Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot: Remembering Email Marketing in the New Year

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About today's guest blogger:  As a Director of Strategy at Evolution Road, Brandi Ascione brings her clients more than 15 years of experience and a history of achievement in digital marketing and strategic planning. She will be co-presenting Email Marketing to Consumers and Healthcare Professionals: Key insights and best practices to get the best return on investment from your marketing dollars during the ePharma Pre-conference Summit on Monday February 10th.

Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot: Remembering Email Marketing in the New Year

The past decade was a time of exponentially growing opportunities in digital healthcare consumer marketing. Unfortunately, however, declining budgets are now forcing most of us to balance our traditional well performing tactics with some decidedly lower-cost innovations. Tell me if the following mix looks familiar: paid search, a well-targeted but over-priced display campaign, maybe a custom center on WebMD or EveryDay Health, a sprinkle of the creative agency’s social flavor-of-the-week (no doubt still in MLR), and, last but not least, a mobile-friendly website (also still in MLR). Did I miss anything? Oh, wait. Yes I did.

Remember our old pal email? Sure, it seems boring compared with the latest technology bling, but it remains an incredibly effective tool to reach our target consumers nonetheless. Email engages them with some of the good old-fashioned content they’re looking for while achieving our objectives–driving awareness, conversion, and retention. And did I mention it is proven effective and fairly cost efficient? The times may be changing but they couldn’t be better for rekindling our relationship with this trusted friend.

Let’s be clear. I’m not necessarily talking about the relationship marketing email campaigns that made your head spin with their expensive databases and highly segmented variations (also still stuck in MLR). Instead I’m thinking a bit broader: data warehousing–cost efficient and targeted list rentals at 40 cents per participant. Or third-party email sponsorship like the RealAge Health Guide Series or the Quality Health Ask Your Doctor program, which are highly targeted and well known industry performers. Such campaigns don’t require large internal investments yet there’s a good chance they drive positive ROI. And, depending on the category, they can scale. What more could we ask? Welcome home, old friend.

Let’s not stop there, though. Email doesn’t run itself and it still has to cut through the clutter, right? Time to optimize.

How? If you Google “email optimization,” you’ll get 81 million results. Be more specific and enter “pharma email optimization” and still get nearly a million. That’s clutter about cutting through the clutter. My advice, on the other hand, is simple and straight forward: recognize and work on the areas that can make the biggest impact in performance then test what works for you.

  • Target. Work with your internal database teams and external vendors to get as close to your target audience as possible (e.g., diagnosed and treating with competitive product), then layer in less targeted populations as you scale (e.g., diagnosed but not treating or diagnosed with a co-morbid condition)
  • Negotiate cost. Work closely with your agency to get the lowest cost per participant.
  • Get people to open your email by testing subject lines. Also, consider the sender line.
  • Get people to read your email by making the content relevant. (Often said, seldom done) Don’t make them download the images to see what you have to say. Say something in the email. And don’t forget the 30% to 50% who will open it on their mobile device.
  • Get people to click through to your website. Put the primary call-to-action above the fold. Don’t make it an image.
  • Don’t worry if they don’t click. The email itself may have been enough to drive action.
Then, when you’re all done, don’t forget to measure how it worked. Chances are you’ll keep your old friend around for a while. Who knows? You may wind up introducing him to your new friends.

Want to know more about ePharma?  Download the agenda.  If you'd like to join Raj, as a reader of this blog when you register to join us February 10-12, 2014 in New York City, you can save $100 off the current rate when you mention priority code XP1906BLOG.  Have any questions or want to get involved? Email Jennifer Pereira.
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