Closed loop – the DNA of pharma marketing by Kieran Bourke


When planning a marketing strategy, pharmaceutical companies should consider adopting an integrated approach to make the most of the data they collect through website analytics and the sales force in order to produce more effective results.

While most pharma marketers collect data in abundance, many do not use it to create precision-targeted content messaging. Closed-loop marketing (CLM) is an increasingly popular approach which demands the attention of the pharma industry. A CLM strategy can improve content messaging (and targeting) by utilising automation to place the pharma sales representative and brand marketer within a continuous information feedback-loop, relaying data collected across multiple healthcare professional (HCP) touchpoints to each other. The outcome of this continuous loop is more meaningful HCP engagement and increased prescription rates.

The sales representative is central to the CLM strategy as they have a direct relationship with the HCP’s. To enhance this two-way communication, sales force and marketing automation platforms need to be integrated (using APIs). This allows the marketing team to gather more insightful data on HCP behaviour, assess information, and discover channel preferences and intents. This way they can alter messaging to HCPS in near-real time. It ensures the sales representative has the latest information, from where the HCP sits in the conversion funnel to favoured clinical topics, helping nudge the conversion along. Post-meeting, the sales representative relays the insights to the brand managers who evaluate the data and revise the messaging accordingly.

A technology stack which offers end-to end analytics and tracks brand campaigns should sit at the heart of the CLM strategy. This can range from sophisticated CRM systems to simple websites with a bolt on analytics package. These platform stacks help to integrate brand campaigns and assist with the evaluation of marketing leads.

The focal platform within a CLM strategy is often the website, with all marketing touchpoints steering prospects and customers to a landing page. Here the visiting HCP’s journey can be tagged using a UTM (universal tag management) code, so their visit can be analysed. This highlights which channels drive traffic to the landing page and reveals useful demographic, geographic and behavioural data.

UTM codes can also be passed through offers and forms to attribute leads generated from campaigns such as paid search, organic search, referrals and direct site traffic.  When this anonymous web data is linked to internal CRM data using lead-capture devices, such as downloads and lead forms, you have literally ‘closed the loop’.

Unifying data silos within a CLM strategy, greatly enhances customer profiling capabilities and when external third-party data is over-laid to the web and CRM data, the resulting 360-degree view can reveal new insights into HCP’s behaviour and intent, allowing companies to more meaningfully engage with them.

MAXX Design is an award winning digital and marketing communications agency with broad experience within pharmaceutical and other industry sectors. Kieran Bourke is focused on the development of marketing solutions for pharmaceutical companies and has previously worked closely with GsK across its consumer marketing portfolio, helping them to innovate around the rapid rise of mobile marketing.  Kieran was previously a spokesperson for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.