The Informed Marketer—intellectually curious by nature—strives to utilize data and facts to inform their insights and marketing ideas. This blog will reveal our passion and personality toward creating a world of Informed Marketers and we invite you to join the conversation.
Recently our VP of Development, Derek Slager, presented at the Seattle Tech Meetup and even though the presentation was only 5 minutes long, he wanted to be sure he had the audience’s attention for the entirety of the 5 minutes. And so it began…he took the audience through some rough sketches to tell the story.
It started with an explanation of having absolutely no idea what they were going to do when they founded Appature in 2007. Mainly, the goal was to create a company that was super awesome to work at, but eventually they needed money. So…they thought, “let’s go find somebody with a problem that they’re willing to pay us to solve”. Appature built them the perfect solution in PowerPoint and it was everything they’d ever dreamed of…they bought into the perfect unicorn, but it wasn’t real yet.
And so, Appature set out to build this solution as quickly as possible. Not quite 24 hours quick, but close. The idea started off with just being a cool company to work at and now it was a company where things were created. But, they were bootstrapped and at times it meant doing things that you don’t actually want to do (you’ll have to see the video to see what Derek means by that!).
After securing venture funding, Appature invested in infrastructure, starting with a service that “takes queries, breaks them into fragments, stores the results, automatically merges them and keeps things up to date as data changes in the system”. Appature’s latest feature is called Journeys, a drag-and-drop graphic user interface that enables marketers to have one-on-one customer conversations that change with each interaction, as well as track results in real time. As Derek says, “it’s very, very cool”.
We were recently acquired by IMS Health – the leader in data in the healthcare space – and now we have an incredible opportunity to take our technology and the incredible data asset from IMS and do really new things. That also means we’re hiring! So, as Derek states as he begins to close his presentation, “we’ve done relationship marketing and we’ve created a great company to work at, but now with access to the incredible resources at IMS and their awesome data we have the chance to do really, really cool stuff in healthcare. We’ve got data, we’ve got technology…and now we need you.
Are your customers committed? Is it true love…or a mere flirtation? As you are down on bent knee, professing undying devotion to your customers, are their eyes—and hearts—wandering?
Relationships take time—and work. Make sure yours is on solid ground with these five basic tenets of customer engagement.
“The measure principle.” Where is the relationship going? It’s important to be able to answer that question honestly and succinctly. Establishing clear—and quantifiable—Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) keeps you focused on progress—and aligned as an organization on what constitutes success. What good looks and feels like. KPIs translate complex and squishy metrics into simple indicators. Develop them. Use them. Live by them.
“Love at first site?” Or is there more love at the second? A/B testing supports website optimization by testing and validating changes to your website design. Beauty is only skin deep, so the page you deem prettier or sexier may not appeal to your customers and ultimately may not support your organizational goals. As in all relationships, communication is paramount: before you commit to the big change, see what your significant others—your customers—think.
“I need my space.” In marketing, as in relationships, the Goldilocks principle of “just right” reigns supreme. Finding the perfect balance of communications and touch points with beloved customers is tricky. Too many and you overwhelm or smother them. Too few and you may find someone else sleeping in your bed. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, but neither does an overbearing presence that’s too big or too hot. Finding that middle place is key to a communications program that is reasonable, respectful, and mutually beneficial.
“Don’t take your relationship for granted.” Does your CRM need a little TLC? Relationships take work: a sound relationship management strategy will set you on the path to bliss. From call center efficiency to a “feel the love” customer service model, the right RM strategy demonstrates an unassailable commitment to customers. It’s the least you can do.
“We need to talk.” Ah…the dreaded four words that have launched a thousand breakups. But in the marketing space, talk is not cheap. A silo approach to marketing means moving parts that could be working at cross-purposes. Alignment of internal constituents and outside agencies is a must to avoid redundancy or missed opportunity.
Will you promise to love, honor and cherish your customers? If you expect them to forsake all others, you must. Act now…or forever hold your peace.
We love our office space! Do you see yourself here? Well, we’re hiring so check out our open positions!
You’re invited to come hear Jeff Howbert, a Research Scientist and Lecturer at University of Washington, give a talk about his experience with the Netflix Prize competition.
The Netflix Prize: How a public contest and dedicated amateurs changed the science of recommender systems.
Tuesday, May 21
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
The Netflix Prize was the most widely followed machine learning competition in history. It offered a prize of $1,000,000 to anyone who could build a recommender system with an error rate at least 10% better than Netflix’s internal system. Thousands of teams took part, and the contest lasted nearly three years. The speaker, a long-time active participant, will give an insider’s perspective on two stories: 1) the machine learning approaches used during the competition, and how they substantially advanced the science of recommender systems, and 2) the unexpected emergence of two teams with winning scores, and their wild race to the finish. Part 2) is especially entertaining.
6:30 – 7:30 pm: 60-minute presentation
7:30 – 8:30 pm: Q&A and networking
About Jeff Howbert
Jeff Howbert received a BA in English from Stanford Univ. in 1977 and a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Harvard Univ. in 1983. Over the ensuing 25 years, he led medicinal chemistry and drug discovery efforts at a large pharmaceutical company and several small biotech companies. He holds 44 US patents and is responsible for the entry of 6 compounds into clinical development. After earning a MS in Computer Science from Univ. of Washington in 2008, he began a second career in computational biology, with an emphasis on machine learning. He has worked in several labs on building predictive models for diverse biomedical problems, including seizure risk, cardiovascular biomarker discovery, and proteomic analysis. He also teaches a course at UW Bothell on machine learning.
Come to the Tech Cafe Happy Hour on April 24th at 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., at the Appature headquarters, for a little technical talk and to listen to the discussion that Derek Slager (Appature’s VP of Development) will lead. Derek’s talk will explore “Life in the post-jQuery world”, and some of the challenges of evolving a very large client side application. This should be an interesting topic for anybody building modern web-based applications at scale. You will also hear about our job openings at Appature…because if you haven’t heard the news yet, we were recently acquired by IMS Health and are growing, fast.
TechCafe is an event for tech companies young and old to talk about what they are doing. The events consist of 50-100 of the brightest developers, designers, PMs, entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers getting together at a local tech company during lunch or happy hour to network and have a discussion about current trends or demo of new products and companies. The event is free and everyone is welcome!
Join TechCafe for an early happy hour at Appature to talk tech and meet some great peers in the industry!
For more information and to register, visit: http://techcafeappature5.eventbrite.com/
Appature’s Derek Slager, VP of Development, will be presenting at next week’s Seattle Tech Meetup to talk about our technology evolution!
The Seattle Tech Meetup happens on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. There is food, drink, fun, community connections and five awesome presentations of new technology from Seattle startups and major companies. They give the community a chance to share the wisdom and innovative projects being developed in the technology industry. This collaborative event expands to the broader community to contribute advice from local experts to entrepreneurial projects, companies and non-profit organizations. Experience Seattle’s new signature monthly event to tap into the Seattle tech scene and meet people who are passionate about startups, non-profits, co-working spaces, meetup groups, accelerators, and technology driven companies of all sizes and groups who are doing great things for the Seattle community.
This event tends to sell out, so register soon! Cost is $10 per person. Visit the Seattle Tech Meetup webpage to learn more.
Appature Speaking at DTC National Conference and Sponsoring DTC National Coffee Bar and Charging Stations
DTC National, scheduled for April 2 to 4 at the JW Marriott, is designed to provide DTC marketers with an opportunity to learn from industry thought-leaders and discuss the latest innovations in direct-to-consumer marketing.
Among the speakers are Kabir Shahani, Co-founder and CEO of Appature and Lars Merk, Director Digital Platforms of McNeil Consumer Healthcare, who will address the topic of “Maintaining Patient Loyalty and Transforming Your Marketing Model.” The talk will take place in general session from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 4.
Kabir and Lars will share insights on how pharma brands must hone their strategy for reaching individual consumers and enabling effective two-way dialogue to maintain engagement in today’s market. This is particularly true with high consideration products and symptomatic conditions where patients are actively engaged in their own treatment (e.g., allergies, ADHD) – and even more so when a product has a challenge/issue that needs to be communicated.
Also, to provide attendees with an energy boost during the conference, Appature is sponsoring the official conference coffee bar that will provide gourmet coffee options – including a special ‘Appaccino’ drink. The bar will serve coffee during the day and offer a wine tasting during the cocktail hour. The booth also contains charging stations for laptops, phones and tablets.
Optimize your marketing campaigns, visually
Appature is the leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider for life sciences marketers. The company’s innovative product suite, Appature Nexus, is a fully integrated cloud-based solution that enables marketers to easily mine data, launch campaigns, and get actionable insights in order to grow market share and create deeper customer relationships.
We recently launched Journeys – an easy-to-use visual campaign creation capability that automates powerful and highly scalable multi-stage campaigns based on integrated customer data. Life Sciences marketers often find it challenging to maintain ongoing follow up communications with customers after the first touch point. Journeys is designed to solve this problem with automated, pre-programmed personalized communications. Marketers, agencies and operations teams can use a simple drag-and-drop interface to structure campaigns to defined segments and build program rules – deciding in advance what is sent and how often – and Journeys does the rest to execute the campaign.
With military precision, opt management has evolved from an “in or out” choice to a much more targeted approach for customer engagement.
It wasn’t long ago that there was no grey area in this matter. Customers answered “yes” or “no” when asked whether they wished to receive continued communications of any sort: discounts, offers, or promotions. The choice was black and white.
There’s great power in the word “unless”. It magically adds conditions and stipulations to “no”, a word that was once final and unconditional in the land of opt management. But a simple line of questioning is now giving customers an opportunity to rethink their “opt out” choice, or to reconsider their available options. Suddenly, the chasm that separated ‘no’ from ‘yes’ is far less vast.
As technology has become more sophisticated, more choices are available. If marketers take advantage of what is now possible, customers are able to select channels and frequency – based on their specific needs and preferences – at a much more granular level than before. We’ve gone beyond opt management to a place that’s much smarter and more strategic.
“No, you may never call me.”
“Yes, you may email me. But only once a month.”
“You may email me only when there is a special offer.”
Think of it as Prefer-ential treatment: a blend of preference and experience that has been used for some time by brands in the retail space, as well as hospitality, finance, insurance, travel, and consumer package goods.
Why Pharma Should Opt In
Deepening relationships with consumers is a must in the health-care space. The ability to communicate with consumers in a way that is focused, relevant and personal is essential for building trust in companies’ brands.
And like any other relationship, once you earn trust there is a greater willingness to share information because consumers have confidence you won’t misuse it. Therefore it’s critical to prevent a “spammy” experience – one that is often a side-effect of the traditional reach and frequency mindset.
The mission is to gain intelligence and do something with it that is…well, intelligent.
The Rx for Pharma:
1) Think outside of the unsubscribe box. If the unsubscribe link leads to a “preferences” page rather than a simple opt-out page, customer can elect to “opt down” rather than removing themselves entirely. They can select topics to include in (or exclude from) future communications, make choices about frequency and weigh in on channel preferences. (See example of table below that enables marketers to use technology to communicate based on customers’ specific opt choices across both topics and channels.)
2) Give customers the option to update preferences by phone. This includes having your website and preferences pages mobile-friendly for smart phone users, and equipping call centers with the ability to update preferences for customers who prefer to use an 800 number.
3) Leverage engagement metrics data for existing customers to identify trends in preferred channels and start targeting to those preferences.
4) Put in place and use relationship management technology to operationalize more sophisticated opt-in approaches that enable customers to tailor their preferences to their own specifications.
From the categorization of content to more granular tracking of preferences for company news and brand updates, pharma can advance from traditional marketing to an engagement mentality – talking with consumers rather than talking at them. This is a very achievable change that can yield significant improvements in customer intimacy, a key focus in our industry today.
by Aaron Huston, Engagement Manager at Appature
Marketing is undergoing a profound change. While creativity and intuition, the “art” of marketing, are still just as critical, the “science,” data and technology, has become a full partner in the mix. Both marketers and customers are smarter and more discerning than ever before, raising the bar for everyone.
Marketing’s traditional 4 Ps – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion, served us well in earlier eras. In today’s data-driven world, we now need to hone our focus on specific aspects related to engaging customers, which I call the 3 Cs – Content, Cadence, and Call to Action.
Compared to other industries – think Amazon — Life Sciences marketing is just beginning this journey. Traditional marketing service providers find themselves less able to meet the needs of customers, who are more knowledgeable and more discerning than at any time in history.
The challenges for Life Sciences marketers are much steeper than for makers of commodities. We are highly regulated and must constantly deal with such issues as patient privacy and physician relationships. Moreover, our audiences are difficult to engage. They have virtually unlimited access to information, some of it informed, much of it confusing and inaccurate.
Just a few short years ago, marketers in our industry were accustomed to a monologue. We couldn’t even be sure if we were targeting the right audiences. Changing a campaign in midstream took much longer if it happened at all.
Think of the magnitude of the shift that has taken place. Today people are creating and sharing content at an unheard-of pace. Consumers are empowered to make decisions, and technology, by making that information instantly available, enables real-time interaction. Just as in a person-to-person dialogue, when we alter our next sentence based on the other person’s reactions, marketers can now respond with that same intuitive speed and recognition.
The 3 Cs give us a roadmap for this new equation:
Content: The What. Life Sciences marketing is, at heart, a conversation. Consumers, particularly those with chronic ailments, are more interested in attaining knowledge than in a specific product. They are looking for a partnership. In my view, marketers in this industry do an amazing job of connecting with them, but with today’s data, we can go light-years further. Given more discerning customers and the availability of information, we can have that conversation at a level never before possible, transforming the message based on our in-depth knowledge of the customer.
Cadence: The When? Today’s customers expect more than a single interaction, and they expect us to keep in step with their decisions in real or near-real time (keep thinking Amazon). With this in mind, Appature added a new dimension to Nexus Touch with Journeys, a visual campaign capability (Think of a Microsoft Visio-like sandbox which allows you to drag, drop, and connect different communication streams) that uses business logic to maintain an ongoing, one-on-one, real-time customer relationship. This type of capability allows marketers to set communication cadence not only based on time lapse, but also based on event trigger (e.g. downloading a whitepaper; requesting additional information).
Call to Action: The So What? In the best of all marketing worlds, the call to action is an iterative process, a true conversation that, like a real back-and-forth, changes according to the customer’s needs and decisions. Actively, engaging in this conversation demands speed, agility, the right data, and the right technology.
Companies, large and small, must be nimble enough to meet these demands. The entrepreneurial spirit required for these changes is not only something reserved for small companies but can also be cultivated by larger companies. Drawing a reference from David Yoffie and Mary Kwak’s book (Judo Strategy), (in judo, the smaller (and more nimble) opponent is able to quickly adjust to the situation and turn on a dime against the larger (and perhaps slower) adversary – in this same way, actively engaging in conversations with customers requires companies to embody the mindset of the smaller, but more agile judo opponent. We must be able to understand the landscape and our customer’s behavior and take action with the appropriate response. With the right tools and a customer-centric mentality, any organization can transform itself into becoming flexible and responsive when it comes to relationship marketing.
The 3 Cs in Action
How do I see the 3 Cs at work? Take diabetes, for example. Customers learn about glucose monitors (content). They request more information (call to action for the marketer). As an instant response is sent automatically (cadence) about ease of use, accuracy, and ease of maintenance, content changes accordingly, leading to a new call to action: “Now that you have the monitor, I want to tell you about the monitor strips.” It’s an iterative process that can happen in a real-time, one-on-one conversation. Today’s technology enables marketer-customer conversations to be both personal and automated, a win-win for both.
Impacting Quality of Life
While we don’t often think of it this way, Life Sciences marketing is much more in touch with the customer experience than many other industries. We are dedicated to making sure the consumer is safe – through messaging, engagement, information on recalls and so many other ways that we don’t always appreciate.
The customer journey we undertake with them is a profound personal connection with the power to influence a consumer’s quality of life – what foods diabetics should eat, for example, or how to help the aging maintain mobility and independence. What we do is important to people’s lives. Marketing informed by technology helps us do it better, faster and with more personal impact than we ever thought possible.
Marketing is undergoing a tectonic shift. It is happening on a macro level within the industry, as the Sunshine Act and other legislation take hold. On the micro level, customers are smarter and more knowledgeable. Marketers who embrace both creativity (art) and the innovations made possible by technology and data (science) are making better business decisions, helping maximize revenue, building true customer loyalty, and, most important, making a real difference in patients’ lives.
Do you believe you have the right technology and the right data to be able to engage with your customers?
Shamez Dharamsi is EVP of Customer Success at Appature
Written by Chris Hahn, CTO and Co-founder of Appature
It has been almost 15 years since Web 2.0 was first coined as a term (1999) to describe a vision of constant access, complete connectivity, and user control. The promises made under its umbrella have taken the world by storm. 78% of the adult population of America uses highly connected smartphones. This means pocket devices that tell us where to go and what to do have firmly left the realm of science fiction. 65% of the world’s internet users are connected to each other via social media¹, with the ability to mobilize, within mere hours, large-scale meet-ups, flash mobs, and even political revolutions. And thanks to focused user participation, trust, and freer information, we can hire a private driver, buy a new sweater, or find out where everyone we know is, right now, with hardly more than a thought – no matter where we are.
So, what’s next? We seem to be due for another round of radical rethinking of the Web. This is where we start talking about Web 3.0. Here’s how I think about Web 3.0: If Web 2.0 was about having “dynamic sites with friends at our fingertips”, Web 3.0 will start to act like my best friend, or personal assistant, who knows exactly what I want and when I want it, and will serve it up to me just the way I like it. Critical to this relationship, like all the best personal relationships, will be a) a history of shared experiences (Data), b) a code of behavior (Technology), and c) a little something I’ll call friendship — which is really a true relationship exchange where value ‘delivered’ exceeds value ‘taken’ (Personal Experience).
Analogy aside, Web 3.0 is going to be more living, breathing, and organic than the Web as we know it today. What we have in front of us is far more than a next gen technical release. In fact, I propose that the dot releases are antiquated; technology cannot evolve further without relevance. We are facing a revolution in a paradigm beyond technology. We are now living in a world where technology must be integrated with data to deliver personalized experiences. I like to think about this new Web as Web Me.0 as opposed to Web 3.0.
For this new Me-focused Web to happen, three aspects need an orchestrated coming-together:
- Data: We need to gather and leverage the vast amount of consumer, web, health, and financial information to parse out the minute and discrete likes, dislikes, and trends for everyone (i.e., Big Data).
- Technology: Technology needs to be used to unlock information in a way that accelerates idea interconnection (e.g. the Semantic Web) and an automated value exchange between customer and service. Gone are the days of SQL Servers alone solving these problems. New solutions with new capabilities must be developed and employed.
- Personalized Experiences: Bringing data and technology together with purpose and strategy is the foundation of this new breed of internet enabled services and technologies. Mining data for the sake of after-the-fact customer understanding is no longer enough, and neither is the usage of technology for technology’s sake. Web 3.0 will be about layering prospective data over technology with the right strategy that builds the trusted relationships and value exchanges needed to survive in a future filled with empowered and easily distracted customers who demand services expressly tailored to them.
To bring these three concepts together with some examples, it is helpful to look at companies that are doing groundbreaking work along these lines today. Which companies are helping us become smarter, faster, and healthier versions of ourselves?
Amazon.com knows so much about people’s buying habits that it regularly is able to provide a hyper-personalized shopping experience that delights and drives revenue. Pandora knows their users’ music tastes better than the users themselves. Even LinkedIn, a company that many people think of as nothing more than a glorified online resume, is growing 80% a quarter thanks to access to a rich source of data that they are able to leverage in innovative ways that solidly benefit their users.
Companies like these tend to regularly beat expectations for growth. What’s tying them together is the fact that they combine powerful technology on top of rich and expanding data sets to enable machine-aided interconnected ideas and experiences. These types of companies have successfully positioned themselves at the front of the goldmine (ideas) with pickaxes and shovels at the ready (technology and data).
Companies that manage to effectively deliver on the three pillars of Web 3.0 — Data, Technology and Personalized Experiences — will be poised to be the next Google or Amazon. To do this, we all need to be thinking hard about the data assets we have and which assets we can create. We then need to be thinking about how we can get those assets out into the marketplace. Lastly, we need to ensure that all of this information is deployed in a way that delights users no matter where they are in the world – on any kind of device.
by Chris Hahn, CTO and Co-founder of Appature
¹Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Post Election Survey, November 14-December 09, 2012