Interest in the Inbox
The Who, What and When of Email Engagement
If you go to your inbox right now, you’ll probably find a multitude of emails that you never plan to open or read. Promotional emails can pile up quickly if you aren’t a meticulous inbox cleaner. We may subscribe to email lists and quickly forget when or why we did so, ignoring or deleting a company’s email communications for weeks, months or years before eventually ending the subscription for good.
How do we keep our medical marketing emails from getting glossed over or promptly deleted? We need to directly target the subscribers who are most interested in what we have to say and provide them with relevant, interesting medical content. Email engagement hinges on frequently providing valuable information, but the quality of your content and the intervals at which you send it won’t matter if you’re targeting the wrong people.
Most medical email marketing programs are plagued by a horde of subscribers who never open a single email. Often, these inactive subscribers stay on mailing lists for years without engaging your email program at all, letting your messages pile up in their inboxes without a click or care in the world.
This may seem harmless, but ISPs are increasingly using engagement metrics to determine the deliverability of an email. Research has shown that only 81 percent of permissioned email now makes it to the inbox—the rest either goes to junk mail or remains undelivered. Poor management of your list or high levels of inactivity among subscribers will contribute to a reduction in deliverability, ultimately reducing the effectiveness of your email program.
This means that those inactive subscribers are essentially dead weight and may be preventing you from reaching more active subscribers. Though determining inactivity will depend on the nature of your individual practice and subscribers, it is generally a good idea to cut off inactive subscribers after about 1.5 to 2 years, while some companies choose to do so within as little as 6 months. By quickly identifying inactive subscribers, you can make attempts to reengage them, taking one more shot at making them active subscribers before removing them from the list.
Your overall list size should be secondary to your ability to deliver interesting content to your most engaged subscribers. Removing inactive subscribers will help you focus more time and attention on active subscribers while also ensuring that your emails reach their inboxes. Though it might seem beneficial to keep your list as long as possible, subscribers who remain inactive for long stretches of time offer significantly less value to your medical practice than those who actually open your email and read what you have to say.
Frequency vs. Value
One of the primary reasons given for unsubscribing from an email list is communication frequency. If subscribers receive multiple emails from you each month with little value, they’re likely to unsubscribe and even more likely to delete or ignore your communications. However, the key here really comes down to that one little word: value.
If your emails are low quality or irrelevant, they will have inherently limited value, and sending them more frequently will only irritate your clients. On the other hand, if you consistently deliver interesting and well-constructed emails, your clients will genuinely enjoy reading them and happily continue to engage with you if sent more.
The rule of frequency boils down to simple logic: if you have something worth saying to your subscribers, say it! You certainly don’t want to flood your subscribers’ inboxes every day, but sending email too infrequently may imply that you don’t have much to talk about.
The reality is that frequency is a relatively minor consideration for engaging email marketing. Frequency of emails is consistently trumped by their value and relevance. It’s a balancing act between quality and quantity—high-quality emails will make a high-quantity email program more effective and vice versa.
A medical email newsletter program can be a big help in marketing your medical practice, but will be very limited in its effectiveness if you don’t sufficiently engage your subscribers. Though the most effective way to keep readers interested is to give them stimulating and pertinent content, it’s also very important to take a look at who you’re sending your emails to and how often. Focus your email engagement on frequently providing interesting information to your most active and invested subscribers for the best results.