Despite recent changes in pharma sales models, including the rise of digital promotion, sales reps are still one the main forms of contact with physicians and one of doctors’ favourite ways to learn about drugs and treatments. A recent study on Irish doctors found that despite doctors increasingly use the Internet to find medical information, they still find face-to-face more credible than digital sources.
However, things are slowly changing. A survey conducted by HealthLink Dimensions on 760 US healthcare professionals found that for 68% of healthcare professionals, email was their preferred communication choice, increased by 3% since 2013, followed by direct mail (11%). Visits from sales representatives came only at 11%. Only 3% of HCPs used social media to interact with healthcare companies but 58% saw value in social media and planned to participate in the future.
Moreover, with 1/3rd of sales reps being turned away by physicians for in-person meetings, communication with physicians is certainly a challenge.
This is why, despite claims that email marketing is dead, for pharma companies – and many other industries – it is very much alive; having a list of email contacts puts their content right where it needs to be: in a physician’s office.
Nonetheless, a huge 40% of healthcare companies are not currently implementing an email marketing strategy. Among those who have an email marketing plan, 70% use newsletter as an email tactic, followed by press releases, product announcements and lead nurturing emails.
The survey also found that most medical professionals are mainly interested in continuing medical education opportunities, patient education materials and industry-sponsored educational events. Many pharma companies are already creating websites or dedicated sections of websites containing resources to attract physicians to their websites, including clinical trials, CME contents and news articles.
Gathering a nice list of contact however, is becoming increasingly challenging, with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on the 25th of May 2018. Data collection and processing will have to comply with the new regulation. A major role in this process is played by consent, that, according to the new regulation “should be given by a clear affirmative action establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication”. Other important areas of the regulation include the so called “right to be forgotten”, access and control of data, the principle of transparency and the process of pseudonymization. For more information of how the GDPR will affect digital marketing read our article here.
Needless to say, not all the emails that make it into a physician’s or a patient’s mailbox are read or even opened.
1) The first step is to get your email in the physicians’ inbox by taking all the possible steps to make sure it does not end in their spam folder, including:
- Whenever possible, ask recipients to whitelist your email address
- Using a reliable Email Service Provider
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines
- Use clear from field names such as email@example.com
- Avoid spam words like “free”, “prize”, “buy”, “urgent” etc.
2) The second step is to get physicians open your email by having a relevant, short and engaging subject line that will capture the attention of your recipients. Segmenting your list of contacts can help make your subject lines more relevant, depending for example on the speciality of the physician you are sending your emails to. The metric used to measure the effectiveness of your subject line is the open rate. According to Constant Contact, the avg. open rate for healthcare professionals is 17.52%. For Health & Social Services is 20.35%.
3) Thirdly, you want to get your recipients to read your content. At this stage, you might already have produced content for your website and your blog and you know which content resonates with your audience. You can now repurpose your content for your email campaigns. Emails allow write content in a visually engaging way, by combining text and images, using headlines, bulleted lists or coloured text boxes. Too often, we see long emails with a huge amount of content and links to the website. Content needs to be short and carefully selected to fit into healthcare professionals’ busy schedule
4) Finally, you want physicians to take action, be it visiting your website or registering for your webinar. It is very important for an email to have at least one clear call to action. The avg. Click-Though-Rate, measured as the number of clicks divided by the number of opens, for Health Professional is 6.67%, while it’s 8.56% for Health & Social Services
Do you need help with your email marketing strategy? Contact us today!
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