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Digital Engagement is Only as Good as the First-Party Data It Provides


Over the past two years, we’ve seen a decade’s worth of digital transformation in life sciences as companies and healthcare professionals (HCPs) embraced digital engagement. Even as in-person interactions and events come back to some degree post-pandemic, digital-first engagement is here to stay because companies are reaching more HCPs and driving deeper relationships.

Sharat Sharan

Sharat Sharan

Now, HCPs not only prefer digital engagement, but they also have greater expectations that interactions are online. According to the AMA1, the pandemic accelerated the rise of the “digital-native physician.” Digital is here to stay.

But using digital channels without capturing first-party data is a missed opportunity. First-party data is captured through interactions with HCPs on a company’s own digital channels. The more an HCP engages, the more first-party data marketers can collect, gathering valuable insights for sales to deliver a better HCP experience.

As life sciences moves toward a digital-first future, capturing first-party data will be key for companies faced with growing data privacy and compliance restrictions. It will empower marketers and sales with a better understanding of the HCPs they’re targeting, enable greater customization in the messages being delivered, and, ultimately, provide the personalized experiences HCPs need to improve patient care.

Stay ahead of emerging data privacy and compliance regulations

Typically, marketing organizations rely on third-party data to try to predict HCP behavior. But growing restrictions around the use of third-party data and data privacy regulations have shifted control of data from companies to individuals, profoundly impacting sales and marketing.

In addition to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), other data privacy regulations2 emerging that are putting increasing restrictions on the collection and use of customer data. This year will also mark the end of third-party cookies3 as a way for marketers to collect user data.

Moving forward, companies can no longer rely solely on a third-party data approach. Instead, first-party, consented data will allow marketers to understand HCP intent mapped to an actual individual’s behavior, rather than a generalized persona or title. A digital strategy that puts audience engagement at its core delivers these valuable, actionable first-party HCP insights.

Smart companies will master first-party data to drive results amid growing data restrictions. There’s a significant opportunity for organizations to move beyond generic third-party data to capturing data during digital experiences that is specific to individual HCPs.

Once this data is captured, organizations can then integrate it into sales and marketing systems, including Veeva CRM4, so sales reps can better understand the information and treatments HCPs need to care for their patients and deliver the next best action to HCPs.

Move beyond HCP interest to HCP intent

As more HCPs embraced engagement in digital channels, marketers intensified their digital programs to generate more leads and create new HCP opportunities during product launches. But in the digital-first era, a qualified lead is no longer enough because it simply shows a HCP’s interest, not their intent.

Digital engagement provides a way for companies to capture more first-party data than they ever could during physical experiences. This data then allows marketers to calculate the time and intent of every HCP interaction and deliver a comprehensive profile to sales, not just handover a lead.

Sales reps can then use first-party data to continue a conversation, not try to start one, which is especially critical since much of the education process now happens before an HCP meets a rep. For marketers, digital provides more insights to better analyze an HCP’s behavior and help sales deliver the right action at the right time.

Moving ahead, first-party data will help marketers move from a lead generation mindset and simply tracking interest to truly understanding an HCP’s intent, what makes them ready to engage, and what happens after they do. From there, the total value of marketing’s digital programs becomes much clearer.

Deliver greater personalization to HCPs and Accounts

Expectations are growing among HCPs that each engagement and digital experience is tailored to their needs. With more interactions moving online, there is a big opportunity for life sciences organizations to use first-party data to drive personalization at scale across accounts, contacts, and individual interests.

Digital experiences capture every HCP interaction and behavior, find insights into an HCP’s intent, and surface these signals for sales to take action. Marketers can determine HCP interests based on content they consume or digital events they attend, for example. With first-party insights, companies can move beyond one-size-fits-all marketing approaches and customize the next message and action to each individual HCP.

First-party data also enables life sciences companies to accelerate their account-based marketing (ABM) and key account management (KAM) strategies. Marketers can personalize digital experiences with target account logos and banners, as well as content based on an individual’s title, company, and interests. This allows sales reps and marketers to provide customized digital experiences for the individuals at the top accounts they’re trying to engage and win.

Moving toward a first-party data future

The shift to digital engagement has empowered marketers to capture HCP behavioral insights across every interaction to better understand their needs and preferences. But the value of life sciences companies’ digital engagement initiatives is only as good as the actionable first-party data they collect.

With more first-party data, companies can address privacy and compliance regulations, know the intent of every HCP, and deliver greater personalization across sales and marketing. This data will make the difference in driving results in a digital-first future.

Sharat Sharan is Founder, President, and CEO at ON24

1 https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/digital-health-tools-gain-momentum-among-physicians

2 https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/an-overview-of-data-privacy-regulations-8614892/

3 https://www.on24.com/blog/why-b2b-marketers-must-plan-for-a-cookie-less-future/

4 https://www.on24.com/press-releases/on24-joins-veevas-technology-partner-program-to-advance-digital-event-experiences-in-life-sciences/

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