Pharma email marketing: Your top 12 tips

Used correctly, email can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient channels for a pharma company to use. To help you get the most from it, we've rounded up the top tips from our strategic and creative teams.


1. Design it right

The basic rules of good communication design apply to email just as they do to other channels. So, always include a call-to-action and consider its placement carefully. Add useful images but don’t overdo it – pictures need to be less than 30 percent of an email or it might be considered ’spam’. And always design for multiple email clients, remembering to test on popular ones like Gmail and Outlook.

2. Think mobile

About half of all email is opened on a mobile device, so if it doesn’t work for small screens it will get ignored – as so too may any future correspondence. Design for the smallest relevant screen and focus on the space that’s initially available without scrolling. That’s where your best content must live. Also consider subject line length: keep it under 70 characters, with 35-40 being the mobile sweet spot.

3. Start strong

Don’t make the ‘subject line’ an afterthought. HCPs have only very limited time to read emails so you need a compelling subject line to grab attention. Then make sure that you have a great first sentence that provides valuable information to encourage further reading. People’s initial thought is always, “I don’t need this.” You have to change their mind.

4. Provide value

People will only read your email if it’s useful and interesting. Always ask yourself ‘what value is this providing HCPs?’ Try to provide the kind of content that HCPs are looking for: news on treatment advances, healthcare guidelines, training materials, continuing medical education, scientific data, clinical trials information.

5. Finalise, then approve

Try to avoid starting the medical / legal approval process until the email is fully optimised. You want to ensure that all options for improving open rates and click-throughs are fully explored. Little changes can make a big difference.

6. Time it right

When you schedule the email for distribution really matters. Good data tracking will help you find the optimal time. Perhaps afternoons work best as HCPs catch up on their emails in the evenings. Or you may find that releasing an email on Friday evening is optimal as Saturday morning is when most emails get opened. Learn what works and optimise your procedures accordingly.

7. Track what happens

The relative simplicity of the email channel means that you can more easily respond to data. So, track and plan to make changes. The email ‘open rate’ is the normal measure of success but remember that some emails are reopened and reviewed multiple times. You will also want to measure click-through rates, as this will tell you more about the level of engagement. Again, make sure you have CTA links to deeper content, where you can apply other measures like time spend on a website, page views, downloads, registrations etc.

8. Do A/B testing

Useful data comes from measuring a discrepancy between at least two factors. So already do multiple versions of an email to test. It can be as simple as doing variations on a subject line or deployment timing that you measure through open rates. But always do something to build your knowledge on what’s working (and what needs to change).

9. Customise and personalise

We all expect ‘just for me’ communication now. Email needs to feel personal and relevant to each recipient. An easy first step is to use words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ to speak directly to people. Also take HCP interests into account as much as possible by considering different specialities and even geographic locations to make your message as relevant as possible.

10. Empower customer-facing staff

‘Approved emails’ are pre-packaged content that’s made available to customer-facing teams. This empowers staff to respond directly to their customers – and be more relevant to their needs – while remaining compliant. A common example is pre-approved emails that follow-up on topics that occurred during face-to-face visits. Just make sure that you set clear rules e.g. maximum number of emails sent per month.

11. Connect to other channels

At Anthill, we believe that channels shouldn’t be considered in isolation but as part of a holistic multichannel experience. Email is a great way to connect HCPs to valuable content elsewhere, like HCP portals and other on-demand channels. So always consider email in terms of an overall communications strategy – and look to make connections.

12. Schedule to related events

If people receive an email after experiencing some activity like a visit from customer-facing staff, there’s a good chance that the open rate will be higher. It therefore makes sense to consider email scheduling in light of all your other activities — something that is now rather grandly call ‘real-time email outreach’.

More on digital pharma marketing

Right now, many life science companies are looking to expand their e-detailing to a bigger multichannel experience. To show what can be done, Anthill has created an e-book ‘multichannel e-detailing’ that lays out the opportunities.

Access your copy today:

>> Download the e-book

Take the next step

Contact our Director of Customer Engagement, Alejandra Betancourt, to discuss a digital communication solution that works for you and your product.

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