You may be missing the proverbial marketing boat by not including fax in your marketing mix when communicating to healthcare professionals and their office staff. Faxing still works, and your audience wants them.
Why do we select the tactics we do?
Historical performance, logic, and strategic context go into creating campaigns for clients. Consideration for the audience, message and product are well thought out when determining the number of responses expected to be generated by a call to action (CTA). The pool of standard non-personal promotion tactics very often includes direct mail (DM), email (EM), outbound telemarketing (OBTM), and Web. Each of these is expected to deliver a benchmark response, which answers the question of why we select the tactics we select.
What’s up with the fax?
One tactic that is very often overlooked or forgotten when defining the tactic mix by strategists and account teams alike is fax. Yes, I said fax.
Patented in 1843 and mainstreamed when machine prices dropped in the 1980s, fax was once a powerful office tool allowing users to exchange information and documents instantly.* (*OK, maybe not instantly, but definitely faster than by using snail-mail). Its popularity over time has faded with increased competition from Internet-based alternatives. Fax machines, however, still retain some advantages, particularly when transmitting sensitive material which, if sent over the Internet unencrypted, may be subject to interception. Additionally, because electronic signatures on contracts are not always recognized by law, and faxed contracts with copies of signatures are, fax machines continue to be supported in business.
Now, let’s consider one of our audiences—healthcare professionals (HCPs). HCPs are a prime audience for communicating with via fax since their offices continue to exchange sensitive patient information. According to the 2012 National Physicians Survey (NPS), of the 1,190 U.S. practitioners representing more than 75 medical specialties,1 nearly 63% said faxing remains a popular method of peer-to-peer communication, second only to the telephone at 95%. “Knowing is half the battle,” right? So, if we know this audience’s preference, wouldn’t it make sense to “fish where the fish are”?
Sure, we can fax it to you
The Marketing Analytics & Consulting team at Ogilvy Healthworld has put fax communication to the test as a communication tactic for several of our clients’ campaigns and have garnered significant results. One campaign we developed and implemented a few years ago included all of the tactics mentioned above (DM, EM, OBTM, Web and fax) designed with calls to the HCP office as the main driver of the campaign. During conversations between the outbound contact center and the HCP office staff, the top request we heard was, “Do you have information you can fax me?” or “Can you fax something to me I can share with the doctor?” With a target list of approximately 22,000 HCPs, fax was requested by the HCP office staff and sent over approximately 250,000 times over the life of the campaign.
Other than the sheer quantity of faxes that may be requested and sent throughout the course of a campaign, what response rates can be expected from a faxed communication? Responses and results of a fax tactic will vary, but the message and CTA included in the fax is what will help lead to greater responses. A current pilot being executed by our team includes a targeted list of only 2,000 HCPs. The fax designed for this campaign includes pertinent information about the program that is being introduced, such as the 800 number to reach a program representative for questions or follow-up, and the program URL. It also contains the CTA, which is the same CTA contained in the DM, EM and Web experience. Results show that the CTA responses are fulfilled via fax 62% of the time, followed by Web (24%), DM (13%) and EM (1%).
In short, if your target audience includes healthcare professionals and/or their offices, and you’re interested in getting a boost out of your campaign, your team should consider including a simple fax into the communication mix. Creating and deploying faxes is relatively inexpensive and can deliver better results than you may expect when administered properly.
1. 2012 National Physicians Survey, Sharecare and the little blue book, July 2012. http://www.sharecare.com/static/national_physicians_survey
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please allow 24 hours for response.