It goes without saying that promoting your pharma brand falls squarely within the world of B2B marketing. For a doctor, discovering, researching, and prescribing a new branded drug is an entirely different process than buying a new TV from Amazon.
But, when your pharma marketing relies heavily on digital marketing—and these days, most campaigns do—it’s important to remember that doctors are consumers too.
That’s why I spend a lot of time talking to our pharma clients about the intersection of B2C and B2B email marketing. These are some of their most common questions.
Q: Which is more valuable to consumers: email or online advertising?
A: Email is a more efficient marketing tool, and it’s much more user friendly. Just think about visiting a webpage where you’re blasted with banners you can’t control. It’s annoying.
Email gives the user that control. With email, if you don’t want to read something, you don’t have to. You can delete it, save it for later, or do whatever you want. Overall, it’s less disruptive because they choose the time of the interaction, and it feels more intimate.
Of course, as a marketer, you goal is to use email to build relationships with individual HCPs so they will open your messages and deepen their engagement with your brand. Email’s segmentation and personalization capabilities support those goals better than online advertising can.
Q: Does this hold true for HCP audiences too?
A: It does, in that everyone prefers to have that personal control. But pharma marketers have to work a little harder than retailers in order to get their reader’s attention.
That’s because 50% of B2C email is transactional: receipts, shipping confirmations, registration confirmations, and such. Transactional emails like these have a high open rate, since the consumer has typically initiated the relationship. Promotional emails from the big retailers are also pretty effective, because they’re coming from a known seller and are personalized based on your past buying behavior.
What pharma marketers have to remember is that when a physician takes 15 seconds to glance at his phone, he’s likely to see an inbox full of these recognizable retail messages. The trick is to stand out above all this B2C noise.
Q: But pharma email is non-personal promotion. How can it effectively compete with B2C messages?
A: It’s true that your first email interaction with an HCP might be non-personal. If the HCP didn’t initiate the relationship—say, by requesting info through your website—you may not have a lot of information to go on.
For example, if a doctor is a long-time prescriber of one osteoporosis drug and you suddenly send an email promoting your competing brand, your email may seem non-personal to that doctor. As soon as the doctor visits your site, though, digital audience identity technology can begin reporting data about his individual interests. Then you can use that information to customize future email interactions.
When an HCP glances at his phone, your pharma message needs to stand out above all the B2C noise.
Q: So website data helps builds the relationship. But how do I get that initial open?
A: Quite a few things contribute. You need to start with a quality email list to guarantee high deliverability rates. Then layer in click-through data and individualized HCP data from your website to develop a detailed understanding of different audience segments.
Adding personalized content to a campaign, such as first name and last name in the subject line, pre-header,or body copy, goes a long way to making a message feel more personal. You’ll also want to consider the value proposition you’re bringing to each recipient and make sure it’s better than any competing B2C messages. Finally, be sure to design emails physicians will read, and test frequently to continue refining your message.