Closed loop – the DNA of pharma marketing

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Closed loop – the DNA of pharma marketing

Here, Kieran Bourke, Commercial Director, MAXX Design, presents the case that pharma companies need to adopt an integrated approach to marketing that considers website analytics and sales data as well as other marketing information, in order to produce results. Closed-loop marketing is an increasingly popular approach explored in more depth in this blog, written specifically for pharma marketers who are looking to effectively engage with busy healthcare professionals.

I recently came across an article about a breakthrough piece of research from the University of Washington and Microsoft that demonstrated how DNA can be used as a viable storage medium for digital images. The conclusion was that researchers will shortly be able shrink the space needed to store digital content that today would fill a hyper-market down to the size of a sugar cube.

The speed at which technological advances such as this continue to disrupt the marketing sector is breath-taking but it is also leaves marketers feeling overwhelmed by the sheer velocity of change, and reticent to explore potentially worthwhile opportunities as a result.  However, ‘reinvention’ is now the name of the game and the need to learn and adapt quickly to remain relevant is paramount, no matter what the pace of change. With this in mind, my thoughts turned to how MAXX can help its pharma-marketing clients’ to future-proof their investments as technological change accelerates.

Closed-loop marketing (CLM)

One area worthy of closer examination is closed-loop marketing (CLM). Whilst most pharma marketers are collecting data in abundance, many still do not use it to create precision-targeted content messaging. A CLM strategy delivers incremental improvements to content messaging (and targeting) by utilising automation to place the pharma sales representative and brand marketer within a continuous information feedback-loop, where they relay to each other data collected across multiple healthcare professional (HCP) touchpoints. The outcome is more meaningful HCP engagement and increased prescriptions.

This co-operative approach allows you to connect sales leads, customers and marketing investment outcomes to brand campaigns; see what content and messaging is resonating with HCPs and provide sales representatives with timely intelligence that invigorates sales calls and meetings. A learn and adapt model, a closed-loop marketing strategy ensures you are optimising your available data and drawing actionable insights to discover new opportunities for engagement and messaging. Not only does this drive top-line revenues, it aligns the brand marketer and sales representative with the view the healthcare professional has of their product.

The sales team and contextual setting

Central to the whole CLM approach is the sales representative. He/she owns the trusted relationship with the healthcare professional and it is their contextual feedback that is a vital component in the loop. Marketing may see that an HCP has spent more dwell time on specific content, but it is the usually the sales representative who can determine if the response was constructive, obstructive or uncommitted. It is vital therefore that the sales team are involved in the setting up of a closed-loop marketing programme from the beginning, as well as agreeing to the definition of outputs generated such as marketing qualified leads of which they will ultimately take ownership.

To ensure this two-way flow of information is the most up-to-date available, sales force and marketing automation platforms will need to be integrated using APIs. This allows the marketing team to gather data on behaviour, assess HCP information, channel preferences and intents and to alter content accordingly in near-real time. It ensures the sales representative has the latest information at his/her fingertips, from where the HCP sits in the conversion funnel to favoured clinical topics, helping to nudge the conversion along. Post meeting the sales representative relays the insights gained from HCP meetings to the brand managers who evaluate the data once more, revise the messaging and continuously reiterate to improve the return-on-investment.

Platforms & personalisation

Underpinning a CLM process is a technology stack that allows you to conduct end-to end analytics and track brand campaigns. Depending on the complexity of the CLM solution, the platforms within the stack can range from sophisticated CRM systems to simple websites with an analytics package. These platforms not only help to integrate brand campaigns and develop crucial insights but also to assist with the nurturing, qualifying and scoring of marketing leads.  Equally, they provide an ‘always-on’ access to timely content that today’s tech-savvy HCP takes as a given.

The central focal platform within a CLM strategy is often the website, with all marketing touchpoints steering prospects and customers to a landing page. Here the visitor’s journey is tagged using a UTM (universal tag management) code, so that their path across the website can be carefully monitored using an analytics package. This highlights which channels are driving traffic to your landing page, as well as revealing 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 as well as 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’.  This creates a clear customer profile and buyer lifecycle, and allows you to identify a visitor who shows a strong interest via his/her browsing behaviour but has not yet converted.

Unifying data silos in this way, greatly enhances your single view of your customer and when external third-party data is over-laid to the web and CRM data, the resulting 360-degree view reveals new insights into behaviour and intent, presenting new opportunities to convert and deliver highly personalised messaging. CLM allows you to automate tasks and activities to power personalised interactions, provide a dynamic response to customer interest and preference and tailor messaging and content at every stage of the lifecycle. This is one of the fastest ways to improve brand loyalty and generate prescriptions and the foundation to this personalisation is how well you understand your customer.

Analytics & attribution

Data analysis is core to understanding the customer and their personas, behaviours and intents. It helps to develop insights and strategies based the numbers rather than expectations and analysis of explicit and implicit customer information. It also helps to optimise marketing campaigns, identify winning tactics, deliver new customer definitions and segments and create value propositions for more nuanced HCP engagement.

Analytics utilises customer interaction and campaign performance data to identify major trends in different groups of customers, delivering predictive insights and critically preferred HCP communication channels.

With purchase funnel, lifecycle and attribution analysis you can determine the right communication channel mix for your customers, customizing channel content accordingly. Attribution modelling will help you to identify the most effective tactics and unearth which messages and strategies are the most effective. The level of analysis can range from a simplistic first/last touch approach to sophisticated multi-touch analysis depending on your requirements.

Tracking performance metrics for each customer touch with your brand campaign will quickly reveal what’s working and what isn’t and deliver actionable insights.  Visualising these key metrics using dashboards will ensure you have a ‘live’ view of progress – by key metrics - sales, campaigns, content type, customer segment, marketing generated leads - quickly identifying where you are making incremental improvements in business and online metrics. 

Vitally you will be able to monitor that you are growing the top of your conversion funnel, with the trajectory of the number of website visitors, keyword range, prospect list, and marketing qualified lead performance on the up; that your middle funnel metrics are improving with more dwell time on your content with less bounce rate and higher blog post readership. You’ll see the type of content that HCPs engaging with, where interest piqued, as well as questions raised. The bottom funnel will reveal if leads are progressing at the right speed and if the sales team are closing the marketing generated leads at the expected rate.

From micro-moments to multi-channel 

A closed-loop strategy will enable you to capture both micro and macro moments. From downloading a whitepaper to arranging a customer meeting, each action tracked and measured at different stages of the customer lifecycle, from top to middle to bottom of the conversion funnel, reveals a ‘moment of truth’, where the prospect or customer increasingly reveals their intent with your product offer.

When introduced into a multi-channel marketing campaign, CLM is particularly effective, allowing you to engage prospects where they are and re-engineer your content in across the right mix of paid, owned and earned media.

A closed-loop marketing strategy is an excellent way to demonstrate that you are ‘listening’ to a healthcare professional’s needs, adapting and learning to remain relevant both today, tomorrow and whatever a DNA driven-future delivers.

If you would like to discuss how MAXX could help you with a closed-loop marketing approach, contact [email protected] or call 01635 521224.