Some tactics, used widely to entertain digital audiences, are also being put to use in digital pharma to make a measurable difference in communications with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. Visually differentiating messages makes it easy to digest information as well as increase click rates, conversion rates and revenue. Read on to see how these entertaining visual tactics can improve your engagement in serious ways!


The animated GIF — which stands for “graphics interchange format,” and which no one can agree on how to pronounce — just celebrated its 30th birthday. GIFs are most commonly seen as looping short videos used as reactions in social media, and they work almost universally across devices and platforms. Maybe most important: people like using them.

But what if we took GIFs out of the “reactive” space and used them to convey snippets of useful information? Consider the utility of being able to immediately demonstrate a mechanism of action, a disease progression, or before-and-after photos — and consider the benefit of getting your readers to spend longer with your email! No matter how you pronounce GIFs, using them can improve the results of your campaigns.


Video is increasingly popular across all digital platforms, and it’s no wonder: it’s estimated that humans can absorb visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Some intriguing innovations in video, which allow marketers to learn a great deal about their customers’ viewing interests and behavior, include:

  • Embedded video — allows video to be played in an email without an additional click; it’s a seamless experience that can increase plays by 35% to 45%. But proceed with caution: it doesn’t work on mobile email and only works in Apple Mail and Outlook 2011/2015 for Mac, so currently only a low percentage of recipients could receive the experience.
  • Interactive video supports user interactions by creating choose-your-own-adventure content journeys. These not only greatly increase engagement but also turn your videos into data-collection tools, since each “step” a user takes can be tracked. Even existing videos can be retooled to add interactivity.
  • Personalized video allows for customization of content for each viewer. Tailoring happens when CRM data fills in information in the video at places where personalization tokens have been inserted. Personalized video campaigns generate 200% to 1500% increases in click-through and conversion rates, but require a special platform.


Using emojis in subject lines — particularly around informal or holiday topics — has been found in a variety of studies to result in higher open and click rates. And we’ve found the same results: In a recent Intouch case study, emojis in the title of a message to patients led to a 36% increase in social comments, a 96% increase in social shares, and higher open and click rates in users ages 18-28 and 40-50.

Could a couple of tiny images catch the eye of your audience? It might be worth piloting.


You’re probably familiar with chatbots on ecommerce sites, and if you’re like most of us, you like them: according to Forrester, 72% of users prefer self-service support via a website over phone calls or emails. But did you know that chatbots are increasingly making their way into healthcare?

Using technology like IBM Watson, virtual assistants like Sophie are used by a variety of leading health-insurance providers to answer questions, provide suggestions, and even offer emotional support. They can be particularly useful with users who have a high digital affinity, giving marketers extremely detailed feedback in return.


The target audiences, emotional tone, and calls to action that are specific to your campaign can be emphasized and led to greater success with a mix of tactics, new and old. Some less commonly used concepts – including everything from animated GIFs, to interactive or personalized video, to emojis, to chatbots – might give your concept an extra push to reach more of your audience and help them appreciate your messaging.

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