Gone are the days of the “Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern” salutation. They might still be used in overly-formal communications, but these days, individuals prefer a more personalized approach in their day-to-day operations and activities.
Physicians are no different. They want to be spoken to as a person, not just a job title. With limited time for actual in-person interactions, email is the best way to engage physicians.
Combining Competence With Warmth
In their book, The Human Brand, Chris Malone and Susan Fiske discuss how early humans developed the split-second ability to judge individuals on two factors: intentions and capabilities. Those two elements have evolved into two categories of social perception today—warmth and competence—which Malone and Fiske say applies when judging brands as well. “Those [brands] perceived to have both attributes are more likely to develop deep, enduring relationships with their customers,” they explained.
How can you be assured the rest of the list’s information is reliable? The answer is simple: Don’t use a bad list.
Your hospital represents a brand, and your physicians are essentially customers who you desire loyalty from. The message you’re sending is one of competence: “Here’s XYZ reasons why our hospital rises above the rest.” The mechanism with which you deploy that message—in this case email—needs to convey the warmth part of the equation. Personalization is what ties it all together.
What Can Be Personalized?
It might seem obvious with today’s digital capabilities that your physician email list would contain accurate first and last names. Unfortunately, poor quality databases are often rife with incorrect email addresses. How can you be assured the rest of the list’s information is reliable?
The answer is simple: Don’t use a bad list.
A database that has been authenticated and audited by a third party (BPA Worldwide is considered an industry standard) contains fully verified information, including full name, preferred email address, NPI number, practice location, and specialty.
The preferred email address is a key point to consider. Data that’s been harvested or scraped likely defaults to an office domain, but statistics indicate that many physicians actually favor their personal email addresses to receive important communications. A high-quality list includes exclusively opted-in emails, so you can be certain you’re not only reaching the right physician, but also reaching them in a manner you know they’ve requested.
With all that in mind, here are the key components to personalize in physician emails:
- Subject line. What better way to grab a physician’s attention than including their name in the subject line? Example: “Paging Dr. Murphy: Did you hear about our advancements in SBRT?” From Dr. Murphy’s profile, you know that she is a radiation oncologist, specializing in stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). This subject lines speaks directly to her.
- Salutation. Email templates make it simple to insert a recipient’s name, however you should want it to appear (e.g. “Hello Dr. Murphy” or “Hello Dr. Grace Murphy” etc.).
- Email content. Robust physician profiles allow you to segment outbound communications on an individual level. The advances relating to SBRT might not be applicable to every radiation oncologist. You can get that granular with your messaging and truly have a conversation with physicians.
- Call to action. A comprehensive physician profile allows you to personalize CTAs for the greatest engagement. Data points like geographic location and specialty provide a basis for relaying conference or CME details that are physician-specific.
When you get personal with physicians, the underlying message is that you’re working hard to understand their motivations, concerns, frustrations, key activities, and opportunities. Again, you’re relating to them as a human, not a job title.