There comes an exciting moment in the life of many young life sciences companies when the focus shifts from R&D to commercialization. In the case of biotech, rare disease, and specialty pharma companies, this is typically the moment when product approval is in sight. Now that the massive investment of time and resources has produced a viable product, it’s time to start communicating with the target audience of healthcare professionals. In most cases, that effort begins with email marketing.
With target lists that typically include hundreds if not thousands of HCP emails, these companies will need an email marketing platform to handle their needs. While the choice of email providers is an important decision for any organization, regulatory requirements in the healthcare space raise the complexity and stakes of this decision. In other words, it’s easy to get this wrong! What’s more, the costs of making the wrong decision can be painful at this stage in the company’s growth.
That’s why the Conexus team put together this list of the 4 most common mistakes that life sciences companies make when choosing an email marketing platform, along with suggestions for how to avoid these mistakes.
Mistake #1: Choosing a non-compliant platform.
Just because your marketing emails don’t contain patient health information (PHI) doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to HIPAA regulations. Marketing emails to HCPs have their own set of rules. Many of the major email platforms aren’t set up to comply with the appropriate HIPAA regulations, and even fewer are HIPAA complaint-ready right out of the box.
Our preferred solution for email marketing as well as other marketing channels is Salesforce Marketing Cloud. One of the reasons we turn to Marketing Cloud is the ease with which the platform can be configured for HIPAA compliance. This enables our clients to focus on sending effective emails to the target audience without having to worry about running afoul of the rules.
Mistake #2: Thinking short-term.
Here’s an all-too-common scenario: even though your organization has had months – if not years – to prepare for commercialization efforts, the deadline for sending your first marketing emails is “suddenly” just around the corner. You can’t miss the deadline, so you go into panic mode and end up reaching for an email marketing solution that meets the immediate need. The problem is that your needs will almost certainly grow over time, while the “handy” solution you chose might not be able to grow with them.
Even the most basic HIPAA-complaint email marketing platform requires an investment of your precious resources. Why invest those resources in a solution that you’re likely to outgrow quickly?
As you build out your commercial organization, you’ll need your marketing platforms to work seamlessly with other systems, including your customer relationship management (CRM) and document management system (DMS). In pharma, that usually means Veeva CRM and Veeva Vault. Another reason we steer our clients to Salesforce Marketing Cloud is that we offer connectors that enable these systems to securely share data. By effectively integrating these systems, you boost their collective value to the organization.
Mistake #3: Doing it on your own.
Most pre-commercial life sciences companies run lean, which means a minimum of support staff for things like IT. And since every email marketing platform touts its ease of use, it’s tempting for a sales or marketing operations leader to take a shot at setting up the platform on their own.
We’ve found that you don’t need to be an IT pro to create and send emails on most major email marketing platforms. It’s the initial setup of the solution that requires a higher level of skill. Given your industry’s regulatory requirements – and the importance of getting your marketing efforts up and running efficiently – a faulty initial setup is too costly to risk. So even if you’re committed to managing your email marketing efforts on your own, make sure you have the help you need to get the technology set up properly right from the start.
Mistake #4: Putting it off.
We know the deal: your commercial team is understaffed – or maybe you are the team! Your time is spent fighting fires versus planning for what’s next. As a result, selecting and implementing an email marketing platform doesn’t make it to the top of your list until that first deadline is upon you.
If you take one thing away from this post, we hope it’s this: choosing the right platform is an important strategic decision for your organization’s future. You want to take the time to select the right platform and get it up and running to support the start of your commercialization efforts.
With a modest investment of time and resources, you can dramatically improve the chances of getting it right the first time. Because the costs of getting it wrong are more than anyone wants to bare.
For small- to mid-sized life sciences companies that need to reach and market to healthcare providers, Conexus offer the rare combination of deep life sciences experience with end-to-end support expertise, including support for Salesforce.com applications. As a Salesforce Consulting Partner, we are dedicated to delivering excellence and are certified in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud and Sales Cloud. We help customers get up and running on the industry’s leading and and marketing technologies up to 33% faster than traditional implementations. From implementing and maintaining Salesforce applications, to building, managing and measuring digital campaigns, Conexus serves as “The Team Behind Your Team.”