A Very Good Optovue® E-blast gets a B+. Why not an A+?

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

OK, I am breaking a promise.  In my last post…which was way too long ago…I said I would write about a Nidek e-blast that deserves a better grade.  I thought I had one.  I looked at about 10 Nidek e-blasts that I saved and decided not to write about them.  It’s Friday.  In the US we have had enough negative news and commentary over the last couple weeks.  It seems like most of the world is immersed in bad news of some sort or another.  How about something POSITIVE?

So, let’s look at a Very Very Good e-blast from Optovue.  This is one of the most effective e-blasts I have seen all year.  I would have given them an A+ if they had just not made one mistake.  A mistake that could cost them some leads.

Here is what the e-blast recipient would see in their email client if a preview pane was open:

If you are like me and have been following the previous posts, you are saying, “Sweet!”

First, we will evaluate the From section, Subject Line and 20% Zone area.

From: Optovue (deployed by trusted source Wolters Klumer Vision Care) – Perfect. The reader knows exactly whom it is from.  And, by having “Optovue” here, they don’t have to waste precious space on the Subject line telling readers who the e-Blast is from.

Subject Line: “Save Thousands on SD-OCT – Limited Supply”.  POWERFUL! TO THE POINT! CALL TO ACTION – “Limited Supply”!! SD-OCTs are still a hot product in the ophthalmology market.  That subject line will definitely get readers to dive into the content.

Now, look at the 20% Zone that we see in the preview pane.  Right at the top, the message of saving thousands of dollars is repeated.  And, the reader learns that the sale items are certified demo units.  The colors and “Mid Summer Sale” script are cheerful.  The artwork is compelling and supports the “Mid Summer Sale” theme.

On to the Body and Content of the e-Blast.

BEAUTIFUL!! Notice there is very little copy.  They know they have a good product for their target segments.  They aren’t going to waste space with a lot of puffery.  They know there is demand for the SD-OCT.  They get right to the point.  Here is what is available.  First come, first serve.  Indicating the inventory levels is good technique.  They could do an e-Blast in a couple days showing the inventory going down.  What if they run out of demos?  Well, if they are like most diagnostic equipment companies they will tell the doctor, “Sorry, they are all gone but let me see what kind of deal I can do for you.”  I guarantee that Optovue won’t let those interested doctors down.

Sigh!….  I really wanted to give them and A+ because there was so much good about this e-Blast.  Then….just out of curiosity I clicked on the yellow button.

What cost Optovue the A+? The “Click Here to Email” button takes the reader to the “Contact Us” page of the Optovue website.  Big mistake! Now the reader has to take the extra step of clicking on one of the email addresses or fill out a form.  This Contact Us page is not very good.  It is a long page.  If you have a small laptop and don’t think to scroll down the page, you may miss the form at the bottom to fill out.  This form is for all “contact” situations.  It is not a landing page specifically made for this e-Blast.   On a Contact Us page like this, they could have some leads going to several different emails that are listed at the top of the page.  Or, the lead may fall through the cracks if the form isn’t filled out correctly.  So, the excited and motivated reader gets sent to “Contact Us” page hell.

Always, always use a purpose built landing page for your e-Blasts as a place to capture the prospect’s contact information.

On the other hand, because there is limited inventory, a motivated reader is likely to call the phone number they provide.

Congratulations to Optovue for showing us (for the most part) how an e-Blast should be done.  Their marketing person deserves a raise!

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Nidek® E-blast on Combination Laser gets a grade of “F”

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

OK…for the last several posts I have been talking about what makes a good and effective e-blast.  And, I have pointed out some mistakes companies have made with their e-blasts.  Before I go any further, YOU get to evaluate the Nidek e-blast below.  First, look at their from line, subject line and 20% zone.

Sorry Nidek….but this isn’t a very good start.  Let’s see if my assessment matches yours.

  • You can’t tell who the e-blast is from.  It says Review of Ophthalmology.  Yes, they are respected and trusted.  That is good.  But without a hint of the true sponsor, you might think this is a message from Review and not an e-blast.
  • The visible subject line is very vague….”combination system”???  Is this supposed to be a 3-in-1 diagnostic instrument?  It “saves time”?  So?  And, you cannot see the rest of the subject line that says “increases efficiency”. The subject line is too long.   Some readers won’t make the transition from this line to the content of the e-blast where they can see the entire subject line.  Also, many people have their email client (Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.) set up not to display the 20% Zone.
  • The 20% Zone – “Reflections”?!?! What does that mean? I would be really surprised if a large number of doctors get beyond this point.  My bet is that this e-blast has a high probability of being deleted before being read.

What do you think?

Now, scroll down to look at the content of the e-blast.

Oh…now I get it.  “Reflections” must relate to the testimonial from the Dr. Barnebey.  He is reflecting on his use of the instrument.  My international readers would probably agree that the word “Reflections” is confusing.  And, the word has nothing to do with any benefit or feature related to the product.

“The Benchmark of Excellence in Ophthalmic Lasers” ??? This is really old school “puffery” in marketing.  Sort of like all those companies that claim they are the “Gold Standard” or the “Technology Leader”.  This statement may make Nidek feel good about themselves but it communicates nothing to the reader about the benefits of the product.  For the new generation of doctors and consumers at large, this kind of language is interpreted as arrogant.  Never, ever have language like this in your advertising.

What do you think of the testimonial?  I like testimonials.  But this one is weak.  It would have been stronger if Nidek could have worked with Dr. Barnebey on some metrics related to his improved efficiency.  For example, if the doctor had said that he saved enough time to see one more patient per day, other doctors could easily do the math in their head as to the payoff.

What would you have done with this e-blast?  Decide if you agree with me.

  • From section – If Nidek would have used BMC for deployment, they could have had their name in the From section.  I am not sure that Review of Ophthalmology can do this.  Also, BMC publishes Glaucoma Today.  So, the email list would have been on target.  That is not to say that Review has a good email list….they do.
  • Subject line – “Dr. Barnebey on Nidek laser’s efficiency” or “Why Dr. Barnebey uses Nidek combination lasers” or “Dr. Barnebey evaluates Nidek lasers for efficiency”.  Putting the doctor’s name in the subject line will definitely get readers.  And, we have solved the problem of indicating who the e-blast is from by naming Nidek.  Finally, we have a subject line that will fit in the email client screen of most readers.
  • The 20% Zone – Get rid of “Reflections”.  They could do a couple of things here.  One would be to move Dr. Barnebey’s quote up into the zone.  This would definitely grab someone’s attention and move them to continue reading.  Or, they could have a benefit statement related to improved efficiency, “Offer the same patient care and see one extra patient per day”.
  • The Content – Again, get rid of “Reflections”.  And, delete the “Benchmark” statement.  Add metrics to the doctor’s testimonial to more clearly demonstrate the benefit to the readers.  This could be in extra patients per day or more time with the family.  It could even be in financial terms.  The difficulty with expressing benefits in financial terms is that some readers might find that too forward…..even though that is what they are interested in.

So…Let me know what YOU think.

More E-Blast grades on the way after the Fourth of July.




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The Content of the E-Blast & Why Bausch & Lomb Crystalens® gets a “B-” grade on their E-Blast.

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

In the last post we reviewed why the “From” segment and the “Subject” segment of the incoming e-blast are so important.

Today, we will talk about the body of the e-blast.  It is important too.  However, a marketer can put together a compelling HTML page with a great message, a compelling call to action and perfect formatting and the email will fail if no one opens it.

Keep reading to learn why B+L gets a grade of B- on the e-blast I use as an example.

Once the e-blast is opened by the recipient, the content goes to work.  For the content of the e-blast to be successful it should:

  • Clearly state a benefit or call to action in the upper 20% of the HTML page.  This is what I call the 20% Zone. This is important because many people have their email client organized to show part of the selected email.  A clearly stated benefit in this zone helps insure that the reader will start to scroll down through the e-blast.
  • Keep the HTML page to a size no larger than a standard piece of paper.  If a reader has to scroll too far, they lose interest and may think “I will come back later to read this.”  Guess what?  They won’t come back. The e-blast will get buried in their inbox.
  • Offer something of value (a benefit) to move the reader to take action:
    • A discount
    • A free white paper on the subject
    • Invitation to an informational webinar
    • Promotion – free iPod with all orders in July
    • Something at your trade show exhibit (if this is the purpose of the e-blast)
  • Have easy to find and easy to use buttons for:
    • “For more information click here”
    • “For a no obligation product demonstration click here”
    • “Not going to the show…No Problem…click here”
    • Be sure that the buttons link to a landing page that is SPECIFIC to this product and/or e-blast.  There is nothing more frustrating than clicking a button and being taken to a page where you have to fill out a comment section to indicate the product you are interested in.  The landing page should say something like “Thank you for your interest in Product CureAll.  Please provide us the information below and we will send you the white paper today.  To learn more about Product CureAll click here.”  Or, “Thank you for your interest in Vision Restore.  Per your request, we will have someone contact you in 24 hours.”
  • Include url links to your website
  • Include links to your Twitter feed, any YouTube videos and your Facebook page.  You don’t have these yet!?!? Get on the ball!  Below you will see that B+L has 2 out of the 3.
  • Consider using other technologies to engage the reader.  A short imbedded video is great.  However, this is not necessary for a really effective e-blast.

Let’s continue this discussion by reviewing my inbox below.  I have selected Bausch+Lomb – “Florence Henderson Coming to a TV Station …..”.  Most of the time B+L has ineffective subject lines.  Yet, this one is nearly perfect.  Florence Henderson is a star in the USA.  That will definitely get the reader’s attention.  Also, B+L has done enough saturation marketing about Florence Henderson as their spokeswoman that somewhere in the back of most eye care professionals’ minds they relate her to B+L.  Also, it says “…coming to a TV Station…”.  Even though, the subject line is interrupted at that point, the brain wants to fill in the rest with “near you.”  So far so good.

Notice my email client is organized so you can see part of the selected email.  Many people have their email software formatted this way.  That is why it is very important to be sure that a compelling message is in this part of the e-blast.   In the case of the B+L e-blast, the message you see in this 20% zone is above average.  However, I believe they miss a huge opportunity that is indicated at the very bottom of the content.  In the 20% zone you do see Florence and the “play” button on her picture.  This indicates a video.  This will definitely get some reader involvement as some will decide to watch the video.

Now, I will show you the entire body of the content section of the e-blast.

What do you see at the bottom? “Get started with the Crystalens Florence Henderson Marketing Campaign!”  Why did they leave this to the end?!?!? This is the real call to action to get a doctor to collaborate with B+L.  And, it appears that B+L will provide the doctor with materials and links.  This is the biggest benefit to the doctor yet B+L leaves it at the bottom of the page.  They should have indicated this opportunity for collaboration in the 20% zone.  This is why B+L gets a grade of a B- for this e-blast.   For my international readers, a B- (B minus) would be just above average.  An “A+” grade would be excellent. An “F” grade indicates failure.

Next up Nidek gets graded a D for their e-blast.

Happy internet marketing!


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