Asentech: Innovating Marketing in Life Sciences - Keeping Pace with Digital Innovation

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Swati Bhaskar, Co-founder and Managing Partner
“We like the fact that besides technological competence, you have a sound understanding of the life sciences industry,” is a recurring praise that Swati Bhaskar and her competent team at Asentech—a pharma digital marketing specialist—are presented with when they meet their clients to develop strategies, tactics, and technologies on behalf of emerging and leading pharma brands.

Such a vote of confidence should come as no surprise. Asentech, which has built more than 100 HCP- and patient-specific marketing campaigns over the last 10 years, is uniquely positioned to aid pharma marketers to keep pace with multiplying digital channels, evolving consumer habits, and the rapidly-changing ecosystem of pharma marketing.

While some pharma marketing agencies have their experience rooted in marketing, others hail from a pure technology enablement expertise. This is precisely where Asentech—with its “blended model” of experienced marketers, strategists and technologists —is aspiring to be in a league of its own.

Asentech has been able to develop deep-rooted proficiency in every aspect of pharma marketing: marketing, technology, and understanding of the regulatory environment. “Since marketing and technology departments (within life sciences) have varying priorities, they struggle to get on the same page. From an efficiency perspective, we bring value to both the unique functions. We have been there many times and have developed an expertise to navigate such a landscape,” says Swati, co-founder and managing partner of Asentech.

This multifaceted approach is encapsulated in the way Asentech delivers its strategic consultancy services. As Swati notes, Asentech performs deep digital and market research to familiarize itself with the brands and their competitors before making strategic suggestions that resonate with marketers. However, winning over marketers with creative inputs is just one piece of the puzzle.

Demystifying the Ever Evolving Technology for Marketers

As with any aspect of martech, the implementation of technology is as critical as the marketing strategies that accompany them. Since technology in martech is inherently “mystic” for marketers to harness, Asentech takes the lead to “make the technology work” which allows clients to establish a meaningful connection with their audiences on a channel of choice. “Typically, when a marketer adopts new technology, there is too much misinformation or gaps in the information. We take pride in demystifying this technology and guiding clients toward optimal use,” adds Swati.

A case in point is the manner in which Asentech has, in recent years, enabled its clients to adopt the two most prevalent trends in pharma marketing: VR and virtual/voice assistants. Although marketers are already exposed to voice-based technologies, they are met with a number of considerations between ideation and execution. Some of them include an apt use case (of a similar strategy adopted by another brand), the right call-to-action that ensures consumers access content swiftly, the desired ROI, and the ability to navigate regulatory environments. Furthermore, marketers are expected to “stretch the dollar as much as possible” and prioritize where they allocate funds, especially in a highly-regulated industry where the challenge to get medical, legal, and regulatory (MLR) approval on an innovative marketing strategy is quite challenging.

These budgetary and regulatory constraints, without the precedence of success, often force marketers to employ a “wait and see” approach. Asentech’s deep understanding of such an environment allows it to navigate for and assist a brand to expedite launch of such innovative tactics while remaining true to the core brand strategy.. The holistic approach often results in Asentech’s clients modifying finer aspects of an ongoing marketing campaign. For example, if a consumer using a VR app is lost in the shuffle of multiple steps, Asentech educates the brand on the sub-optimal elements in their content strategy and helps them in improving the overall UX.

Since marketing and technology departments have varying priorities, they struggle to get on the same page. From an efficiency perspective, we bring value to both the unique functions

Many a time, Asentech is obligated to “challenge clients” while advising them against taking a possibly unrewarding path.

Speaking of VR in pharma marketing, Asentech flipped the script for a leading women’s healthcare brand that produces transdermal patches. During the initial stages of the engagement, Asentech performed a deep social listening campaign to gather insights on what consumers thought about the brand’s product. Through the course of the study, Asentech discovered that several women were reluctant to wear the patches because of some inherent misconceptions on the efficacy of transdermal technology and/or lack of clarity on optimal use.. To address this challenge, Asentech developed a VR app to walk consumers through the process of wearing the patch correctly, along with various scenarios of usage. “Since the brand was nearing the end of its lifecycle, there was no new information to share with doctors. Rather than handing them a brochure, we walked consumers through various scenarios identified during social listening,” recounts Swati.

The VR app turned out to be quite effective in driving multi-fold engagement to the education material and also in a significantly higher message recall rate.

Developing Capabilities as the Digital Mediums Evolves

Such use cases shed light to Asentech’s ability to operationalize new technologies in order to tackle new digital mediums and accordingly develop the required expertise.

Driving ahead, Asentech will continue to help its clients overcome digital inertia by staying a step ahead of the curve and identifying the technologies that truly bring value to brands and more importantly the consumers. As the attention span of the digital user dwindles further (reportedly to four seconds!), Asentech will collaborate with marketers to develop content strategies that swiftly engage consumers while being true to the overall vision.

Geared towards this, Asentech is presently developing AR/VR and gamification apps designed to engage users with immersive experiences. As Swati points out, baby boomers were happy to read long-form articles to get the information they sought, as opposed to today’s millennial-centric audience that prefers ‘byte-size’ content. Besides AR/VR apps, Asentech will persist in its efforts to explore voice assistant-driven solutions. Both technologies can provide information to consumers at their fingertips, perfectly adept for today’s digital consumer. “Also, with voice assistants now available on mobile devices, we have the potential to reimagine patient and HCP workflows, to enable a more convenient UX by exploiting and integrating multiple channels, including mobile, touch, SMS, chatbots and other native smartphone features,” explains Swati, before stressing on the impact of new data laws that necessitate marketers to obtain only First-Party Data (GDPR and CCPA), a sizeable hurdle that the brands need to overcome.

With the vision to further improve customer engagement, the company has substantially invested in Asentech Labs, where it decodes the relevance of emerging technologies in life sciences marketing. “We also considerably invest in upgrading the skills of our employees to keep pace with the industry,” concludes Swati.

Asentech is in a prime position to introduce a new wave of digital marketing within the life sciences industry.


Somerville, NJ

Swati Bhaskar, Co-founder and Managing Partner

Asentech has been in the business for over a decade forming trusted and high value partnerships with brands to help them deliver differentiated experiences to HCPs and patients with the aim to increase engagement and positive outcomes. Over time, Asentech’s services portfolio has expanded to include social media research, omni-channel analytics, analytics enablement, campaign orchestration, development of large-scale enterprise applications / proprietary tech platforms, and more recently, AR / VR and Voice apps. Asentech has the privilege of working with many Fortune 100 Life Sciences companies in US, EU, Middle East and APAC