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How to evaluate an omnichannel solution: A simple framework

In today’s complex communications landscape, the path of information from sender to recipient is not as straightforward as it once was. Customers expect seamless and personalised interactions across various touchpoints, creating a labyrinth of engagement opportunities for marketing teams to navigate. As businesses strive to meet expectations and stay competitive in an increasingly saturated field, one engagement method continues to attract the interest of commercial and medical teams, seeking ways to get the right message to the right person: omnichannel.

“No matter how vast and comprehensive your data, when you’re seeking to engage at the right time and place, data alone won’t get you there. You have to integrate your marketing technology, digital channels, and data to utilise these signals as a way to understand the interests and needs of your audience,” explains omnichannel marketing and analytics lead at Lumanity, Lindsay Lare. “The great thing about an omnichannel solution is you can tailor to specific individuals, making it personalised, as opposed to just an audience as a whole.”

However, the path to achieving true omnichannel excellence is interwoven with a complex array of factors that collectively contribute to success. Most notably, a major undercurrent of false narratives and promises can lead teams in the wrong direction and cause confusion. Some decision points are more pivotal than others, as well, like selecting the right omnichannel partner. To help take the very first step and keep your team focused on the most important qualities and functionality, Lumanity has developed a simple but digestible framework that is deliberately void of buzz.

Technology – the digital backbone

The first, and perhaps most important, feature of successful omnichannel campaigns is technology. The systems and services are the building blocks onto which you can graft the seamless interactions that customers have come to expect in today’s healthcare communications landscape.

Most companies will already have some of the basic technology components in place – salesforce enablement tools, salesforce marketing tools, customer relationship management, customer data warehouse, and customer master data sets are common examples of this. What they need, however, is integration.

“An ideal omnichannel solution should leverage these technologies and integrate all data points in a single source of truth to then effectively create audiences,” says Gagandeep Sawant, software architect and technology lead for Lumanity. “The solution should then activate media plans on a strategically identified channel mix.”

Integration can be the deciding factor in the success of your omnichannel journey, so it is important to ensure that your chosen omnichannel solution supports legacy systems and can align with other vendors, to create a coherent customer journey across multiple channels.

“What sets you apart and what makes a real omnichannel solution is the technology. I think that’s the key component and the foundation that sets everything,” explains Lare. “If you don’t have the right MarTech stack, your solution is not really true omnichannel.”

Another core element of omnichannel technology is scalability. Healthcare is a constantly evolving industry, so it is vital that your chosen partner offers a robust and scalable infrastructure that can accommodate increasing volumes of content and interactions across different channels.

Team – a foundation of experience

Behind every successful omnichannel strategy implementation is a team of experienced individuals working in harmony to facilitate the seamless interactions that customers expect from today’s marketeers.

Navigating the complex and highly regulated landscape of healthcare can be challenging for companies, particularly as implementing an omnichannel engagement model requires close collaboration across various functions. Each of these groups must be able to convey ideas and solutions clearly across those functions, or else they risk getting lost in translation. As Sawant notes, mostly, “when omnichannel efforts fail, they fail because of inter-team and/or intra-team communications.”

One way to reduce the risk of miscommunication is to work with one agency of record. The advantage of working with cross-functional teams from a single partner organisation is that each of the individuals tasked with delivering various aspects of your omnichannel solution will already have experience working together and will understand the challenges of other teams, which Sawant says “eliminates a lot of the delay in getting on the same page”.

“There also needs to be a level of expertise and experience within our field,” adds Lare, “especially when it comes to collaborating with various stakeholders, including medical, marketing, and commercial operations.”

Understanding the unique regulatory parameters that separate commercial and medical affairs offerings is just one example of why experience working with the healthcare industry – bonus points if in a multichannel capacity – can be an invaluable asset in an omnichannel partner.

As Sawant details, delivering a true omnichannel solution involves multiple different skill sets, including consulting, MarTech, creative, med comms, compliance, and project management services, to name a few. Each function needs to be aligned to produce a seamless customer experience. While individual vendors may be able to offer expertise in one specific area, there is no guarantee that each vendor will bring the same level of experience and industry expertise to the table. However, partnering with an established team with an existing record of working in the healthcare industry and collaborating between functions reduces any potential learning curve, allowing companies to hit the ground running.

Specific expertise to look for can include deep experience in audience development, media, analytics, and specific technologies, ranging from ads managers, demand-side platforms, and customer data platforms to marketing automation and even project management tools.

Transparency – trust in collaboration

Companies place great trust in the partners they invite into their circle of operation. Fostering this trust requires transparency.

One of the biggest concerns for customers in the healthcare space is personally identifiable information (PII). With data, transparency is a crucial feature, as establishing clearly defined rules around the uses, access, and restrictions permitted through the partnership will allow both parties to move forwards with a solid understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and requirements around the use of data. Cementing these details through a solid data use agreement (DUA) will help to address concerns surrounding data use and mitigate potential issues before they arise.

As Sawant notes: “Transparency is about telling the client exactly what we have, what we need, and how are we proceeding [with] using that data and making it very clear.”

The second element of transparency to look for in a potential omnichannel partner is honesty in what you can achieve together. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of new technology, but the right partner will be upfront about what is possible for your company.

“There are two different layers of transparency,” explains Lare. “There’s transparency with data, and there’s transparency with your solution. If a client were to come to you and ask, ‘Is this possible? What can we do to meet our business objectives?’, if you’re not transparent about your solution, how you engineered everything, and what is actually achievable with your solution then you add to the misinformation that exists around omnichannel.”

Transparency surrounding costs is also a key consideration. From the outside, it’s easy to assume that a bundled offering equals better value for money, but, in reality, most bundles are a mix of useful services and others that you will rarely use – with no breakdown of cost-per-item to help inform your decision. Consciously unbundling each offering allows you greater visibility over the actual value of specific deliverables, such as segmentation, journey orchestration, and technology license fees. A good partner will be willing to break down costs; beware those who will not.

Tailored – crafting solutions

Every organisation has unique ambitions and pain points when it comes to communications. For example, an established pharma company that already uses omnichannel in one area of their business will have a completely different set of needs than those from a new-to-market company with no prior advertising experience. But, whether you are looking to incorporate one specific service, or integrate an entire suite of systems, a good partner must be able to tailor its offerings to support medical, commercial, and enterprise to ensure longevity as your business needs evolve.

“A new go-to-market pharma/biotech company, in its first few months, while preparing for unbranded and branded communications, works with multiple vendor partners.” explains Sawant. “Seeking a partner with broad media and engagement services ultimately helps solution for both personal and non-personal communications, including closed-loop, within an omnichannel setting.”

Flexibility can also have cost-effective benefits, which can be highly advantageous for companies with tight budgets. Building on pricing transparency, if components can be unbundled, you can select only the technologies and services that provide the highest return on investment for your specific objectives. Moreover, this flexibility allows you to adapt and scale strategies as needed, without being tied to a pre-packed solution that may not suit your evolving requirements.

“Omnichannel should be a plug-and-play solution,” explains Lare. “You should be able to plug in legacy products and vendors and customise your own solution. You shouldn’t be forced to just use what we offer out of the box; take it or leave it.”

Tested – demonstrating success

Of course, any potential omnichannel partner can proclaim their excellence in the first of the 5Ts. But, as Sawant and Lare explain, the right partner will be able to showcase how their expertise and services have helped a variety of organisations achieve omnichannel excellence.

“The big part of testing is a case study,” says Sawant. “If we can show our new clients that we have done this before by working with an existing client partner on a proof of concept [and] what […] the challenges were, the complexities – this can lay the land out for the new clients.”

Armed with a proof-of-concept or case study, you can shine a light beyond the described surface and see how solidly each solution performs in practice. For Lare, having a portfolio of success stories is particularly valuable for healthcare clients looking for a partner with medical affairs experience who may be more hesitant to jump into the omnichannel pool.

“When we possess elements such as a proof of concept and experience, we can effectively demonstrate the benefits and legitimacy of implementing omnichannel within an organisation. This approach alleviates any hesitations or reservations they might have towards the subject and shows our ability to create a strategic media plan that incorporates personal and non-personal to achieve desired outcomes such as script lift or education” she explains. “Introducing novel technology and concepts, particularly in the realm of healthcare, triggers a degree of scepticism among clients. Having concrete evidence at hand to present makes the information more easily adoptable.”

A clear vision for progress

Keeping pace with the ever-evolving world of healthcare communications takes work. Each company must carve out its version of the omnichannel experience by making the leap from single or multichannel or extending existing omnichannel services into other business areas. Whichever route a company is treading, choosing the right partner remains crucial.

“Having a clear vision is really important, and having a good partner,” concludes Lare. “You know when you have a good partner, a good relationship, and good communication.”

By holding equal weight to the 5Ts – right-fit technology, experienced teams, transparent collaboration, flexible solutions, and proven examples of success – companies can embark on their omnichannel journey with confidence that their chosen partner is right for their needs.

About the authors

Lindsay Lare

Lindsay Lare, omnichannel marketing and analytics lead at Lumanity


Gagandeep Sawant, software architect and technology lead for Lumanity.

About Lumanity

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