According to the Email Marketing Industry Census 2017, email still outperforms other marketing channels, with 73% of company respondents rating it excellent or good in terms of ROI. Overall, email performance has been trending upward since 2014. Clearly, optimizing this channel is an important plank in overall marketing strategies.
Marketing to physicians, however, poses a unique set of challenges. Members of this audience are notoriously difficult to reach, and they have no attention to spare for content that isn’t topical or relevant to their practice. If your email messages aren’t getting the results that you want, maybe you’re overlooking the five biggest obstacles in marketing to physicians.
The first — and most important — step to a successful email campaign is getting your message delivered to the inboxes of your target audience. Email databases decay at a rate of approximately 2% per month; it's a phenomenon that's especially true with physicians in a fluid job market. According to the American Medical Group Association, physician turnover is at its highest rate since the organization began tracking the data in 2005. Subsequently, bad email lists with outdated contacts decrease deliverability and ultimately drive down ROI.
Overly Broad Deployment Tactics
There’s no such thing as a “typical” healthcare provider. An email resonating with a hospitalist whose case mix is heavily weighted toward geriatric patients on public insurance will likely fall flat with a partner in an affluent, suburban, family practice clinic. Ideally, each campaign begins by drilling down into the email list to identify a tightly segmented audience filtered by demographics, patient and payer mix, prescribing behavior, and other variables to craft content with the highest chance of successfully engaging its recipients.
Once you’ve developed a tight target audience, it’s important to create content that is personal, topical, and relevant to the recipient. “Relevance” is repeatedly cited as one of the most important determinants of email success. Physicians respond to emails that address their unique interests and concerns, and that are relevant to some aspect of their lives and practices. The best campaigns are personalized and include several variations of core content repurposed to speak to the unique needs of each segment of your mailing list.
Ineffective Calls to Action
The call-to-action (CTA) is arguably the most important component of an effective email. It’s how leads are nurtured and sales are closed. What makes a good CTA? The only real way to measure the effectiveness of a CTA is with A/B testing, but there are several best practices that can improve your conversion rates:
- Keep it short. The most effective CTAs are just five words or fewer.
- Communicate your value proposition with clear, action-oriented language using words like “register,” “download,” or “request.”
- Create a sense of urgency or time-sensitivity with words like “today” or “now.”
- Place the CTA in a prominent place above the fold.
- Use only one CTA per email. Physicians make decisions all day long; don’t invite inaction by asking them to decide between several CTAs.
Not Designing for Mobile
The majority of physicians view emails on a mobile device — of those who do, most are using Apple products. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, there’s a good chance that they won’t be opened. Keep images to a minimum and subject lines to 50 characters or less. Use responsive design so that your emails are easily viewed on the devices that your recipients are using the most for successful campaign metrics.
If your physician email campaigns are underperforming, evaluate some of the factors that have the greatest impact on reaching this somewhat elusive population. Addressing these five challenges can help you improve your ROI for a successful email campaign.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.