Healthcare writer - Carlo Calcagni, RPh
By Carlo Calcagni, RPh
Columnist, January 24, 2022

Today’s market landscape calls for an optimized, multichannel approach to HCP engagement: a surround sound of in-person, digital, and mobile touches. Pharma is undisputedly skilled at in-person, and it doubled down on digital during the pandemic. Mobile engagement strategies, however, remain largely underutilized.

That needs to change. Mobile engagement has enormous potential to transform, even elevate, interactions between sales rep and HCP, especially in these stressed-out, burned-out times. When used strategically, mobile is extremely effective—text messages achieve significantly higher open rates than other forms of communication. It also creates valuable opportunities to maintain relationships in the intervals between in-person calls. In other words, this channel has a long tail.

At ENTRADA, we’ve seen mobile engagement achieve these results firsthand—through using and observing our customers use—the mobile CRM platform we built, and frankly, what we’ve learned through experimentation. Our work has provided us with several insights on how to optimize mobile engagement.

Say yes to the text

The first step to leveraging a text-messaging channel can’t be stressed enough: Get permission. Get permission. Get permission—every time for every engagement.

Yes, FCC privacy laws require it, but there is a more important reason. Using your own device in the workplace is now the norm, and how we engage on those devices is driven by our personal preferences and choices. HCPs are no different. They want information delivered when and how they choose, on topics they want to hear about.

That’s how high open rates for mobile are achieved. Permission is the customer saying upfront, yes, what you are offering is valuable, go ahead and send it to me. Before a text is even sent, providers are highly motivated to click through and primed to engage with the content. Interest is baked in.

This is why we made ENTRADA’s mobile CRM platform strictly permission based. No content is generated until the sales rep secures consent. Using this method, we’ve seen clients reach click-through rates of 75% or more for their content.

Clickbait not welcome

Convincing a provider to hand over their mobile number is still difficult. Success will hinge on 2 factors:

  1. The quality and relevance of your content
  2. How and when content is shared

Both factors warrant a dedicated mobile strategy that is distinct from your overall marketing strategy, as well as training for sales reps on how to approach engagement differently.

Quality Content. An HCP’s interest is piqued by content that supports their day-to-day practice, adds to their store of knowledge, and is actionable. A wide range of assets can fulfill that need, from dosing and formulary information to a podcast series featuring key opinion leaders.

At ENTRADA, we find the best activator of mobile engagement is content that meets the following criteria:

  • exclusive to your mobile channel
  • available to use for a limited time only
  • packaged as bite-sized learnings

Above all, content must be genuinely valuable to the provider—leave the gimmicks to others.

Sharing Content. Mobile engagement is driven entirely by the HCP—not by the rep’s agenda, and not by brand goals. The sales rep must follow the HCP’s lead, tuning in to where they are on their journey and how they want to engage.

To get there, sales reps need to go deeper in their HCP interactions, using an empathetic lens that pushes past the obvious deliverable. What does this provider find valuable right now? What are they interested in learning about but can’t find time to research? What are their pain points?

It’s important for sales reps to listen for these prompts as they come up organically in conversation with the HCP. Once recognized, they become natural opportunities to seamlessly share content. These necessarily unscripted moments are all about timing.

It might seem subtle, but it’s actually quite a paradigm shift, and sales reps and marketing teams alike will need help to make that shift. They must learn to be strategists first.

At ENTRADA, we’ve found that spending the time to align your mobile content with HCP interests and needs pays off. Not only does it facilitate personal connections and foster higher-quality engagement, but it ultimately increases credibility for the rep, the brand, and the company.

New rules of engagement

Mobile engagement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We find it most effective when integrated within multitouch communication streams that extend the in-person touchpoint and pave the way for ongoing nonpersonal touches in the future.

Here’s one way we see the scenario playing out: A rep is having a one-on-one conversation with a provider either in person, on the phone, or via teleconference. During the conversation, the sales rep mentions a new podcast series that includes content from leading experts. The rep knows it speaks to a concern the provider recently shared. “I’d love for you to have access to that,” the rep says. “With your permission, I can set up access while I’m here, so you don’t miss out. You’ll be notified via text messaging when episodes are released, and you can participate or not. But I want to be sure you have access since I won’t be back to see you for a while.”

The provider agrees and provides consent. Their request is now in the CRM system, and a text message is generated when the podcast drops. The rep has extended their reach, helped the HCP expand their knowledge base, and hopefully, generated some goodwill.

Just remember: Permission isn’t a blanket invitation to bombard a provider. As we leverage mobile, we can learn from previous missteps with email: If we abuse the channel, we lose access. And once lost, access is difficult to regain. Rather than flood the channel, we need to be smart about how we use mobile.

Getting mobile right will require some experimentation. It will require piloting new approaches to old problems using innovative ideas. And it will require a commitment to ongoing improvement, a willingness to refine and evolve as the metrics we put in place show us what works and what doesn’t work for our customers.

Carlo Calcagni is a co-founder and chief growth officer at ENTRADA. He can be reached at carlo@thinkentrada.com.

Interested in hearing more? Reach us at info@thinkentrada.com