Email Marketing: 5 Ways to Avoid the Virtual Trashcan

Despite the dizzying array of new channels emerging in the age of digital marketing – including social media, SMS messaging, mobile ads and apps – email remains a valuable tool in the healthcare marketing arsenal. But getting a response, which is–after all–the objective, is more challenging than ever. Boundaries imposed by the Sunshine Act and other federal regulations, increased patient loads, SPAM regulations, and the use of multiple electronic devices have upped the ante required to reach and engage healthcare professionals (HCPs).

What can you do to improve the chances that your message will not only be seen but will also elicit a response?

First, do no harm

Successful email campaigns are thoughtfully planned and carefully executed to avoid some simple mistakes that may send them directly to the virtual trashcan. Before you click “send,” consider these 5 common email missteps:

1. Half-Baked Campaigns – Tight deadlines and internal pressure make it tempting to pull the trigger prematurely, but it pays to spend a little extra time to test deliverability. If your message arrives in a physician’s inbox with formatting issues or is jettisoned directly to the SPAM folder, expediency matters not. Most email platforms provide tools to test email deliverability to various devices and email service providers (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). Use them for every campaign you send.

2. Above the Fold Flubs – Harried physicians are apt to skip right over emails lacking a compelling snippet of information in the preview text. The first line should never read: “If you are having trouble reading this email, click here.” You have only nanoseconds to capture their attention, so push that instruction below the fold and swap in a subject line and content focused on getting a response.

3. TMI! – More than 50% of worldwide email opens happen in mobile devices, according to recent research. HCPs, who were initially slow to adopt mobile technology, are rapidly jumping on board. In fact, an Epocrates study predicted that 2014 would see 9 out of 10 HCPs using smartphones and nearly as many using tablets, in addition to desktop devices. If you want to reach these “digital omnivores,” it’s critical that you optimize campaigns for readability on all devices. Keep your design clean and simple, and your message short and sweet. Focus on getting a response from both email and landing page content. Also keep in mind that video and other rich media can reduce page load speed, giving visitors yet another reason to bail.

4. The Hard Sell – The days of the hard sell are history; now it’s all about content marketing that addresses the recipient’s needs or goals by employing reader context, as determined by the what you’ve already learned about your audience segment. (You have done your homework, haven’t you?)

We’ve all heard the expression “Content is king,” but what does that really mean? While there is no secret sauce for a successful newsletter or website, one of the best ways to keep people coming back and to evoke a response is by delivering content that is relevant, timely, unique, compelling, personal and visual. Starting with a quality list is crucial, but the list can atrophy over time as people who did not provide consent for the specific content you’re dishing up may gradually lose interest and unsubscribe, stop visiting your website, and/or visit infrequently. Periodically clean your email lists to remove inactive subscribers and re-engage those remaining. Regularly monitor email and website analytics to determine the content that evokes the greatest response for your audience.

5. The Definition of Insanity – Repeatedly sending out the same tired email messages in the same way will get you the same lackluster results. Old email methods are fading; the new approach is to combine email with social media and mobile marketing tactics to snag targets where they virtually hang out. If you have a Facebook brand page, add an email signup to the page; offer “text to subscribe” capability; or link QR codes to a mobile-friendly registration form to make it easy for physicians to provide consent to receive your email list at trade shows, conferences, and CME forums.

Experiment with the above tips to help revitalize your database.  Don’t be afraid to try new approaches. Bagging the elusive digital omnivore requires cunning and creativity.