An Interview with Harmony Biosciences’s Joyce Ercolino – Digital Innovation – June 2019

DHC: Your title at Harmony Biosciences is “Director, Digital Excellence”.  In your opinion, what makes “digital” work excellent in 2019, heading into 2020?  What are you seeing as key industry metrics for success?

JOYCE ERCOLINO: A continued opportunity for digital today and heading into 2020 is to remove friction and deliver a great customer experience.  In an attention-deficit and time-pressed world, how can you make it easier for someone to stay on therapy, subscribe to your CRM program or engage with your brand?  This could range from therapeutic partnerships to ongoing content optimizations that make information more digestible or creating a superior mobile experience. 

Obviously, scripts are standard measures, but key engagement metrics are also important. Think ROE-Return on Engagement.  If you’re dedicating budget to create great content, you want to know that your audience is reading it, taking desired actions and sharing your product or service.  Brand engagement is so essential, because how you make someone feel is what they remember. 

Planning for and capturing data along the way is part of excellence, so that you have necessary insights that inform delivering highly relevant experiences for customers, which help drive brand loyalty and business success. 

DHC: In the last few years, digital has gone from a type of media to a ubiquitous term that encompasses almost all the channels and tactics used by consumer marketers.  How has this shift changed how you approach the concept of digital marketing?

JOYCE ERCOLINO: At one time, you had to convince brands and companies to go online.  Since everyone’s online all the time now, targeting and relevance are essential.  

Today’s digital is all about the content you create and the experience you deliver. How can you make a brand engagement most valuable and memorable?  Measurement planning and data collection are critical components, as you won’t know how you are performing if you don’t set goals and use and analyze data to help inform your work.

Heard at a recent conference I attended, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”.

DHC: Heading into brand planning for 2020, what are one or two ways the industry is innovating its approach to multi-channel marketing this year? What tactic(s) are you watching / most interested in getting insights from?

JOYCE ERCOLINO: Progress in chatbot usage, wearables integration and digital therapeutic partnerships will continue to evolve multi-channel opportunities into the coming year.

Personally, I want to learn more about opportunities for digital behavioral health and voice across therapeutic categories. There’s also a lot of opportunity for Rich Communication Services (RCS), the next generation of SMS, to drive real-time brand engagement.  I’m interested to see how brands can eventually message customers through connected devices, like FitBits or apps synced with those devices, sending relevant messages when they matter most.

DHC: Part of your role is multichannel corporate engagement.  In recent discussions with DHC members, the question of consumer trust of the pharma industry has been raised often.  How do you think the industry couldapproach the use of digital innovation in order to help address that issue of trust?  

JOYCE ERCOLINO: Digital innovation is a broad term, and I’m not sure we can innovate trust as it must be earned.  But we can definitely improve the communications and relationships required to establish and build trust.  

You can’t have trust without dialogue and transparency.  Living in a digital world makes everything more transparent, and some of the issues that pharma industry faces require continuous education and communication.  Thinking about the customer journey, touch points can evolve into further opportunities to create and expand trust.  Influencer marketing can play a greater role in connecting with key audiences.

Having a clear brand purpose and company culture also helps customers know what you stand for, and who you support through advocacy and other efforts. To build trust, we need to continue to advocate for patients, whether that’s on Capitol Hill, with local legislators or via information available on our website.

DHC: You volunteer as a mentor within the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).  What advice do you give to up and coming marketers looking to grow into leaders within digital marketing?

JOYCE ERCOLINO: The talented women I’ve mentored through HBA have come from all parts of industry; bench science, operations, analytics, regulatory, IT.  Our focus has been on growing careers no matter what role someone is in.  

If I was talking to someone interested in digital marketing, I’d tell them to be a great marketer first and foremost, and make sure your research informs your audience needs. Today’s most effective marketers know that you need to understand and work across all channels, offline and online.  You might end up spending more in online than you used to, but strategy must be built into all multi-channel efforts.

If you want to work in the digital space, you need to be comfortable with constant change and learning, utilizing data and keeping up with trends. In addition to campaign development and deployment, having experience with design thinking, content marketing and customer experience will help you create memorable brand experiences that deliver greater value.

Would you like an invite to our next DHC event? Access to research?