Don’t take this as a come-on, but I think we could really benefit from getting up close and personal. Over the Internet. No, I’m not inviting you to enter into a dubious chat room dialogue, but to have a think about your company website.
Personalisation has been an Internet buzzword since the end of the 90s when it was pioneered by book-seller Amazon amongst others. The online-trader’s ground-breaking take on the technology was to track clusters of titles purchased by the same individuals and then make recommendations to others users based on this knowledge. Amazon had a retail revolution on their hands, but what does personalisation really means to a Pharma?
Personalisation is definitely not about giving the user the ability to change the colours on the home page or pick their favourite font.
In every industry, personalisation involves gathering user information during online interaction, which is then used to help deliver tailor-made content and services. As the user explores the site, it actually learns from their movements and mouse clicks. The aim is always to improve user experience of a site, which will mean that they are more likely to return.
There are several ways in which we can gather user information. One method is to ask the user to actively impart details, through filling in a registration process or some other kind of form. And by specifying the user registration/ log-in, we can also configure the user profile as regards to age, gender, type and stage of illness and other relevant information.
This data will be stored and can be modified by the user at any time but we can then use the data to determine how the user can access the content. For example, we can fast track users to the items that are of direct relevance to their profile.
Other personalisation tools include:
· Interactive online polls and questionnaires, where we can learn about the user from their responses and further questions and content can be delivered accordingly;
· Click stream analysis, where the user’s movement around a site is monitored so that we can learn about their interests;
· Collaborative filtering, which is the technique used by Amazon to make recommendations of books to like-minded people. It builds up sets of rules to help predict a user’s wants and needs by classifying them with other similar users.
One of the reasons personalisation is such a useful tool in Pharma is because as an industry we have to communicate so many different messages to such a wide variety of audiences. We must make the user feel that content is provided solely for them and their needs, be they a patient, carer, healthcare professional, journalist, shareholder, etc.
Personalisation can add value to Internet applications including e-detailing, media relations and healthcare management.
In healthcare management, intelligent websites have the ability to deliver continuous and dynamic programs that can track and interact with the disease stage of the patient as appropriate.
My company has recently helped Boehringer Ingelheim and Serono, for example, to use personalisation tools for tackling patient compliance issues and disease management.
In the new ‘pull’ model of media relations fostered by the Internet, personalisation aids journalists to effectively locate relevant content. We have also successfully helped AstraZeneca use personalisation tools to encourage ongoing media relationships via their Virtual Press Offices. Journalists are able sign up for news alerts, specifying their areas of interest, the frequency of alerts they wish to receive and whether they want them via email, a text message or even a fax or phone call.
Some Pharmas are also beginning to look at using personalisation tools to deliver e-detailing and professional assessment programs to healthcare professionals. Here, personalisation tools can save precious minutes for the time-pressured doctor, whilst helping to build long lasting two-way relationships.
Perhaps the most potentially revolutionary aspect of web content personalisation is yet to come. In DTC communication, the ability to talk to customers as individuals is invaluable.
Customers today have an unparalleled access to information, which has empowered them to take a more active role in their own healthcare. Using personalisation tools to communicate directly to individuals will help Pharmas to establish a presence, win confidence and differentiate themselves from the competition.
This individual interaction will ultimately mean more opportunities for a Pharma to build their brands online and to create more demand for their products.
Personalisation tools will allow the Internet to develop into the ultimate interactive, intelligent, low cost precision marketing tool.
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