It’s a rare occasion to find solutions that are cost-conscious, highly effective, and fast-acting. One attribute is typically sacrificed for another. In healthcare marketing, email is that very thing—encompassing all of these positive traits.
One of the reasons email works so well is because it is physicians’ preferred messaging channel. Seventy-three percent of physicians report email as their top choice for communication. If you expect to succeed in reaching and engaging physicians, email should be a cornerstone in your marketing mix.
When healthcare marketers use email the right way, it quickly becomes the “life preserver” that keeps your marketing program from sinking under the weight of your communication demands.
Making the Case for Email
Unlike direct mail, you know if an email was received and whether or not the recipient took action
Aside from email being favored by physicians, its success as a marketing tool can be accredited to a few key features.
Email is cost-effective. In terms of affordability and ROI, email has the highest response at the lowest cost.
Email is trackable. Unlike direct mail, you know if an email was received and whether or not the recipient took action. These metrics guide future deployments.
Email is data-rich. Because email is highly trackable, the performance results can shape future email campaigns. You come to learn what works and what doesn’t, leading to even more effective deployments down the road.
Email allows for precision targeting. You’re able to reach specific healthcare providers with different messages, based on segmentation variables. Email is also beneficial for engaging providers outside of your health system’s umbrella.
Optimizing Hospital Email Campaigns
Once you’ve identified your target audience groups, there are a few email best practices that ensure campaign success—specifically in regards to content and messaging. Some of the components you can tailor for each audience segment include:
- Subject Lines and Preheaders. These two components drive open rates. What will make an impact with each specific target?
- Timely, Relevant Content. The content within your email is what’s going to drive click-through rates. It must be meaningful and grab the recipient right from the get-go.
- Effective Design. Clean, easy-to-read design is highly engaging. Your call-to-action should be easy to find (and click), no matter what device readers are using. Images should not be used for a CTA because they might not render well.
- Render Testing. Too often marketers skip this step, which ultimately can frustrate the end user. An increasing number of physicians are using smartphones to check email, so a thorough render test of various platforms and devices is important for avoiding a debilitating experience.
Each deployment should also be tested for variables such as day of week and time of day to further optimize engagement.
List Quality: The Key To Deployment Success
All of the above practices are imperative for deployment success, but there is one final piece that is even more crucial: list quality.
If you’re not using email in your marketing strategy or only employ it in a limited capacity, you are likely missing out on considerable opportunities
There's no shortage of list vendors, all with varying prices and varying promises. Fortunately, there are quality markers you can look for in a list vendor, including first-party sourcing, authentication against the AMA Physician Masterfile, and third-party certification by BPA Worldwide. A quality list also will include hundreds of thousands of physician email addresses—each accompanied by comprehensive details such as physician specialty, geographic data, hospital affiliations, and more.
If vendors aren’t able to adhere to these standards—or if they are reticent to answer your questions in regards to these quality markers—it’s time to look elsewhere. Using a list containing inaccurate or sparse data not only reduces your likelihood of campaign success, it also becomes a compliance risk. Alternatively, using a database that fully conforms to the highest quality standards allows you to email both confidently and responsibly.
Email’s Role In Hospital Growth And Profitability
A combination of the rising physician shortage and both patients and physicians having a “shop around” attitude has forced hospital strategists and marketers to work even harder to earn and retain the loyalty of healthcare providers.
If you’re not using email in your marketing strategy or only employ it in a limited capacity, you are likely missing out on considerable opportunities to “swim.” Specifically, the ability to create strong hospital-physician relationships—the kind of relationships that contribute to continued growth and profitability.