A hospital email marketing campaign is a significant investment, so you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. These six straightforward tactics will help you drastically improve the return on your physician email campaigns, whether your goal is increased referrals or improved internal communication.
1. Start with an Authenticated Database to Minimize Bounces and Undelivered Email
Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to your email list. Your list’s pedigree—where the addresses came from and how they were obtained—matters far more. An authenticated list ensures that the email addresses are valid, in-use, and belong to practicing physicians. Lists that aren’t authenticated often include invalid email addresses, email addresses belonging to deceased or retired doctors, or email addresses with domain names from:
- Big box stores
- Law firms
- Real estate offices
- Adult entertainment websites
- Local search engines
In addition to authenticated lists, opt-in lists ensure that you have the healthcare professionals’ permission to email them. Why waste money on emails deployed to irrelevant email addresses or to the very few physicians who don’t want to receive medically relevant information via email? Stick to updated, authenticated, opt-in databases for a cost-effective campaign. Keep in mind that if your physician email data is older than seven days, it’s almost guaranteed that your list will contain bad email addresses.
So, is a bigger list better? Not when it’s stuffed with invalid, outdated, or irrelevant email addresses.
2. Save Time, Improve Compliance, and Ensure Readability on Mobile Devices by Using Email Templates
Email templates let hospital marketers retain control over physician messaging. Templates can be developed to convey a key messages for each physician or service line, using the wording that marketing has already analyzed and approved. That way, physician liaisons and other team members don’t have to worry about a time-consuming review process. Extensive render testing also ensures that physicians will be able to read your messages easily, regardless of their preferred device.
3. Engaging Subject Lines Indicate That the Message Will Be Worth Opening
Your subject line is your email's first impression. The subject line tells physicians what they’re opening and what they can expect to gain from your content. Keeping subject lines short and front-loaded with the most important words listed first will ensure that physicians receive an insight into what the email is for, even if they’re using a small screen on a mobile device. Test different subject lines to determine what entices doctors to open a message and interact with it. Then, you’ll know what subject lines to use next time, which will boost engagement.
4. Different Healthcare Professionals Warrant Different Messages
Personalization drives engagement, and list segmentation enables personalization. While you might have the same general message for both pediatricians and their mid-level prescribers (for example, nurse practitioners), your campaign will be more effective if the content is customized to each group’s specific concerns. These healthcare professionals have different roles with patients; an email that recognizes this fact encourages opens and clicks.
5. Evaluate and Respond to Audience Behavior
You want to address physicians who engage differently from those who are chronic non-engagers. For instance, physicians with a 95 percent open rate are likely to welcome more frequent communication from you. By contrast, you might have more luck decreasing the frequency of communication with chronic non-engagers or sending an email asking if they're still interested in remaining on your list. Again, focus your resources where it’s warranted.
6. Continuous Learning: Use Past Results to Inform Future Campaigns
Segmentation and personalization are ongoing efforts. The campaign results you get in phase I will help you further segment and personalize phase II. You can analyze open rates, the best deployment times of the day, the best deployment days of the week, and engagement behavior among specific groups in crafting your next campaign. Even small groups of respondents (such as those who opened, clicked, and registered) may provide data that will refine your next email or social media post, digital ad, or direct mail piece.
With these six strategies, you can transform the results of your email marketing efforts. You'll sharpen your audience segments, improve deliverability, and increase physician interaction with your messages.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and completeness.