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Make Content Work Harder from Start to Finish


A centralized platform for assets supports the industry’s need for a greater volume of more diverse content, writes Callum Hawes.



Life sciences professionals are acutely familiar with the concept of the content lifecycle because it affects a wide group of stakeholders - not just marketing, but medical, regulatory, legal and ops - and that’s all before the content is even distributed into the various channels. Robust review cycles have always been crucial for ensuring only compliant brand messages reach the intended audience: doctors and patients. 

The changing healthcare landscape, more digitally native physicians, an increase in personalized engagement, and the rise of specialty medicine are all contributing to the need for content in the life sciences industry to evolve. This evolution is needed across the board, from the type of assets created to the systems managing these materials. Although the main objective of the content lifecycle remains the same, technology is creating new possibilities.

One solution that is supporting the industry’s need for a greater volume of more diverse content is a centralized platform for assets. A single centralized system gives global teams and agency partners access to the same materials and makes it easy to share content all over the world. Cloud technology also enables better compliance by automating important tasks, such as linking claims to their reference documents, and providing insights into processes like review times and reuse.

What makes the life sciences digital supply chain unique?

As cloud technology becomes ingrained in content lifecycles, the digital supply chain is becoming ever more familiar. The digital supply chain describes how promotional materials move through content journey. Starting with creation, review, and approval, materials then travel through different channels like web, email, and field representatives before ultimately arriving in the hands of doctors and consumers.

Marketing teams want full visibility into how promotional assets are being used and how they are performing in the market to refine their strategy and produce more valuable assets, faster. The life sciences digital supply chain is unique in the way it brings stakeholders across the content development process (marketers, operations, agencies, medical, legal, regulatory, and the field) together in one platform. 

Before delving into how to measure content to produce more effective materials, it is important to understand the five main components of the digital supply chain. 

Creative collaboration 

Collaboration can occur across a marketing team, with agencies, or even between regions. Whether producing content in-house or with external vendors, creating compelling, brand-aligned content puts the digital supply chain in action.

Review and approval 

Put simply, the goal of this step is for the necessary stakeholders to review and approve content, so it is compliant and ready for distribution. Bringing together different teams on one workflow is complex. But managing these cycles on a cloud system has simplified this process now that each group can quickly access assets on the same central system.

Sharing and reusing

Following the approval process, content is ready to be shared across the organization. How organizations share content depends on who they want to reach. Sharing content with other regions saves these teams the cost of recreating assets from scratch. When materials are ready, they can localize or modify them for their needs. The effective sharing and re-using of promotional materials also ensures consistent messaging across channels, adding to a seamless brand experience.

Multichannel distribution and delivery 

Equipped with approved content, teams can then share messages with the market. Companies can use a variety of different channels depending on their audiences’ preferences, whether that be in-person, social media, marketing newsletters, webinars, events, or a blend of any of these activities. 

Customer engagement and insights

While getting content into the hands of the customer is a key milestone, it’s not the final step. It’s important to know if the materials resonate with the target audience. Tools like tracking links, social metrics, and content sentiment all help measure customer reaction to and engagement with the materials. To fully understand the impact of these metrics, these insights should flow back into the centralized system. With asset performance data and results that are easily visible, marketing teams can use these findings to inform their strategy. 

How to measure the performance of promotional materials

Each step of the digital supply chain provides information for improving the content program, but such insights depend on asking the right questions of the data at the right stage. Getting granular with the analysis is the best way to learn which metrics fit the content’s objectives.

For example, consider how the quality of the materials submitted for medical, legal, and regulatory (MLR) review will affect the number of review cycles. The lower the quality of the original content, the longer the review time. More time in review means valuable resources like legal and regulatory teams are spending a lot of time on just one asset. A longer review time also slows materials getting to market. If sales reps or regional marketing teams have to wait months for an overdue piece of content, they may find other assets to promote in the meantime or produce the content themselves. If this happens, people across the organization will question if developing this asset was worth its overall cost.

Uncovering the hidden insights in promotional content

There are many ways to combine metrics to get the full picture of content performance. To avoid getting overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities, consider improving one crucial aspect of the content and define what metrics are necessary for achieving this overall goal.

In a situation where an organization wants to drive greater reuse, but regional teams are recreating materials - start by identifying the core metrics around review speed by tracking how long it takes for content to go through a typical MLR review. Does the adapted content take less time to approve? If yes, then compare the cost benefit of adapted versus locally created content to determine if there are significant agency savings. Measure both global and local review times in case regional teams need to translate materials and send them through local review. Examining this process can make trends visible, such as the effects of longer MLR reviews.

Sharing approved materials with regional teams is only half the task. It is crucial to be able to measure value. If the audience doesn’t find the assets useful, it doesn’t matter how high reuse is. Continue to track content after teams distribute it. Once it is clear which messages resonate, or fail, with an audience, adjust the marketing strategy to create more personalized assets.

Improving content reuse at any organization will involve more than one answer. Organizations may need to figure out why MLR review is slow as well as improve the quality of content. Realizing that these two pieces compose a more complete view of reuse is key to figuring out how to improve results.

Running an effective digital supply chain

Set the foundation by understanding key metrics around review times. Track how long content takes to go through a typical MLR review. Then delve deeper into reuse data, identifying trends across regions and departments. It is important to track content even after it has been distributed to determine if the target audience finds the assets valuable. Once marketing teams know which messages resonate with the target audience, they can adjust their strategy and drive better results.

Executing a successful end-to-end content program requires more than just identifying the right metrics. Teams need to be bought into the digital supply chain vision as well as understand the unique, important role they play. Keeping everyone informed of goals - whether it’s increasing reuse or cutting costs - will empower them to offer valuable feedback on how to improve processes. Like any successful strategy, a well-oiled digital supply chain must consistently evolve to meet the changing needs and goals of the organization.

Callum Hawes is Director of Commercial Content Strategy at Veeva Systems.

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