The production of digital content in the life sciences industry skyrocketed in 2020. Field teams had no choice but to engage with healthcare professionals (HCPs) remotely during the pandemic, resulting in a fourfold increase1 in the volume of digital and email content.

But the key to making virtual meetings successful isn’t just creating more digital content, it is ensuring that commercial teams are able to quickly and compliantly deploy the correct content assets personalised to HCP preferences.

As consumers, we have all come to expect seamless, personalised experiences in our everyday lives. Expectations in the professional world should be no different. McKinsey highlights the need for 'rapidly personalised content'2 as one of the key imperatives for pharma companies looking to reassess their commercial models. However, this is easier said than done.

The complications of medical, legal, and regulatory reviews, which can take months, often make it difficult to get new content approved quickly.

As a result, assets risk becoming out of date very quickly, deterring marketing teams and sales reps from reusing and personalising content. A modular content strategy is rapidly emerging as the best practice for developing, reusing and delivering compliant digital content at scale with speed.

What is modular content?

The concept of modular content is very straightforward. Pre-approved modules, or blocks, of content—including product claims, copy, graphics, and logos—are created, documented, and stored in a central place, where they can quickly and easily be combined or repurposed into new, polished assets.

A single module may be used across several channels (e.g. email campaigns, information sheets, or social media), and be surrounded by other modules or information added in order to personalise it to individual recipients.

If claim updates are required later on, they can be dynamically applied at the module level, rather than necessitating a recreation (and re-approval) of the entire finished asset. As a result, marketing and field teams can move faster, easily piecing together modules to quickly tailor or localise new assets with less heavy lifting.

Morten Kruse Sørensen, global senior director of Multichannel Excellence and Operations at Novo Nordisk, is an advocate of this new approach to content strategy: “Modular content is an important element of our broader journey towards more meaningful and efficient customer engagements. To achieve that goal, we need to fully rethink how we work and push ourselves to deliver content that meets the individual needs of each customer.”

A modular approach to digital content enables commercial teams to engage with the right people at the right times across every channel, safe in the knowledge that their content is compliant and as up to date as possible.

Building a foundation for modular content

Life sciences organisations have long used enterprise-wide technology solutions to streamline the management and measurement of digital assets. But the new demand for more digital content requires a fresh look at content strategy and the tools used to roll it out, such as:

  • Building robust digital asset management (DAM) capabilities that can support a centralised library where everyone can easily edit, find, review, assemble, and track modules
  • Factoring in the ability to support multiple types of content modules, regardless of the intended channel or content authoring tool
  • Enabling the grouping of related content blocks that travel together from initial design through to the approvals process and beyond.

Sørensen adds that “Having a flexible content platform makes it just like working with LEGO, people can play with their ideas and use the great content they already have in small bite-sized chunks to build their own masterpiece.”

Making modular content work for your organisation

Before simply 'turning on' new applications and systems, project leaders should develop a detailed internal rollout plan. It is important that everyone involved is aligned as soon as possible, which will increase the spirit of collaboration and teamwork across the business.

This is likely to include commercial operations, IT, regulatory and compliance teams, and brand marketers. Be sure to identify champions and advocates, and get buy-in from leaders, internal teams, and agency partners. Ask them to establish new and easier ways of working, focused on content reuse.

Further to this, it is usually a good idea to first experiment with pre-approved content blocks in one part of your business, perhaps supporting a new brand, channel, or indication. This approach demonstrates initial success before you rework long standing processes for older products.

Finally, don’t forget to establish and communicate key performance indicators early on. These might include metrics such as the overall time-to-market for content assets, approval time, number of review cycles, volume of new content in the pipeline, content reuse, or HCP time spent consuming content.

Modular content: key to delivering compliant digital content at scale with speed

Modular content is a flexible, scalable way to create digital content at an accelerated pace that can match the demands placed on the industry as a result of COVID-19. Pharma companies that embrace this approach will benefit from operational efficiencies and the reuse of existing content without risk of compromising compliance.

Interactions between pharma companies and HCPs have changed irreversibly, and that’s a good thing. The move online presents a real opportunity to make conversations more constructive, more time-efficient, and more beneficial to both sides. With modular content, sales reps can be sure that they have the information an HCP needs at their fingertips.

During the past 15 months, we have all become accustomed to brands delivering relevant, personalised information to us in a timely manner. Even in an industry as tightly regulated as ours, it’s now possible for pharma sales reps to do the same.

Ian Hale is vice president of commercial content at Veeva

1. Veeva Pulse data, April 2021

2. McKinsey, Ready for launch: Reshaping pharma's strategy in the next normal, December 15, 2020