Posted: October 24, 2017

Healthcare marketers are increasingly focused on leveraging websites, social media, and other platforms as core components of their customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. But traditional email marketing remains one of the best options for reaching customers directly.

While email often takes a back seat to other digital channels these days, it continues to be an effective CRM tool that can help you generate good results. According to the 2017 Email Marketing Report: What's driving today's marketers: 47% of marketers report that email generates the most ROI for their organization, and 58% plan to increase spending on email marketing during the next year.

Integrating traditional and digital channels can facilitate a CRM strategy that leverages the best of both worlds to increase customer engagement and support business growth. Moreover, CRM systems that combine email touchpoints with digital, print, mobile, social, and other traditional channels data, will successfully help healthcare marketers build a single database of all customer interactions and experiences — improving targeting and personalization. This kind of integration paves the way for a seamless healthcare consumer experience.

CRM Building Blocks
Developing a multi-dimensional CRM outreach plan requires strategic planning, a good understanding of your customer, and the right tools to implement a targeted campaign. “While some businesses claim they are doing a good job of joining-up traditional offline data with online, the reality is that most are lacking the know-how and infrastructure to do this properly," notes the eConsultancy report, The Role of CRM in Data-Driven Marketing.

“Even at a basic email trigger level of automation, CRM must be in order," notes the report. “Consequently, marketers are in need of intelligent data on how much a customer is worth to them, and their degree of brand loyalty with the business. In today's multi-channel environment, it's becoming crucial that CRM extends to all online and offline channels, in order to provide that much-needed insight." You need systems that can truly share data back and forth, via API or other connectors, and tracking like unique phone numbers and landing pages for all offline campaigns for true integration.

Maximizing the Potential of Email
While email performs well, the Email Marketing Report says it is not being used to its full potential. “Email works best when marketers use their customer data to power targeted messages," the report notes. But only 12% of marketers surveyed said email marketing is fully integrated with their other marketing systems, while 25% reported that sending personalized email is a challenge for them.

Healthcare marketers need to harness consumer, patient, and administrative data in order to optimize the delivery of customized emails. This is particularly important in order for your message to stand out in a sea of email. According to MarketingProfs, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, which makes it a challenge to compel a prospect to open any marketing message. Moreover, the approximate attention span of the recipient is just eight seconds.

While those stats might seem counter-intuitive to supporting the case for email marketing, the goal is to craft compelling emails that get opened and read. “The more you can say with fewer words, the more your audience takes away," notes the MarketingProfs report. “Content that is clear, concise, and easily understood passes the readability test, ensuring that readers reach your call to action before mentally checking out."

I’ve always used this analogy: think of an email as the store window, its purpose is to be compelling enough to make the prospect stop and pay attention to what you are offering. If you try to put the entire store in the store window, it’s overwhelming for the individual to digest, and the outcome will be that they are likely to ignore your message completely.

Therefore, it is important to note that it takes more than just the basic email best practices to completely optimize an email channel. Relevant content is sometimes the most overlooked element in optimizing your email channel. Though most marketers know they should do this, they are at a loss of how. CRM systems enable you to utilize data to understand your subscribers and better target them based on their personal needs. By doing so, you increase your subscriber’s loyalty and keep them engaged in your newsletters.

CRM Is Evolving
To optimize email campaigns, healthcare marketers also need to consider how healthcare CRM is evolving. The CRM industry is predicted to increase to a $36.5 billion worldwide market by 2017, according to a recent Gartner report. What's driving this growth, according to eConsultancy, is the need for marketers to reach the right customer, at the right time, through the right channel.

What's the best plan to create a winning healthcare marketing email strategy? Keep it simple, test your copy for readability before sending it out, track the results, keep content relevant, and make email part of a well-integrated CRM marketing platform that focuses on optimizing the consumer experience.

Want more insight into how a healthcare CRM integrated with other marketing technology is the key to creating better consumer experiences? Read our white paper, Healthcare Consumer Experience in 2017.