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Email's All That


Pharmaceutical Executive

This article discusses email marketing opportunities through the lens of 1999's dramatic comedy, She's All That.

In my day, back to school meant telling the class “What I did this summer.” This summer I watched She’s All That with my tween-age nephews. As Rachel Leigh Cook, playing Laney Boggs, came down the stairs in that red dress, all I could think about was…email marketing. Here’s why.

For the unfamiliar, She’s All That is Pygmalion for millennials. The school’s IT girl dumps her Mr. Perfect boyfriend, played by Freddie Prinze Jr. His mean teammate bets him he can’t turn a (very carefully picked) school nerd into the prom queen.

You know the story. The nerd girl wears glasses and a potato sack. One 12-second makeover later and-BAM. She’s All That.

Dang it. She’d been there the whole time. Incredibly, the whole student body missed it. For years.

Email, right?

For years, marketers fawned over the supposed IT girl-ads.
They got distracted with the totes crazy guy, played by Matthew Lillard-ad tech.
The solid one was always there-email.

Many reports show email outperforms all other non-personal channels in B2B. The Digitally Savvy HCP report found emails are 4x more effective than ads for HCPs. At only twice the cost, they are 2x better.

There’s a fundamental reason why email marketing works. People go to fewer sites and visit them less often. Most people only use a handful of apps.


The QB always get the girl.

The sad part is, we know how this story ends. The cool guy transforms and, then, ends up with the girl. Regular guys (like me) never get the girl. Why? Because we follow the cool crowd, and never lead it. Ultimately missing out.

Tech’s cool crowd is on the west coast. They do stuff we knew would work. They just make it “safe” for us to think it’s cool. Seattle in particular is rehabbing email.

Jeff Bezos’ TheWashington Post is targeting the Inbox too-using Amazon’s tech no less.

Last year, they built Paloma. It’s a newsletter delivery platform. Before you say, “Newsletter,” roll your eyes, and yawn-wait. It uses Amazon’s Simple Email Service (SES) to customize newsletters.

“Newsletters are a key way to connect with our readers, and it’s imperative that we’re creating the best experience for them to engage with our content via email,” said WaPo engineering director, Siva Ghatti.

Notice he said, “Create experiences to get customers to engage.” In fact, his emails are so engaging he talks about increasing frequency. “Offering personalization options like prioritizing delivery for the most engaged readers of a particular newsletter.”

By January, WaPo made newsletters central to their growth strategy. Why? Because, newsletters ranked among their highest subscription conversion programs.

This is our chance! (Okay, at least in pharma). We can see how this works everywhere else. We can transform our own email.

An analytics leads for an oncology brand at one big pharma company (read, regular guy) told us, “We send each doctor 500 emails per year. We have two versions. We alternate from A to B and back again. Our brand thinks emails don’t work. Fact is we don’t evolve our story or personalize it. And, we are doomed to fail.”

This is his chance to take Laney Boggs to the prom. Change up your email. Introduce the new-newsletter.


The new-newsletter.

Personalize email like TheWashington Post.

Then, insert native content.

This is the plan of Seattle’s big tech company, Microsoft’s LinkedIn. Because, as they explained, even with a network of 500 million professionals, people may not come back during a campaign.

Email is proactive. You don’t need to (and can’t afford to) wait for visitors. And, in email, you can speak to your customer.

Peter Houston wrote about this a few months ago in a Pharm Exec article. Email is the last un-channeled channel. Platforms dominate all channels. Email is the Wild West. It is (for now) controlled by the user.

When you think about it, email is delivery marketing. Core to Amazon’s success-but with content. They know what you want, personalize it, and deliver it. They let you stay on your couch and consume without any effort. And, really, that’s what marketing is all about.

This is your Freddie Prinze Jr. moment. Email’s All That.

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