Alternative Media: Mobile Marketing - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: Mobile Marketing
Through PDAs, marketers have found an efficient way to communicate with and educate physicians.

Pharmaceutical Executive

A Doctors Diagnosis
But it's important to think small—not in terms of reach, impact, or ROI, but in terms of screen size. Web site designs, large graphical images, and lengthy text simply don't work on the 2"x 3" screens of most mobile computers.

Educating Physicians

Targeted clinical alerts are a popular m-marketing program. Because mobile devices are a convenient source for breaking headlines and other news snippets, many physicians have adopted mobile news services to stay abreast of specialty journals and clinical news. One such service, the Epocrates DocAlert network, is actively used by more than one in four US physicians. Each DocAlert message offers a headline, short body, and a button to request that more information be sent to the physician's e-mail. Of the more than one million messages sent each month, over 15 percent result in a follow-up e-mail request. These messages can be targeted by specialty, prescriber detail, geography, or other variables.

PDAs also make it convenient for physicians to earn CME credit anytime and anywhere. Mobile medical education courses are short—half or quarter credits—since the content is developed to fit on a smaller screen. This opens the door for more specialized CME-sponsored courses. Mobile education also helps reduce the time, and in some cases, the costs associated with traveling to conferences, attending dinner sessions or completing online courses. And for pharmaceutical companies, mobile medical education can extend the reach of traditional meeting and Web-based programs to an audience seeking more convenient education options. "Waiting time is no longer idle with the mobile medical educator," says Howard Goldberg, MD, a pulmonologist in Los Angeles, California.

Physician Feedback

Mobile computers have redefined the meaning of captive audience. M-marketing programs utilize many of the same activity metrics that online programs track, such as e-mail request rates and CME program completions. And, as market-research companies seek ways to get immediate feedback on campaign effectiveness, prescribing patterns, and use of treatment protocols, they are increasingly looking for physician feedback at the point-of-care. Responses to surveys, for example, can be received wirelessly (or via synchronization) from the physician's handheld. Physicians enjoy sharing their clinical opinions and they get paid an honorarium for doing so.

Mobile marketing also benefits from the personal nature of mobile computers. Since these devices require a fair amount of profile information that is rarely shared between users, marketers can track promotional activity to user behavior. Rather than relying on relatively anonymous unique-visitor or open-rate metrics, marketers can link promotional activity directly to physician-level prescription trends to determine how often a branded application was opened or if their drug was locked-up.

Measuring the ROI

This physician-level linkage provides marketers and their management with the gold standard of ROI measurement: shareshift studies. In one such published study conducted for a top ten pharmaceutical company, consulting firm ZS Associates tested the impact of the Epocrates DocAlert m-marketing program on a test group of 300 cardiologists. Across two cardiovascular brands in highly competitive markets, the study of physicians demonstrated statistically significant (p < .01) shifts in market share relative to a pre-selected control group. Over the five-month test period, the primary-positioned product increased new prescriptions by 12.7 percent and the secondary-positioned product by 6.7 percent.

With the pressures of modern medicine only increasing, physicians will continue to embrace the benefits of mobile computers and become more accustomed to the convenience of readily available information during a patient consultation.

As such, marketers are leveraging trusted channels to get their brand messages directly to the physician's fingertips. Today, over 100 pharmaceutical brands have launched m-marketing programs, and many are already in their second or third year of active programs. It is undisputed that the practice of medicine is transforming, but the question remains whether your marketing programs will be part of the mobile evolution.


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