Email marketing has been around for so long -- and has consistently delivered such good results -- that marketers sometimes assume all email providers are more or less the same. Or that an email database is a commodity, and it doesn’t really matter which one you choose.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially when it comes to physician email databases. To explain what makes one database better than another, I turned to the database experts at DMD.
Q: What should pharma marketers look for in a physician email database?
A: From a marketing perspective, the first thing you should think about is reach. Some physician email databases contain more addresses than others. With the right database, it’s possible to reach 91% of the physicians who use email. But that’s just one piece of it.
You also need to know that the address you’re using will actually get your email in front of the intended physician. Whether or not your email reaches the target doctor is determined by the quality of your list.
Q: What are the characteristics of a high-quality email list?
A: All the email addresses in a quality list should be provided by the physicians themselves, when they opt in to receive medically relevant information. If your list contains email addresses for HCPs who haven’t opted in, your campaign metrics will suffer because the addresses are probably inaccurate. Worse, you risk getting in legal trouble.
Opt-in addresses should then be authenticated against the AMA Master File and updated daily. The trick here is gaining access to first-party data and the AMA Master File. Only a handful of companies are AMA licensees and very few have established relationships with the medical publishers who can provide first-party physician data.
Q: Anybody can claim to have an authenticated database. How can pharma marketers be sure they’re actually getting authenticated addresses?
A: Your list provider should be able to prove that its data has been audited and verified by a third-party, such as BPA Worldwide.
Q: You mentioned legal issues. What do pharma marketers need to know when it comes to privacy?
A: An email address is considered personally identifiable information (PII), so it has to be handled with care. Your data provider should be able to document compliance with the privacy practices established by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Using only opt-in email addresses from first-party sources is an important piece of that.
Q: So authenticated, opt-in email addresses are the key. Is there anything else we need to know?
A: Authenticated email addresses are the foundation of physician email marketing campaigns, but you need a lot of other data to be truly successful. You really want to be able to layer medical specialty, practice location, prescription and claims data -- and sometimes other criteria like medical school and year of graduation -- on top of your email database. You can slice and dice that information in any number of ways to target the precise audience you want to reach with a specific campaign.
Everyone is concerned with getting the best value for their marketing dollars. But unless your email database is authenticated, offers a range of segmentation criteria, and is updated daily, it will probably end up costing your more in the long run.