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A Guide to Effective Email Marketing for the Pharma Industry

Pharma industry email marketing

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to create havoc worldwide, the Pharma sector is in a great position to make a real and lasting difference to humanity – and generate a positive reputation for itself. Email marketing is an effective way to do both in a non-intrusive yet personalized way.

In late 2019, the average email open and click-through rates for the Pharma industry were 18.58% and 2.25% respectively. By mid-2020, the open rate was up to 21%, while the click-through rate was 8.94%. In fact, the open rate for Pharma was slightly above the average open rate across all industries. And in 2020, email was the top modality (44% in June, up to 60% in July) for pharma-to-physician communications.

All these numbers clearly indicate that Pharma email marketing works. Period.

Pharma email marketing is a powerful medium for communication, information-sharing, and engagement, particularly if implemented as part of a multichannel marketing approach. But this requires marketers to focus on a few key strategies.

In this guide, we will cover 5 strategies that can empower Pharma companies to deliver value to their audience through email marketing while boosting the value of brands in a post-COVID world.

Why Pharma Companies Need Email Marketing

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have relied on sales reps to initiate contact with physicians and healthcare professionals (HCPs). But lockdowns and social distancing norms due to COVID-19 have reshaped the role of reps and other face-to-face communication. With a well-thought-out, well-designed email marketing campaign, they can share important information with HCPs, and also acknowledge, encourage, and support them with their ongoing frontline efforts.

But the general public is also a wonderful potential audience for pharma email marketing. The pandemic has generated panic, fear, and worry among them. Plus, they are looking for relevant and timely information from credible sources. Email marketing provides a powerful means for disseminating information related to the pandemic, preventive measures, medicines, treatment methods, vaccines, etc., and for delivering humane-centric messaging to raise morale and avoid panic.


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5 Powerful Strategies for Effective Pharma Email Marketing

With email marketing, your Pharma company can reach your audience in an engaging manner and nurture deeper, one-to-one relationships that will endure long after the pandemic is over. 

#1. Personalize every email

Personalization is the key to standing out in the inboxes of a distracted and impatient audience. And this is especially important for the Pharma industry since they also need to get past the avalanche of “fake news” in the wake of COVID-19.

With personalization, each recipient – whether it’s HCPs or consumers – feels as if they are being personally addressed. They also feel like they are talking directly to another human being, which encourages them to open, click-through, and even reply to emails.


What parts of the email can be personalized? Virtually every part!

Today, email personalization can be done very easily with the right Email Service Provider (ESP), even better – an automation platform or CRM. And do remember that personalization does not mean infringing on subscribers’ privacy. Just maintain a balance!

#2. Engage with great content

Too often, Pharma companies send long emails with too much content and/or too many links. Create valuable content so that it fits into the audience’s busy schedule and meets their needs. Address their issues and make it more engaging with visually enticing graphical elements. Also, use relevant headlines for each section, and break up large chunks of text with bulleted lists, infographics, or text boxes.


Create relevant, short, and engaging subject lines that will capture the attention of your recipients, and encourage them to open each email.


If you have already produced content for your website or blog, and know which content resonates with your audience, you can repurpose content for your email campaigns.

Content should promote the brand’s trustworthiness and thought leadership, and coax the reader to connect with it. Wherever appropriate, it should also provide a strong call for action – at least one in every email so the reader knows exactly what is expected of them.


The CTA doesn’t have to be “sales-y”; it could be something as simple as downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar.

Other great content ideas for Pharma emails:

#3. Manage deliverability

Email deliverability is a key success factor for Pharma email marketing. If few recipients actually open your emails or click on links within them, it indicates a deliverability problem which usually happens because the email landed in the recipient’s Spam folder, or because their email address itself is invalid. With poor deliverability, you lose on massive opportunities for subscriber engagement, information-sharing, and brand-building.

While organically creating a list is an important email marketing best practice, subscriber segmentation is a good way to ensure that the right email is sent to the right person. More importantly, when an HCP or patient sees an email that’s relevant to them, they are more likely to open it. Segmentation can also help to “optimize” send times in order to send emails at a time when subscribers are most likely to open them. Some ESPs, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud include a “send time optimization” feature, which can increase email opens and click-throughs.

Good content, interesting subject lines, and high-quality visuals can also help increase deliverability, and so can “real-time” emails, i.e. emails that are personalized based on each opener’s personal context the moment it is opened.

It’s important to ensure that the email does not include any spammy words like “free”, “prize”, or “$$$”. Otherwise, emails will be caught by spam-filtering software and land straight in the recipient’s Spam folder. Try these ideas:

#4. Optimize for mobile

In 2019, mobile was the most popular reading environment, accounting for 42% of all email opens among the general public. Moreover, HCPs are particularly busy individuals, which is why studies have found that 60% of physicians read email primarily on their Smartphones. This is why it’s important for Pharma email campaigns to focus on the mobile experience for both HCPs and the general public.


Here are some tips to create mobile-ready Pharma email templates:

#5. Always do A/B testing before final sends

A/B testing can be a game-changer in current COVID-influenced times. By trying out different templates for your email campaigns, you can bring greater innovation and freshness into your communications and retain the interest of your subscribers.

You can do A/B testing for different elements, including:


You can also test for:

To get the most accurate results, test one element at a time, and as large a sample as possible. Also, follow this robust process:

A final word

The Coronavirus outbreak has escalated the demand for high-quality, relevant, and timely email marketing communications. Pharma companies that invest time and effort into designing and deploying useful emails will see an impact on their brand value, even after the pandemic is over. If you are part of a Pharma company, we hope these five strategies enable you to reshape your brand’s email marketing approach.

At Email Uplers, we have supported numerous premium brands implement memorable email campaigns, and would love to assist you as well. To discuss your project, get in touch with us.

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