Rise of the Chatbots: Bringing AI Into Pharma Marketing

Looking for a low risk, low overhead, but high impact way to introduce AI into your pharma marketing? Then consider the chatbot.

Customer service is one of the most obvious applications for automation — and companies have been ruthlessly efficient in its deployment. Newer tech-based firms, in particular, have opted for near-total customer service automation, at least for routine queries. Most consumers are no doubt familiar with the lengths one must go to in order to get an actual carbon-based life form on the other end of a phone or computer interaction.

While dealing with endless irrelevant computer-generated questions is tiresome now, consumers are about to get some relief. AI and natural language processing (NLP) are growing exponentially smarter. Soon, consumers will have difficulty discerning silicon-based vs. carbon-based customer assistance. As chatbots and other automated programs grow more capable, brands will also be able to extend their functionality into the realm of pharmaceutical marketing.

How Chatbots Can Help Brands Incorporate AI Into Pharma Marketing

AI is playing a critical role in pharmaceutical industry product development. Major companies such as Pfizer and Google are using AI to help with early disease diagnosis. Artificial intelligence is also used to accelerate timelines for new drug discoveries. AI is also positioned to play a critical role in the emergence of personalized medicine, where tailored therapies are created based on a patient’s genetic profile.

Heady stuff, to be certain — yet also fairly far outside of the bailiwick of your conventional pharmaceutical advertising agency or pharma marketing department.

There is, however, one AI implementation that is both effective and viable for marketing purposes: The chatbot.

Today’s chatbots have come a long way from the rather static and limited versions consumers first encountered. Part of this is due to a gradual shift away from rules-based AI (where a chatbot responds according to pre-determined rule sets) to a fully realized NLP implementation. In the latter, a chatbot can continually learn and expand its repertoire, growing more accurate and responsive over time. 

In fact, today’s NLP-based chat applications have grown astonishingly life-like, even incorporating human-sounding conversational pauses and stammers. Some chatbots even make intentional errors to increase their verisimilitude.

Serving an Automated Marketing Role

In the context of customer service and marketing, it’s not difficult to see the benefits of having an intelligent helper who sounds like a human and who is ready to assist with patient queries 24/7. This is especially helpful in an industry where consumers frequently have simple questions about dosages, interactions, and other issues. If your chatbot is capable of seamlessly handling these lines of interaction, it frees up personnel to work on higher-value tasks — one of the core advantages of automation.

That’s merely one application of chatbot AI, however. While a well-designed bot can provide consumers with information and facilitate positive experiences, it also plays another critical role: It accumulates a vast trove of data culled from thousands upon thousands of consumer interactions.

Obviously, privacy regulations govern how first-party data can be used. Yet this information is still quite valuable in terms of identifying how processes can be improved and how consumers respond to particular messages.

Teva and other leading global pharmaceutical brands have created chatbots for their internal properties and are using them for pharma marketing purposes. Teva’s Maxbot implementation, in fact, recently won several awards from the Pharmaceutical Marketing Society.

Smaller brands should also follow suit. Though these brands may not have the internal resources to develop a chatbot, the right pharmaceutical advertising agency may be able to develop a chatbot solution that fits the bill.

The Takeaway

At BIGEYE, we believe that technology plays a leading role in the success of a modern pharma marketing campaign. If you’re looking for more from your pharmaceutical advertising agency, we urge you to contact BIGEYE today.  

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