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  • Writer's pictureKarsten Schmidt

Noticeably improved omnichannel engagements smartly adhering to customer channel preferences

In 2021, 61% of healthcare professionals stated digital engagements with Pharma companies in EU4 plus UK to be important or very important compared to only 55% two years earlier (source: latest Across Health Navigator 365™ Data; n = 4.333). Also, the percentage of marketing budgets of Life Sciences companies allocated to digital initiatives increased from 26,4% to 27,8% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Yet the level of satisfaction of HCPs with Pharma´s digital offerings is currently only 44%. We have asked Beverly Smet, SVP at Across Health, to shed some more light on the current situation in Pharma´s omnichannel (OC) customer engagements.

Karsten: Thanks for joining us for our interview today, Beverly. Let´s jump right to one of the core questions: What do you think are the reasons for the limited satisfaction of HCPs with omnichannel offerings of Pharma companies?

Beverly: In most geographies and therapeutic areas (TAs) we have seen a significant improvement of HCP digital satisfaction levels during the pandemic as a lot of Pharma companies were forced to ramp up their digital efforts as a result of access restrictions. In EU4/UK, the percentage of (very) satisfied HCPs grew from 33% (2019) to 44% (2021). A caveat however is that the % ‘very’ satisfied HCPs barely moved from 4% to 6% in the same timeframe.

In conclusion, still a lot of improvement is possible as more than half of HCPs have a neutral sentiment or are dissatisfied. And the latter in most cases is not because of overexposure to digital.

During the pandemic, many Pharma companies increased their digital frequency, but should avoid pursuing just an increase of Share of Voice (SOV). Sufficient attention will also have to be paid to Quality Of Voice (QOV) to avoid digital fatigue.

Karsten: And is omnichannel really here to stay after the pandemic?

Beverly: I believe it is. The tipping point has been reached during the pandemic with more HCPs preferring OC engagement with Pharma as opposed to F2F only. Our Navigator 365™ data suggests we have reached a saddle point.

As the chart below illustrates, we have observed a significant increase in reach and/or impact for most key digital channels over the past two years. At the same time, impact of F2F channels has not really decreased, which makes me conclude that digital will have to be a much stronger component that is integrated into the traditional mix moving forward.

I don’t believe that reach of digital channels will go down again to pre-pandemic levels. With new generations of so called digital native HCPs entering the field, there is a general consensus that OC preference is here to stay and will even increase further.

Karsten: What differences do you see between digital natives and digital immigrant HCPs in terms of channel preference?

Beverly: I believe the differences are gradually fading out as basically every HCP is using digital channels these days.

We do see a correlation between the so called “independent physician” archetype and younger generation of doctors, whereas digital immigrants correlate stronger to the “relationship seeker” archetype.

Digital native HCPs grew up with digital channels during their education and therefore are more prone to accessing different (sometimes independent) sources of information for their clinical decision making. As a result, they are less dependent on the field rep as the single source of information.

The analysis below that was made for German oncologists, nicely illustrates the differences in reach/impact for key Pharma owned channels between the ‘independent’ and the ‘relationship seeker’ archetype.

In general, relationship seekers don’t only attribute a higher impact to the F2F rep visit, but are in general more interested to engage with other digital Pharma owned channels as well, compared to independents.

A good example is the Pharma owned website. Both impact and reach are significantly different between the two archetypes.

Karsten: Behavioural segmentation of HCPs is becoming increasingly popular when defining omnichannel customer engagement strategies and tactics. How can archetyping of customers help tailoring the channel mix accordingly from your perspective?

Beverly: Some Pharma companies are still very much focused on ‘potential/penetration’ segmentation. Although this helps to identify the most important target customers it’s not a very actionable segmentation if you put that in the context of trying to create differentiated omnichannel customer journeys.

In an ideal world, so called ‘dynamic targeting’ is the ultimate way to approach customers where you almost engage with customers at individual level through the right channel, with the right content at the right time.

However, in many cases either robust data is missing to engage at that level or internal teams are not set-up to deal in a very short time frame with different content/channel variations.

Through behavioural segmentation, you can design so called behavioural shift journeys per HCP segment to move customers from point A to point B through a certain content sequency.

Once you have mapped that out, you can identify the right channels and connect the dots with the content journey into an omnichannel campaign configuration.

Our affinity data provide the right insights to map out these journeys and thanks to our complimentary cloud-based tools, clients can also plan and track their omnichannel campaign in a well-metricised way.

Karsten: How can Pharma companies benchmark their own omnichannel offerings against competition?

Beverly: The pandemic has led many Pharma companies to ramp up their digital investments significantly.

According to our latest industry benchmarking research, 28% of marketing budget will be allocated to digital initiatives this year and for OC teams even 35%

As a result of this, many Pharma companies are interested in understanding what good looks like for OC and which strategic omnichannel investments they should make in order to stay competitive in the future.

Recently, we have launched a new offering, which enables brand teams to directly compare their brand with up to 5 direct competitors for 20 key channels.

Furthermore, it provides insights on which channel attributes need to be addressed to improve customer experience and also includes 4 Customer Experience (Cx) KPI’s.

Karsten: The data above has been primarily coming from EU4+UK. What about data availability in other geographies?

Beverly: Our company has a global footprint when it comes down to providing HCP omnichannel affinity data. Last year we have recruited over 13.500 specialists in 36 different countries. In many cases, different therapeutic areas were covered.

The map below illustrates the global footprint:

Karsten: What can be done in terms of obtaining OC affinity data in those markets where your company is not yet present?

Beverly: Our company works with different global HCP panel providers that can recruit in almost any country around the world. By default, we run our Navigator 365™ research annually in EU4/UK + US for 9 different therapeutic areas. Any geography/ TA that is not run by default is fielded upon client request after a feasibility check.

Karsten: Thank you, Beverly, for sharing this interesting update on the progress of omnichannel customer engagements of the Life Sciences industry. I think it has become clear for our readers that there is still ample room for improving the overall customer satisfaction when it comes to OC engagements.

In summary, we can say that key digital channels have had a significant increase in reach and impact over the past two years. Therefore, they are becoming a stronger component in the mix with F2F channels. Behaviour segmentation can help to improve omnichannel journeys by defining required specific shifts triggered by providing the right content through the right channels to the right customer segment. Benchmarking data can help Life Sciences companies understand how their brands are performing against key competitors and which channel attributes need to be addressed to improve the overall customer experience.

What are from your perspectives other elements that can help improve the overall omnichannel customer engagement journeys?

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Xeleratio Consulting Ltd.

We help Life Sciences executives improve sales performance with innovative best-in-class Business Excellence tools and methodologies . Expertise in Business Excellence has been gained with over 12 years of working in different global and regional roles in the Life Sciences industry.


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