1 Guide to Effective MARKETING
2 Online marketing has become an important channel in today s marketplace, as well as a very cost-effective way to strengthen your customer relationships or reach new prospects. It s imperative that strategic guidelines are in place to ensure a successful campaign. As a leading provider of healthcare information, Healthcare Data Solutions (HDS) is dedicated to helping you effectively accomplish your direct marketing goals with our end-to-end service utilizing our database of over 1 million healthcare provider s. And HDS can provide you with the expertise to maximize your multi-channel strategy. In this guide, you ll find the latest information on best practices in marketing to get the most out of your campaigns for greater success. CAN-SPAM Act Compliance On December 16, 2003, President Bush signed into law the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act), which establishes a framework for reducing unsolicited . The law prohibits predatory and abusive commercial practices. is an extremely important and effective means of communication and is used by millions of Americans on a daily basis for personal and commercial purposes. Its convenience and efficiency, however, are increasingly threatened by the rise in spam. Spam currently accounts for over half of all traffic. Today, most spam is fraudulent or deceptive in nature. The growth in spam also imposes significant costs on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), businesses and other organizations, since they can only handle a finite volume of without making further investments in their infrastructure. HDS provides Internet-based products and services to healthcare marketers. Internet users privacy is of the utmost importance to us as we comply with all requirements of the law. We realize that respecting users privacy and adhering to industry-accepted practices are in the best interests of HDS and our clients. All outbound messages clearly disclose the user has agreed to receive thirdparty messages. All the messages sent by HDS include a valid opt-out mechanism. All opt-out requests are processed within 10 business days of receipt. The law requires that all for which the primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a product or service include some basic requirements. There are penalties for non-compliance. We have outlined those requirements along with our suggestions in this guide.
3 BEST PRACTICES & CAMPAIGN REQUIREMENTS FROM LINE - The From line must be the advertiser on all broadcasts. No generic from lines will be accepted. SUBJECT LINE - The subject line should have a direct reference to the advertisement. It should be clear, relevant, honest and not misleading. There is no requirement to include ADV in the subject line. MESSAGE CONTENT - Content should give clear and conspicuous identification that the is an advertisement or solicitation. The message must be honest and not misleading. The advertiser of the is responsible for determining how to indicate that the message is a solicitation (i.e., there is no requirement to include any specific language, such as this is an advertisement ). All messages sent through HDS are subject to review. POSTAL ADDRESS - A valid physical postal address is required in the content of every message. A post-office box or private mailbox can also be used. The physical address must be somewhere that a consumer can physically find the advertiser s business. Postal address must be that of the advertiser. OPT-OUT - The CAN-SPAM Act requires a clear and conspicuous Internet-based mechanism for recipients to request not to receive future advertisements or promotions. Since images don t always render in s, do not place CAN-SPAM mandated information like an opt-out link and address within an image. HDS honors opt out requests within 10 business days of notification and the link is active for a minimum of 30 days. OPT-OUT HYGIENE SERVICE - All advertisers need to maintain accurate and current opt-out lists. All suppression files will be required to be sent to HDS. HDS understands that its customers will need to exclude these records from their marketing campaigns. Previous opt-out addresses can simply be suppressed from an HDS marketing campaign. Should an advertiser decide not to provide opt-out files to HDS, they assume responsibility and liability. OPT-OUT LIST SERVICE - As part of our service, HDS can provide a list of recipients who have elected to opt out from a particular campaign. This allows an advertiser s opt-out file to be accurate and current.
5 HTML Design Requirements (continued) Whenever possible, minimize use of graphics/images in the design to avoid these potential issues: - The more images/graphics there are, the more time it takes for a recipient to download. Potential customers will be lost if they have to wait for images to download in order to read or act on the message. - The higher the ratio of image-to-text area in an HTML, the higher the SPAM score. We recommend no more than 1/3 of the design area be images or graphics, and the rest should be formatted text. All-image s are more likely to be flagged as spam. - Many recipients have images/graphics disabled by default, so they won t see any information that is in the images/graphics. If they have formatted text in the HTML, the recipient can at least read the text part of the HTML if images/graphics are disabled. After being able to read the text and discover what the message is, they will be more likely to enable the images/graphics and act on the offer. - Any text that is part of the image/graphic can be fuzzy or blurry, making it difficult to read. This happens because graphics/images are optimized or compressed to reduce file size and maximize download speed. Use ALT attributes. They are a good backup when images aren t displayed. Keep in mind that not all clients are alike and some either won t display the ALT text, or they will only partially display it. Image captions are more reliable than ALT attributes. If the image is important to your message, you may want to include a caption. According to Worldata Research, s that do not use ALT text for offer-related information have a 14% lower overall click-rate. A plain text version of your is required to mail off the HDS platform. This ensures that people who cannot or choose not to view HTML will still receive your message. It is best to make sure that your text matches your HTML as SPAM filters do look at this when determining whether or not a message is spam. A client-hosted opt out, or address where they can be sent, is required. A valid physical postal address of the business whose product, service or website is being promoted in the (in the message text) needs to be present. PO boxes and private mailboxes can also be used. The FROM name also needs to be for the company whose product, service or website is being promoted. This is a requirement by CAN- SPAM Act.
6 HTML DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS Focus design efforts on areas that can maximize responses and deliverability: Use fonts that are universal on the Internet such as Arial, Verdana, Tahoma or Times New Roman. Any other fonts will resort to a default font if the recipient doesn t have it installed on their computer. Minimize the number of fonts, sizes and colors used in the design for easy flow and a professional look. When possible, avoid using white (#FFFFFF) text. Spammers sometimes use white text on white backgrounds to prevent visibility of some text, so Spam filters may flag usage of white text. Also avoid red text. Your call to action should be above the header or at least within the top 1/3 of the page. If your header is an image it should go below the call to action. Make good use of the pre-header text as it will often show up in a mobile preview. Use a colored background behind a small but important part of the message to distinguish it. Consider a signature graphic to make the appear more personal. Minimize graphics and images to logos, photos of products, or situational photos that support the message visually. Don t rely on graphics and images for the main contents of the message. Those who cannot view images will not be able to see your main message or call to action if it is part of a graphic/image. Keep the length of the short, concise and about one page maximum in length. Newsletters may be longer, but the further details of a message should be left on a hyperlinked web page. Use bullet points to identify key points in the message. Clearly identify what the call to action is that you want the recipient to make to act on your offer. Make the hyperlink prominently displayed and in multiple locations if the purpose is to drive customers to your website and measure results by click-throughs.
7 HTML Design Recommendations (continued) The more links to your site, the better. Do not put url text in your . In order to track the links, we have to redirect to them, meaning the actual link is different than the text in the . This sets off spam filters and may get your message blocked. It is better to use text such as Please visit this site, rather than, Please visit ALWAYS have someone other than you spell-check the copy of your . Most likely, you ve been working on this for a while. A fresh set of eyes is more likely to catch a spelling error. Be consistent with your FROM name and subject lines. Use the same From Name and put the name of your company at the beginning of the subject line. These techniques will increase brand recognition, while reducing the appearance that you are changing your format to elude ISP Spam Filters. A pre-header used for offer information rather than format issue instructions generates an 18% higher open rate.* When in doubt, send your creative to your HDS sales rep for review by the Services Team. They can look over message content, as well as the HTML coding, and offer suggestions.
8 SUBJECT LINE RECOMMENDATIONS General tips: Only offers when mentioned in the subject line generate a 14% higher overall open rate* Including the specific job function of your target audience in subject lines generate a 14% higher overall open rate* (Good thing HDS has specialty information on Providers!) Final and Last are in the top 5 words that improve open rates when used in a subject line* DON T USE ALL CAPS Don t use exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don t bait and switch. Your subject line should match your message. Keep the subject line fewer than 49 characters. Never underestimate the importance of a great subject line. It doesn t matter how amazing your creative is if no one opens the to see it. Most clicked subject line words: Posts Jobs Survey Week s E-newsletter Issue Digest Bulletin Edition Giveaway Tips Video News Monthly Headlines Latest Updates Most abuse-reported subject line words: Confirm Features Upgrade Magic Raffle Requested Rewards Christ Follow-up 10.00% Coupon 15.00% Discount Savings Offer
9 MESSAGE BODY RECOMMENDATIONS General tips: Be sure that the focus is on the benefit to the user in the headline and message. Your should answer What s in it for me? for the recipient within one second. Segment your audience and personalize your message for more targeted campaigns with better results. Message Body - When creating the text of your message, avoid using the following words or phrases: ALL CAPS WORDS OR SENTENCES spam ******** (e.g. as a separator in plain text messages) or % satisfaction 18 years or older a tracking number (visible, not autodetect) act now amazing stuff click to remove Excessive click here links clickhere (no space) consolidate bill credit card debt custom quote dream vacation earn $ marketing fast cash financial freedom free consultation free information free phone free membership free quote future mailing home financing hot video inkjet cartridge interest rates limited time offer lose weight mail is never sent unsolicited money back guarantee mortgage rate no obligation opt-in receive this because receive this mail in error received this because removal information remove in the subject removed from our mailing satisfaction is guaranteed satisfaction guaranteed subject=remove To learn more about end-to-end services from Healthcare Data Solutions, call or visit