4 Best Practices For Healthcare Email Drip Campaigns

What is a drip campaign? A drip campaign is a series of communications that are delivered to your prospect or customer over a period of time, and has a planned cadence with business rules — but is also based on the recipients’ behavior and preferences. 

Unlike a monthly newsletter that is sent out to your list at the same time every week or month, a drip campaign’s deployment hinges on enrollees’ specific actions and timing of taking action. As healthcare marketers we often push planned and canned email blasts to our lists, thinking mostly about us, and what we want to communicate and deliver. If we’re advanced, we segment and personalize. However, the emails are still based on our preferences and ideas, not the enrollees. Drip campaigns differ because they are responsive to the enrollees' needs, preferences and healthcare journey. And responsive, or drip campaigns work – we have seen them deliver three times the engagement compared to email blasts.



1. Craft smart business rules Drip campaigns are comprised of prepared and approved content, however, the delivery of content should be directly dependent on an enrollee’s behavior either within the drip campaign or in their engagement with your message/brand. You can set rules and enable triggers to initiate, alter or pause a series of emails based on user actions. For example, your business rules may specify that if a particular link within the email is clicked, that a new follow-up email will be sent the day after. More sophisticated business rules can include multi-channel deployment as a direct result of real-time enrollee behavior, including serving of ads within Facebook, following up with a call or deployment of a push message. The campaign’s effectiveness is directly related to our ability as marketers to conceive the if/then rules that provide a deeply personalized experience.

2. Segment your list Inherent in the idea of creating customized business rules vs. blasting your message once a month is the idea of segmentation. Think of high-level segments to start with (three is a good number) so that your team can create content that is relevant to each. There are some segments that must be distinct; for example, diagnosed patients vs. undiagnosed. However, a list that is segmented by you into dozens of sub-groups is more prone to configuration errors and misfires, not to mention the added administrative hassles when you want to update your campaign. The idea is to allow your enrollees to organically form their own sub-segments based on real-time behavior and preferences. Watch the data, and you will see new and different segments emerge, then go back to your team and ask whether the results warrant the formation of a new high-level segment.

3. Split test your emails Elements such as headlines, subject lines, images, calls to action, value propositions and body copy can be tested to determine what is most relevant and impactful to your audience. Brands favor quantitative and qualitative market research to get a baseline idea of what will work, but there’s nothing like real in field testing to optimize your offering. However, don’t go overboard on testing multiple elements within one email, as you won’t be able to determine which variable resulted in better response rates. Also, resist the temptation to make small tweaks such as font or button size, all of these elements effect response, and teasing out the winning strategy will be impossible.

4. Track results and optimize often When planned and executed correctly, email drip campaigns are metric driven marketing. Small changes in the message, imagery, subject lines or velocity of your campaign can have a significant impact on engagement and impact. So when planning your campaign, the KPI dashboard is one of the first exercises your team should work on. What are the charts that are going to be important? How often will the team review them? Determine a plan and frequency for optimization. Creating more options for content, subject lines and imagery up front will help you avoid the arduous review process later that inhibits real-time optimization. If the team is able to create a series of results hypotheses, you will have a clearer sense of the content that may be needed to fulfill an optimization strategy post launch.

Marketing with email drip campaigns can significantly improve your target’s depth of knowledge about your brand and gives you the opportunity to customize messages that uniquely appeals to their healthcare journey. Doing so effectively requires that you follow best practices in the creation and maintenance of your campaign.

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