All commercial paths lead to the digital nowadays. Within this era of digital communication, it’s becoming more and more frequent that pharma is hardly the one knocking on doctor’s door to deliver content, and instead, decides to speak through the screens of mobile, tablet or laptop. Engaging with the web occupies a lot of physician’s time – both at work and at home – so, by having made this clear step towards digital transformation, pharma has finally put the compass of engagement back into its customer’s hands. Here’s a roadmap describing where ways to bolster customer engagement start and where they might lead.

1Email stakes are high

So, our destination point is customer engagement. How do we reach it with the help of digital? Well, first of all, why has the email suddenly become our guiding light over here? Because, in one way or another, but 100% of pharma and healthcare end up communicating through email – internally as well as externally, when reaching out to their respective customer audiences. The SEO game is strong, but emailing remains a clear winner, with 53,6% of respondents of SmartInsights 2018 report on marketing automation rating email marketing as excellent or good – higher than any other digital channel. HCPs are also highly accessible digitally, as most of them are using smartphones daily, be it in or out of workplace. Finally, the investment figures also speak for themselves. Many marketers viewed email marketing as a positive investment in 2017. Over half of the businesses (58%) are planning to increase their email marketing budget this year, with just 7,5% stating that their investment will decrease.

This all means that whatever new types of digital content are introduced, email remains still the most frequently checked, engaging and convenient channel for physicians. The only thing is – how do you make it even more efficient? What makes that email connection work out? One answer could be cutting through the info noise with a regular, generous amount of messages. Well, it’s a pill hard to swallow, but customer’s definition of spam now involves experiences that go well beyond their inbox, according to Litmus Definition of Spam report. This means that if the customer will get tired of emails from you, he/she is likely to avoid interacting with any kind of content from your brand. With stakes that high, it’s now important to tread carefully when deciding for a campaign that would be considered traditional a couple of years ago, but now is just an attempt to avalanche your customer’s inbox. And, at the end of the day, who is that marketer, who carefully constructs every bit of an email marketing campaign and expects it to be simply dumped in spam? It’s now saturated to the point that a marketer either does it right or doesn’t count on this channel that much.

grabbing customers' attention through email

It doesn’t make it easier that the email has 3 to 5 seconds to impress.  Anything could be wrong with it – simple robotic wording or a degree in English Literature needed to be understood, personalized to the point of creepy or too impersonal, no clear CTA or too much selling, etc. So how to make it work?

2How to reach an email mountain peak

Despite these hot and cold conundrums, it’s most likely that the pillars of good pharma email CX are: “platform-perfect” user experience and moderate personalization. So, one step at a time. Email first also means mobile first, since almost all emails are opened primarily on mobile phones now. No wonder 73% of marketers have optimized their emails to mobile screens last year. Be it Android or iOS,  they are excellent tools for viewing and responding to emails, naturally tailored to immediacy and interactivity, and tied to customers’ location, so they can add unique value to the email marketing mix. Nota bene: mobile first, but platform-perfect second: “Whether your users are viewing email on an iPhone, a high-end desktop system, a Kindle, or hearing them on a screen-reader, their experience should be as fully featured and functional as possible”. Duly noted.

Next, with 66% of all marketers prioritizing the Personalization deity, only 11% of them claim that they actually can personalize all content in real time. And with pharma marketers also struggling to personalize their email campaigns, surprisingly, some of them suppose that adding customer’s name or saying happy birthday on an indicated date is already highly personalized. Right. So how to keep an email personalization balance?

hyper-personalized content

The answer to moderate personalization challenge is email templates. Although templates sound like something very remotely personal, they don’t have to be, because they serve as a plain base for the individualized content, that “rice for the spice”. They bring system back into place, simultaneously leaving space for creative and personalized inputs. “Moving towards including modular templates that are built on the principles of atomic design and supported by pattern libraries will help to keep style and usability consistent and optimal”. What this means for marketers is being able to build brand-tailored emails even without addressing an agency for that kind of task, with a bonus advantage – with templates, localization, and therefore reaching customers using their cultural code, becomes just so much easier to complete.

Knowing where it matters most to personalize also results from keeping track of email performance and make sure it’s well-integrated with other ways your customer can interact with your content. By neglecting the binding channel potential of emails, many marketers fall into the pit of “we have multiple databases (none of which integrate with email) and data collection is sporadic so we don’t have a full picture of our customers”. Let the email collect all the data from email open rates, click through rates, CTAs to visit a website, talk to a rep remotely or see a responsive landing page. With all this data synchronized into the CRM, you have road signs to where your multichannel campaign should lead.

multichannel mindset

3Email serpentine takes places: other channels, not so remote after all

So, where did the email lead your customer, in the end?  Was it towards a pharma website? Considering that 70% of companies fail to personalize their websites, it’s worrying that pharma websites remain included in that sad example. On website, you let your content speak for you. Well so far, it seems that pharma content speaks ‘selling without listening’ language. Less than a third of physicians view pharmaceutical websites as credible sources of professional information, compared to 77% of them, who prefer using independent HCP-facing websites instead. And even when pharma shows up on those third-party sites, 62% of the respondents feel all pharma contents on those websites “are always ads.” But it’s not only the immersing into a sea of ads, pushed content and too much selling itself or content’s credibility that’s a problem. Unsatisfying user experience – like content that’s not customized for various devices or to its audience segments – can also be a reason, why the physicians refuse to spend more than 3 minutes on pharma website.

Or, perhaps, if a website is too much of work to redo, the email has directed your customer towards a landing page? Mindful of when mobile recipients click through from an email, 50% of marketers have introduced brief landing pages this year to ensure user experience benefits are not wasted once the email has completed its CTA task. If pharma website is loading for too long, it will be bounced off. So, great idea at work there.

In addition, 2/3 of US HCPs are more likely to visit a pharma website, if there are quality research resources available, such as scientific publications, clinical trial summaries, CME videos, full clinical data, medical journal reprints. Create this for the website, announce it in email, make sure you representative mentions it during a visit – boom, physician wants to talk to your brand. Speaking of rep, an invitation to a remote communication with an expert pharma rep? That part becomes almost automated when using email templates. And the brand consistency part is especially relevant within the scale of this channel and Approved Emails that lead to and from it. This is where another path to pharma customers begins. Long story short – with remote calls, convenient form and time of contact is multiplied by a user-friendly technology and equals higher customer satisfaction and higher message recall and higher prescription rate. More on remote communication you can read in our previous articles.

So, as much of a digital road fork as it is, email should be a reliable transmitter leading towards and from other channels of communication with your customer. With all the necessary measures kept up, emails will have a consistent layout across different brands, occasions and regions with such solutions as eWizard Email Templates, providing you with the “impossible” dichotomy of unified branding and personalized message. Drop our marketing experts a line, asking about the new communication opportunities that will be provided for you and your customers by emails template approach, as well as channels your emails will be guiding towards (landing pages, remote calls or pharma websites).