Triggered Messaging for Pharma

What if we could make a smarter investment by continuing to engage physicians who have shown interest in our content? Now, we can! This is known as Triggered Messaging.


Triggered Messaging provides marketers the opportunity to reach target physicians with multiple touchpoints, based on recent interest the physicians have demonstrated in the content. And there are essentially two ways to deliver triggered messaging.

The first option at its core is a triggered messaging campaign that is contained exclusively within a
single supplier-partner’s platform. In programs that have Triggered Messaging capability, a physician’s readiness to interact with multiple content pieces drives them further through an engagement-based program. Once a physician engages with an initial piece of content or brand messaging (that is hosted on a third-party supplier-partner’s platform) the trigger functionality is initiated. The trigger functionality distributes additional pieces of content or directs the physician to an additional module within the specific platform that they are already working within. A simple representation of triggered messaging would be when a physician engages with brand content on the supplier-partner’s site, they are then sent an email, within a predetermined amount of time, due to their interaction with that original piece of content. A more complex example would be when a physician interacts with brand content, they are directed to a second piece of brand content (still hosted on a third-party supplier-partner’s platform) while also receiving an email to summarize or reinforce the messaging from the first piece of brand content. This second example could be utilized to tell a brand story or deliver a sequence of messages that should be consumed in multiple sittings.

From the physician’s point of view, receiving this triggered message from a site they trust and use as a source of online medical information can be very helpful. For example, let’s say that Dr. Jones is prompted by a patient’s symptoms to learn more about a disease state. He goes to a medical website to research the topic and based on the content viewed, pharma companies now have an opportunity to continue the conversation with a very qualified and relevant audience by triggering a follow-up message from a trusted third-party. This is the simpler of the two triggered messaging methods.

The second triggered messaging method is more involved, but can also drive much deeper engagement. As this method extends the program from one supplier-partner to many and across all types of engagements, it does require significantly more setup. But the additional frequency and transparency into sequencing can be extremely valuable in communicating a complex message. In this method, a pharma company or agency can use historical data to determine what the best engagement is to deliver next to the physician, based on the last content that was consumed. And since all of this data is being tracked collectively, a triggered message is no longer gated to an individual supplier-partner. Instead, triggered engagements can now extend out via other supplier-partners to drive incremental reach in both digital and offline platforms. Using the example above, Dr. Jones’ demonstrated interest in the disease state could now result in message reinforcement via multiple channels or even an opportunity through personal promotion.

In both methods, we are moving on the opportunity of a physician being active and ready to consume brand content by providing them with additional information. Furthermore, we are increasing the value of an engagement. Instead of relying on one engagement to deliver a message, as pharmaceutical marketers have done for quite some time, we can now turn that original engagement into the first of many engagements. Triggered messaging can be utilized to:

Triggered messaging also allows physicians the opportunity to engage with brand content at their own desired pace. Working from the more complex example provided before, a physician can consume the first piece of brand content on day one and then come back to consume the second piece of brand content on day seven. If there is a third piece of content they might want to consume this on day twenty-three. The message being conveyed here is that all of the content is available for physicians when they are ready and interested. This is opposed to the old model where specific modules would be launched and eventually taken off-channel on predetermined dates thus forcing physicians to interact with the broadcasted content during specific time periods. Providing such time boundaries could negatively impact the ability of physicians to engage with your brand’s message.

In some cases, third-party supplier-partners also have the ability to utilize algorithms to analyze the types of messaging that physicians like to engage with. Furthermore, the follow up email that is sent after engaging with brand content or the succession of modules can be tailored for each physician based on their past habits within the specific platform. Since most triggered messaging campaigns are offered as target list engagement based buys, third-party supplier-partners have full visibility into who is engaging with your content. This holds true for most activities that are performed within their platform so there is an immense amount of historical data as to what kind of messaging is appealing to specific physicians. Another great benefit to third-party supplier-partners having full visibility into the actions of physicians is that they are able to provide HCP level data. This has quickly become a buzz word in the industry and for many brand managers an expected capability of custom programs.


In an industry where face-to-face interaction with physicians is diminishing, we want to be assured that our message is not only being delivered, but more importantly, consumed by a captive audience. Triggered messaging provides us with that opportunity by increasing the value of each touchpoint. In addition to delivering one piece of brand content, marketers are provided the opportunity to continue the story by delivering follow-up information and/or advancing physicians to additional pieces of brand content. We have the opportunity to further engage those who have already engaged and are truly interested in learning more about our brands.

If triggered messaging is something that is of interest and makes strategic sense for your brand, be sure to have strong lines of communication between the brand team, creative agency and media agency during the development stages. In order for a triggered messaging campaign to launch, all pieces of brand content must be created in advance of the initial launch date. Once a physician engages with the first piece of brand content, the second piece of brand content must be ready to be delivered. Depending upon how many trigger functionalities you have requested be part of your campaign, this action/reaction will continue to take place. By creating realistic development timelines and keeping all parties informed of initial timeline buildouts as well as adjustments, a triggered messaging campaign can be successfully developed and deployed to ensure high engagement from target physicians.

These are just two high level examples. If you would like to learn more about specific opportunities that are currently in market and available for purchase, please request our Triggered Messaging Addendum.