17 Apr 2020

We are living in an unprecedented time with tremendous uncertainty. Brands are wondering whether HCPs are overwhelmed and tuning out, if now is the right time to continue brand promotions, and what messaging, if any, is appropriate to deliver in this climate.

As we reported previously, healthcare providers (HCPs) have been particularly engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our open rates have increased 26% since the start of 2020 compared to last year. Click-through-rates (CTR) are either stable or rising.

We decided to do a deep dive on a unique group given the current pandemic: infectious disease doctors. Our data scientists analyzed email open rates and other engagement metrics of members of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) who are recipients of the daily email briefing, Daily News Briefing. To date, we’ve observed behavioral similarities that are on-trend with other physician specialties.

Infectious disease doctors (IDs) are faced with the immense challenge of treating people with COVID-19, while racing to understand the novel coronavirus. At the same time, IDs appear to be leaning in and relying on their daily association news briefing – now more than ever – to stay abreast of the latest updates.

Percentage Point Increase Percent Change
Gross Email Open Rate 10 percentage points 17% increase
Gross CTR (ads only) .02% percentage points 13% increase

Digging deeper, we wondered which specific stories piqued the interest of IDs since the pandemic began. Below is a list of our most engaging headlines this year, all of which were about coronavirus or COVID-19.

  • Researchers Say Coronavirus May Be Viable And Infectious In The Air For Hours And On Surfaces For Days: Reuters
  • Some Experts Call For Federal Government To Control Ventilators So They Can Be Sent To Hospitals That Need Them Most: New York Times
  • Research Suggests Children Typically Only Experience Mild Symptoms From Coronavirus, But They Can Shed The Virus Long After Symptoms Disappear: HealthDay
  • Lucey Discusses Issue With PCR Diagnostic Test For Novel Coronavirus And Other Matters With Testing For The Virus: Science Speaks
  • Dr. Lucey Discusses Preliminary Results From Initial Autopsies Of And Bilateral Lung Transplants For Patients With COVID-19: Science Speaks
  • Modeling Study Predicts Potential Outcomes From Coronavirus Pandemic: CIDRAP
  • Dr. Lucey Discusses New Information Concerning The Origins Of The COVID-19 Pandemic And What Remains Unknown: Science Speaks
  • Dr. Lucey Discusses Diagnosis And Treatment Recommendations From China’s National Health Commission’s Most Recent Official Guidance On Coronavirus: Science Speaks

One trend that caught our eye is that within the top 8 stories, 4 included the name of Dr. Lucey, a noteworthy key opinion leader (KOL) in the field and frequent guest writer on IDSA’s member-authored blog, Science Speaks. While KOLs have always yielded solid engagement, recently they are being relied upon more heavily.

Additionally, we were curious to confirm whether subject lines with “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” were garnering more attention than others among IDs. It turns out the answer is yes. Email subject lines that reference the pandemic have so far received a 9% lift in gross open rates (14% increase).

Finally, in reviewing what type of ads are garnering the most engagement these last few months, COVID-19 resources top the charts, followed by general education resources, such as continuing medical education. This is representative of what we would expect to see normally.

However, beyond that, branded ads still generated significant engagement and, as noted above, CTR on ads has increased 13% since January 15th compared to all of 2019, signaling an overall rise in engagement. No obvious trends regarding messaging or branded vs. unbranded pieces are apparent at this time, though that may change as brands begin implementing strategic shifts.

Brand Message CTR
CME 0.22%
Awareness (Brand & Disease) 0.16%
Clinical Data Update 0.11%
KOL 0.11%

We hope that insights such as these provide our advertising clients with the necessary information to plan and prepare in an uncertain environment.

If you have questions about existing or future advertising programs, or suggestions for this series, please contact your BulletinHealthcare representative or email advertise@bulletinhealthcare.com