Is There Any Way Left To Reach Patients?

Email Echoes

By Hillary Kuhl

As patients rely less on physicians as their ultimate information resource, their treatment decision-making has increased in complexity. Inspire’s most recent Annual Survey found almost a quarter of patients making treatment decisions alone, nearly 70 percent making treatment decisions in collaboration with their physicians and only nine percent leaving the decision to their doctor. Patient involvement in their care has dramatically increased: patients talk about treatment options at least every other doctor visit and almost half said they initiate discussions about new treatment options.1 While doing their own research online and in social forums like Inspire, scrutiny over side effects and treatment costs compete for attention with appointment scheduling and remembering to take medications.

Ultimately patient empowerment adds more steps to achieving the pharmaceutical industry’s commercial fulfillment goal: filling a prescription.

Relationship Gap

A shift has occurred in the sales process: increased prescriptions and sales means building relationships not only with physicians but also with patients. Here the pharmaceutical industry has a gap. Although 94% of Inspire members are on prescription medications, almost 40% don’t know the pharmaceutical companies making those medications and only 15% felt they had a “relationship” (positive or negative) with the pharmaceutical company that makes their medications.1

Emails are a regular part of membership on Inspire

In the cacophony of information alternatives, room for relationship-building exists in a surprising place—email. Email is still one of the best ways to reach your target audience in a natural and personal way. And email is still used frequently. According to Campaign Monitor, more than 50 percent of U.S. respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day.2 According to Salesforce, 90 percent of consumers check their email every day.3

Emails are a regular part of membership on Inspire. Members expect emails from Inspire and actually become concerned if they have not received an Inspire email in a few days. An example of how members feel about their Inspire emails is reflected in this posting, “I so enjoy them each morning over my coffee.”

Inspire members receive two types of emails. Targeted emails are emails sent from Inspire but purchased by clients who want to build closer relationships with patients. Activity summaries (discussed recently in “Engaging Emails Meet the Mark: Fostering Relationships”) provide members with information about their communities: who has posted and responded to their postings, important topics discussed and friend requests they may have received. There is space available for content from pharmaceutical companies, either as sponsored content (native advertising) or as banners.4

Targeted Emails

Targeted emails do well with Inspire members. Compared to Campaign Monitor’s industry average of 17.9 percent with a click-through rate of 2.97 percent,2 the average open rates of the best targeted emails on Inspire average 21 percent with a click-through rate average of 6.2 percent.

These best performing emails offer new resources for treatment options, answer questions patients have about a particular condition, contain inspiring stories from people living with advanced cancer or other life-threatening diseases, or are comprised of narratives about caregivers or patients searching for answers and finding them. Content that works well provides information to help patients make decisions or help them follow through on their decisions. And a real patient is best at relating this information.

Email Echoes

Echoing emails add more opportunities for outreach and sharing. Membership in our communities grows daily so adding email echoes late in the year can capture new members and others who may not have seen the first email. For example, a recent email sent to 3270 members which had 781 opens was echoed to 2789 members-an increase of 300 new members seeing the email for the first time.

With this echo, there were 1032 unique opens of the email and 120 click-throughs. In the end, the “effective unique open rate” of the email and echo was 29 percent with a 12 percent click-through rate. Doing email echoes provides people – who get a lot of emails – another opportunity to see, open and click-through.

Email echoes also provide a chance to make easy changes to an email to enhance the likelihood of opens and click-throughs. These include using both a clickable masthead image and a call-to-action button which is easy to see and early in the copy. Another way to increase the likelihood of opens by Inspire members is making the subject line a question, as opposed to a statement.

There are still opportunities to create direct relationships with patients, but success depends on more than choosing the right message. It also takes choosing the right place, time, and the right voice to give that message. Getting a well-thought-out email to the right patient is surprisingly effective.

Download the case study, “Download the case study, “Researching Treatment Options in Online Community Forums and Healthcare Decision-making””

treatment options
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Inspire offers a trusted community to patients and caregivers.  Our goal with this blog, this website and our content is to provide the life science industry access to the true, authentic patient voice.  In so doing, we support faithful operationalization of patient-centricity.  Take a look at our case studies, eBooks and news outlet coverage.