In the email marketing world, the pharmaceutical industry is perpetually playing catch-up. With digital communication advancing at breakneck speeds, pharmaceutical companies can't afford to delay embracing forward-thinking email marketing practices. Email remains a low-cost, highly targeted marketing device that strengthens campaigns across all channels, but the healthcare industry hobbles it with institutionalized poor practices. Read on for suggestions on how to make email a more effective tool.
Adapt CTAs to Accommodate the Channel
Core direct marketing practices, considered the gold standard in other forms of marketing, are conspicuously absent in pharma’s email marketing efforts. The design elements of many emails sent to physician email lists are ill-suited for the channel, rendering them DOA.
For example, many emails place the call to action (CTA) too late in the communication or omit it altogether. The placement of the CTA can make or break an email's performance. Here are four CTA suggestions to help your emails go further:
- Be concise and clear. A good CTA contains 2–5 words, telling the healthcare professional (HCP) what to do next.
- Create a sense of urgency. Incorporate urgent words into your CTA. For instance, if you want your reader to download your new white paper, you might say "Download your free copy today." Data supports that language like this, however obvious, influences click-through response
- Place critical content above the fold. Any content your reader must scroll down to read falls below the fold. Your CTA, along with any other core messages, should appear once below the fold and once above the fold.
- Consider the device. Don’t forget that different devices and email service providers will render differently. Always test to make sure your CTA placement requirements are being met across all devices and email clients.
A Mobile-Optimized Email Is An Email That Gets Read
One of pharma’s most perplexing email marketing practices is the absence of programming for mobile email. While pharmaceutical marketers are working toward responsive design for websites, most have not graduated to responsive design for email.
A recent survey showed that 65 percent of email is first opened on a mobile device. Failing to develop mobile-compatible emails can be a death sentence in pharmaceutical marketing. Research shows that a bad mobile experience can prompt an HCP to disregard future communication from the sender. Test the way emails display on different devices and email service providers to ensure all recipients view an optimized email under all conditions.
Designing for mobile relies on three basic pillars:
>Screen size: Respect the limitations of the three-to-four inch visual field. Small type on a desktop translates to unreadable text on a mobile device.
>Mobile navigation behavior: Limit the amount of swiping and gesturing required to read the email, and keep the transition simple to navigate to the next digital experience.
>Mobile mentality: Ensure continued engagement on the mobile device with no dead spots that require a recipient to return to the desktop to complete the experience.
A/B Test Alternative Email Versions
In healthcare marketing, less than one percent of campaigns take advantage of A/B testing. Testing yields continuous corporate learning that applies across marketing channels. An email test uses different CTAs, subject lines, or messaging for different groups within the same target file. The knowledge gathered from the results of the different groups is applied to other digital and non-digital communications.
Make the Med/Legal Approval Process Last
Traditionally, pharmaceutical marketers submit email layouts for med/legal review before fully optimizing an email. As a result, either they can’t make critical changes to improve rendering, or they have to go through more rounds of review than necessary. Optimizing and render testing the email prior to involving med/legal maximizes click-through rates without elongating the entire campaign process with med/legal.
Email continues to perform as one of the most effective tools in a marketer's arsenal. Adapting, personalizing, testing, and optimizing emails according to these guidelines drastically improve email performance, from open rates to ROI.