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Email Marketing Goes Social

Posted by | 4:08pm on Friday, June 5, 2009

there were five essential components to integrating social and email marketing that every pharma marketer should adopt 

Katie Mihelich, VP Account Services at Siren Interactive, contributes this post:

As we have discussed previously, there are risks and rewards to social media in health care. With more and more patients and caregivers seeking information online and creating their own online support groups through social networks, pharma has been challenged to figure out how to participate within the regulations without jeopardizing trust.

At last week’s Online Marketing Summit (OMS) in Chicago we revisited how the Internet has changed the way we market and manage our brands.

While the gamut of key metrics and online solutions were presented, the one thing that bubbled to the top for me and that was most relevant to the rare and chronic disease industry was the steady growth in email marketing, and how social marketing and email marketing are converging.

  • In 2008, 33% of online users were monthly users of social networks
  • Social network users are, on average, connected to between 150 and 200 friends
  • 40% of email participants use social sites to gather product information and recommendations

As predicted, most of the companies and vendors represented at OMS were focused on retail marketing with little interest in health care. While our friends in retail have the liberty to engage and participate in social media more freely than we do in pharma, that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to play.

After a full day of sessions, there were five essential components to integrating social and email marketing that every pharma marketer should adopt:

  1. Create valuable information worth sharing – Are your messages relevant and considered valuable information worth sharing with other patients and caregivers, or better yet, their healthcare provider? Make sure they pass the ‘so what?’ test.
  2. Make it easy to share - We’ve seen the adoption of ShareThis within websites, but why not add it to your email messages? The email message is controlled and regulatory-approved. In place of Forward to a Friend, that may only reach one or two friends, sharing this with their networks has the possibility to reach multiple friends at an exponential rate.
  3. Monitor and listen – Are you effectively listening to your patients’ and healthcare providers’ needs and behaviors? In order to create valuable information and resources worth sharing, you have to be listening. Be sure you’re actively monitoring and listening to online discussions and conversations that your patients and caregivers are participating in online.
  4. Identify and appreciate your key influencers – Wouldn’t it be great to know who in your database is actively spreading your message? Once you’ve identified who they are, customize a message to them and nurture that relationship appropriately.
  5. Test everything and make it measurable – Now, don’t just take this application and add it to any old email! Assuming you’ve passed the ‘shareworthiness’ test, you also have to make sure you have the proper tracking elements in place in order to test and continually enhance. You can’t manage what you can’t measure!

As you’re planning your 2010 budgets (or even looking for ways to achieve those 2009 objectives), these five components should be headliners in your marketing plans. If done right, the safe and appropriate integration of email and social marketing can help achieve the following objectives (but not limited to):

  • Expand your reach
  • Grow your list
  • Increase brand awareness and/or preference
  • Identify influencers and advocates

So go ahead, ShareThis!

(Image courtesy of derrickkwa via Flickr)

About Katie Mihelich

Honored by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association as a 2007 Rising Star, Katie heads the account services department. She acts as a trusted advisor for Siren’s clients and has developed strong relationships, some of which have lasted for more than ten years. Her strategic leadership and deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry have played a key role in the impressive growth of the agency.

View other posts from Katie

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    08 June 2009 at 6:06pm
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