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Using Email to Ignite Pharma Audience Engagement

It’s deceptively simple to boost digital pharma marketing ROI by using email strategically

By Marc Benjamin


I continue to be surprised when pharma marketers neglect opportunities to test and measure ROI across digital channels, especially while ignoring or glossing over a proven winner like email. According to eMarketer, 33% of US marketing professionals still do not know which marketing channels have the greatest impact on revenue. The study also finds that B2B marketers consider email to be the top channel for generating measurable ROI, while B2C marketers hold email second only paid search. While it’s easy to dismiss this as outmoded thinking given the explosion of audience touchpoints via social news feeds and mobile platforms, the truth is that email marketing is not going away as a reliable ROI contributor, and pharma should embrace it to help bolster their sales forecast for years to come.


Targeted pharma campaigns perform best when they address key patient personas, reflecting current attitudes about treatment at various stages of the patient journey. By tracking this information (see here to learn how to easily create a data tracking plan), marketers can craft email content and messaging plans that are tailored precisely to their most important user segments and sequenced to continually move the needle on awareness and education. Here is the unique combination of powerful marketing benefits that email marketing delivers:

  • Ability to message exclusively to users who have expressed intent by opting in to receive specialized information and who have informed their own profiles by providing information on a registration form
  • Long-form creative format is perfectly suited for conversion-ready targets and in-depth dialogue over time
  • Short-form alerts and reminders when new/updated content is available
  • In-depth tracking of the user journey via content-embedded links, images and post-click analysis

Easily measured, email can still deliver top tier results. Open rates, clicks, and post-click engagement hold their own even as new platforms proliferate, especially against specialized, knowledgeable audiences. As with paid search, data gathered from the highly engaged users’ experience brings content and messaging insights that are applicable across all marketing channels. A customer data platform can help businesses gain better judgment for their customer’s needs.

Email is the preferred channel among consumers in every age bracket for receiving requested brand messaging:

Multi Channel Marketing for Pharma Marketers
(Source: The Reality of Multichannel Marketing, Econsultancy report)

According to Manhattan Research, 88% of US physicians regularly read professional email newsletters. 60% of all U.S. Physicians have communicated with patients through digital channels, and emails have been the primary source of their communications.

Email marketing has been a successful core channel for pharmaceutical consumers and health care professionals, finding its place in the inbound toolkit alongside search, contextual and other intent-based channels. While often underutilized, receptive audiences and high rates of return make email marketing a vital component of omnichannel marketing.

Wanting more digital pharma insight? Access my whitepaper for examples of current best practices, case studies, and anecdotes illustrating real-world applications of all 8 principals for digital pharma marketing success:

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