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Trigger Emails for Healthcare Marketing


Pharmaceutical Executive

This post highlights the benefits of a new IT favorite for healthcare marketing, trigger emails.

Trigger emails. They’re #hcmktg’s (health care marketing) new IT thing. And, they are part of more and more media plans. Here’s why they matter and four ways to use them best.


What’s old?

Fewer people go to fewer websites. When docs do visit sites, 65% of them block ads. Ask media buying firm, Compas. Besides, DMD states that 40% of pharma website traffic comes from bots. My math is lousy, but 65% plus 40% is more than 100%. Does that leave any real people? I kid.

Math aside, you need to reach people where they are. Think of it as the Amazon effect. Delivery. Warren Buffet calls delivery, “A great, great, great competitive force.”

Today’s best brands are personal. Ever buy something from Dollar Shave Club or look forward to your next Birchbox? They know you and treat you like you’re-well, you. It starts with data. So, that’s why you invested all the time and money in CRM.


What’s new?

If executed right, triggers are more than email. It’s one-to-one delivery marketing. Delivery elevates your story like retargeting. You’re emailing so you’re not waiting for people to show up. And, your CRM drives it so its personal.

Okay, so out with the old… well, not so fast. The old models still work. They just need to be updated. After all, Amazon wasn’t retail’s first big scale delivery business. Sears beat them to it. And, even they weren’t first. Jeff Bezos (America’s richest person), perfected delivery for today.


What to do

A great trigger program doesn’t change what has always worked. Here’s how to use today’s media and for today’s customer.

1. Be relevant. The story you send needs to relate to what someone read (or did). That’s the trigger part. Find an action relevant to you. This is where a lot of folks miss the mark. Ok, I read about immuno-oncology. Don’t just send me your phase III study from the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Did I read about patient identification, new treatments options, safety, … what? Have a stable of things you can send me.

2. Be fresh. 75% of all pharma emails to HCPs contain product information. Well, that explains the low open rates. DRG says clinicians want “fresh” content. Mainly, they want real science from reputable journals. Bring them that. Add to that your patient education, tidbits from your resource centers, or upcoming events. Fresh goes beyond content. Tether things to more actions. Go beyond a media partner. Deliver stories as a follow up to a rep visit. Send stories when your KOL post things on Twitter.

3. Be personal. The best partners share key insights. For example, we can tell what causes someone to act. Was it a national KOL? One of their peers? The science? Some buzz? A major event? Or something else? We call these motivators. When you know what motivates each person, you can take your delivery marketing to the next level.

You’re running a dinner meeting in Tucson. Dr. Spencer is speaking. She’s a regional KOL. Deliver that news in a unique way to each clinician. Doctor A cares about KOLs, tell him Dr. Spencer is speaking. Doctor B cares about her peers, tell her who already RSVP’d. A brand we know well, raised email open rates by 75% when they knew and used “motivators.”

4. Be voluminous. Content drives social media and search. That’s why platforms like Facebook and Google (yes, platforms) cozy up to publishers. All publishers-not just a few.

Content also drives your trigger marketing. There’s lots of it out there. Don’t stick to a single source. Consider your delivery program a platform. Bring in as much content as you can. Sort it. Curate it. Let people peruse it. As they do, you will learn what motivates them. As they act, you can trigger.

2018 is the year of the trigger; next year will be the year we all deliver.


Charles Benaiah is CEO at watzan. He can be reached at charles@watzan.com


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