You wouldn't dream of trying to sell a product without patient cohort or physician audience demographics. It's no secret that effective marketing begins with knowing whom your targets are, what they need, and how your product can improve their lives. While this may seem like Remedial Marketing 101, these principles somehow fall by the wayside in physician email marketing.
Pharmaceutical companies that are otherwise incredibly adept at targeting multiple segments often fail to do so in email campaigns by taking a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging and deployment. Market segmentation and personalization boost email response rates and engage the reader from the subject line to the designated call to action. Personalizing messages maximizes campaign efficacy, while avoiding the hazards of the Procrustean approach.
Put a Bullet in the "Shotgun" Approach to Email Marketing
Experian’s 2013 Email Marketing Study found that personalized emails improved transaction rates six-fold, yet 70 percent of the participating brands failed to use targeted content. The study confirms what pharmaceutical companies already know: The “shotgun” approach to marketing, also known as the "spray and pray" method, is wasteful and ineffective. More is not better; personal is better.
The healthcare professionals (HCPs) on your email lists are not fungible, faceless automatons in white coats. They have disparate credentials, belong to varying specialties, and they practice in geographically diverse locations. Enticing an HCP to open your email demands a personal approach that acknowledges the uniqueness of today's providers. Think of it as the "rifle" approach to email marketing: streamlined, accurate, and lethally effective.
Take Advantage of Existing Data
The good news is that pharmaceutical companies don't have to reinvent the wheel to apply market segmentation to their HCP email marketing efforts. For the most part, they already have a plethora of requisite data on case mixes, prescribing behavior, established treatment protocols, and more. They have done the necessary work of using data to categorize physicians for myriad aspects of marketing and product management. The only remaining task is to connect this data and its implications to email messaging and implementation.
Apply Direct Selling Principles to the Email Channel
To understand how to create compelling email content, marketers need only imitate the sales force. Your sales force approaches HCPs with a message adapted for different kinds of physicians or patient segments. This same technique can revitalize your email marketing efforts. Chances are that differential messaging is already alive and well within your company, used frequently in direct selling. The key is to bring diversified messaging to the email channel, so each communication is differentiated and tailored to the appropriate audience.
HCP Email Personalization: Subject Lines and More
At minimum, pharmaceutical marketers might consider personalizing the subject lines of email messages. In the Experian study, personalized subject lines garnered 26 percent more opens than their generic counterparts. This might mean using the HCP’s name, promoting an event or offer in the HCP’s area, or A/B testing to see what subject lines perform best for the HCP’s specialty or credentials.
Tailoring pre-headers also entices opens. Pre-headers are the few lines of text displayed on the mobile devices or in the email client before the email is opened. When these few lines offer a targeted message that grabs the provider's attention, open rates skyrocket.
Personalized marketing is good marketing, but this is not a revelation for savvy pharmaceutical companies. The only challenge is applying the existing segmentation and diversified selling techniques to the email channel.