Imagine receiving an email from your favorite retailer—a store where you’ve spent thousands of dollars over many years—offering you 20% off your first purchase. Now imagine receiving a promotion from a retailer you’ve never heard of advertising double reward points for customers who've spent more than $500 in the last year.
Irrelevant email messages like these are ineffective in the moment and potentially off-putting in the future. The same is true in healthcare email marketing. Matching your message to the recipient's engagement level, a strategy known as behavioral targeting, is a must for physician email campaigns.
Classify Engagement Levels
Behavioral targeting, or behavioral segmentation, involves tailoring your message to each recipient’s engagement level in order to enhance the relevance and appeal of your message. The first step is classifying your readers. For example, physicians who rarely open your emails might be considered “non-engagers.” Those who frequently open an email could be considered “engagers.”
Your approach to non-engagers might involve sending email from a different address, such as from a specific person in your company rather than a general address, or simply sending less frequently. With engagers, you might try sending more frequent communication and high-value content.
Asking the following questions will improve your behavioral targeting:
- Who opens emails and interacts most frequently?
- Who opens emails frequently but never clicks a link?
- Which emails did a physician open?
- Which emails did he not open?
- In which emails did he click a link?
- What types of offers does he respond to most often?
- How long ago was his last interaction with an email: days, weeks, or months?
Improve Opens, Clicks, and Engagement
Email benchmarking surveys routinely identify behavioral targeting as one of the top strategies to drive engagement. Most recently, MailChimp compared the results of 11,000 segmented email campaigns conducted by its customers to non-segmented campaigns run by the same customers.
Not surprisingly, the segmented campaigns performed much better:
- Opens were 14.31% higher
- Unique opens were 10.64% higher
- Clicks were 100.95% higher
- Unsubscribes were 9.37% lower
While health systems have traditionally taken a “spray-and-pray” approach to email marketing – for instance, by sending the same general newsletter to all recipients – research shows that the most effective campaigns are those that combine behavioral targeting and triggered emails.
Refine Targeting with Website Data
In healthcare, trigger events take many forms. A CME program for orthopedic surgeons, a safety seminar for ER nurses, and the acquisition of a new pathology lab all provide a good reason to send a follow-up email to interested healthcare professionals.
Health systems marketers also have the unique opportunity to respond to individual physician’s interactions with their websites. Technology that reports the name and NPI number of “tagged” website visitors makes it possible to know how often a physician visits your site and what content she views. Armed with this insight, you can send timely and highly customized emails to your most frequent website visitors.
Sending the same message to a physician who hasn't engaged with your email or website in three months and a physician who has clicked through on your last five messages doesn't make sense. The more you personalize your approach to each physician’s engagement level, the better-received your content will be.