Transformations in healthcare are impacting physicians, from how they work to where they work. As physicians continue to leave private practice for staff positions and affiliate with hospitals and health systems, it has become clear that the practice of buying a one-off physician email list and sending a one-size-fits-all offer to that list is outdated. 

In today’s world, customization is key. At the same time, healthcare marketers are grappling with the harsh reality that face time with doctors is a rare thing. So how can marketers gain the insights needed to create custom, relevant offers?

Part of the answer is data. Not just any data, but accurate and deep data–data that allows marketers to understand physician attributes and behaviors. Attribute data–information about a physician’s location, area of specialty, hospital affiliation and demographics–is the foundation. If you don’t have this information right, every offer based on it will be a bad offer. Behavioral data is the information you’ve collected over the years, describing a customer’s purchasing patterns: long-time customer versus one-time customer, large purchase versus small purchase, etc. It’s important to gather as much accurate data as you can on both sides.

Once you have the right data, you must harness it. Here are four ways to do that:

Create physician-specific mobile content. Here’s what we know about physicians and technology: they like it and they use it, a lot. Seventy-five percent of physicians own a smartphone, while 55% of physicians use a tablet and a smartphone at work. We also know that they use their mobile devices to access drug information, use clinical reference tools and conduct research. The first rule of marketing is to meet your customers where they are – in this case, on mobile devices.

Get savvy at email segmentation. Segmentation is the secret sauce of customization. When applied to email marketing, it’s what improves open rates and click-through rates and allows you to send relevant offers to targeted customers. While there are a variety of ways to segment, a solid starting point is to segment by specific physician attributes and behaviors. For example, one segment could be physicians affiliated with a particular hospital in a specific location who have made specific purchases in the past.

Develop a physician-focused search strategy. Everyone uses Google, including physicians. A recent Pew study found that 71% of physicians use Google to look for health information. While you may already be optimizing for your brand name and products, it’s also a good idea to research the types of diseases and health conditions that particular physicians and hospitals treat, then optimize for those ancillary keywords as well.

Give them information, not just offers. Doctors are scientists and scientists like information. One tremendous opportunity for marketers is to provide physicians with the research they need to do their job better. This can be a clinical study or even health-related news about patients. Another opportunity is presentation. Since doctors have so little time and static emails are a dime a dozen, try creating self-guided presentations, videos and webcasts.

Traditional tactics of connecting with physicians are quickly becoming obsolete. Still, there are many innovative ways to harness physician data and achieve a level of personalization that not only produces relevant and effective offers, but also strengthens customer relationships. Marketing to physicians today is not just robust data – it’s how you use it.

Sarah Swidron is VP of marketing at Healthcare Data Solutions.