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In Pursuit of Pharma Marketing Excellence: Five Steps to Successful Email Strategy

Every single marketing message has strategy behind it. Whether or not that strategy is strategic or not is ultimately up to the marketer. Previously, I explored revolutionizing your approach to pharma email marketing through relevant content, effective content, and optimizing communication. In the second part of this four-part blog post series, I walked through four steps to utilizing lean process that leads to waste reduction and increased speed to market. Now, it’s time to focus on the strategy that leads to campaign success.

According to eMarketer, more than 65% of email marketers do not have a long-term strategic approach to content planning, creation, and distribution. Additionally, experiences are rarely personalized and therefore not typically relevant to the receiver. As mentioned in my previous blog, the number of departments or agencies involved can impact content speed to market. This can also impact strategy.

An email brief should outline the email’s goals, audience, messaging, timing, key performance indicators, and other important details,” says Litmus’ Chad White.

Here are five steps to a successful strategy brief:

  1. Identify Stage
  2. Define Learning Objective
  3. Decide on Campaign Type
  4. Define Target Audience
  5. Bring the Strategy to Life

Step 1: Identify Your Email Marketing Stage

The static stage is one-to-all campaigns where content is product focused and changes occasionally. This stage has basic segmentation, minimal to no testing, batch campaigns. If your brand is new and you’re looking for a one size fits all message, you might identify with this stage. The rules-based stage uses analytic insights for targeting. You can think of this stage as a simple A/B test utilizing a piece of historical data for segmentation. With the model-based stage, you’re getting savvy with your data, creating scoring models to be used in action-based segmentation. This stage also encompasses multi-channel messages and integrated media which opens the door for more analytics of which channel is most effective for the message and audience. Finally, the automated stage encompasses one-to-one messages that predict customer needs and is fully automated with dynamic content. I like to think of this phase as the ninja stage because your marketing is agile and molds quickly to any need that may arise. The main thing to remember is you must be realistic with your current state and set achievable goals long term.

Step 2: Define Learning Objective

Often in testing we find ourselves wanting to test multiple variables and still achieve measurable results. It’s critical to evaluate business impact and time frame to match your campaign type. Learning objectives should be categorized into short-term and long-term. Short-term objectives include near- term understanding. A short-term objective could include increased engagement on upcoming email deployments. You may be performing a subject line test and looking to understand increased open rate. If you’re in a one-to-some phase, your learning objective may be to understand how one segment performs against the other related to specific creative elements. In the pharma space, your long-term objective may be to see a consumer convert to drug or an HCP begin writing more Rx. 

Step 3: Decide on Campaign Type

One approach is to illustrate campaign type with funnel segmentation. As mentioned in part one, consider segmenting your audience into upper-, mid-, and lower- funnel groups. Those in the upper funnel would receive communication tailored to the brand personality and building awareness. The mid-funnel communication is calibrated to engage consumers with the brand but also lead them to consider conversion. The lower-funnel messages are simplified with a clear call to action to drive conversion. Then, consider your options to customize your message to each group. Perhaps it’s only a subject line or header image but speak to your audience with what you know about them. The lower-funnel segment may be comprised of heavy writers, so get to the point quickly with a direct subject line. Use the same strategy to create a relevant message for each group.

Step 4. Define Target Audience

As you evaluate your targetable audience, breaking them into categories will help you understand who you need to target. A typical audience encompasses prospects, leads, and customers. In the pharma space, prospects are likely consumers who have given information indicating they have symptoms that can be treated by your drug. Leads could be consumers who have expressed interest in learning more about your treatment but are not yet prescribed the drug. Customers are those who are on drug. Looking back at campaign type, your prospects likely fall into the upper funnel, leads in mid and lower funnel, and customers in the lower funnel. Don’t forget to consider how often you’re communicating with those customers. Read about the importance of cadence here.

Step 5. Bring the Strategy to Life

Finally, it’s time to bring your strategy to life. You’ll need a creative brief which details the tools you need to execute. Use each element to develop your customer journey, and don’t forget to track your key performance indicator.  As your campaign moves through the life cycle, keep your brief close and constantly re-evaluate. You’re now on track for operational excellence, the final topic in this three-part series.

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