Bringing Healthcare Marketing Into the 21st Century: What It Means to Stay Current in Data Analytics

Find out how future-focused agencies strike the right balance between numbers and emotion.

When Andrew Ghosh, Allegra Mira, and I sat down with Dr. Andrea Jones-Rooy to record an episode of NYU’s Data Science Demystified podcast, much of the discussion ended up revolving around what, exactly, it means to run a data analytics operation in today’s day and age.

As Dr. Jones-Rooy brought up, companies have been gathering and analyzing data for decades, whether by placing coupons for household goods in the daily newspaper or combing through information scooped up by Nielsen set-top boxes. Be that as it may, deploying robust, mature data analytics in the marketing and advertising sphere is very much a 21st century — and, more precisely, a 2010s — phenomenon.

Traditionally, marketers have tended to let emotions and feelings dictate the contours of their advertising. Think Don Draper in peak form. And while eschewing emotionally-minded marketing altogether is unwise — our motto at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness is “Feel Something, Do Something,” after all — the crux of modern marketing is a willingness to let data drive a range of critical decision making processes.



Finding the Right Balance

Our primary task as marketers is to strike the right balance between emotion and analytics. At the end of the day, smart applications of data analytics are what really have brought marketing and advertising into the 21st century. But at the same time, we’re also trying to drive an emotional connection that transcends the functional aspects of the brand-consumer relationship. The idea behind our motto is that you can only get someone to do something if you get them to feel something, and from that perspective, data will never tell the full story.

As data analytics continue to develop, however, we will be able to use them to inform an increasingly sophisticated approach to understanding how consumers make their purchasing decisions, how certain kinds of emotional messaging — or lack thereof — influence their behaviors.

For most marketers, incorporating data-based insights into emotionally-driven marketing requires broadening their conception of what analytics can — and should — involve. “Data strategy is all about finding the right dataset — and data needn’t be numbers, it can be language — to answer whatever question is at hand,” Allegra noted. “Just as anyone who’s clicking on something [on a website] creates a countable measure, so too anyone who’s Tweeting creates something that’s measureable.”

The key — and ultimately the foremost challenge of modern marketing — is to figure out how these digital data streams interact not only with each other, but with offline touchpoints and behaviors, as well.


The Importance of Going Beyond the Data

In our area of focus — healthcare marketing — we’ve found that there are opportunities for collecting and integrating data at nearly every stage of the patient and/or healthcare provider (HCP) journey.

When a pharmaceutical brand is preparing to bring a new product to market, it needs answers to a wide variety of questions, from who the existing pharmaceutical players are to how likely patients are to seek treatment to how HCPs in this space make their prescribing decisions. In order to provide substantive answers to such a diverse slate of questions, we help our clients practice “layered listening.”

This enables us to investigate the varying ways consumers talk about a product depending on the unique context. Patients talk about their conditions and disease states in dramatically different terms when posting in an online forum as opposed to asking questions in an exam room. Luckily, we have the tools necessary to not only monitor standard digital interactions — banner ad clicks, brand site visits, and so on — but to monitor discussions both on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and, with the help of our sister company, Verilogue, in exam rooms.


Ultimately, integrating the insights gleaned from running analytics on all of these data streams — and figuring out what these insights mean in terms of ideal emotional timbre — is what allows us to be effective in an increasingly overwhelming marketing landscape. The 21st century has provided us with more data than ever before — global IP traffic is set to triple over the next four years alone, reaching an astounding 3.3 ZB per year by 2021 — meaning the hallmark of a truly future-focused data analytics operation will be the ability to differentiate between relevant data and noise.

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