How a company goes about getting a list of email addresses is just as important as the addresses themselves. Some address-collection methods are simply ineffective, while others may even be illegal. For example, if your email list contains healthcare professionals (HCPs) who haven't opted in to receive communication in some way, not only will your email marketing campaign metrics suffer, but you’re putting yourself at risk of integrity and legal issues.
Opt-in email addresses are typically the most accurate, as HCPs are more likely to provide a valid email address when they are seeking medically relevant information from a medical journal, website, or newsletter. Still, our competitors continue to use disreputable and ineffective methods to gather HCP email addresses.
How Some Email List Providers Collect HCP Emails: List Scraping, Practice-Based Emails
How realistic do you think it is that a medical office receptionist or office manager would give out a doctor’s personal email address to a stranger calling from an offshore location to verify the office address? Front office staff would never give out a regularly used address for their physicians. You have to be on mind-altering drugs to believe that HCP personal email addresses can be collected that way. If your email list provider conducts phone calls to gather information about HCPs, you can only expect low performance rates.
Instead, some email list providers use a method known as list scraping, or siphoning HCP email addresses from preexisting lists. The problem with this is that HCPs never have a chance to opt in to communication. You have no way of knowing whether the email address is valid, in use, or the preferred address for the HCP. You have no idea how the address originated, where it came from, how it was obtained, or if it was ever authenticated against the identity of the HCP. You are hitting singles here when you should be crushing home runs.
Additionally, you want to avoid practice-based email lists. These lists are created by sending commercial email messaging to the HCPs using their practice email addresses. In our experience, delivering commercial emails to practice addresses is difficult and ineffective. We've also noticed over the years that these large, inexpensive lists are full of administrative email addresses (e.g., admin@ or info@). The problem with these types of addresses is that they go to a practice administrator or office manager, not the HCP. Your message most likely won’t make it past the gatekeeper.
Office- and Site-Based Email Addresses: A Dead End for Communication with HCPs
To understand why the lists of other companies are practically being given away, you have to understand why office- and site-based email addresses are of limited use to medical marketers. First, these companies are likely to use a technique called domain assembly in which they figure out the domain convention (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). They then get a list of names and create email addresses using the domain convention, based on the hospital or clinic where the HCPs work.
Hospitals and clinics often automatically assign these addresses to their doctors, but it's rare that HCPs use them as their primary email account. In fact, many never use them at all. In addition, hospitals, clinics, and other provider organizations have implemented stringent spam filters in their email servers that make it difficult to land in providers' inboxes, not their junk folders. Likewise, the domain-assembly technique doesn't allow the doctor to opt in to your communications, so even if your email makes it to the inbox, it might send up in the trash folder.
As you can see, how a company sources its email lists can make all the difference. No other company has more rigorous sourcing standards than DMD, which is why our database always maintains top-notch deliverability rates.