Direct Marketing: An Rx for Medication Non-Adherence

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it.

healthcare marketingCiting a review in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, the New York Times recently reported that people do not take their medication as prescribed. “This lack of adherence is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths, and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations, and to cost the American healthcare system between $100 billion and $289 billion a year.”

This news was not surprising to me. I know from professional experience that many prescriptions are never filled (20 to 30 percent according to the article), and that regardless of the condition for which the medication is prescribed, after three months only about 40 to 50 percent of those prescribed long-term medications are still taking them. I also know from controlled testing that direct marketing techniques can improve patient adherence with medications by 20 to 25 percent.

There are many reasons why people don’t take their medication. Forgetfulness is not significant among them. So medication calendars, special pill bottle caps and refrigerator magnets can have only a marginal effect. Refill reminders from pharmacies and Rx brands are not effective, because the most significant reasons for non-adherence are psychological:

  • Medications remind people that they are sick, or have a medical condition; many people would rather ignore or deny that. They see taking medications as a sign of weakness.
  • Medications are viewed by some as chemicals that are bad for the body in contrast to “natural” remedies, like fish oil or vitamins.
  • Medications for silent conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, don’t make people feel any different. So they see no benefit in taking them.
  • Many times people do not understand why they are taking a particular medication or how long they’re supposed to take it. Doctors do not have the time to adequately explain it. The standard physician visit is scheduled for 15 minutes, and according to another Annals of Internal Medicine study cited by Forbes, “even when in the examination room with patients, doctors were spending only 52.9 percent of the time talking to or examining the patients and 37 percent doing paperwork. In other words, shrink that 15 minutes to under eight minutes.”

Direct-to-patient communications are an effective tool for overcoming these barriers to adherence. Educating patients about how their medication works in simple language can go a long way to helping them realize how and why to take it. The stakes are high, and the stakeholders who stand to benefit most from increased adherence (besides the patients themselves) are insurers, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Each of the stakeholders has their own roadblocks for mounting an effective program, which I’ll explore in a future post.

Is InMail Worth It? 3 Reasons It May Not Be.

Is InMail worth it? LinkedIn wants you to think so. But is it a good investment for you, in your specific situation? Sometimes yes, other times no. Here’s a quick checklist to make a smart assessment that leads to an educated decision. Think twice if you:

Is InMail worth it? LinkedIn wants you to think so. But is it a good investment for you, in your specific situation? Sometimes yes, other times no. Here’s a quick checklist to make a smart assessment that leads to an educated decision. Think twice if you:

  1. have a current email response rate less than 40 percent;
  2. need appointments, calls or demos in the near term;
  3. are using a one-message approach to clients who are happy with the status quo.

In these cases, InMail may not be the best starting point. Make sure you’re asking yourself these questions when deciding to invest in LinkedIn Sales Navigator or buying more InMail messages in general.

What Is InMail?
As of today, InMail comes in two flavors: Sponsored and regular, old-fashioned InMail. For our purposes (as sellers) I will not discuss Sponsored InMail as it’s really a marketing (mass) tool.

InMail is LinkedIn’s way of allowing sellers to break its rules — by paying them. It is against LinkedIn’s Terms and Conditions to request a connection with prospects you don’t already know. Beware: You can be restricted or banned by LinkedIn for requesting connections with prospects you don’t know.

That’s why LinkedIn gives us InMail. This is a “legal” way to reach prospects and attempt to woo them.

What Is Your Current Response Rate?
Do you have an email response rate less than 40 percent? Most reps do. InMail may not be the best starting point for making contact, if so, because InMail is an expensive game.

Don’t have confidence in your ability to use email to earn leads? Be careful with InMail.

When using InMail, you cannot be average. You must be exceptional at messaging. Or you’ll go broke.

Prospecting is a numbers game. So is InMail. Your ROI will be determined by one factor: Ability to get at least half of your prospects to respond. This allows you to recover the cost of that InMail — and re-invest it.

Currently, with InMail, you:

  • receive one InMail credit back for each message receiving a positive or negative response;
  • have 90 days to earn that response; (get the credit back)
  • are able to re-use the money (credit) invested again … and again and again

For example, let’s say you earn a 50 percent response rate on your first batch of 100 InMails sent. Over time (as you use the InMail credits returned to you) you earn a total of 93 credits. Pretty good. You get nearly all of your investment back for re-use.

Send 100 — Get 50 credits

Send those 50 — Get 25 credits

Send those 25 — Get 12 credits

Send those 12 — Get 6 credits

TOTAL Credits “Earned Back” Over Time: 93

Interestingly, you will gain a credit every time a recipient marks your message “Not Interested.” LinkedIn counts that (and all negative responses) as a response. However, you are risk of being banned from using InMail if marked “Not Interested” too often.

Remember: Every time you fail to get a reply your money is wasted — gone. Of course, every time you get a personal “thanks, but not interested” reply from your prospects your money is gone too.

Bottom line: When prospecting, average sellers get declined. Hey, it happens. But prospecting on LinkedIn with InMail demands above average response rates.

Are Near-Term Appointments Priority No. 1?
We all need appointments set right away, of course. But the math outlined above is why cold-calling and standard email may be a better option. InMail may not be smart if you need near-term buyers who are ready to meet with you today.

In other words, think twice about InMail if you need replies that ask for demos or appointments now.

Here’s the rub: Generally, the average sales reps sends email messages asking for too much too fast. They expect positive response from prospects who don’t yet realize they’re buyers. They need time to realize the solution is both needed and a fit.

Thus, beware of using InMail if you:

  • typically meet buyers that don’t yet realize your solution is needed;
  • are average in earning response from prospects; or
  • struggle to identify if prospects are, at the moment, searching for your solution.

In these situations, InMail might be too costly for you. However, if you are strong at earning customers’ response via email — and are good at identifying near-term buyers using social listening or seasonal buying patters — InMail could work well for you.

Overall, don’t over-estimate InMail’s ability to make things happen. InMail is very expensive email. The only way to effectively use InMail to find near-term buyers is to have a means to already be able to:

  • identify buyers who are most likely ready to buy soon
  • earn responses at a 40 percent-plus rate that invite you to discuss an appointment

Are You Using a One-Email Approach to Prospects Who Need Time
Do you send one email in hopes of earning an appointment with customers who are satisfied with the status quo? Do most prospects require time to realize they need what you’re selling? InMail may not be a good fit. Unless, of course, you have the ability to consistently provoke response from customers who are satisfied with their current situation — but willing to talk with you.

In many cases, I see reps using a single email approach when courting prospects who need more time to recognize they have a problem worth acting on. This won’t work. Be careful. Avoid asking for appointments (at all) in a first touch email. But especially avoid it with this kind of customer.

Instead, use a sequence of “short burst” emails. First, give prospects the chance to engage in a short email conversation about their pain, fear or goal. By using a sequenced approach you will attract prospects to the idea of talking to you. Literally.

This way you can help the prospect come to the realization you want them to have. That eye-opening moment clients have when realizing they actually do need to change — they suddenly consider escaping the status quo.

The best way to provoke replies from buyers who don’t think they need what you’re selling (but do) is to:

  • plant a seed out doubt that irritates them enough to reply
  • validate an uncertainty or fear in a way they cannot resist acting on
  • prove they may not be doing everything possible to achieve a goal/avoid a risk

InMail Is Not a Short-Cut
Would you like me to tell you what you want to hear — or what you need to know? There are plenty of experts who will tell you InMail is a good investment without giving you all the details. They are happy to tell you what you want to hear.

Pay LinkedIn and get a short-cut to success.

But what you want to hear is only partly true. What you need to know is less palatable but vital to your success.

InMail’s strength is rooted in your strength, not your wallet. The better you are at getting replies that lead to more conversations (that result in leads) the more InMail works to your advantage. Period.

Not familiar with the above techniques? It’s ok. But think twice about InMail if …

1. You are prospecting for clients who need time to realize they have a hidden problem or overlooked opportunity that you can help with;

2. Demos and appointments are priority No. 1 and you don’t have a way to identify prospects who are most likely to be buying in the short term;

3. Your current response rate is less than 40 percent.

LinkedIn’s InMail can be great investment. But be careful. What has your experience been? Please share thoughts in comments. Feel free to disagree with me!

Lights, Camera, Action: Video Helps You Stay in Touch With Customers

One problem that plagues B-to-B sales and marketing is coming up with relevant, timely messages for nurturing customer relationships. A territory-based sales rep may be trying to keep in touch with hundreds of contacts at a time, but struggles to find a steady supply of good-quality reasons to use to reach out—without being a pest. I recently ran across a particularly compelling solution to this problem: Personalized email that links to entertaining, but useful, videos.

One problem that plagues B-to-B sales and marketing is coming up with relevant, timely messages for nurturing customer relationships. A territory-based sales rep may be trying to keep in touch with hundreds of contacts at a time, but struggles to find a steady supply of good-quality reasons to use to reach out—without being a pest. I recently ran across a particularly compelling solution to this problem: Personalized email that links to entertaining, but useful, videos.

Here’s where I ran across this: Glenn Diehl, owner of the New York distributor of Skyline Exhibits, has a team of eight sales people selling custom trade show exhibits and portable displays to marketers and trade show managers in New York City and several northern counties. Diehl came up with a program whereby his reps can send to their contact lists emails embedded with a link to an informative video created by Mike Mraz, a trade show marketing expert with a creative knack for video production.

Mraz was already producing his “Today’s Trade Show Minute” videos every three weeks as a way to promote his own consulting and training services. His arrangement with Diehl includes access to fresh “Minute” videos twice a month, plus a custom landing page with a personal introduction from each rep.

Here’s a sample email (see the first image in the media player to the right) from Skyline rep Al Mercuro, who was the first at SkylineNY to adopt the program and make it part of his regular customer outreach. The cover note is in plain text, inviting customers to have a look at the latest “Minute” video.

Customers who click through find themselves at Mercuro’s dedicated landing page, which includes his friendly face, a short message, the “Today’s Trade Show Minute” video and a call to action (see the second image in the media player to the right).

There are three reasons why I like this program:

  1. The content is fresh, lively and relevant to both the recipient and the sales objective of the vendor. The videos deliver a useful trade show success tip in only 60 seconds.
  2. Outsourcing the video content to a third party like Mike Mraz ensures an ongoing supply of new material for Skyline’s customer communications. The relentless challenge of creating new content is one of the most common impediments (PDF) to long-term communications success for B-to-B marketers.
  3. The program is managed by marketing, but goes out over the name of the sales rep, providing tangible help in relationship building with the rep’s key contacts.

I learned from Skyline’s sales and marketing team leader, Frank Cavaluzzi, that the program is scheduled for some fine tuning this year. Currently, it’s up the sales reps to take the initiative to send out the email. Cavaluzzi is planning to streamline the process, make it more automated, so it’s a bit easier for both sales and marketing to execute.

How about you? Are you seeing productive new ways to keep in touch with customers and prospects?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now (Part 2)

Direct marketing formulas applied to video sell products, generate leads and raise money for non-profits. The leap to online video is exploding, and if you keep up with what’s hot today, you know it’s video. But too often, the video effort doesn’t bring in responders because of the lack of structure and call-to-actions

Direct marketing formulas applied to video sell products, generate leads and raise money for non-profits. The leap to online video is exploding, and if you keep up with what’s hot today, you know it’s video. But too often, the video effort doesn’t bring in responders because of the lack of structure and call-to-actions that a disciplined direct marketer includes. That’s why, if you’re a direct marketer, video can be profitable for you because you’re not afraid to sell, you know how to test, and you track the analytics.

12 Reasons to Integrate DM and Online Video (Part 2 in a 2-Part Series)
In our last blog post, we outlined the first of six reasons to fuse direct marketing techniques with the reach of online video marketing. We continue today with the final six reasons on the list:

7. Video can go viral. But don’t count on it. Your chances of a video going viral are about like that of getting struck by lightening. A recent example of a successful new product launch for what we as direct marketers would consider a classic DM continuity program is the Dollar Shave Club. You’ve probably heard about it. Thousands of orders, small start-up cost, everything you admire if you’re a marketer. But consider this: a few years ago it was impossible to make money selling a $1 a month (plus S&H) continuity program. The marketing cost was too high. The Deep Dive: With effective online marketing, marketing costs are slashed and you can make money selling a commodity product via a continuity program using a low price point.

8. Use a short video on your website to convince someone to opt-in to the rest of the story in another, more in-depth video delivered immediately. You can set up an intriguing premise, reveal a little of the story, and importantly, you bring people into your sales funnel when you capture an email address. The Deep Dive: if selling your product doesn’t typically happen on impulse, and you must first build trust, you can tell your story over short, strategically sequenced video clips, delivered via email autoresponders over time.

9. You can bring a complicated story to life. Imagine trying to describe the inner workings of your artery and heart using video footage! Suddenly, what was difficult to show in print can be brought to life in a video and the viewer is engaged. Using the opt-in strategy as identified in #8, over a few doses of video, you engage the viewer more so that they salivate at the idea of getting your product. This is a good strategy for selling products that require more explanation. The Deep Dive: Video can shortcut the visualization-and engagement-of a complex concept that words on a page can’t accomplish quickly enough before the reader loses interest. The willing suspension of disbelief can magically transform your viewer to a place unachievable with still photos and words.

10. Video can describe products that appear in a catalog. Catalog-browsing apps on mobile devices are now commonplace, but soon that could be replaced with short videos that can be watched on a tablet. By 2014, it’s predicted that more Internet content will be viewed on mobile devices than desktop/laptops. The Deep Dive: Watch the mobile space and video closely. Convergence of technologies will enable consumers to be entertained while using a mobile device, giving you opportunity to prompt intrigue and build a relationship.

11. Non-profits can save an enormous amount of fundraising cost by moving online and creating compelling video for constituents. Interview people you’ve touched. State your case. Engage. You bring your non-profit to life online and at a fraction of the cost of other media. The Deep Dive: If you’re a non-profit, get your advocates and supporters on video and let them tell your story for you. It’s more credible, and it builds community.

12. Integrate social media with online video and encourage comments, recommendations, and shares. It’s easy to add the feature for people to post their comments and share your video with Facebook plug-ins. Its costs you virtually nothing and is the most powerful way to get your word out. The Deep Dive: you can no longer afford a silo approach to marketing. You must integrate outbound, inbound, social media, search, text, video, desktop, mobile, and so on.

In a future blog, we’re going to illustrate how to convert a successful direct mail letter that has been mailed to millions of consumers, could be converted into a direct marketing video. When that blog appears, you’ll see how using direct response copywriting techniques in video script writing can work. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse together the power of direct marketing with online video. Today we begin with the first 6 reasons.

1. Now is the early stage for the blending of DM disciplines and online video. While DM and video have been around for years, many marketers have yet to blend the methodologies together. The Deep Dive: Early adopters have been using video with streaming words and voice-over, interviews and product demonstrations. But the next stage of successful video uses proven direct marketing copywriting techniques and call-to-action in video script writing, and uses DM design techniques that will move production values to a higher level.

2. Online video use and views are exploding.

  • In just one recent month, 181 million U.S. Internet users watched 43.5 billion videos averaging over 22 hours per viewer.
  • Over 84% of internet users watched an online video.
  • Americans watched over 5.6 billion online video ads. In fact, online video ads are 38% more memorable than TV ads.

The Deep Dive: According to comScore.com, a global source of digital market intelligence, online video viewing was up 43% from Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011 This video is a summary of comScore’s findings about the explosive increases in online video viewing during the past year. (By the way, we’ll show you, in an upcoming post, how you can drastically improve upon their really distracting audio quality for about $30.)

If you’re not incorporating video in your marketing strategy, you’re out-of-date.

3. Consumers’ attention span is shorter than ever, and it’s not likely to increase. People will give you a few seconds to watch a video. Engage them quickly, and they’ll stick with you long enough to get your message across and prompt enough curiosity to check you out more. The Deep Dive: Does this strategy sound a lot like using a compelling teaser on an outer envelope, or a strong subject line in an email? Of course it does! So, set up your video strategy properly by getting the viewer to opt-in to watch more of your future videos.

4. Websites with video are perceived as having higher importance. When you add videos, you attract more in-linking domains than with plain text. The Deep Dive: Video inclusion on your social media or blog posts has been shown to triple inbound linking. The following chart is from a well-respected seomoz.org blog post that goes more deeply into this topic. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1.

5. An inbound marketing strategy may be a challenge for a traditional direct marketer to accept, but video has the power to draw prospective customers to you. The Deep Dive: Video on blogs and posted YouTube can be shared on social media and will draw traffic to you. This is a far more powerful-and less costly-marketing strategy than pushing your unsolicited message using outbound marketing strategies.

6. Online video analytics are amazing. Post your video on YouTube and over time you’ll see not only how many times your video was viewed, but second-by-second you’ll see retention levels and discover at what point you lost your viewer. You’ll see demographic information. You’ll be smarter so much faster that your head will spin. The Deep Dive: If you’re a traditional direct marketer, you surely love numbers. With video, you get a lot of data to crunch that will make you smarter and your selling more effective.

In our next post, we’ll reveal six more reasons why you should fuse direct marketing and video marketing now. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.