Applying closed loop marketing in pharma

Technological development has given companies the ability to analyse their customers and tailor communications to individual needs, but how many are actually following through with truly personalised messages?

As an industry we’ve been on a journey with digital communications, with each step opening up new possibilities to go further. Now it looks like we are finally reaching our destination.

Pharma started by extending customer relationship management (CRM) technologies: digitising paper materials and placing them on mobile devices; first laptops, then iPads. ‘Moving from paper to glass’, or what I call CRM Plus, meant even more efficiency and, in turn, cost savings on material distribution and localisation.

However, CRM Plus used the same approach that had been around for years, only now materials were digital rather than on paper. Pharma was still trying to push messages at customers, hoping that some of them would stick. There were some savings but fundamentally nothing had really changed. The truly revolutionary step was the next one.

“Instead of firing out messages to the healthcare professionals and hoping that some of them work, with CLM comes the insight to understand people’s reactions”

Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) has changed how people think about communication. Instead of firing out messages to the healthcare professionals and hoping that some of them work, with CLM comes the insight to understand people’s reactions. Using it for the first time was like switching on a light. Everything was right there in the data: Dr Smith was really interested in ‘X’ but paid no attention to ‘Y’. Dr Jones spent ages reviewing ‘Y’, was somewhat interested in ‘X’, but asked for more information on ‘P’.

So, CLM kept the efficiency benefits of CRM Plus, but brought far better data. For the first time, what was important to each customer could be captured. And that opened up the potential to move away from ‘one message for all’ because what each customer needed was visible.

CLM is now the default. Many companies have integrated it into their communications or are planning to soon. So what is the next step?

To answer that question, it is important to understand what is not working with CLM. Put bluntly, it is companies’ inability to respond effectively to the data that they are gathering.

Consider the standard CLM process: it begins by engaging with customers, which helps to provide an understanding of their reactions, which, in turn, enables companies to start to adapt what they are doing. This then leads into a new cycle of engage, understand, adapt, engage and so on.

“It’s like taking careful note of each guest’s personal orders in a pizza restaurant and then coming back with exactly the same topping for everyone”

 

Up to now, ‘adapt’ has meant a better message for everyone. So we get nice, rich data on personal interests and preferences but then switch back to mass messaging. It’s like taking careful note of each guest’s personal orders in a pizza restaurant and then coming back with exactly the same topping for everyone.

So, CLM has put the right methodology in place. It just needs to be activated and staff need to ensure that they respond on an individual level to the data that they are receiving. Personalising the response is the next big challenge for the industry. That way, we not only provide individualised communications (here’s what you need to know) but also personalised follow up (here’s the answer to your questions).

This is a major step. CLM activation is another revolution; one that promises not only a much better service for customers but also dramatically improved effectiveness as the benefits of more relevant communications follow. The good news is that the next wave of digital marketing – responsive technology – is ready for implementation now. May the revolutions continue!

About the author:

Morten Hjelmsoe is the founder and CEO of Agnitio, global leaders in closed loop marketing, and an expert and visionary within technology-enabled pull communication. Morten is a regular speaker on the potential of digital technology, and advises senior executives on how to apply responsive communication to their outreach.

Have your say: To what extent is pharma using CLM effectively?