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Optimize Read Rate in HCP Email Marketing: DMD Lab Report

DMD’s Lab Report: The Art & Science of Healthcare Email explores insights, trends, and obstacles affecting healthcare email. From strategy to creative, deployment to reporting, we aim to address the most pressing issues healthcare marketers face.How to optimize HCP email read rate

In the first issue of DMD’s Lab Report, we addressed the mounting inbox deliverability challenges within the Gmail platform. February’s installment focuses on HCP engagement and takes an in-depth look at read rate—one of the most telling engagement KPIs in email marketing. Here are some key takeaways.

Read vs. Skimmed vs. Glanced

By definition, read rate measures the amount of time an email recipient spends in an email. Eight seconds or more looking at an email registers as “read.” An email is considered “skimmed” if the recipient spends two or more seconds in the email, but less than eight seconds. “Glanced” reflects any email that receives less than two seconds of one’s attention.

These are important distinctions, especially when establishing benchmarks against which to measure performance. For example, if you’re seeing lower read rates and higher skimmed rates over time, it may be an indication healthcare professionals are tiring of your content.

**Do you know how many of your emails are read vs. skimmed vs. glanced? We can help.**

Why DMD’s Email Scientists Love Read Rate

Without a doubt, email KPIs like open and click rate are good indicators of engagement. However, read rate is one of our email scientists’ favorite engagement metrics to assess. It not only organically shows how engaging an email is, but it also reflects the exact amount of time an HCP takes an interest in the content.

As a primary engagement KPI, it’s important to consider healthcare marketers’ objectives—which may not always be a high read rate. If your goal with an email is to generate a click, a high read rate combined with a low click rate may not represent “success.”

When establishing engagement goals and objectives for your HCP email marketing, it’s important to examine the following factors.

1) Know who you are to your healthcare audience.

Read rate often fluctuates depending on the organization deploying the email. HCPs may be time-invested in a longer email from a prestigious educational or research hospital. Promotional emails of a similar length typically have less impact. Read rate among emails from pharmaceutical manufacturers typically vary, depending on where a product is in its life cycle (e.g. cutting-edge treatment vs. legacy product). Understanding these potential differences helps temper expectations.

2) Do you want your email to be a “one stop shop”?

Lengthier emails are sometimes required in healthcare communications, especially in pharma. Hospitals that are only able to deploy campaigns a few times of year may also compile multiple memos into one email. If your goal is to supply HCPs with robust information—contained exclusively within the email—a high read rate/low click rate is acceptable. But, if your goal was to generate both a high read rate and click rate, your email likely needs some optimization.

3) Optimizing the full messaging experience: Email + Web

What is your strategy for creating a complementary messaging “experience”?

Anything less can lead to disappointment among your HCP audience.  

That is, delivering an email message that offers HCPs just enough information to understand the message—aiming for eight-plus seconds—while also encouraging them to take action with a click. If this is your approach, it’s crucial that you actually have website content that can be tied to your email message. Anything less can lead to disappointment among your HCP audience.

Read Rate & COVID Trends

COVID-19 became a primary co-factor in DMD’s 2020 email engagement analysis. In regards to read rate, we saw an interesting trend during certain times of the year; specifically March and August when stay-at-home orders were issued/reissued. Our email experts observed fewer mobile reads—which have steadily increased over the last decade—and more desktop reads. 

While this doesn’t seem to be a lasting trend, what implication does it have on future HCP email deployments? Our recommendation is to avoid focusing explicitly on either “mobile first” or “desktop first” design. Rather, an email should be designed for the best user on any device.

**Explore other COVID-19 email trends we identified in our 2020 Email Year in Review Report.**

Why NOT Read Rate?

Read rate is just as valuable a metric as open and click rates—and allows a deeper understanding of HCPs’ content consumption in email. We urge any healthcare marketer to incorporate read rate into their reporting metrics.

To get more information on read rate as the “engagement KPI,” as well as important updates on Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) features that may limit accurate metric assessment, download the full Lab Report here. And, if you’d like to leverage read rate for your email campaign strategy and analytics, we’re always here to help. Contact us for more details.


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About DMD

DMD, an IQVIA business, offers the only authenticated database available that can reach, report, and respond to the dynamic digital behavior of fully opted-in physicians and NP/PA prescribers. Through this database, pharmaceutical marketers, hospitals and health systems, medical societies, publishers, medical marketing agencies, and others have digital access to more than 90% of physicians with email addresses and real-time web activity data that unlocks precision targeting and engagement capabilities across the most influential healthcare audiences.