Email Marketing Case Study: Doctor Doctor Give Me The News

Posted by Scott Cohen On September 2, 2010 in story time I 0 Comments

Over the past ten years, I have worked with a myriad of health care providers as well as individual family doctors helping them with their email marketing. Like most email marketing we always suggest strongly to segment and offer content based on the individual recipients wants and needs. When these rules are followed along with personalization, the increase in opens and click-through as well as interaction with doctors about content in their newsletter were amazing.

We took a sampling of family doctors who opted for help segmenting their lists and providing dynamic content based on patient’s medical needs and history as well as current prescriptions. This sample was taken over a 12-month period with 12 doctors who segment/personalize their newsletters and 10 doctors who did not.

Doctors, who segmented, created and delivered targeted content and used personalized subject lines had an average open rate of 41% versus an average of 22% for those who didn’t. Almost a 100% increase. Some doctors had open-rates of 50%. Click-thru rates also increased by an average of over 50% with many of the doctors getting close to a 20% click-thru rate. Sharing of newsletter content by Forward-to-a-Friend and Social Media increased by an average of 25%. While those doctors without targeted content showed only a 3% increase of sharing.

Here’s what we did:

We reviewed a list of the top 14 reoccurring patient medical conditions which covered almost 78% of all patients. Here’s the list we came up with:

  • Back or neck problems
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis or rheumatism
  • Difficulty walking/Foot pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Lung/Breathing problems
  • Digestive/Stomach problems
  • Gynecological problems
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Heart problems or chest pain
  • Diabetes
  • Depression/Mood problems
  • Cold/Flu like symptoms
  • Insomnia

We then built a content library of multiple articles on each malady for targeted placement in the newsletter. We continued to add new articles as the projects progressed. Many of the articles we used were available for free from either medical associations or through pharmaceutical companies.

We then went on the hunt for discount programs and free trials of top 30 most prescribed medicines so we could include those to recipients using those medications. We also included notices when named brand medicines were available as generics, saving the patient money.

We created a separate database to manage the patient’s information based on a blind key set of criteria so when the patient list was uploaded there was no discernable information unless you had the key to the blind criteria set. This helped keep complete HIPPA compliance as no patient information was shared beyond the key coded tags which were non-descript number/letter combinations.

We were now able to send targeted newsletters with dynamic content to almost 80% of the doctor’s patients. We also tested and found that unlike some personalized subject lines, when using the Dr.’s name and the patient’s first name in the subject line (Example: For Chris from Dr. Smith) the open-rate increased significantly in all cases.  This personalization also helped reactivate subscribers who previously were disengaged.

We also created a preference center so subscribers can choose additional content subjects that interest them.

It seems people have a very personal connection to their family doctors. Although that wasn’t a complete surprise it was an eye-opening experience.

Did all this take some increase in time and budget to complete? Of course, but the results paid for itself quickly with more interaction with patients, higher patient satisfaction and patients directly commenting on articles and savings they received when visiting with their doctor.

Every single doctor who opted for the enhanced service has continued with it and others have seen the benefit and started their own segmentation and custom content delivery with similar results.

Taking the time to create, manage and deliver customized content can make a significant difference with the engagement of your recipients and build on the valued and trusted relationship between doctor and patient.


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