In the UK alone, 5.4 million people have asthma. This means asthma affects one in every 11 people and one in five households. Every 10 seconds, someone is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, and on average, every day three people will die from one attack.
It’s a sobering thought that two out of three of these deaths could be prevented with good basic care. But there are various hurdles to overcome in terms of people’s fundamental understanding about their condition – and therefore how they manage their symptoms. For example: studies have found that 60 to 70 per cent of people with asthma don’t take their asthma medicines as prescribed, due to a mixture of personal beliefs and experiences. There is also a woeful lack of knowledge about what to do if they, or someone they are with, is having an asthma attack.
This is where Asthma UK comes in. We want to ensure that people with asthma and their families have all the information they need, when they need it. We do this through our emails, on social media, on our website and through our expert asthma specialist nurses on the Asthma UK Helpline (0300 222 5800, 9-5 Mon-Fri).
With so many people to potentially reach, email is really important to us as it’s familiar to the majority of people and allows them to read in their own time. Knowing just how useful email can be, we work closely with dotmailer to make sure we’re reaching the right people at the right time with the asthma advice they really need.
Here are some of the most important lessons we’ve learned…
Asthma is a complicated condition that is different for everybody: it has many different causes, can be triggered by different things and can vary over time. Symptoms can change over your life, or even on a weekly or daily basis. So, making sure our emails are personal means so much more to us than just adding in someone’s first name. The better we know our audience, the better we can ensure that they’re getting the most relevant and helpful information about their asthma.
We’ve seen great results from our personalisation so far – including delivering the most relevant health advice to parents based on their child’s age. We’re just starting to personalise our monthly newsletter to provide the most relevant content to our audiences – offering specific health advice to parents on how to help their children with asthma in place of our more generic advice, for example.
We also send out seasonal information during periods of increased asthma risk, such as spring, when pollen season begins, or winter, when people with asthma are more likely to develop chest infections. As we get better at understanding and using our data we’re aiming to give our audience even better, more relevant information about asthma at key moments.
If You Want Your Audience To Read Your Emails, You Need To Stand Out
To help people, we need our advice to stand out in their busy inboxes. We want to ensure that all of our emails are worth reading, and easy to read.
We’ve found that combining the subject line and pre-header is really important – using both together can really grab our supporters’ attention and stand out in their inbox, helping to ensure our key health advice isn’t missed. Consistency is also key – we want our supporters to know exactly what to expect, and trust us to deliver useful information every time.
What’s more, research shows that over a third of people only use mobile devices to check their inboxes – so we make sure our emails are designed with mobile devices in mind first, and desktop second (desktop users even expect a mobile layout these days). We think about where they might be opening emails, and make sure all our health information is easily accessible wherever they are – direct links to PDF downloads aren’t useful for someone reading their emails on the go without a Wi-Fi connection.
First Impressions Count
We know that it’s important to introduce ourselves, so we take time to explain to new supporters what we’ll send them in a series of welcome emails. In the first email, we thank them for signing up, make it clear what they can expect, and explain why our emails will be useful for them. In emails that follow, we show them the best of what we can offer with key pieces of asthma information and helpful resources, such as our written asthma action plan and the Asthma Attack Risk Checker, our quick online tool that determines your risk of an asthma attack in the next 12 months.
Keeping our emails short is crucial. People spend less than three hours online – only a small percentage of this time is dedicated to checking their inboxes. We’ve made sure our welcomes are short and to the point, but with plenty of opportunities to click through and read more – and the more our supporters show interest, the more we can understand their needs and give them more relevant asthma health advice later.
These first emails are opened up to three times as much as our benchmark, with links to our website clicked on up to an amazing 25 times as much. For us, more opens and clicks means that more people are getting the advice they need so our welcome emails are a big success.
Dot The i’s And Cross The t’s
It’s important to us that all our supporters’ data is secure, safe and managed properly, especially in the context of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coming into effect in May 2018.
When we first ask for contact details in a form on our website, we send anyone who signs up an email that asks them to confirm their subscription by clicking a link. This ensures that everyone who signs up has given the correct email address and is receiving our emails. It also helps to ensure that everyone who receives advice from us by email has chosen to do so.
With the right tools from dotmailer, we’ve seen well over the majority of those who fill out the form continue on to agree to receive our emails. Just as with opens and clicks, it’s important to us that this rate is high, as we don’t want people missing out on our crucial health advice.
At Asthma UK, a key part of our mission is to provide advice to people on how to manage their asthma, so they stay well and avoid asthma attacks. Working with dotmailer to transform our emails is a big step towards achieving our goal. Through all the steps above and more, we’re working towards increasing the size of our audience and providing them with the best, most relevant advice for their asthma – meaning that more people than ever have access to the latest resources on living well with their asthma and know what to do in an emergency.