While it may seem as if every healthcare marketer is talking about behavioral analytics, from what I’ve observed, only a fraction of marketers actually take advantage of this new tool.

Behavioral analytics – which allow clients to see and respond to the online research of key accounts – is promising and powerful. So why the hesitation? A number of reasons. First – and let’s be honest – this is pharma. While no one wants to be left behind – in this industry, there are just as many concerns about “going first.” Two, for newcomers to the scene, behavioral analytics is accompanied by an undeniable whiff of “Big Brother.” And three, the notion of introducing behavioral analytics to an already complex marketing mix is daunting and questionable.

Should you jump on the behavioral analytics bandwagon? Maybe. Or maybe not – depending on your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve.

So what is your goal?

Behavioral analytics presents tremendous opportunity for pharma executives responsible for sales, marketing, or operations, but it is not a cure-all.  Let me say that again: Behavioral analytics is not a cure-all. Data for the sake of data is just more clutter on your desk. The promise of data is only realized when we allow it do what it’s intended to do  help us make better decisions and help us make better decisions  faster. In other words, we need to be bold enough to allow data to inform us and to respond quickly.  Data derived from real-time behavioral analytics has an absolute shelf-life. Hesitate or respond in the wrong way, and you lose out on capturing a new client or cultivating an existing prospect.

About that sense of “Big Brother-ness”? Let’s be honest: It’s real. We all have had the feeling – and then, the confirmation – that our online presence follows us from one site to another. (How did they know I was in the market for running shoes?) In reality, though, the idea of targeting the right person at the right time with the right message isn’t new. The commercials shown on ESPN cater to one market, the commercials on the Food Network, another. So while parts of marketing to the “audience of one” may make some marketers uneasy, parts of it represent tremendous opportunities to make a real difference to real people. In this instance, and happily for pharmaceutical manufacturers, those “real people”” also happen to be healthcare practitioners.

And yes, it’s easy to understand the resistance to adding yet another “tool for today” to an already complex mix. Pharma marketing – with all its nuances, policies and regulations  is already finely tuned, involving a highly sophisticated and highly specific formula of sales and marketing. Although behavioral analytics does represent a significant breakthrough with unlimited upside, it also presents some risk. There is no “one size fits all’ solution. Maximizing opportunities for your pharma organization with behavioral analytics requires both art and science. 

What’s the gain for your organization?

Let’s examine the highly specific example of prioritizing whitespace targets. Can behavioral analytics – by identifying accounts researching online for a specific disease state or medication – identify which accounts you should call first? Yes, it can. Can it show you when target accounts are heavily researching your competition? Yes, it can.  Can it help your team deploy field and non-personnel resources more efficiently based on how target accounts are consuming content about your brand or disease state? Yes, it can.

In this example, you can see specific applications and opportunities for behavioral analytics. Applications and opportunities that help you achieve your ultimate goals – the real goals – of driving new sales, streamlining operation spending, and informing your marketing with actual insights derived from the online behavior of your target accounts. 

So back to the earlier question: What is your goal? Is your goal to get more medicines to market – and into the hands of patients in need? If so, maybe now is the time to find a seat on the behavioral analytics bandwagon. Just make sure you’re doing it in the right way and with the right people.