If there’s one thing all marketers can agree on, healthcare or otherwise, it’s that email works. Even with other channels nipping at email’s heels, the statistics are there to support its effectiveness. It’s particularly valuable in healthcare, a notoriously difficult industry in which to communicate one-on-one with both physicians and patients.
But, there are caveats to email’s performance as a marketing tool. Namely, the quality of your email list.
The More You Know
Having been in this industry for over 15 years, I’d be hard-pressed to recall any healthcare marketer who said they really enjoyed the budgeting process. Crunching numbers doesn’t typically come easy for creative marketing personalities, but it is a necessary evil. Sometimes, cuts are unavoidable. An expenditure that may not seem like a “big deal” suffers as a result.
There are caveats to email’s performance as a marketing tool.
I cannot stress enough that email list quality is actually a very big deal. You could go with a vendor on the cheap, but I promise you—the fallout is not worth the savings, for many reasons. Not the least of which is that every bad email that does not get delivered is actually adding to the cost.
Before deploying your next campaign, I encourage you to ask these questions.
For Physician Lists:
Where did my email addresses come from? First-party opt-in is a step that was often missed in days of marketing past, but it has become a non-negotiable in today’s email marketing environment. All email addresses should be collected from trusted professional sources that have a direct relationship with physicians (medical publishers, education companies, staffing organizations).
Is my list authenticated? Even if a physician opted in, human error can still come into play. A simple misspelling invalidates accuracy. It's important to enlist an independent third-party, such as BPA Worldwide, to audit and verify every email on your list.
How often is my list updated? In a world where everything seems to move at the speed of light, list turnover happens daily. Physicians move to other organizations. They retire. In order to maintain list integrity, you should be updating your database at least every 24 hours.
Does my list contain multiple email addresses for a single physician? Most physicians maintain multiple email accounts. Many actually prefer to receive messages in their personal inboxes rather than their professional ones. A high-quality list will not only contain more than one email address for each physician, it will also indicate which address is used most often for professional communications.
How much additional data is in my list? You can technically send an email with just an email address (not even first and last name). But, why would you want to do that? The more information you have about your target physicians, the better you can design messaging that really speaks to their wants and needs. Data points like geographic location, hospital affiliations, prescribing and claims data, and alumni associations all help create a narrative about who your physicians are and how you can meet their expectations.
Patient or “consumer” lists should also follow the same protocols regarding opt-in, third-party verification, and supplemental data points that extend beyond basic demographics. Specifically, a quality list will include lifestyle markers like “newlyweds,” “new parents,” “empty nesters,” or “just moved.” Again, this information allows you to focus your messaging to specific needs, wants, and motivations.
The fallout is not worth the savings.
Both physician and consumer lists need to consider two final components: privacy and personal data control. Privacy standards require organizations to adhere to things like first-party opt-in and CAN-SPAM compliance. Future regulations are coming that are even stricter. Only fully authenticated, opted-in email list can meet these newer standards for permission-based marketing.
One More Thing…
Email is complex, and list quality is just one component of building successful email campaigns. But, you can design the most beautiful emails, with the best subject lines and spot-on messaging for your target audience, and yet still underperform if your list doesn’t meet all the requirements discussed above.
Knowing you have confidence in your target list doesn’t come cheap, but it’s not worth cutting quality out of your email marketing efforts.