busy IT leader checking email on her computer while talking on the phoneAlthough social media is ubiquitous these days, email marketing still reigns supreme. Do a quick web search for “email marketing statistics” and you’ll get powerful numbers like:

But even with this effective marketing channel, digital health and health tech companies face stiff competition when marketing to information technology (IT) leaders like chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs). A Global Market Insights report published in June 2020 showed that the digital health market grew to $106 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow more than 28% through 2026. While this industry had already experienced significant growth in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to give it an extra boost as digital health technology adoption rates rose.

With this staggering industry growth, how can you make sure your marketing messages actually reach the decision-makers? Keeping a few essential points in mind will help your emails reach the eyes of CIOs and CTOs, rather than their trash folders.

Remember the busy role of IT leaders

IT leaders are not sitting around at their desks all day looking for work to do. They’re busy providing product and infrastructure support, managing teams and finding ways to grow and improve technology operations at their organization.

Chad Tamplin, CTO Private Health News

Keep this in mind when you’re marketing to CIOs and CTOs. They don’t have a lot of time — especially for lengthy emails or campaigns that don’t target their pain points.

“I get a ton of emails every day — there are work-related messages and then a lot of people trying to sell me services and products,” says Chad Tamplin, chief technology officer for Private Health News. “It’s a hard task for someone like me to take time with every message when I’m wearing many hats and have a lot on my plate.”

Tips for marketing to CIOs with email

While IT leaders like CIOs and CTOs may have complex jobs, those jobs don’t necessarily dictate complex emails. They’re probably looking for just the opposite.

In addition to getting a CTO perspective from Tamplin, we also tapped WriterGirl associate, Erin Grelak, to learn more about how to craft these B2B emails. Along with her healthcare experience, Grelak has been creating email campaigns for years and had a few valuable nuggets of wisdom to share.

1. Start with a killer subject line

Both Tamplin and Grelak agreed that a well-crafted subject line is the most critical part of an email campaign.

“If you want to catch my eye with an email, you have to grab me with the subject line,” Tamplin says. “A lot of times I don’t get past that.”

Erin Grelak, WriterGirl Associate

Busy IT leaders need a good reason to open an email, so you need to make subject lines short and compelling. Make sure you’re teasing the value of opening the email.

“That subject line is the one chance you get to make it feel like, ‘if you don’t open this, you’re missing out on something really special,” Grelak says. “What value is this email going to bring to you or your business?”

One way to drive a high open rate is to use a compelling statistic. For example, “Save 30% on your storage infrastructure cost.”

Or, target the reader’s emotions with a compelling question: “Is your organization losing money on outdated infrastructure?”

2. Remember that preview text

If you have a strong subject line, you should also have strong preview text to support it. The preview text is the snippet that comes after the subject line in a recipient’s inbox. Most email marketing platforms will prompt you to include preview text when using a template or drag-and-drop editor, but you can also code them into the HTML of the email.

In many cases, you’ll see something like, “Click here to view this email in your browser.” But that’s not very compelling, is it?

Although it’s a small space, those few words may be the extra oomph you need to get an IT leader to open your email. Use the space wisely. List critical information the reader needs to know or try using verbs to encourage the reader to click. For example:

Subject line: Is your hospital losing money on outdated infrastructure?

Preview text: Learn how you can prevent costly infrastructure mistakes.

In the example below, the sender (HLTH) used the preview text to include essential details about an upcoming webinar.

An example of preview text from HLTH promoting an upcoming webinar.

3. Target a specific audience

Crafting a quality email takes time. You don’t want to waste it on the wrong audience! Make sure your message is speaking to the needs and pain points of your recipients.

“For me to engage with an email, it has to target me,” Tamplin says. “Not all CTOs and companies are the same — the marketer should know what our industry is and what our product is.”

List segmentation can be a powerful part of your email marketing strategy — use it whenever possible. Instead of consistently sending mass emails, try creating specific messages for parts of your audience or customer base.

For example, a recipient clicks on an email with a white paper about the latest trends in telemedicine. That recipient may also be interested in a follow-up case study showing how a health system used a telemedicine platform to grow patient volume.

4. Avoid jargon

Although you may be writing for an executive or C-suite audience, you don’t need to amp up your vocabulary to impress them. Instead, use plain language. Clear, easy-to-understand messages are more likely to benefit your campaign.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive or someone with a Ph.D., you don’t want to read an email loaded with industry jargon and complex words,” Grelak says. “These leaders already have hundreds of emails to sort through, and many of them are already filled with technical or complicated content.”

Tamplin agrees. He recalled a recent email he received that was loaded with jargon and acronyms that muddled the marketing message. It didn’t take long for him to hit “delete.”

“Sometimes marketers spend so much time talking about their product, they forget how to effectively explain the product’s purpose and value,” Tamplin says.

5. Keep it concise and easy to scan

After you’ve earned an open, how can you make sure the CIO or CTO reads your email content? The secret is in keeping the content concise and scannable. Remember: These leaders don’t have a ton of time to spend on a long-winded email.

“Once I open the email, I want to understand the problem they are proposing to solve and how they will solve it,” Tamplin says. “I need short paragraphs and bullet points that highlight the solution quickly and clearly.”

In addition to bullet lists and concise writing, Grelak also recommends using bold font to highlight key points and statistics. This can help improve the email’s scan-ability.

6. Appeal to the emotions

Although B2B and B2C emails may have different audiences, they both need to target emotions to be successful. What is the pain point your recipient is feeling on a day-to-day basis, and how will your product or service alleviate that pain? This should be at the core of your email marketing message.

“There’s still an emotional core you’re appealing to — you just need to figure out what that emotion is,” Grelak says. “Show how you’re going to ease their mind or provide an answer to something that’s burdening them.”

It’s also important to present your solution clearly in the email, Tamplin says.

“I won’t have time to go to your website and search what your solution is or how it’s going to help me,” he adds. “Tell me how you’re going to solve the problem up-front.”

If you want to expand on your service’s value, or provide more supporting data, that’s where a case study or white paper can come into play. These are essential elements in many B2B emails, Grelak says, but you have to target those emotions and highlight the value to encourage a click on that case study.

These supporting resources can be especially helpful in B2B emails because the products and services are usually more of an investment than what’s marketed in a B2C email. The recipient isn’t just considering a piece of clothing or a new lunch special — they’re looking at something that could potentially cost thousands of dollars and a large chunk of their budget.

7. Don’t forget your CTA

Every email should drive some kind of action, such as:

  • Read a case study or blog
  • Download a white paper
  • Sign up for a service or newsletter
  • Schedule a sales call

Whatever you decide the call-to-action (CTA) should be, try to only have one in your email. Listing multiple CTAs (download this case study, read a blog AND contact me to schedule a call!) can confuse your message and the recipient. Aim for one, clear outcome with each email.

8. Test, test and test again

Even with all of this advice, there are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to your B2B email marketing campaign. Every audience is different, which is why you should make A/B testing a part of your email routine.

For example, personalization may be a tactic that could help your open rates or click-through rates (CTR). You could try putting the person’s first name in the subject line to see if that boosts engagement:

Robert, is your hospital losing money?

Personalization may work for some audiences, but not others. Only testing will tell.

There are many elements you can test in an email, here are just a few ideas:

  • Subject lines
  • CTAs
  • Buttons (different colors, styles or copy)
  • Images (no image vs. image, .GIF vs. static image, etc.)
  • Timing of the send
  • Layout of the email
  • Length of the email

Whatever you decide to test, it will help you learn more about your audience and allow you to hone your email message to meet their preferences.

Reach more CIOs and CTOs with your email marketing campaigns

If you’re marketing to CIOs or CTOs in the healthcare space, try not to get caught up in their titles. The fundamental principles of email marketing still apply: know your audience, use plain language and target the recipient’s emotional core.

One last thing to keep in mind when targeting these IT leaders — they’re very aware of email phishing attacks and won’t click on just any CTA.

“What gets me to click? A compelling solution that’s targeted specifically to me,” Tamplin says. “There are so many email phishing attacks out there now, so I need to be careful about what I’m clicking on — it needs to address my company’s needs and pain points.”

Don’t tackle your next email campaign alone. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, WriterGirl is ready to jump in and help with your email marketing strategy and development. Drop us a line to learn more about our services.