In the realm of omnichannel, benchmarks such as open rates, CXQ, reach, and impact have become life science industry standards. But when it comes to gauging the effectiveness of HCP event engagement, the benchmarks are less clear-cut.
Given that events often represent the most significant investment in your omnichannel portfolio, relying on guesswork may not be a good idea. This article will help you turn this guesswork into a data-driven HCP event engagement strategy that delivers measurable results.
Leveraging 15+ years of partnering with life science leaders, we are unveiling, for the first time, 3 pivotal benchmarks for HCP event engagement: conversion, consent, and activation. And we are sharing 5 actionable tactics to enhance these KPIs.
This article is based on session 1 of ‘The Omnichannel HCP Event Engagement Series 2024’ with insights from Leslie Roberston (Founder and Owner, Open Audience) and Pierre Metrailler (CEO, SpotMe), two highly respected individuals in the pharma and events sector.
To watch the event on demand and download the slides, register for our free content hub.
The HCP Event Funnel: Core Metrics
Before diving into the benchmarks, it’s important to explore the HCP event journey. One of the easiest ways to conceptualize this is to think of it as a funnel:
- At the entrance of the funnel, you have your audience, which typically sits in your marketing platform – be it in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Veeva CRM, or across the web and social media.
- Then, you bring these individuals to an event registration page and augment registration with a consent request.
- Finally, these people will hopefully attend your event.
In principle, this funnel is very straightforward. But the question is: How do you measure all this?
The HCP Event Funnel: Metrics Capture
As mentioned above, your audience typically sits in your pharma CRM or marketing automation platform. You usually start with a well-defined segment – targeting 3,000 HCPs, for instance. You send emails to those 3,000 HCPs, and some decide to register. That’s your first metric: the conversion rate from audience to registration.
When they register, some HCPs may decide to provide consent for further communications. This becomes your consent percentage of the total registrants.
Then, on event day, most registrants will hopefully attend. This is what we call the activation rate, i.e., the number of attendees divided by the total number of registrants.
Here’s a simplified breakdown of these metrics:
There are three major challenges with this metrics capture:
“The challenges lie in the fact that this data is scattered across different systems. Sometimes your audience is a combination of CRM and marketing automation databases. Then, the registration data you obtain comes usually comes from your event platform but can also come from thirdy-party systems. So, the tricky matter is: How do you aggregate all this data to draw meaningful insights?” – Pierre Metrailler (CEO, SpotMe)
“Once you start looking at the data, you very quickly realize that HCPs are individuals with unique behaviors and preferences. Looking at these metrics at too high a level may not give you the data outcomes or the value you expect.” – Leslie Roberston (Founder and Owner, Open Audience)
That’s why it’s key to get a deeper understanding of HCPs and their behavior by gathering engagement metrics through your event platform in addition to the event metrics mentioned above.
It’s important to remember that these metrics can vary depending on the type of pharmaceutical meeting because there’s a distinct challenge in aligning global-level pharmaceutical company omnichannel marketing targets with what happens at a local level, in terms of disease area, product area, and meeting type.
Let’s take a look at the benchmarks you should be using to understand whether your metrics illustrate good event performance.
The HCP Event Funnel Benchmarks
From Pierre and Leslie’s experience, post-event discussions with life science leaders often revolve around metrics such as registration, conversion, and activation rates. But unfortunately, unlike other channels in life sciences where benchmarks have been well-established by companies like Across Health and TD Consulting, event metrics are somewhat nebulous and there’s a certain lack of transparency.
“Everybody knows what’s a good open rate, what’s a good CXQ, what’s good reach, what’s good impact according to your country and therapeutical area. But when it comes to events, all of this is a bit of a secret. So we’d like to reveal a few of those secrets.”
SpotMe carried out a research study to establish the key benchmarks life science professionals should be using when evaluating event metrics. The study was based on a large sample size of more than 3,000 events, focused on HCP-only audiences for medical education standalones, virtual events, and webinars. These events spanned the top 50 pharmaceutical companies globally, including different countries, brands, and customer types.
SpotMe categorized the events into 2 routes and discovered the benchmarks for each of them:
#1 Open registration
Open registration events involve top of the funnel (TOFU), awareness activities where the motto is the more, the better. It essentially involves sending emails to a large segment of several thousands that are in your marketing automation platform telling them to join a session. Targeting is limited, if not absent.
Here, the conversion rate varies between 1 to 8%* and the activation rate is 54%.**
*The reason for the range is the varying nature of the meetings
**When talking about virtual events or webinars, this means attendees join and watch 75% of the live content.
#2 Closed registration
Closed registration events are those that involve sending targeted RSVPs to a specific group. For example, some pharma companies require HCPs to authenticate themselves for attendance through single sign-on.
These types of event have a much higher conversion rate, between 24 to 29%, because they are more targeted, relevant, and tend to have a smaller audience size. And their activation rate is slightly higher at 68%.
Another benchmark SpotMe examined is the consent rate, which remains the same for both open and closed registration events. Most life science companies now put their consent form on their registration page, as it seems to increase consent percentage. And what SpotMe found is that approximately 52% of HCPs who are presented with a consent request at registration are likely to give it.
Here is a summary of SpotMe’s findings:
One key observation in SpotMe’s findings is the significant variance in conversion rates depending on the type of registration and the numerous other variables at play. (For example, the audience size can exceed expectations if the registration is open.) For this reason, SpotMe opted to present a range of values rather than a simple average.
Interestingly, from an activation standpoint, the benchmark remains relatively stable. This suggests that the key determinant of event performance is execution rather than content quality or data accuracy. These are important considerations to consider when evaluating the reasons behind varying event performance metrics.
How To Use The HCP Event Funnel Benchmarks
When looking at the above benchmarks, it’s important to remember that not all events – or all marketing channels – are created equal. The therapeutic area, time zone, language, and the novelty of the clinical data all contribute to conversion and activation rates.
For example, registration will be lower if you’re doing a webinar on hypertension with very little data. But it will be much higher if you’re doing a webinar on a very specific clinical data update on a rare disease.
This highlights the importance of adopting a multi-faceted approach rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy.
According to Leslie Robertson, it is important for life science companies to use these benchmarks as an essential starting point that catalyzes a more nuanced and tailored approach to event marketing within life sciences.
Life science companies should shift the discourse from retrospective assessment to prospective planning. Instead of lamenting over ‘X’ and ‘Y’ conversion and activation rates post-event, they should ask themselves:
- What can we strategically plan to achieve a desired rate of 35% for closed registration conversion?
- How do we personalize the event content and format to achieve this?
- What can we do during the event to achieve a higher activation rate?
That’s where our omnichannel HCP event engagement tactics come in:
Omnichannel HCP Event Engagement Tactics
Now you have these benchmarks to measure against, you’ll want to know what actions to take to increase these rates within your organization. Here are 5 proven tactics:
Tactic #1 The IKEA Effect
The IKEA effect is a psychological phenomenon where individuals feel more invested in something they have personally contributed to. Think about IKEA’s flat-pack furniture – when you assemble the products yourself you feel a sense of accomplishment and ownership. You can apply the same principle to your webinars for higher HCP engagement.
“For instance, in today’s webinar, we asked attendees a question during registration. This is a step toward making people feel invested. They think to themselves, ‘I’ve given my time, I’ve influenced something.’ I’ve been involved in other webinars where the organizers asked, ‘Do you have a case study that you might want the panel to discuss?’. And others where the content was shaped around what the audience thought or had examples of.”
Some examples of how to use this tactic in your events are to ask HCPs to:
- Answer a question related to the topic
- Participate in a knowledge ladder or quiz
- Record a short video talking about the topic
- Give examples of or opinions on the topic that they’ve seen in practice
- Share a case study about the topic that you then present during the event
The results are no less than promising. When HCPs feel that their opinions are being considered, that they have invested something and that the webinar will be genuinely interactive, they are more likely to find value in the experience. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of them sharing the event with their peers, thereby amplifying its reach. And it helps you shape the content of your webinar.
In summary, fostering a sense of investment from the moment of conversion can significantly impact activation rates. It turns your event from a ‘standard webinar’ into a unique, interactive, personalized experience that stands out from the rest.
“I witnessed a live symposium at a congress in which they didn’t have a lot of new information to share. The clinical data wasn’t coming through in time, so they thought, ‘Do we cancel?’ But they decided to run it anyway. And what they did was they recognized 8 topics they could talk about that all went through compliance, etc. and they told people as they came into the meeting: ‘We can talk about anything you want within this framework.’ And the very fact that the audience could choose which topics were being discussed straight away meant the engagement scores were off the scale because they felt more invested in discussions and became active participants rather than passive delegates.”
Tactic #2 Asynchronous Engagement
The asynchronous engagement model builds on the IKEA effect tactic. It enriches the conventional understanding of what an event is, extending its lifetime and therefore its impact. “It’s the idea that your event doesn’t just start at 10:00 am and then finish at 10:45 am” (Pierre Metrailler, CEO, SpotMe).
Before your event, you should go beyond mere marketing ‘teasers’ to increase conversion and activation by initiating a 2-way dialogue with HCPs. Whether you’re soliciting questions for a speaker, inviting HCPs to contribute their own case studies, or asking them to participate in a poll, this asynchronous engagement helps to create a more collaborative environment.
In the life science industry, where subject matter is not just specialized but also continually evolving, the importance of such ongoing interactivity should not be ignored. Polls, evaluations, and open calls for case studies not only keep HCPs engaged before and during your event but also offer them a stake in shaping future discussions that may tackle unmet educational needs or pressing issues within the community.
By actively involving HCPs in shaping your content, you are also subtly reinforcing their commitment to future events. This not only boosts registration and activation rates but also helps build a community of professionals who see your HCP event platform as a valuable avenue for both learning and contributing.
SpotMe research shows that asynchronous engagement tends to increase activation rates by 20–60%, clearly demonstrating its efficacy.
Post-event, the benefits continue. Your event content becomes an asset that not only serves as a reference but also invites further engagement. This aspect of asynchronous interaction allows for content consumption and internalization at the HCP’s own pace, which is a significant value-add in industries like life sciences, where time is often scarce.
The impact of this “elongated” event lifecycle can be transformational, especially for events like advisory boards or investigator meetings. Each event becomes more than just a single point in time; it becomes a prolonged conversation that allows for deeper understanding and engagement. And this, in turn, can be quantified, not just in terms of participation rates but in the quality of that participation.
The Asynchronous HCP Event Engagement Journey
The holistic view of life science event planning underlines the importance of integrated, omnichannel strategies in fostering meaningful and long-lasting engagement. An event isn’t just an isolated occurrence but a cog in a larger machinery of interactions that define the relationship between an HCP and your organization.
“Often the webinar is just one of a multitude of omnichannel engagement to have – it might be an exhibition, a webinar, on-demand, the email invitation. How do you join all that up in a company? How do you get the omnichannel strategy to recognize the value of the event? How do you get all the other things to support the delivery of the event? Because often your healthcare professional will come here because they’ve seen something at an exhibition or in a congress hall, or they’ve used the SpotMe platform for the congress. And all of a sudden invitations come out because they’re interested in the technology. So for me, this whole thing about it is never to look at our webinar in isolation, but to look at where the webinar fits into your overall omnichannel strategy.”
When an HCP decides to attend a webinar, it’s often the culmination of various touchpoints – be it through a sales representative, an email campaign, or a peer’s recommendation. Each interaction informs the next, adding layers of complexity and value to the overarching relationship.
It essentially converges on the notion of ‘customer journey mapping’ – understanding how multiple channels contribute to a single, cohesive user experience. This map doesn’t only lead the HCP to an event; it should ideally lead them through it and beyond, towards actionable insights, strengthened brand loyalty, and perhaps even advocacy.
Here’s an example of this HCP journey:
Assessing a webinar’s success should never be in isolation. Metrics derived from a single event should be integrated into a broader set of KPIs that evaluate the effectiveness of the entire omnichannel strategy. This goes beyond mere attendance figures and delves into the qualitative aspects – how engaged was the audience, did they find the content valuable, and crucially, what are they likely to do next?
By adopting this holistic approach, you can ensure they are not just hosting events, but are building ongoing, meaningful relationships with their target professionals. This is essential for creating true and lasting value,
Tactic #3 Country-Specific Content
This tactic involves personalizing the experience based on the HCP’s country to ensure legal compliance and build instant trust. There’s no doubt that customizing consent forms based on the country of registration demonstrates a deep understanding of the regulatory and psychological aspects of data consent. In the life science field, where compliance and data security are not just best practices but legal necessities, such precision can add significant value.
By customizing the consent form to the HCP’s country, you’re doing multiple things at once:
- Addressing legal requirements for data collection and storage, which vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another.
- Demonstrating an attention to detail that is often viewed as a proxy for how you will handle more substantive interactions, including the safeguarding of sensitive data.
This can be particularly reassuring for HCPs, who are bound by strict ethical and regulatory guidelines around data use and protection. But it’s not just about compliance; it’s also about establishing trust.
“By making your registration process and consent form country specific – the terms, the language, the legal reference – it will have a much greater impact on HCPs who are making a split-second decision whether or not to trust you. […] The HCP will say to themself ‘These people know what they’re doing. They’re going to take care of my data. I’m going to give them my consent.’”
HCPs are more likely to trust your organization if you show you understand and respect the nuances of international regulations. This trust is often the precursor to the more active forms of engagement you are seeking, such as high registration and activation rates. By fostering a sense of trust and safety from the outset, you set the stage for more meaningful interactions down the line.
Therefore, this tactic could result in both immediate gains in consent rates and longer-term benefits in the form of engagement and trust.
Tactic #4 Specialist persona
This tactic is all about precision marketing and hyper-targeted engagement strategies, because the emphasis you place on the quality of engagement over sheer volume is not just noteworthy but essential for the life science industry.
To maximize engagement and impact in specialized fields, it’s often more about reaching the “right” 20 people than casting a wide net for 2,000.
When it comes to rare diseases, for example, the KOLs and HCPs specialized in that area may amount to a very small, exclusive group. Targeting these individuals with highly personalized content rather than trying to get thousands of HCPs to your webinar not only improves activation rates but also ensures a far richer and more meaningful dialogue. The result? Tangible outcomes that could range from accelerated research and development timelines to more effective patient treatments.
In such contexts, traditional persona-based marketing strategies might not suffice. These ‘personas’ need to be far more granular, not broad categories. This hyper-personalization can elevate not just the event but the entire omnichannel strategy by making each interaction as relevant and impactful as possible.
“Think beyond the existing persona and ask yourself: for this disease area, for this particular indication, for this kind of event, ‘How do I get that activation level up?’ ‘How do I get the registration rate up?’ ‘How do I it much more relevant to the healthcare professional?’”
For organizations to succeed in this, a flexible, data-driven approach is crucial. By continually gathering and analyzing data, marketers can refine these personas to be as accurate as possible, thereby ensuring that each touchpoint – be it a webinar, a white paper, or a sales meeting – resonates deeply.
Tactic #5 Truly Personalized Email Cadences
Many companies speak of email “personalization”, but the practice often devolves into mere segmentation or targeting.
“People always tell you to personalize your email cadences. But when ask, ‘What do you do to personalize them?’ The response is, ‘Well, I have a segment here by demographics and TA, etc.’. That’s not personalization, it’s targeting, segmentation.”
Instead, email personalization can be as simple, but effective, as moving registrants to a different email cadence that focuses on preparing them for the event. This doesn’t just show a far higher degree of personalization, but also respects HCP’s time and actions.
The act of continuing to send registration prompts to individuals who have already registered is not just a technical oversight; it’s a customer engagement failure. Such a mistake could send a message of disorganization and lack of attention to detail – qualities that are unacceptable in the life science field. In worst-case scenarios, it can even lead to confusion and annoyance that result in the loss of that HCP’s attendance. They may think, “If this organization can’t even manage their email communications effectively, how can they deliver valuable content in a more complex event setting?”
Your email personalization should indicate a clear understanding of the HCP journey and the changing needs and expectations at each stage. It also keeps the lines of communication open for information that is truly relevant and valuable to them, thus optimizing their event experience.
How To Boost Omnichannel HCP Event Engagement With A Life Science Event Platform
Evaluating your life science events against the 3 pivotal benchmarks for HCP event engagement – conversion, consent, and activation – is key to gauging success and holding your partnering agencies accountable. And the 5 tactics outlined above represent some of the simplest yet most impactful ways to increase HCP event engagement.
But successful HCP event engagement is impossible without a fully compliant end-to-end event platform that has countless ways to interact with HCPs and deep native integrations with leading pharma CRMs such as Veeva and IQVIA, as well as marketing automation platforms, such as Salesforce.
To find out how SpotMe’s customizable registration pages, robust email targeting, and asynchronous event app can help you increase engagement and build longlasting relationships with HCPs, request a demo now.