When you’re in the business of data, it’s important to follow trends year over year. In the past, we’ve identified a number of consistencies surrounding email engagement, specific to the holiday season. Healthcare marketers can expect some of those consistencies to remain the same this year, but they also have to consider the unique nature of 2020.
Our analysis of 2020 behavior to-date revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to have a dramatic effect on the engagement rates of emails sent by pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic companies. Metrics such as open rates have experienced a downturn from the initial spike early in the pandemic, but they remain elevated over previous years. DMD’s AIM® XR data, which monitors physician activity across 2,100-plus medical websites, also shows that COVID-19 continues to be a highly relevant and engaging topic among healthcare providers.
While pandemic-influenced digital tendencies such as these may slightly affect holiday season engagement, it is likely healthcare marketers will see similar patterns as 2019.
Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday
Email engagement during the “Turkey 5” (T5) span of days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday is historically predictable. Open rates tend to drop off starting Wednesday, as people hit pause to celebrate with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day. Engagement starts to pick back up Friday morning and continues to climb all the way through Cyber Monday.
Data from 2019 (Thanksgiving Day was on November 28)
Christmas to New Year’s
Because Christmas is on a Friday this year, marketers may see an extended weekend-long lull—as weekends traditionally prove to have lower open rates, no matter the time of year. Past years’ data reveals a spike in engagement the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when healthcare professionals often have downtime and can attend to work-related emails they’ve been putting off. Post New Year’s Day, open rates return to “normal.”
Foundational Best Practices that Bear Repeating
The pandemic’s impact on email marketing is still evolving. It has forced healthcare marketers to adapt quickly in order to address both provider and patient concerns. It’s also made recipients more discerning in terms of personalization, relevancy, and virtual design. When creating emails to deploy during the holiday season, keep in mind these foundational best practices.
The pandemic’s impact on email marketing is still evolving.
1) Segmentation is crucial for personalization—an attribute audiences are increasingly demanding. But, you need a high-quality email list to achieve precision targeting. If you’re not sure how or where your list is sourced, or if it’s been authenticated by a third party, you’re probably working off bad data. An authenticated email address is the only way to realize true 1:1 communication.
2) The digital revolution is all about insights. In addition to definitively identifying your targets, it’s game-changing to understand what they’re interested in. DMD’s proprietary Audience Identity Manager® (AIM XR) technology captures what topics healthcare providers are engaging with most.
3) Mobile design can no longer be an afterthought. Make sure you render test for mobile, on as many operating systems, browsers, and email service providers as possible. If your email comes across as unreadable or even undesirably formatted, it’s likely to be deleted in under three seconds.
4) Email users have become more adept at navigating the influx of messages, but that doesn’t mean you can get lazy with your subject lines and preheaders. They should be relevant and inviting, and adhere to recommended character counts.
5) Balance the temptation to get overly “creative” with your design--with the understanding that recipients are opening your email to get information. Make CTAs easy to find and click.
Holiday Marketing Is Still Predictable
Even though family get-togethers, vacations, and New Year’s Eve bashes have been disrupted in 2020, individuals may still embrace the essence of the holidays and take time away from their inboxes. Consider these previous engagement trends to inform and optimize your upcoming email deployments.