a strong personal relationship with visitors, market research should be leveraged to reveal specific target audience traits. Additionally, an analysis of blogs and chat rooms can provide hints from customers of unmet wants and needs.
Format for Ease and Flexibility
Adapt a Current Web Site
Constantly Test the Personal Relationship
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