When Will We Be Convinced eDetailing Works? Part 3: Closing the Loop — Learning to Adjust

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In previous installments, we tackled two challenges to success with eDetailing in the life sciences. The first challenge is getting teams in the field to adopt the new tools and adapt their interactions with customers. The second challenge is how to generate content that is engaging to customers and sales reps alike. However, just overcoming these challenges do not guarantee success. eDetailing’s success depends on learning more about your customers, including how your content is received and adjusting your strategy accordingly. This cycle is what Closed-Loop Marketing is all about, and it’s the subject of this third and final post on eDetailing.


With a lot of focus placed on finding and training the right team, designing materials that take advantage of the latest tech, and rolling out the right CRM to support eDetailing, what you need to learn from eDetailing is often replaced with what you can learn once you’re “fully rolled out.” Ticking the “system is live” box justifies the investment, but misses out on the return.

Tracking should be designed from the outset of the customer journey.

The issue with measuring after you’ve started eDetailing is that you can only measure what is available and you haven’t made sure that what is available is what you needed. At the very least, you can always measure the number of interactions that have taken place using the eDetail since this is automatically recorded — assuming it’s integrated into your CRM. This is a great way to measure how much your new tool is being used and it helps with understanding adoption of it. However, it reveals very little about customer engagement. In other words, you’re tracking the success of your rollout internally, but not the success of your impact externally. This is also assuming that your field force isn’t turning on the detail aid just to meet quotas or eDetailing targets, and is in fact using it with healthcare professionals.

If you’ve designed your content following “one message per screen” guidelines, you should be able to track how much of each message is being read. If you’re able to track the length of time spent on each message during a detail, you’re able to measure not just how many times the message is delivered, but also how much time is spent on it. Even if that time spent is disrupted by interruptions during the interaction, it is unlikely these “interruptions” will recur for the same content pieces, so duration of time spent on a message should still be a useful metric. But the issue with this metric is that it is more likely to measure how long the rep is spending on the message, rather than how long a healthcare professional is spending on it. Reps are also notorious for clinging to pieces of the detail aid they find convenient or easier to explain. This means that measuring message use helps you understand what is getting delivered, which is useful, but not what should be getting delivered.


In contrast to this “opportunistic tracking,” you can make your tracking more purposeful if you decide beforehand what you need so you can make smart decisions about your future content and strategy. If your strategy focuses on highlighting the particular aspects of your brand most relevant to each patient type or one specific patient type, you can design your eDetail to deliver content supporting either one or both audiences. When creating engaging content, it is important to understand how each prescriber describes patient types. You may want to ask the HCP to assign values to patient types in a given population. This allows the content sequence to highlight your brand’s advantages to each type and also acquire an understanding about each healthcare professional, such as what patients they see and/or which they prioritize. This allows you to plan future content and interactions. In addition, this gives you similar insights to what you’d normally obtain from market research, but only at a high/general level. Moreover, by asking for the same information in different channels or along a timeline, you can see whether perception is changing and how much you’ve contributed to that change.

Purposeful tracking is an art since you have the power to decide whether to measure anything and everything. Since purposeful tracking is at the core of the learning needed to close the loop, a little bit of science is essential. In our opinion, the best time and approach to decide what to track is as early as possible, for example, when you’re designing the customer journey.

 eDetailing3-blog-3.png When you first start planning how the customer will interact with the company, you should automatically consider the content they’ll be exposed to and how, including requests the customer might have, how to follow-up, and so on. This will likely generate a series of points at which you will be encouraged to learn more about your customers and this information will help you make decisions about content.

It is relatively simple to decide what you can measure. For example, the metrics around messages in the detail aid we already covered are a great place to start and your discussions with your team and other internal and external stakeholders should help optimize the design of that first version of content. Deeper questions and topics, such as safety, should be noted as “follow-up hot topics” and the design of the CRM/CLM platform, as well as the detail aid itself, should account for those considerations and potential alterations.

Other eDetailing and CLM Perks

There is another great advantage of eDetailing and CLM: data about a customer is generated not only from their interaction with the sales rep, but also from MSLs and digital parts of content, follow-ups, and so on, some of which can be automated for extrapolation and analysis. In particular, follow-up discussions with MSLs can be extremely useful. For compliance reasons, the details of those discussions cannot be shared with commercial entities. Their usefulness relies on the general area of concern of the HCP, as well as the MSL unlocking barriers to prescription or reducing misunderstanding through scientific discussion — all of which improves in-field coordination.

Overall, automated follow-up and a historical record of interactions will improve planning and increase the range of customers you engage with. And you can rely on a system to engage rather than sales reps’ ability to keep pleasing customers.

Data into insights.

So, after you decide what data you should track and how you should track it, what real-world scenarios can it be applied to? Well, suppose you have 40% of the first sales interactions triggering a follow-up request to MedInfo or an MSL discussion on safety. However, by the third month, this is down to 1% and you conclude there is no need for further messaging or content on safety. At the same time, your sales picked up, but have now stopped growing as fast as they once did. Are all customers satisfied with the answers or have they just stopped asking?

Well, if your sales have slowed, you can almost always be sure that they are not. If at the same time you see that MSLs are taking more than 2 to 4 weeks to respond — and/or the length of interaction is an hour or more, explaining why MSLs are not able to respond to all requests — you can infer that the safety explanation isn’t adequate. If the email open rates are very low or very high, that may support an issue with the safety information. Whatever it may be, it could be addressed with updated content, a series of lectures by experts, or an increase in medical resources. You could probably figure it out after sacrificing 3 to 6 months of time conducting market research, concluding that there was a specific concern around safety. But that’s wasted time and a decision postponed, along with associated costs, e.g., loss of sales.

You can avoid that outcome. Closed-loop marketing is learning and delivering — and along that journey, continuous improvement. This learning is essential for eDetailing and its corollary, driving more engagement and sales, as well as directing your focus to the right place, clients, with the right content at the right time while driving down costs. This learning is complex, but identifying the best field data to track and interpret is a great start.

In some ways, eDetailing in pharma is no longer the new kid on the block. But it still hasn’t found its way onto the playground. But as teams get acclimated to these new tools, learning and adjusting becomes standard practice. At some point, no one will remember a time when they needed convincing. 

Tags: Life Sciences, eDetailing