Closed-Loop Marketing (CLM) is a digital marketing concept and tool used for customer knowledge purposes(1). The idea is to create a virtuous circle between a target & a multi-channel digital marketing tool aimed for sales. CLM captures the Health Care Professional’s (HCP) feedback, preferences and attitude while updating the information in real time during the marketing process. This personalizes the submitted messages depending on the collected feedbacks(2). The CLM takes into consideration the reaction of each HCP to key information through multiple supports (videos, pictures, PowerPoint presentations, questionnaires, etc.) and adjusts the messages and the marketing strategy accordingly.

CLM is at the heart of the customer relationship, allowing for improved targeted marketing thanks to better measurement of KPIs such as ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment), opening rates, clicks, banner exposure, etc. CLM processes have spread worldwide at a high speed, especially with the increase of iPad use.

Figure 1: CLM process and its' impacts on interdisciplinary teams

A need for pharma companies to turn towards new communication channels

Since the 2000’s, the profile of HCPs has been changing: physicians are more & more connected – 67% of HCPs are using mobile technology as part of their job(3) – they are used to accessing information easily and rapidly. They also have less time for representatives (reps) visits.

HCPs need access to information anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Although the majority still values face to face interactions, a significant number prefers digital communication.

However, not all countries are equal in terms of digital maturity: Japan & the US are very advanced in digital communication while Europe is lagging considerably behind(4). That is why, many HCPs are in demand of more digital contact.

Customers today aspire to value as individuals and are requesting offer adapted to their preferences. It is the case in various sectors like the retail industry and the pharmaceutical industry. This is why pharma companies must include into their communication the notion of customer experience and build a digital strategy focused on a personalized offer.

These new trends are a real opportunity for laboratories to develop new e-detailing strategies (i.e. digitalization of sales content on a mobile device).

The benefits of Closed-Loop Marketing: an innovative and essential tool for pharma companies

  1. CLM allows pharma companies a more accurate HCP targeting and a better-defined market segmentation. Understanding the preferences and behaviors of HCPs permits a sharp targeting strategy, defined by adapted content to every customer. Therefore, each key message hits the target and there is no irrelevant or non-informative data submitted to the physician.
  2. Once analyzed, data from the CLM provides real insight into the profiles, preferences and habits of each HCP. Moreover, it allows to measure precisely the ROI (Return on Investment) of the marketing strategies by indicating the best working channel, the greatest impact campaigns, etc.
  3. By offering content adapted to the profile of each HCP, CLM allows to give value to each one. It makes it possible to strengthen the engagement and the relationship between the physician and the representative while enriching their interaction. Also, CLM does not disrupt interaction between HCPs and reps; instead it ensures a continuous relationship.

How to ensure a successful CLM deployment?

There are some key success factors when it comes to designing, implementing and employing CLM platforms(7) :

Figure 2: Key success factors for CLM deployment



CLM implies communication through a more sophisticated media, allying interactivity, animations and calculations (6). For many companies, the technology leap is too great, and they choose to use it by uploading paper into a new digital media channel. The only thing allowed by this system is to track the ability of the representatives to apply the message strategy decided by the marketing department. It is a reductive use of CLM, instead of using it at its’ full capacity allowing companies to gain insight on the HCPs behaviors and motivational drivers. Therefore, it is essential to deploy a complete CLM with optimal content.


Pharma companies can be overwhelmed by the vast amount of data generated from CLM. This requires the company to analyze the data received from tablets & PCs. If it is not done, the company will not be able to analyze the ROI delivered by the technology. Moreover, the quality of the data can be a problem as well: most CLM tools record the time spent by a physician on a slide or web page (quantitative data) but do not transform it into qualitative data, i.e. specifying why the physician spent more time on it. There is a need of human expertise to analyze and manage the obtained data. Furthermore, in order to process the large amount of data, it is necessary to define accurate KPIs to be monitored over time: such as the main preferences of an HCP, the most popular channel, etc.

Change management

The transition from face to face reps visits to the CLM and multi-channel communication can be challenging. In fact, reps can see the adoption of the CLM as a threat to their jobs (4). More generally, CLM involves a modification of the ways of working for every employee. It is therefore essential to set up a change management plan based on primary training of a field force & headquarter teams (marketing, medical, etc.) with continuous training on the new communication content.


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