Email has been a staple of the marketing arsenal for long enough that it has become routine to many healthcare marketers. The problem is that experience doesn't necessarily translate to efficacy. Perhaps you regard your email marketing practices as tried and true, but alternative approaches may make your message more impactful.
Revamping the creative execution, approval process, and technical aspects of your email communications with physicians can radically improve your ROI. Changing the way you craft and present your emails changes the way that physicians receive and respond to them, and that means more opens, more click-throughs, and a more robust bottom line. The following seven tips suggest simple changes that you can implement and test against your current emails. Your ROI will never be the same once you do.
1. Put mobile first, desktop second
Sending physicians marketing emails formatted for the desktop is like an up-and-coming band sending demos on cassette tapes to record labels, hoping to get discovered. A large number of physicians, NP/PAs, and nurses aren't likely to give those emails a second thought, unless your message is optimized for their preferred media: mobile devices. According to the 2013-2017 Mobile Health Market Report published by Research2Guidance, 80% of physicians use smartphones. Over the last 18 months, DMD’s clients have averaged 61.5% of opens on mobile. A mobile-friendly message is a reader-friendly message.
2. Prioritize your message points
First, try to send only one message per email. (Think of it as throwing one baseball to someone instead of six.) Second, organize the subtopics of your message by priority, considering your campaign objectives and what the physician will see first – whether on mobile or PC. Group your design into three-inch sections, top to bottom, from most to least important.
3. Be visually strategic
Try to remember to redraw any republished graphs that you include. Avoid directly transplanting them from websites, print ads, and presentations. Republished graphs look like Jackson Pollock paintings in email, rendering them useless and illegible. Additionally, try to use images judiciously. You might include them to make the message more visually compelling, but in the case of email, less is more.
4. Generously include HTML
You want to encourage physicians to access your site, so include hyperlinks as text throughout your email, wherever relevant. If your hyperlinks are embedded in images and the image doesn’t render, your hyperlink is useless. The idea is to provide convenient, easy-to-access links to pages on your site that are helpful supplements to your email.
5. Follow subject-line best practices that get results
Labeling something as a "best practice" doesn't mean much unless it actually yields results. When crafting your subject line, consider the best practices that get the most opens. Aim for a subject line between 30 and 50 characters that instills a sense of urgency and lets readers know what to expect. You know your customers best, so think of what would grab their attention.
6. Place calls-to-action early
No matter how visually compelling, creative, well-branded, and informative a message is, it's utterly worthless without a good call-to-action (CTA). Try to place your CTA as early in the email as possible, making it clear to the reader what he or she should do next and why. The lower you place a CTA, the fewer doctors will see it. It's also a good idea to repeat the same CTA a minimum of three times in each email.
7. Render test before modifying the creative
Test the rendering of your email before you send it to med-legal review. Preview your message across different browsers, email servers, and devices to prevent any glitches or cosmetic blemishes. Once you've seen how your message appears, adjust the creative portion accordingly.
At 122%, the colossal ROI of email marketing done right is reason enough to adhere to these seven creative imperatives. These simple steps will help you deliver a message that appeals to physicians, aesthetically and topically, to maximize open and click-through rates. As always, monitor your results, and repeat the process as necessary.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.