“The emergence of data science and the proliferation of new media channels has radically changed some traditional marketing jobs, while creating new ones. As a whole, all these changes are part of the evolution away from marketing simply as art into a hybrid of art and science.” Adele Sweetwood, The Analytical Marketer
In the past, the life science marketing manager needed only a good “gut level” understanding of the life science customer – possibly gained from the manager’s own background at the bench. A strong creative streak, good communication skills, some business training and the ability to organize and execute were certainly valuable additional career development assets.
But today, that’s nowhere near enough.
All marketers today – including in the life sciences - need baseline skills in data and analytics. Their skill sets need to go well beyond simple reporting and metrics to include proficiency in a full range of analytical skills –including knowledge of data management principles and analytical strategies, along with an understanding of the role of data quality, the importance of data governance, and the value of data in marketing disciplines. Marketers today also need a nuanced understanding of current and emerging digital channels.
Stepping up to this kind of requirement is not easy, and not many life science marketers are currently prepared. Yet the transition to Analytical Marketing is well underway.
In the new marketing world, we’ll see large changes in the jobs and job descriptions of people throughout our marketing organization. We’ll see changes in processes and best practices. And we’ll see changes in the nature of leadership.
In this post, we’ll just consider the critical marketing functions of the future. It’s not too risky to predict that every successful life science marketing organization will eventually be built around these operational pillars.
The question for today’s life science marketer is not only what the critical functions of the future are, but how they themselves will fit into the changing organization.
Digital marketing includes the functions like web, search, social media, e-mail, and digital advertising and media buying. The tools, opportunities and demands in digital marketing have been going through tremendous growth and change as the number of channels has exploded, and it now appears that the end game is going to be in convergence — in creating strategies that leverage multiple channels rather than silos.
In the future, the successful digital marketing professional will be driven by a passion for individual channels and have a keen sense of how to bring channel capabilities together strategically.
To develop this skill set, the forward-thinking life science marketer might, for example, develop a high competence for online advertising and paid search, with an understanding of how these channels integrate with and affect functions like content marketing and SEO.
Regardless of the skill set, the marketer’s central focus has to be on acquiring and using data to make or guide marketing decisions at every level.
If content is not “King” it is at least an especially important part of the modern approach to life science marketing. Almost everything a life science marketer now does involves some kind of content that has to be formatted in style, length and relevancy to its target channel. Videos are good for some channels and not for others. Infographics, whitepapers, eBooks. webinars and many others are positioned in the appropriate channel as well as at the appropriate phase of the customer’s buying journey.
This diversity and focus will lead to an entirely new category of marketing jobs whose role is to design and manage content strategies that ensure the company is offering the kind of relevant content its customers are looking for.
Yet producing content is not nearly enough. The content marketer must also be able to use the power of analytics to assess a piece of content quantitatively and evaluate its performance in its channel and in the context of its marketing campaign.
Finally, the future content marketer must have a strong collaborative vision. Unorganized content marketing runs the very real risk of generating lots of duplicate content or content that is underutilized because no one knows about it. Content marketing and digital marketing must work closely in both strategy and execution.
This is a completely new role for life science marketing. It’s emerging in other industries, so we can be fairly certain that life science marketing departments will be looking to fill this role in the next few years.
This is not the same role as a pure data scientist. Instead, it combines the number crunching with the essential communication role of a marketer. One way to think of the role is as a “data artist” or “data storyteller.” In fact, there is actually a “Data Storyteller” annual award given by Marketing Week. Here are some excellent examples from 2016.
The data storyteller’s job is to look at the data objectively to see what stories it’s telling, without the natural bias that someone running a campaign might have.
Storytelling with data is one part of the Marketing Science role. Another role that is going to expand a lot in the next few years is the “segmentation analyst.” The need to define customer segments accurately and precisely is becoming more and more central to all digital marketing activity, and the task of segmentation is getting more difficult. The future segmentation analyst is going to be creating detailed quantitative scoring models for segments and guiding Marketing in selecting the right targets for its products and messaging. Most of the models will be based on analysis of customer behavior across all relevant digital channels.
The contributions of storytellers and analysts will become a central to building the analytical muscle that lets the company make better investments in campaigns.
Customer Experience (CX)
“Inbound” marketing is the domain of the CX professional, and the central goal is to engage with customers wherever they are in their journey. Essentially, the job of the CX specialist is to create deeper and more intelligent conversations with potential customers who have questions they want the company to answer.
Managing the CX terrain requires research and planning. Customers always have some expectations about us when they contact us or we contact them. We need to be prepared to engage them at that level. They might know exactly who we are, but they might not know exactly what kind of solution they’re looking for. The CX professional’s job will increasingly be to provide higher quality interactions that have a far greater chance of conversion into actual sales than we might have delivered in the past.
Landing new customers is essential for the CX professional. But taking care of existing customers – relationship marketing – is ever more important as well. Once someone becomes a customer, CX programs are designed to nurture that relationship and help retain, or even expand, the business. Maximizing the long term value of existing customers is definitely CX professional turf.
Pacific Biomarketing is a digital marketing agency focused on the life sciences. We provide intensely personalized end-to-end digital marketing services to a limited number of clients. For an overview, please visit www.pacificbiomarketing.com
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