Business revolves around email. But, email’s success as a business tool may be contributing to its demise. That may sound counterintuitive, but consider the number of unread emails in your inbox right now. If you're like most people, you spend a significant amount of your day handling your email, negatively impacting your productivity.
Email in business isn't going anywhere. After all, more than 100 billion business emails are sent every day. However, as other channels (e.g., SMS text, internal chat, and collaborative documents) gain popularity, email's role may shrink to the original function it has always exceled at: a highly efficient and easy-to-use digital mailbox for busy professionals.
Why We Can’t Kill Email
Fortune.com recently explored the rise in real-time communications platforms (e.g., Yammer, Convo, and HipChat) as an alternative to email. While these new platforms work well for internal communication, they are far less effective for communicating outside of the office. Thus, the war for inbox attention rages on.
Email excels at its original role of a digital mailbox, because it’s also a mailbox that’s accessible everywhere, all the time, across various devices and services. Email fails when it's used as a catch-all communications hub for file sharing and endless headache-inducing reply-to-all threads. Tools, such as Dropbox and Google Docs, have emerged as more efficient ways to handle some of the functions that make email unwieldy. Email's popularity soared in the beginning of the digital age because it was simple, efficient, and cost-effective. To succeed using email, a preferred channel for HCPs, we must recognize the history of what techniques have worked and what have not.
HCPs and Digital Behavior
It's important to take into account the way HCPs and other busy professionals interact with their inbox. The majority of today's healthcare professionals are checking their email from a mobile device, usually on the fly when they have a spare minute or two. Using clear and concise subject lines, relevant content, and images that render quickly and seamlessly increase the chances that your email will fit into that spare minute or two. Other best practices that increase email effectiveness include:
- Precise Targeting and Deployment. According to Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia, "Delivering the right message at the right time on the right channel makes all the difference." Marketers must drill down to the most focused audience segments, craft compelling content that addresses the audience’s needs and concerns, and deploy the email on the day and time the audience is most likely to read and act on it.
- Using the Right Database. Email is more personal than other marketing channels. It’s also carefully regulated, especially in the healthcare industry. An authenticated, scrupulously maintained email database ensures that emails are sent to the correct people at the correct, verified addresses, while avoiding deliverability, SPAM, and compliance issues.
- Designing for Mobile. In an industry where roughly two-thirds of all emails are opened on a mobile device, email design needs to start with a mobile-first mentality. Every element of the email, from the subject line to the design to the call to action, should be crafted with the unique advantages and limitations of mobile behavior and navigation. Functionality and seamless rendering across all devices and platforms should be the primary consideration when designing emails for today's HCP audience.