In a recent collaborative webinar, Trella Health’s VP of Marketing Jess Chew sat down with Alexandria Snow, the solution marketing director at SalesLoft, to discuss a few best practices for digital marketing and personalization in post-acute care.
Trella Health is a leading provider of actionable insights for healthcare networks, ACOs, and the post-acute care market. SalesLoft helps thousands of the world’s most successful selling teams drive more revenue. For this conversation, our marketing leaders brought their experience and observations together to share some tips and insights that could help you in your outreach efforts.
Personalization vs. Individualization – and Why it Matters
To understand and apply personalization best practices in your digital marketing strategy, let’s first define what personalization is – and how it differs from individualization. Snow defined personalization as any instance in which “a marketer uses subscriber data to tailor an email to the individual.” In action, this looks like “Hi [First name],” or “I saw that you’re having some bad weather in [City].”
Individualization, on the other hand, is a little bit difference. With individualization, a marketer will tailor the message specifically to the individual that they’re trying to reach. This is a subtle but important distinction. Personalization can almost always be automated with tags and attributes found in your CRM. Individualization is a much more human process. When you individualize a message, you craft it to speak specifically to the recipient and their pains or goals.
Individualization can look like “I heard you’re struggling with standing out against competing facilities even though your hospitalization rate is way lower than your county’s average. So frustrating! Let’s talk about how to fix that.”
The key is to get very targeted with your audience. Segment your lists and get to know the people you’re emailing. Develop a strong sense of what they care about, what they’re struggling with, and how you can help. Then bring that value to your messaging – whether it’s in an email or on an in-person call.
1. Be Deliberate with Your Subject Lines
While personalization can do a lot to increase your open rate and get more engagement with your audience, it can also backfire on you. Your audience knows what spam looks like. And, interestingly, spam often looks like a subject line that starts with “Hi, Jess!” Consider how you feel when you see a message in your inbox from an unknown sender with the subject line “[Name], we have a deal for you!” You know that’s spam, and your audience does too.
Based on SalesLoft’s findings, the best subject lines are between one and four words. They’re short and sweet, and they don’t use automated personalization. “Interestingly enough,” Snow pointed out, “We see higher open and reply rates if the subject line is just ‘hey’ instead of ‘hey, First Name.’”
2. Choose the Right Greetings and Salutations
Based on SalesLoft findings, personalization is most effective when restricted to no more than 20% of the copy in an email. So, for a 100-word email, you want a maximum of 20 words devoted to personalization. The best way to leverage this is typically to limit personalization to your greeting and opening sentences.
You can do this by starting with “Hey First Name” for a casual and friendly opener. If your audience is a little more formal, you can play with using greetings that best fit the tone they expect from you. Snow pointed out here that this is another reason to avoid personalization in the subject line. Opening your message with “Hey Elaine” is a great way to speak directly to Elaine. But, if she sees a subject line with “Hey, Elaine! You won’t want to miss this,” followed by another “Hey Elaine,” Elaine is going to know that message is fake and will delete it immediately.
Once you’ve chosen a good greeting, it’s time to move on to the body copy, where you’ll focus more on individualization than personalization.
3. Include Tailored Personalization in the Body
As we mentioned earlier, personalization should take up no more than 20% of your copy. The first instance should be their name if you have it. For the second, you have an opportunity to refine your message and make it feel more personal to your reader. Think of how you can use personalization to create individualization for your message. Instead of just using their company name or their location, look at the data you have available and find something that will really speak to them.
You want to avoid taking the easy route with personalization that doesn’t add much value. “From personal experience,” Chew said, “I can definitely tell the difference between an email that comes directly to me that’s just referencing my name, title, workplace, and other attributes, versus a message that took a step further and includes something valuable to me and my role.” Your audience can tell the difference, too.
Snow gives examples of the type of personalization that will set you apart from the spam. “What is a message that is specific to your prospect? We call this prospect-created content. Have they recently published a blog? Has the organization or facility recently made an announcement? Is there a holiday you can speak to?” Answer these questions and you’ll be on the right track to send a message that your audience wants to engage with.
The key is to add value whenever possible – especially when you’re personalizing and individualizing your messaging. Include information and context for metrics that matter to your target audience. These could include metrics like:
- Total cost of patient care
- Physician utilization rates
- Top referral destinations
Chew pointed out here, to get the most out of these metrics, include context that tells a better story for your audience. Mentioning that your facility has a 2% readmissions rate is good. Sharing that the county average is 4% sets you apart on an entirely different level.
4. Clarify Next Steps
“When you start writing an email, you should know what you want the outcome to be, ideally,” Chew pointed out, “That means ensuring that you end your email with the right next steps.
Are you making an introduction, or is this a contact you’ve engaged with before? Are you trying to schedule an in-person call or get them to schedule a virtual meeting with you? Be sure to include a clear call-to-action that moves you toward your goal for the message.
When including links, though, be aware of what your message looks like. Snow warned against writing “black-and-blue emails.” Peppering links throughout your text dilutes your message, and it increases the chance that your email will be caught in a spam filter. Instead, keep the copy short and to-the-point. Don’t include a lot of flowery language but do end with a positive, clear message with defined next steps.
5. End with “Best”
Interestingly, SalesLoft has found that ending emails with “Best” instead of “Kind Regards” or other popular signoffs is warmer and more welcoming. It’s a short and sweet way to finish the message without sounding too formal. In general, if you’re emailing a new prospect or anyone that you don’t know well, we recommend using a signoff like this. However, if you’re sending a message to an account that you know very well – and they know that you don’t ordinarily sign your messages this way – you may want to opt for something that feels more comfortable and natural
Next steps: How Will You Personalize your Next Email Campaign?
If all these best practices feel overwhelming, there’s good news. Chew and Snow both emphasize that you don’t have to do it all at once. Instead of changing your entire email marketing strategy, try implementing one or two of these practices on your next email campaign. Test them against your current messaging, find out what works best with your top accounts, and let us know what you find out!
For more on personalization and digital marketing, watch the on-demand webinar.
Trella Health is the leader in market intelligence for the 65+ population, with extensive data sets including Medicare FFS, Medicare Advantage, commercial payers, ACOs, and DCEs. For more insights into how to elevate your digital marketing strategies with personalized metrics your referral partners want, schedule a demo today.