A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

How Personal Can Your eNewsletters Be Without Sacrificing Privacy?

Posted by | 3:31am on Saturday, December 6, 2008

It makes sense that any way you can make your enewsletter more relevant, useful, or personal to the recipient increases the odds that they will open and click through. 

Person at computerPersonalization of enewsletters has been a popular technique for years among online marketers. But does this tactic change when the marketer is affiliated with pharma or the healthcare industry? How personal can healthcare eMarketers be without sacrificing the email recipient’s privacy?

It makes sense that any way you can make your enewsletter more relevant, useful, or personal to the recipient increases the odds that they will open and click through. MediaPost says “Personalization is one of the greatest ways to leverage the email channel, which is unique in its ability to address individual recipients.”

The most important considerations when determining the level of personalization are:

  1. What information is most relevant to my readers?
  2. How can I best be of service to them?
  3. What else do I know about my audience?

Personalization Positives

Use of a first name hints that you’ve dealt with the sender in the past and if they have self-selected their areas of interest, the content is likely to be very useful. (A secondary benefit would be stripping out all of the information that isn’t then relevant)

For most online marketing situations use of a first name is considered positive. ExactTarget has quantified the benefits of email personalization for their clients.

When Personalization Goes Bad

In the previous example, personalization suggests previous interaction and provides beneficial information. However, if the personal information was extraneous, unwarranted, or haphazardly used, people lose faith in the sender and become concerned about their privacy.

Health Care In Particular

There are no studies that directly compare personalized versus un-personalized email response to a strictly healthcare-focused campaign.

Feelings on this issue may be changing. ClickZ reports that consumers are becoming more accustomed to personalization at the loss of some privacy. But health care is always a more sensitive subject and one you’d be wise to navigate carefully.

Here are a few suggestions to guide personalization efforts:

  1. Don’t collect what you won’t use. Sign-up forms are long enough as it is. If you’re never going to need a potential email recipient’s street address, just omit it. (You’re likely to increase your sign-ups by eliminating unnecessary field too.)
  2. Only use information that benefits the email recipient. Tell people what they want to hear about, not what you as a marketer want to tell them. If their personal information doesn’t have a direct and beneficial effect on the recipient, don’t use it.
  3. When in doubt, play it safe. Even the most active social networks are still concerned about their online privacy. Err on the side of caution.
  4. Know your audience. The better you know your target audience, the easier it will be to determine if and when to use personalization in email campaigns. Every group is different, but knowing your audience will be a great help.

Personalization is a great email tool, but privacy is still a concern, especially in the healthcare industry. I’d love to hear your successes or learning opportunities in regards to personalization. Have you found it particularly helpful? Or did you overstep and need to back-track? Please share in the comments section below.

(Image courtesy of Louise Roach via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

Siren Interactive
  • Siren Interactive
  • Rare Disease Relationship Marketing Experts
  • 626 West Jackson Blvd, Suite 100
  • Chicago, IL 60661
  • 312.204.6700
  • 866.502.6714 (Toll Free)
  • www.sireninteractive.com