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Buddy Scalera, Vice President, Interactive Content and Market Research Rima Nachshen, Senior Vice President, Director Client Services A strong, well-nurtured list can help brand managers reach their communications goals and manage messaging costs. Respecting your list means respecting the physicians on that list. And that’s just good marketing. For several years, the pharmaceutical industry has struggled with the rising costs of traditional physician recruitment. A trained sales force is expensive to maintain, and direct mail to fax-based recruiting doesn’t work as well as it once did.
Online communication created a new opportunity to reach physician audiences. At one time, digital channels were effective simply because they were novel. We could get someone’s attention with this newfangled “e-mail” thing. But those days are gone. We have to be more strategic about engaging doctors.
As the cost, quality and efficiency of nonpersonal communications have improved significantly, digital recruitment became one of the most effective channels for promotional, educational and market research recruitment. The real challenge becomes how to recruit and retain a solid panel of healthcare professionals (HCPs). And remember, it’s not about hitting them once with one message. Recruitment is about building an ongoing relationship. So how do you effectively recruit HCPs? Below are four key strategies that help create a responsive panel of HCPs.
Key Strategy No. 1: Randomize Your List Often marketers make the mistake of hitting the same subset repeatedly. Instead, break your list into random deciles and select a new subset to e-mail each time. This will keep your list constantly rotating, which will help keep it current and scrubbed. You need to reach a good cross-section of physicians. Often the goal is to reach everyone from busy KOLs to physicians just starting to build their practices. If you contact physicians frequently enough, you will learn the habits of the users on your list. So for quick turnarounds, you’ll know how to reach the physicians who respond fastest. Not only will you keep your physicians happy and engaged, you will provide efficient and insightful results. Key Strategy No. 2: Format for Mobile An exciting technology trend has been how many healthcare professionals are now actively using media-rich mobile devices. More and more, e-mails are read on iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones. But these mobile communications come with new formatting challenges. Stripping out images from an e-mail or a website isn’t really the best solution. Quality recruitment means formatting e-mails, links and other content to better fit on small screens. Key Strategy No. 3: Respect Your List As you engage your physician list, the physician’s level of trust grows. Your list’s value increases when there is an increase in responses to your communications. Resist the urge to abuse your physician list by bombarding them with annoying messages. As others learn about your list, they will suggest creative ways to exploit it for their own needs. With each communication sent, you are entering into an agreement, so it’s vital to be clear with your message. For example, if an engagement (like a survey) takes 10 minutes to complete, don’t say it will only take five minutes. Physicians will click the first time, but after that, the trust is gone. Respect your list. Love it and nurture it because it can be one of the most efficient channels for engaging your target healthcare professionals. Key Strategy No. 4: Know the Rules In our industry, we have important regulations about communicating with our target audiences. There are clear rules around physician compensation for promotional activities. There are also universal e-mail rules. Be sure to follow opt-in guidelines and others outlined in the CAN-SPAM act. Beyond that, there are key communications best practices many marketers seem to forget. We’re left shaking our heads as aggressive marketers bombard healthcare professionals with aggressive and relentless recruitment invites. Not only do these annoying techniques breach basic rules of etiquette, they also hurt honest recruiters who play by the rules. And ultimately, all parties suffer. Getting Started In the end, a strong, well-nurtured list can help brand managers reach their communications goals and manage messaging costs. Respecting your list means respecting the physicians on that list. And that’s just good marketing. n Qi, part of CommonHealth Qi is CommonHealth’s full-service digital agency, which houses and maintains the PeerSight suite of market research solutions, including the proprietary PeerSight panel of physicians. For more information, visit commonhealth.com/qi.