Biotech Networks BD/Marketing Insights: Top 10 Tips We’ve Learned From Sending 1.85 Million Marketing E-mails 📫 a Year

Welcome the new Biotech Networks content series for life science marketing and business development professionals, look and bookmark here for future/all posts. We’ll share tips and trends we’ve learned through our experience helping more than 250 life science companies grow and thrive. We don’t have a catchy name yet, stay tuned!

Biotech Networks sends 1.85 million marketing emails per year to our 45K+ subscribers. Every year more than 500K of our marketing emails are opened and  37K links are clicked. Yes, that’s a lot of sent, opened, and clicked-on emails, and they’re distributed between our Dedicated/3rd Party emails for our clients and our own newsletters. As such, we’ve learned a lot about how to craft emails that deliver (get it?) and we’re sharing our knowledge with you. To begin with, we’re starting with top 10 tips for the nuts and bolts/basics of sending a successful email, and we will tackle more strategic considerations later. Of course, we value our clients’ confidentiality for our dedicated e-mail blasts, and no specific details about client email or statistics will be shared, only general trends.

Biotech Networks’ Top 10 Tactical Tips for Sending High-Performing Marketing Emails

  1. Segment your contact list, or plan to. If you’re a marketer at a larger company, segmenting of your contacts and email content is a given, as your emails are sent to subscribers with different product interests, geographies etc.. If you work at a smaller company, you may not be segmenting your contacts yet, and you should consider whether you should. As you grow  your product offerings and your contact list, you need to create separate contact lists depending on customer product interests and geographies. Of course, sending content relevant to a user’s needs will increase open and click through rates. We say to be cautious about segmenting at first because it doesn’t make much sense to send marketing emails to less than 1,000 contacts (in general), and so you should be able to group them all into one list at first. Contact segmenting is an ongoing process and can be based on interest forms, sales/technical service communications, and even email clicks.
  2. Send on Wednesdays for the best open rate. According to our data over the past year, see image below, the best days to send in order: Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday, Friday. We normally advise against sending on a Monday unless it is completely necessary, for example to send a reminder for a Monday or Tuesday event or when the 1st of the month falls between Saturday and Monday for monthly newsletters. You can boost your open rate up to 32% (Wednesday vs. Monday) by sending on Wednesday. For Biotech Networks’ 45K subscribers, this would mean that around 3,700 more emails will be opened by choosing a Wednesday over a Monday!

    Figure Caption: Graph of the open rates for 77 Biotech Networks marketing emails sent from March 2023 to March 2024 by day of the work week.

  3. Avoid spam triggers. Several words, such as “free,” “new,” words in all caps, or exclamation points, can be a spam trigger in the subject line or in any part of an email text. We marketers can get very excited about our products and may include too much language to convey this, and we need to remember that spam filters can be very stringent these days. Use a spam checker before you send that overly ebullient email, we know you’re excited about your products and services! As an extreme analogy, think of real estate listings filled with all caps and exclamation points—even a little over-enthusiasm can be a red flag for humans and anti-spam software alike.

    Figure Caption: Heat map showing email recipient clicks (pink circles) on a marketing e-mail Biotech Networks sent recently. Notice how many recipients click on the top image, but not on the call to action button at the bottom. Make sure you ALWAYS include your “main link” near the top of the email, and link all images.
  4. Put your most important link as close as you can to the top of the email. For all of our e-mail blasts, we have the ability to generate a “heat map” image of where users clicked, see figure at right for an example using an email we sent over the past year. You can see that the clicks are near the top, and the button at the bottom is largely ignored. While the clicks on these heatmaps aren’t easy for us to quantitate, we can tell you that after looking at 100’s of them, one thing is crystal clear: the majority of user clicks are in the top 10-20% of the email. If we don’t link the top image, we don’t know if the users would click again, but it’s an experiment we don’t want to do!
  5. Give scientists data & planning content links. A bit contrary to the last item is that we see that life science email recipients will “seek out” content that catches their eye, such as a hot conference topic, abstracts or an agenda they can pore over, or news/job postings. We have been somewhat surprised to see in our monthly newsletter data that links to news and jobs in our Pennsylvania/NY/NJ hub are consistently the top clicked links, even though we have fewer subscribers in that region and the link is somewhat “buried” 75% down the length of the email. For this point, and the preceding one, we’d say that the best strategy is to hedge your bets on email links: be sure your #1 link is near the top, and offer as many links as you can to information-rich resources. You’ll not only get potential leads, you’ll also see what content appeals to your audience (and you can also segment your contacts as suggested in point #1 here).
  6. Make the most of your images with links & alt text. Along these lines, be sure that every image in your email has a clickable link. Link every image to the relevant page, if possible (e.g., speaker head shot to their talk), or to the main link, to maximize your click through rate. You never know what image might catch someone’s eye, and as a user it’s irritating when you click and nothing happens. Additionally, some email programs don’t show images by default, but they will show the “alt” or alternative text, which is usually clickable. If you don’t know how to add, just ask the your IT/web team to help, and of course Google is your friend for html coding help.
  7. Track clicks using UTM codes. UTM codes are text strings added to the end of a link so that clicks on the link can be tracked using Google Analytics. UTM codes will allow you to track how many clicks you received on each link, even if your email provider doesn’t send you the email statistics (we always do, by the way). In addition, you’ll be able to generate better attribution metrics to understand what tactics are performing best. Read this UTM code explainer and you can also use this tool to generate them. It may be tempting to shorten a long URL with a UTM code into a bit.ly link, for example, but we suggest against that as some link shorteners are blocked by mail software or organizations’ IT software.
  8. Carefully craft and test your subject lines. Sometimes in the rush to get email copy finished in time to send, the importance of a compelling subject line can be overlooked, when it is a key factor in improving open rates. There are online guides available to help you write great subject lines, and note that even the subject line length affects open rates. We have not yet tried using artificial intelligence to write subject lines, but it would surely be worth a try. Some email platforms such as Constant Contact can also do A/B testing of subject lines so that you can pick the best option. While this is more time consuming as the tests run for a minimum of 8 hours, it can certainly be worthwhile. You may be wondering why we’re not suggesting personalization in subject lines or in general? It’s because they can be problematic with large contact lists, as names can be entered with prefixes (Dr.) or in all caps, and it’s best shy away from any tactic which can go horribly wrong. We’ve all received the apology emails after a wrong name has been inserted in an email, and it can do a lot of damage to your brand perception.
  9. Include email preview text. Email preview or “teaser” text is shown in some email inboxes after the subject line, and it’s an additional place to grab the reader’s attention. When sending our newsletters, we often use it for “overflow” or secondary information that’s in the message. If you don’t send the preview text, email software will show the first text in the email, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be redundant with subject line and you want to make sure you maximize every opportunity to get your email opened.
  10. Consider emojis 🧬 in subject lines for inbox visibility. We’ve saved the “fun” item for last in this list. If you look through your own email inbox, you’ll noticed that some emails stand out more than others because they have emojis in them. You may think that there are only a few life science emojis you could use, such as DNA, a test tube, a scientist, and you’ll quickly run out, but you can be more creative here. Use the calendar 📅or ticket 🎟️ emoji for events, a rocket 🚀 for a product launch, a clock ⏰ for a time-sensitive opportunity, a celebration 🎉 for a milestone reached… you get the picture. Here’s a tip: you have a recent version of Microsoft Windows, hold down the windows key and the period key and you’ll get an emoji menu (I’m sure Mac users have a shortcut too). Of course, in using emojis you want to stay within your brand guidelines, and you don’t want to get carried away, but why not try it? You can always try a A/B test with and without the emoji to see if it improves your open rate.

Biotech Networks offers a Dedicated/Third Party E-mail Blast service for life science marketers, view current availability and you can secure a spot by clicking here. Feel free to use this guide to maximize all your e-mail marketing as well, and let us know if you do any A/B testing etc., we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.  If you’re not yet sending marketing emails, we can help you out, check out our custom/marketing services. We’ll be sharing more life science BD/marketing tips on the Biotech Networks media kit page Resources Section and we’ll post a way to sign up soon, stay tuned!

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