Alternative Media: Cautious Integration - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Alternative Media: Cautious Integration
SPAM still thwarting pharma's approach to e-mail marketing.


Pharmaceutical Executive


AOL, for example, has a feedback loop that allows senders to process SPAM complaints by using a "This Is Junk" button. Other ISPs use automated technologies that rate senders by IP address and automatically clear them once deemed legitimate. As new technologies are developed, the industry will continue to set regulations to which legitimate mailers will comply. These guidelines will soon be the only way to ensure the deliverability of messages to consumers' inboxes.

Consumer education Consumer education is the final element to managing the SPAM crisis. It's up to the industry and marketers to get the message out to consumers that they can take an active role in stopping SPAM.

Reporting SPAM is a consumer-driven process. But without the proper education, many consumers use the elimination function to immediately opt-out—without consideration to the fact that they have opted-in. Without considerably more consumer education, systems like Bond Sender are not ideal solutions because they incur costs for marketers without helping consumers better manage wanted and unwanted e-mail.

Next Steps For pharmaceutical marketers, the best and most healthy patients are loyal consumers. Translated, that means e-mail may not be the best channel for acquisition, but that it can play a role in developing strong relationships and communicating targeted, valuable information to help ensure that patients take their medication, seek more information, talk to their physician—or whatever is the desired action.

But in order to do that, pharma companies must ensure that they can get these e-mail messages to the patients and physicians that want them.

One way to help ensure deliverability is to have consumers add senders' addresses to their address book. A consumer's address book is often treated like a preferred white list: Any incoming messages from these addresses are automatically treated as legitimate.

So how do you get a consumer to add you to his address book? It can be as simple as giving him a reminder at the header of every message. Keep in mind though: They need to initially receive those messages in order to opt-in. Incorporating into marketing materials that there are steps consumers can take to ensure they receive your messages is an effective way to start the process.

Despite the growing complexities, e-mail marketing holds enormous untapped potential for pharmaceutical companies. E-mail's immediacy and integration with the daily lives of consumers and physicians enables healthcare marketers to establish highly profitable relationships. At the same time, patients and physicians gain valuable information through a convenient channel. This new generation of marketing provides flexible targeting, cost effectiveness, and high responsiveness.

Awards The Food and Drug Administration website, http://www.fda.gov/ won a silver award—its first after four bronze honors—in the fall/winter 2004 World Wide Web Health Awards competition, sponsored by the Health Information Resources Center.

Launches jwEinstein Strategic Messaging has launched its newly redesigned website: http://www.jweinsteinsm.com/.

News A report by Datamonitor declared Medsite "the leader" in the domestic eDetailing market. Verispan says 73 percent of physicians surveyed participated in ePromotion, with cardiologists and endocrinologists topping the list. Specialists of all sorts cited honoraria, a convenient forum, and CME credits as the biggest factors influencing their participation. Whittmanhart acquired Insight Interactive Group, healthcare and pharma specialists.

People Real Age added four people to its sales staff: Lynn Chaiken, previously vice president of national sales at Beliefnet, as well as director, pharmaceutical sales at Yahoo!; Rich Wellen, former manager of New England sales at Imagitas; Priscilla Valls, most recently director of ad sales at eDiets; and Jennifer Wiley, formerly a key account executive on Rx and CPG business at Yahoo!. IMC2, an interactive agency, hired three experienced professionals. Andrew Chamlin, formerly director of marketing at Pfizer, will serve as vice president of its pharmaceutical practice. Daniel Goldberg, MD, previously medical account director at Bestmed, will be account director. And Amy West joins as senior account manager after a stint as director of the Shire account at Roska Direct.

Paul Buta is chief operating officer at Optas. He can be reached at
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Tina Jacobs is product marketing director at Optas. She can be reached at
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