The Coffey Blog

Healthcare email marketing: Take a deeper dive into your data

Posted on: Monday, November 26, 2018

By Melissa Welling, Editor

Healthcare marketers are often expected to be data-crunching geniuses—deriving meaningful marketing strategy from a mountain of analytics.

When it comes to healthcare e-newsletters, how do you harness the power of big data without sinking under its weight?

It's not the most glamorous of skills, but knowing how to manipulate that data in a spreadsheet can give you valuable insights into the most effective editorial strategies, design choices and promotional tactics for your audience.

So embrace your inner number nerd and get started with these steps.

5 steps to setting up an e-newsletter strategy spreadsheet

1. Take a broad view. For the most meaning, don't just look at one email at a time. Create a spreadsheet where you can track and compare all your e-newsletter content over time.

At the minimum, you'll want to list the release date and title of each article, ad or other link. But consider getting more descriptive. For instance, content type and position can be useful data points to sort by.

2. Now get strategic. What questions would help you refine your story angles and content strategy?

Adding more descriptive data points will help lay the groundwork to answer them. For example, say you want to know:

  • What headline techniques are most effective for talking about colds and the flu? Assign a topic to each article so that you can find similar content easily.
  • What's the best way to drive traffic to my oncology service line? Tie each article to a service line or other business category.
  • Is it more effective to put high-priority content in the subject line or an ad? You already have a "content type" column that will help you zero in on ads. Now add a column where you can flag content that appears in the subject line.

3. Pick a percentage. Decide which metrics you'll use to judge the effectiveness of your content.

A word of advice here: Don't rely solely on raw numbers like unique views or clicks. They are useful. But it's best to translate them into a percentage—for example:

  • Unique Clicks ÷ Unique Opens.
  • Unique Clicks ÷ Total Emails Sent.
  • Unique CTA Clicks ÷ Unique Story Clicks.

Why bother? Percentages allow you to compare content from different emails—accounting for different audience sizes—without getting a skewed sense of their value. It gives you an apples-to-apples comparison. For example, in the chart below, you can see that even though October's ADHD article had more clicks than November's calorie article, ADHD captured a smaller percentage of the overall traffic. That's useful insight.

You or your data team may be able to import these numbers directly to Excel from your reporting software. And at that point, you'll already have enough info to start identifying your most effective content overall—simply by sorting a column from highest to lowest, as shown above. But why stop there?

4. Work some math magic. Excel makes it possible to calculate averages of any metric in your spreadsheet while filtering for any type of criteria you want to consider.

Want to know the average click-to-open rate for blood pressure articles? Or compare the average clicks on main features vs. ads? AVERAGEIFS functions are your best friends here.

They let you pick a metric you want to average, as well as any filters to apply to that data. Like the example below, you can set up a separate tab in your spreadsheet where you identify averages for different content types, topics, categories or any other criteria you established in your main spreadsheet. The formulas take a little time and care to set up, but you only need to set them up once. After that, the averages automatically update as you enter new content into your spreadsheet.

5. Find healthcare marketing gold. Now as you evaluate e-newsletter performance or plan new content, you can turn to your spreadsheet for enlightening context.

For example, maybe a cardiology article performed better than you expected based on past averages. You can compare it to previous cardiology content and identify what might have accounted for its higher engagement—factors such as the specific angle, headline/teasers, position and content type.

That arms you with insights for your future content plans. If you do this consistently, you'll learn what tends to resonate most with your audience—and pick up strategies you can then apply to other topics and channels.

Tapped for time? Coffey can help.

Our number-crunching analytics experts can help mine your data for strategic gems. Give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us to talk about how we can help.

Related reading

Your questions answered: What metrics should I use to track the success of my healthcare e-newsletter?
6 ways to boost your e-newsletter subscriber numbers
6 steps to write better subject lines for your healthcare e-newsletter