Life Science Email Marketing Best Practices on a Limited Budget

life science email marketing

Email marketing is almost as old as the internet itself, and it’s just as relevant to modern businesses.


To be in possession of someone’s email (especially when they want you to have it), means you have a direct line to their mind.


Every economically active demographic uses email. Despite every kind of challenge you can think of (from instant messaging, social media, etc), email is still top dog for online communication.


Think people want marketers to leave their inbox alone? Research form Statista shows, as of July 2017, 86% of American email users actively wanted to receive promotional emails from companies they know at least monthly. 15% wanted to get promotions daily.


As for how well it works, according to the DMA, between 2016 and 2017 market-wide email marketing ROI increased from an estimated £30.03 for every £1 spent to £32.28. Not only does it work, it’s getting increasingly profitable.


Email seems to be here to stay, so it’s never too late to get started!


The 4 Crucial Factors of Email Marketing


An effective email marketing system has a few crucial components:

  1. Building your list
  2. Getting your emails opened
  3. Leading your subscribers to take action
  4. Tracking the results


For a more in-depth tutorial on how to build your email list as a life science company, check out our article on how to use your white paper to gain emails.


The bare minimum of list-building is to include an email collection form on your website that is visible in key places.


I’ll assume for now, though, that you already have a list or that you have a partnership with someone who has a list that is relevant to your business.


The next hurdle is to get your email opened.


Have Subscribers “Tear” Open Your Email with Anticipation


Cast your mind back to the last time you went through your inbox.


In fact, why not take a minute or two to open your email and clear some of it out.


Unless you have an unusually fascinating inbox, you’ll find yourself getting into a ruthless mindset when you clear it out. When you’re in that mindset, what is necessary to pull you out of your rampage and open an email?


You’ll find two factors have the most impact:

  1. Who sent it
  2. The subject line


Long-term, the best way to secure healthy open rates is to provide consistent value to your subscribers. If you deliver every time, just the fact that an email comes from you and not a competitor becomes enough to get it opened.


To get that trust rolling (and to keep it rolling) you need solid subject lines.


The only goal of the subject line is to demonstrate that the email is worth their time in as few characters as possible. The amount of space varies from device to device, but a rough estimate for mobile is 35 characters for the subject line and 45 characters for the first words of the email. On a 13 inch laptop display, you get about 110 characters in both the subject line and the first words of the email.


Inspire The Action You Want After They Open Your Email


Once your subject line and reputation has convinced someone to gamble the next few seconds of their life on your email, you have much more control of their experience. From the design to the copy to the “ask”, it should all be as smooth and positive as you can make it.


Effective Copywriting in Email Marketing


If the goal of your email as for the reader to take an action, mention the benefit of taking that action in the first paragraph, without yet involving them.


For example, let’s say your audience contains research professors and you want to market teaching materials to help them save time and increase the success of their students. If the CTA (call to action) of the email is “Grab Our Free Sample Course on [X]”, you might start it off as, “Most people absorb information best through visual material than the written word, even for voracious readers.” From there, you can go on to educate the reader on methods of helping students by giving them access to video resources they can refer to while they put together their coursework.


As long as all the copy is interesting and helpful in its own right, the reader’s attention is more likely to stay with you until you convey your offer as a natural suggestion, as something that will help them achieve the aspirations you have inspired in them throughout the email.


Warm Up Your Audience with “Nurturing” Emails


You can build up trust in your readers quickly with emails that provide pure “value-add” content without asking for anything in return. Get your list used to these sorts of emails before you ask them for anything and you will have built up a lot of trust and reciprocity.


When people go through their email inbox, they’re usually in a ruthless mood. They want to clear it out as much as possible. Having trust built up will help block the knee-jerk instinct to archive the non-essential when they see your name. However, even interesting content is less of a priority than urgent messages.


To help keep even more people engaged, include a shortcut button to “Pocket”, an app that allows you to save articles for later. Add Pocket to your email or the articles linked to your email and you’ll increase the chances of keeping the attention of everyone who’s excited to see what you have to say but doesn’t currently have the time.

The bottom-line is, build a relationship with your subscribers through your emails. Earn their trust gradually, and everything else you try to do with email becomes easier.


Build a Promotional System That Improves Over Time


The only way to get better results over time is to deliver consistent, enjoyable, attractive, interesting, and relevant content to your list, as well as tracking the metrics that matter.


We’ve covered why nurturing your audience with emails where you only give value and ask for nothing in return. The reason why that works is that your readers begin to associate your “from:address” with pleasure.


Another important aspect to “training” your readers to open your emails is consistency. So what about the back-end processes that will keep your mailing consistent and collect the data necessary for ongoing improvements?


Use an editorial calendar to set up your promotions and nurture emails in advance, giving you plenty of time to make sure they’re to a high standard as well.


Persuasive Design in Email


Once upon a time, the common wisdom in digital marketing circles was to make your emails look like they came from a friend, to be pure plain text, apart from the odd hyperlink or use of italics.


The market has changed over time. People are no longer “tricked” by such games. They know your email was not written just for them. They know that the “Hey, Daniel!” at the top was populated by software, not by a keen and caring human being.


These days, you’re likely to get better results from a nicely designed email.


As with most email marketing questions, look to your own behavior before you take my word for it. Of your favorite emails coming from organisations, what are some common design elements they share?


One great example of good email design is Evernote, a leading note-taking application. They would put out both longer, newsletter-style emails that curated and organised content for the reader, as well as more focused emails which aimed at inspiring a specific action. I was often impressed by the pleasant moving image they used to start off their emails, which could be as simple as stitching three images together into one .gif file, as in the example below. The point is, the movement catches the eye and earns you a few more seconds of attention. Their brand-consistency, too,  was always impeccable.


If your emails are interesting, well-designed and consistent with your brand, the positive associations your emails created in their minds will now carry over to all other interactions with your brand, from your website to a conference stall.


Apply the Magic Touch


When we take our clients’ lackluster messages and transform them into exciting and engaging emails, we don’t overdo it. Too many brush strokes ruin a painting, and too much tweaking can ruin an otherwise persuasive email promotion. We take our thousands of hours of combined email marketing experience and funnel it into this work. Sometimes a few stray words can throw off the flow of the opening paragraph and lose a percentage of people, or turn a winning subject line into a flop. Keep track of the results of your email marketing efforts and over time you’ll develop a sense for what works and what doesn’t for your audience.


If you’d like to borrow our list, we offer eblast services. With an eblast, you can send an email promotion to the Labiotech list (a list of subscribers who are already well-nurtured and decidedly interested in life-science subjects and news). Naturally, we’ll check your email and make suggestions based on our experience before sending out to our list, too. If you’re interested, arrange a call with our friendly team.


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