A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

CRM 2.0 – Is Emarketing Dying?

Posted by | 5:20pm on Thursday, March 12, 2009

the best uses of every technology tend to survive quite a long time. 

Every time a new communication technology comes on the scene, people start to predict the demise of the previous technology.

Now that Social Media is becoming a prominent way for people to communicate, is emarketing (owning a list of names to market to directly) still relevant? Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research explains why he plans to call for registration pages to go away on his web strategist blog:  Social CRM: When Registration Pages Go Extinct.  He predicts:

“A technology will emerge that will allow users to pass only as much of their social networking profile information as they want over to a CRM system, how much? It’s up to the user. A new social contract will appear that will encourage users to give as much information as they want, and in return the brand will reciprocate. The more information the user gives, the more the brand will give back in return, I call this a “Social web contract”. Since the data will come from the profile information within a social network, there won’t be a need to have a collection web form, instead information will be passed through connective tissues.”

This could ultimately be where social networking is going but the best uses of every technology tend to survive quite a long time. Newspapers have been dying for 20 years, but local newspapers and The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today are all still holding their own. Heck, we still have radio because it fills a niche. Yes, we could all listen to only the tunes and/or podcasts we download on our iPods but sometimes it’s ok to turn the controls over to someone else and be surprised by what you hear.

On the other hand, the way most emarketing is practiced today does not approach a real relationship where there is mutual listening, respect and trust.  Imagine if we conducted offline relationships the way we sometimes do online:

But back to the end of registration pages as we know them. First, as anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I firmly believe in going where the users are.  People with rare diseases have already formed online communities and anyone who wants to know what they are thinking, discussing or worrying about needs to go where they live ― in their online communities.

Right now those communities are spread out all over the web.  Some are on Facebook, some are run by associations and some are being put together by enterprising entrepreneurs who see a gap that needs to be filled. For pharma marketers in this space, this is the new reality. Until we reach a future when everyone puts all their healthcare information in one place, there will still be place for registration for people trying to keep up to date on their rare disorders.

People all along the patient journey step in and out of their web communities.  If they have a chronic condition, registering for updates could alert them when new things happen in their community that they may not have thought about.  They could be surprised by learning something they weren’t even searching for.  Updates that have real value from the providers still make sense. This is a service that a pharma brand, a hospital or a vested HCP, or an empowered patient could provide into their inbox.

Does this make sense?  Have you ever had a positive emarketing experience — could it have been better or replaced by social media?  Is healthcare different because people are more reluctant to share their information online?

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(Image courtesy of Marcin Wichary via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

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