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An Interview with Chris Humphreys

SVP, Strategic Planning at Intouch Solutions

Chris Humphreys is a seasoned marketing executive having worked with brands that span a diverse set of industries, from healthcare and pharmaceuticals, to consumer packaged goods, and even travel and tourism. He has also worked with many global brands, and has led branding and innovation workshops in four different countries. Humphreys has presented at industry conferences, including Digital Pharma East in 2016, and was recently recognized as one of PM360 ELITE 100. 

What does your role involve?

Chris Humphreys: At Intouch Solutions, I lead a team of strategists that develop solutions for pharmaceutical companies. We are solely focused in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, and because our heritage was born from digital and technology, a good portion of the work we do for our clients is rooted in digital. However, my team has a broad focus—we work with everything from brand strategy and brand building to fully integrated, multichannel marketing campaigns.

What are your business priorities over the next 12 months? 

Humphreys: My biggest priority is helping our clients with digital transformation. In the pharmaceutical industry, the transformation tends to be a bit slower than in other industries. This is partially due to the regulatory environment, but also the complexity of the decision-making processes surrounding pharmaceutical products. Continuing to push my clients toward modern marketing principles is my main focus. 

What's the biggest challenge for you, your team or your business?

Humphreys: That’s an interesting question because the healthcare industry is in transition; other than the traditional challenges that come with digital, keeping up with industry changes is also a constant challenge. We’re seeing massive consolidation in the industry, and there's increasing pressure from our clients to do more with less money. That's probably typical across the agency model, but it's impacting business across pharma and healthcare quite a bit.

In addition to those challenges to our industry and business model, we’re also seeing the challenges consumers face—access to physicians, for example, is getting more limited. In an attempt to contain costs, more responsibility is being pushed on to consumers and patients to understand and make healthcare decisions by themselves. It’s a healthy mix of challenges in an evolving space. Our job is to understand our audience so well that we know exactly the right levers to pull that will disrupt them, engage them in a positive, meaningful way and provide that hyper-relevant content at precisely the right time. 

How do you create this hyper-relevant content you're talking about?

Humphreys: Our content strategy team does a great job. They’re always looking at the consumer journey from end to end and creating relevant content for the consumer depending on what stage they’re in. We also rely on predictive analytics to help us determine where users are in their journey so that the content they’re seeing is relevant and delivered at precisely the right time.

How does eMarketer help you overcome the challenges you mentioned previously?

Humphreys: eMarketer is great because it gives me and my team quick access to information that's relevant to us, our business and our clients. In the past, we've had to extrapolate data from general digital usage habits found on the internet. From there, we’d make inferences about how that behavior might look different in the healthcare vertical. But with eMarketer, we don't have to do that anymore—it’s a huge plus to have industry-specific data for healthcare and pharma that’s readily accessible and applicable.

eMarketer PRO has become almost a Swiss Army knife to us. We use it in new business pitches, to validate client recommendations quickly, and to develop integrated, multichannel campaigns, ensuring that we can recommend the right marketing mix to drive impact. It’s a really quick, go-to tool for us.

Were you familiar with eMarketer before joining Intouch Solutions?

Humphreys: I've actually used eMarketer PRO before; we had a few seats at my last agency. Once I joined Intouch, I was happy to learn I’d have access to PRO because I already knew how to navigate and use the product.

I was also part of the decision to bring it on enterprise-wide, which was very exciting. About a year ago, we made the decision to roll out access to all the other departments, which allowed them to benefit from the knowledge, data and analysis inside the tool.

How does eMarketer PRO compare to other tools?

Humphreys: We leverage a variety of tools and research. Most are for very specific types of research, such as understanding a specific therapeutic area or looking at epidemiology data. We use eMarketer differently, because it allows us to go broadly in digital across all of our healthcare customers, not just one specific area. This is the only tool we use that does that. The robustness and breadth of data that's in eMarketer PRO allows us to round out that story and create a fuller picture of what our audiences are doing.

Can you walk me though a specific use-case where eMarketer has helped you? 

Humphreys: There was a recent use case during an interesting brainstorm with a client. One of the ideas was to leverage virtual assistants as support for one of our client’s products. There was a lot of heart in the idea, but we needed to validate whether the project was worth it from a business standpoint to understand if we should pursue it.

Using eMarketer PRO, we found convincing data from two reports: “Value Beyond the Pill” and “Digital Trends 2018.” The “Value Beyond the Pill” report, specifically, talked about the importance of supportive tools around products and how it is becoming the new norm.

Insights from those two sources allowed us to develop a solid business case to get our idea sold to the client and move forward with the project. On the flip side, without that kind of objective, third-party data, our original idea could have easily been killed before it even kicked off. It could have been one of those pie-in-the-sky ideas that wasn't grounded in business sense. So, the reports and data that we got from eMarketer allowed us to ground it and make a business case for it.

What's your favorite thing about having access to eMarketer? 

Humphreys: My favorite thing about eMarketer is being able to equip not only my team, but other teams with objective data from the tool. This gives everyone at the agency the ability to deliver tremendous value, regardless of what team they sit on. By having everyone work with the same insights and data, we’re eliminating silos and loosening bottlenecks.

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