Three Ways Email Marketing Can Drive More Customer Interactions
The past decade was rough on pharmaceutical reps. Drug companies slashed their sales forces; in 2006, a watershed year, the industry lost more than 60,000 sales jobs, reducing the U.S. pharmaceutical sales sector by more than 60 percent in the last decade. Today, there are only about 80,000 drug reps in the United States. On the provider side, the number of physician no-sees jumped from one in five in 2009 to almost one in two in 2014.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which included the Sunshine Act, compounded the problem by limiting certain pharmaceutical marketing practices and HCP incentives.
Given the organic and legislative restrictions, how can pharmaceutical reps and their agents sustain channels of communication with core HCP audiences drive HCP interaction? How can they provide information that these audiences actually still want and need?
The answer is clear, based on the results of a biennial survey entitled "What Physicians Want," which polled members of Sermo, the largest physician-only online community. The study revealed that an overwhelming majority (68 percent) wanted pharmaceutical companies to share topical content via email.
Given that mandate by HCPs, proactive pharmaceutical companies and reps can use email-marketing strategies to achieve their sales goals, nurture leads, and extend their products' life cycles.
High-value content builds relationships
A recent survey by Pharma Leaders shows that HCPs want more information from pharmaceutical companies, especially educational materials and case studies. They overwhelmingly want seek evidence-based medicine and case studies that help them evaluate which drug therapies are appropriate for their patients and which materials educate their patients best about disease management. Email content with information on samplinges and patient compliance, and programs to help their financially disadvantaged patients are among the topics physicians find valuable when delivered via the email channels.
The surveys also revealed that while HCPs don't favor promotional "educational" seminars, a remarkable 83 percent would like to see more pharma-sponsored accredited CME events. Furthermore, 86 percent want more HCP-focused information about disease states and 77 percent seek more detailed product information specifically for prescribers.
This is an ideal opportunity to target email campaigns to a particular HCP cohort with timely content and messaging connected to product life cycle dynamics or HCP target needs. Sharing this content with your target via email is a powerful antidote for reduced personal sales force interactions.
Behavior-based targeting means more opens and click-throughs
HCPs want to receive useful information, but need to access it on their own time and on their own devices, delivered at the time of day when they are able to engage in their own information gathering. Once the optimal target audience has been identified, campaigns can be structured around the digital content preferences of target HCPs.
For example, understanding that most practitioners access email via mobile devices on the iOS platform informs decisions about the length of subject lines, the use of images, and the size of text blocks in marketing content.
Data-drives strong campaign planning across channels
Depending on the objective of the email marketing campaign, in-depth data can expand the audience to reach a broader, more innovative target set. It can also give laser-like focus to messaging by hyper-targeting a precise segment of practitioners, bolstering a campaign's ROI.
Since HCPs have expressed a desire for evidence-based medicine and more in-depth communication about disease states and drug therapies, targeted email marketing gives brand managers the tools to meet that need.
For example, using physician prescribing behavior to target certain HCPs can provide an opportunity to drive planning for multi-channel campaigns. When information needs and media consumption habits are well defined for specific specialties and practice types, marketing planning across all channels can be integrated and optimized.
Email, of course, is a superb testing tool for understanding the power of messaging, scheduling, and distinguishing between the objectives for each piece of a marketing program. For example, understanding open and click through rates for a particular message, directed at a specific specialty, during a particular time of day, may help shape where and how information is delivered to a desired target.
Pharmaceutical companies are constantly releasing new formulations, announcing new indications, and promoting strategic pricing programs. Targeted email marketing campaigns are an ideal vehicle for communicating multiple messaging scenarios and email design structure before deploying these key decisions across channels.
The more data is explored at the outset of campaign planning, the stronger the strategic platform for your business.