Here are proven methods to set your content apart from the myriad messages vying for physicians’ attention.
Whether your goals involve recruiting, marketing to physicians for referrals or strengthening physician relationships, follow these best practices for connecting with one of the most sought-after—and fiercely hard to reach—healthcare audiences.
Email is the preferred means of initial communication.
According to the 2020 Health Care Providers Communications Survey of physicians across multiple practice areas, email is the preferred channel by a large margin (see chart).
When compared to professional conferences, in-person visits, direct mail and other channels, email is the primary communication method for receiving industry news, product updates, announcements or research, and educational opportunities. The least preferred channels for receiving this information are SMS/text messages/phone (2%) and social media/fax (1%).
Pro Tip: When engaging physicians (or any audience) via email, it's important to measure the performance of each deployment and identify elements that can be optimized. We recommend A/B testing subject lines for the impact on open rate and article topics and calls to action for the impact on click rate. To illustrate the advantages of testing, True North Custom was able to help a children's hospital achieve an email open rate that blew industry averages out of the water by leveraging this data-driven approach.
Content should be educational.
According to the HealthLink Dimensions survey, “medical professionals prefer marketers to act as information partners.” This includes content about innovative techniques and technology, continuing medical education opportunities, and other topics that offer value and help them effectively manage and grow their practices and medical careers.
Pro Tip: Physicians trust credible news sources (think JAMA, New York Times), so find ways to align your content with timely, relevant topics featured within those information sources where they're already consuming content (aka newsjacking).
Content must be mobile-friendly.
It's simple: Physicians are constantly on their smartphones — with more than 75 percent reporting the use of mobile health in their practices on a weekly basis.
Pro Tip: Consider using video as one of the most engaging and mobile-friendly formats, and feature peers rather than patients as physicians prefer a more clinical perspective when reading about new treatments and technology.
Speak their language.
When marketing to physicians, it is critically important to understand their clinical or academic focus and target them using the terminology that matches their specific discipline. "Context is king," according to MediaPost.
Pro Tip: When working to engage physicians, segment the audience by specific practice areas like electrophysiology or interventional cardiology and plan content accordingly.
Always think, “What’s in it for them?”
Make sure your outreach includes a compelling offer or call to action, which could include downloading a free white paper, signing up for a relevant e-newsletter or another incentive that align with their professional interests.
Pro Tip: Subscribing to your physician-focused newsletter is an excellent call to action, as it allows doctors to stay current on relevant medical topics while keeping your organization top of mind to drive referral and reputation development. For example, a nationally ranked children's hospital leveraged targeted physician emails to increase reputation scores that helped boost U.S. News & World Report rankings.
NOTE: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for freshness.
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