Trigger-Based Email Automation: How to Engage with HCPs at the Right Place at the Right Time

February 20, 2024
Alissa Lopez

Across all the channels a marketer can use to reach healthcare providers, email offers a rare opportunity for direct messaging throughout the omnichannel health journey. Compared to other channels, email provides more significant opportunities for personalized communication and relationship-building — which is vital to healthcare brands where trust plays an essential role in decision-making. In fact, email is the most-used direct marketing channel in the U.S., leveraged by 82% of marketers, and healthcare ranks third of 18 industries in click-to-open rates. 

Integrating email throughout your omnichannel programmatic strategy as a personalized follow-up to brand engagement with media or web pages paves the path for better journey orchestration. This is especially true since behavior in one channel can often inform the next best action in another. With email as part of an HCP marketing strategy, campaigns become more effective, omnichannel engagement improves, and better health journey orchestration can optimize outcomes. 

However, not all email marketing is created equally. It’s pretty easy for brands to misfire a well-intended communication if they’re not targeting the people with whom it would resonate. Standard bulk email sends that rely on cold outreach are baked in historical relevance and don’t consider any recent engagement or intent signals. 

Getting HCP email marketing right means weaving it into a broader omnichannel programmatic strategy, in which marketers identify and target only those HCPs who’ve shown interest via other channels. This requires the ability to automate email marketing engagement with a personalized follow-up based on the targeted user’s actions in another channel—otherwise known as trigger-based email.

What is trigger-based email automation and its benefits?

Activating email marketing automation based on triggers breaks through the digital noise. It reinforces vital brand messages seen on programmatic display, video, and audio ads throughout an HCP’s omnichannel health journey. Timely and personalized, trigger email automation is superior to standard email activation in several ways.

When you automate email based on triggers, messages only go to actively engaged HCPs who have shown interest via other media. In other words, they create warm outreach opportunities, not cold like standard emails, increasing the chances that the target user will take the desired action. These emails are delivered automatically when a user—known or unknown to an NPI list—meets specific conditions (triggers) based on real-time interests as signaled by their digital interactions. This means that instead of relying on historical behavior that might now be outdated, trigger-based emails consider real-time relevance.

Trigger emails auto-optimize an HCP’s brand journey, eliminating unnecessary workflow steps, lengthy post-campaign reporting timelines, and months-long delays in re-engagement opportunities. With standard email strategy, brands wait 30 days on average from media campaign activation to get engagement metrics, set up another NPI list of the media-engaged HCPs, and then create email campaigns relevant to their interests. With trigger email automation, on the other hand, brands can auto-send personalized emails the moment an HCP engages with brand media, reaching relevant HCPs within minutes of showing interest. 

Triggered email marketing automation also enables next-best action follow-up alongside existing campaign delivery efforts. For instance, an HCP might click on your brand’s “How to treat” website page. You could then automatically send a personalized follow-up email with treatment guidelines content. Depending on the action they take after the email, you could re-engage the HCP programmatically with personalized audio, including more information on treatment guidelines. This unified approach to campaign strategy on programmatic and direct marketing channels enhances omnichannel campaign engagement and the HCP’s corresponding journey with your brand. 

Some of the engagement metrics that indicate your trigger email marketing automation is resonating with your target audience include:

  • Total opens/clicks
  • Unique NPIs reached
  • Delivery rate
  • Emails sent
  • Unsubscribed

In addition, you can better segment and target HCP audiences for more effective trigger-based campaigns by understanding their digital engagement triggers—such as the content/messaging they engage with, time of day, and behavioral changes to activate on other channels. This can, in turn, help improve conversion rates among HCPs.

What to consider when selecting a trigger-based email automation solution 

Executing email marketing automation requires the right tool to enable integration with programmatic marketing efforts while providing various use cases for engaging HCPs. When researching trigger email automation solutions, these are the most critical features to evaluate:

  • Behavioral-based audience segmentation: Does the tool provide you with insight into your target audience’s behaviors, such as the content they engage with, the time of day they’re engaging, and any changes in behavior, to leverage for campaign planning?
  • Omnichannel segmentation: Can you create lookalike audiences based on common characteristics of email engagers to activate on other channels?
  • Retargeting: Can you retarget contacts who open emails but don’t click on the content within them as a personalized nurture stream strategy?
  • Omnichannel measurement/optimization: Does the tool give you cross-channel visibility into the total customer journey to optimize spend and performance across media?
  • Content optimization: Can you A/B test triggers, creative, and messaging performance for high-performing emails vs. ads to optimize your campaigns? 
  • Compliance and privacy: Can you automate emails in compliance with legal and ethical boundaries, something especially pertinent in healthcare?

PulsePoints’ trigger-based email marketing automation solution 

PulsePoint’s trigger-based automated email marketing solution provides several unique benefits to healthcare marketers looking to elevate how they engage with HCPs:

  • Trigger-based emails automatically funnel HCPs through relevant brand messages via email when desired digital engagements occur with PulsePoint media, search ads, or a brand’s website.
  • Users can target HCPs via an NPI list they provide, via Smart Lists, or create a list based on an HCP’s geo-location or specialty, leaning on our Direct Match technology to verify we are reaching the desired individual.
  • Users will receive email reporting results post-campaign launch, including NPI-level insights such as unique NPIs reached, total opens and clicks, delivery rate, emails sent, and unsubscribe rate.
  • Daily, enhanced email reporting metrics are also available via a PulsePoint dashboard to improve email engagement mid-flight vs. post-flight after campaigns end.

Understanding how email engagement affects omnichannel experiences is critical to optimizing the programmatic nurture stream and solidifying your NPI lists’ interest in and relevance to your brand. With the right email marketing automation partner, you can strengthen your omnichannel activation strategy by quickly re-engaging interested HCPs with personalized email and accelerating next-best action follow-up alongside cross-channel media campaigns. Contact us today to launch trigger email automation campaigns with PulsePoint.


What are Trigger-Based Emails?

Trigger email activation automates email sending to HCPs on target NPI lists after they engage with brand media and/or the brand site. On the other hand, standard emails are manually sent on an ad hoc basis to HCPs on target NPI lists, whether or not they have recently engaged with the brand.

Why are Trigger-Based Emails Effective for Engaging HCPs?

Trigger-based emails automatically funnel HCPs through personalized brand messages via email based on their real-time interests signaled by digital interactions with a brand’s website or media. This automated nurture stream maximizes time saved in campaign execution and email delivery to HCPs without waiting 30 days after media campaigns end to re-engage target HCPs via email. Also, it enables next-best action follow-up alongside cross-channel, programmatic media campaigns for better health journey orchestration overall.

What Are the Best Practices for Personalizing Emails to HCPs?

Since trigger emails only go to HCPs who engage with a brand’s website or media, their content should ideally reinforce key brand messages seen throughout their brand journey. For example, if an HCP clicks on media about brand efficacy, a follow-up email with brand trial results could bring that engaged and interested HCP closer to consideration. Brands should define which messages to tell and when as part of a larger brand story that spans omnichannel campaigns.

What Are the Most Common Triggers for HCP Email Campaigns?

In healthcare advertising, the most common triggers in HCP email campaigns are

  1. Exposed to media, including frequency control
  2. Clicks on media, including frequency control
  3. Clicks search ad, including custom URLs and custom keywords contained or not in a user query
  4. Visit a brand’s page, including # of exposed page views and custom URLs visited or ignored
How Can I Measure the Success of My Trigger-Based Email Campaigns?

Post-campaign launch, marketers will receive trigger email reporting on metrics like unique NPIs reached, total opens and clicks, delivery rate, emails sent, and unsubscribes.

Daily, enhanced email reporting metrics are also available via a PulsePoint dashboard to improve campaign engagement mid-flight vs post-flight. Enhanced metrics include:

  1. CTR Heatmap Engagement by the Day/Hour, Exposure Frequency, and Campaign/Line Item Breakdown
  2. Engagement Reporting Heatmaps by Audience Attributes (age, gender, geo, and specialty)
  3. Email reach by Profession and Specialty
  4. Exposed HCP Cross-channel Measurement
Can Trigger-Based Emails Integrate with Other Marketing Channels?

Triggered email activation offers a rare opportunity for direct messaging throughout an HCP’s omnichannel health journey, where email breaks through the noise and reinforces vital brand messages seen on display, video, and audio ads throughout their brand journey. Understanding how email engagement affects these multi-channel experiences is critical to optimizing the programmatic nurture stream where solidifying HCP interest in and relevance to the brand is strengthened by trigger-based emails.

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