The literal meaning of the phrase “straight from the horse’s mouth” is “from the highest authority” or “from the original or most reliable source.” Its origin was in horse racing, as in "I got a tip yesterday, and if it wasn't straight from the horse's mouth, it was jolly well the next thing to it." Now, of course, the phrase is common in any context that requires assurance and certainty.
Does your email list contain email addresses straight from physicians’ mouths? It jolly well better.
First-Party Sourcing: An Email Non-Negotiable
There are plenty of reasons first-party sourcing—that is, only using email addresses physicians themselves have provided—is non-negotiable for health systems.
One frightening scenario all marketers face is for messages to end up in spam folders or lost somewhere in the internet ether because the email address itself does not exist, either due to an unintentional typo or because the address was manufactured. Even worse, your email service provider eventually gets flagged or blocked because you’re using dirty data.
Another situation specific to health systems marketing (and even more specific to healthcare recruiting) involves the potential risk of ignoring a physician’s preferred email address. Some physician lists are “assembled” by identifying the typical format of one doc’s email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and then guessing other affiliated members’ addresses by applying their names to the same format, for example “email@example.com.” Health systems regularly assign email addresses to doctors and staff, so these might be valid email addresses in the fact that they do exist and can be delivered to an inbox. But, physicians don’t necessarily use them. In fact, quite often those emails are monitored by a department administrator or receptionist.
You can see how using guesswork could quickly go south, especially when a recruitment email should have gone to a physician’s personal email account but instead lands in an administrator’s lap.
Does your email list contain addresses straight from physicians’ mouths? It jolly well better.
How Sourcing Should Work
Data companies throw around promises like “verified” and “validated,” but what do those terms really mean? If the data is to be trusted, verified and validated lists should be:
First-party sourced: Contact information comes directly (and voluntarily) from physicians.
Double opted in: This process piggybacks on the volunteer aspect of first-party sourcing. A second step, which DMD holds itself to as a standard, is the double opt-in. Physicians are given a chance to confirm their initial sign-up.
Authenticated: Email addresses are matched against lists such as the American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Masterfile and the National Provider Identifier (NPI) database to ensure they’re actual, true addresses attached to physicians, NPs, and PAs.
Audited: Similar to the authentication process, email addresses should be audited by BPA International, the leading data auditing service. With the BPA seal of approval, marketers can be confident they’re actually reaching exactly who they intended.
Verified: Email addresses can also be fully cleaned by undergoing domain verification, which is the practice of comparing the domain of an HCP's email address to his or her practice setting.
Updated daily: You may be surprised how quickly an email address can become null and void. Physicians change jobs, retire, and pass away. Using a list that updates every 24 hours guarantees you’re emailing active docs at the right address. It also protects you from sending bad emails, which as explained above, puts future deliverability in jeopardy.
All steps are crucial. For example, even if an email address was provided directly by a physician, typos happen. This progression of quality control can uncover and address any fast-finger mix-ups or other blips.
A Strong List Breeds Strong Physician Bonds
When you know exactly who you’re talking to, you can convey highly-individualized, value-based content that strengthens and solidifies hospital-physician relationships. A strong list breeds strong bonds. Alternatively, a weak one can tear them down. A comprehensive, trustworthy email list guarantees a strong foundation for improved physician engagement.