How to Master Life Science Email Marketing

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How to Master Life Science Email Marketing

Reading Time: 7 minutes
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Emails. Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere.
That’s because email marketing is a proven way for marketers to connect with their target audiences. Organizations of all sizes and types use email marketing for a variety of specific, different purposes. In this article, we explore how to make life science marketing emails more effective.

Why Email Marketing?

It’s simple. Email marketing works. For every dollar spent on email marketing, you can expect to see a return on investment of between $36 and $40, according to recent statistics reported by Hubspot and Omnisend.

When you consider that there are between 4 and 4.3 billion daily global email users as estimated by Hubspot and Statista and that between 76 and 87 percent of marketers use email marketing to disseminate their content per the Content Marketing Institute, there are a lot of potential opportunities to educate, engage, and empower people via email.

A successful email marketing campaign effectively connects your organization to your audience and helps them do exactly what they want to do.

Transactional vs Marketing Emails

Before we dive into life science email marketing, it’s important to understand the difference between two common types of emails: transactional and marketing. Both build relationships with prospective clients and partners, but they serve different purposes.

Transactional emails contain information directly related to an interaction between your organization and a customer. They’re sent to an individual recipient following a commercial transaction or specific action such as an online store purchase or a password reset request. For example, think about the emails you get after buying something online. First, there’s an order confirmation email and then subsequent shipping and delivery status updates. Eventually, you receive an invitation to review what you purchased and your experience doing so.

Marketing emails, which are sometimes called bulk emails, are sent directly to subscribed contacts for general marketing purposes. These include daily, monthly, or weekly newsletters, product promotions, event invitations, announcements, and educational series. You can tell if an email is a marketing email because they’re required by law to come with an unsubscribe link for recipients to opt out any time. For the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on marketing emails.

B2B vs B2C

In email marketing, it’s important to be clear about whether you intend your email to be a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C) communication. The primary difference lies in who receives the email; however, the two types also usually vary in content and tone.

A B2B email marketing campaign will tend to have a more traditionally professional tone like what’s common in corporate workplace communications. It’ll be more serious, less playful, and less emotional. In life science marketing, B2B emails will usually contain more technical words, scientific terminology, and standard industry abbreviations familiar to the life science professionals receiving them.

Both B2B and B2C email marketing strategically generate traffic for your organization’s website, and that’s important because more site traffic generates more leads and (eventually) more business. Before creating your next life science email marketing campaign, ask yourself why you’re sending it and to whom.

Effective Email Marketing for Life Science

Now it’s time to explore email marketing best practices for the five essential elements of an email campaign.
Subject Line

Subject lines are to emails what headlines are to articles. They’re your best and often only chance to draw attention to what you want to say and to convince your recipient to keep reading.

Your subject line should be concise and accurately reflect the content within. It should be professional, but it doesn’t have to be dull. Brainstorm compelling candidates and test them on your coworkers. Deploy A/B subject line testing for each campaign until you get a sense of what does and doesn’t work for your audience. Subject lines that generate the most opens and clicks can inform you in creating even better future email campaigns.

Sender Details

Make sure it’s clear who is sending the email. Most of the time in life science marketing, your sender will be the name of your organization or one of its well-known founders or representatives so you can leverage your excellent brand reputation.

The sender’s email address should clearly correspond to your website’s domain. For example, your email could originate from Make sure the reply-to email isn’t something like, which suggests that you don’t really care. Be sure to monitor all responses so you can do timely follow-ups and maximize your campaign’s effectiveness.

Preview Text

Preview text is a small snippet of text just below or next to an email’s subject line in your inbox. Typically, it teases the content. The recipient quickly views it to gauge the content’s value as they decide whether to open the full email.

With increasingly more emails being read on mobile devices or laptops with limited screen real estate, preview text is more important than ever. In 2021, Hubspot Blog Research reported that a majority of email views (41%) came from mobile devices, followed by desktops (39%). Your email needs to show up well wherever it’s being received and hopefully read. As of 2022, Litmus Labs reported that Apple iPhone’s native email app has the highest market share, followed by Gmail and Outlook.

Preview text is usually longer than a subject line, but shorter than the content in the main body of your email. It should augment what was communicated in the subject line and give insight into what’s inside. Ideally, it entices you to read on without giving too much away.


This is where your main message goes. All kinds of different content can be conveyed in life science email marketing. Perhaps you’re featuring an interview with an industry expert or renowned scientist, a new product, or a new service. Or maybe you’re letting people know about an upcoming conference, webinar, or other educational or networking opportunity?

Whatever you’re trying to say, keep your copy relevant, short, and concise. Mailchimp recommends 200 words or less, allowing for an average read time of not more than 45 seconds.

Strive for easily skimmable content by using 25 or fewer words per sentence, and strategically incorporate headlines, bold text, bullet points, and visuals like images, graphics, or videos to efficiently convey messaging. One big picture, image, graphic, or video typically works better than lots of smaller ones. And don’t forget to leave some blank space. Sometimes less is more.

Use a suitable tone for your content and audience. Remember that you’re talking to another human being. Be positive, respectful, and professional.

Last but not least, check your email for brand consistency. Look at details like colors, fonts, and padding around logos for compliance with brand and house style guidelines.

Call to Action

Close your email with a strong, clear call to action, like a button that your reader can click to do whatever you want them to do in response to your email. Avoid multiple calls to action so you’re not asking the recipient to do too much, and make it easy for them to take that one next step.

Instructional calls to action are especially effective in drawing clicks. A button with text that says “Improve Your Website” or “Be Healthier” will do better than the more vague and boring “Read More” or “Learn More”.

Ready, Set, Wait

As tempting as it may be to quickly press “send” and move on to the next item on your to-do list, there are a few more steps to making a successful email campaign.

First, proof your email by sending a preview of it to yourself and key colleagues. Ask them to help you hone unclear messaging, identify awkward language, point out typos, notice broken links, and catch mistakes. It’s far better to find and fix your email’s issues prior to sending it to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. No one loves receiving an extra “correction” marketing email.

Look at your email on a variety of devices and platforms like a mobile phone, a tablet and several different browsers on a laptop and desktop computer. Fix all issues until it looks good consistently everywhere.

Send It

Once your email campaign reads well AND looks good, it’s go time. Pick the best time for your audience to be able to receive what you intend to communicate. For example, an email invitation to sign up for a professional educational opportunity that’s sent when recipients are off work spending time with friends and family may not garner much attention.

And if you’re emailing non-locals, consider their time zones. An email sent overnight when people are sleeping or are off for a weekend or holiday might get so buried by other emails that the recipient never really gets to it.

Don’t worry if you don’t yet know your best send time. As you gain email marketing experience, you’ll figure out what days and times net the most opens and clicks.

Performance Review

A few days after sending, analyze your email campaign stats. What percentage of your audience opened your email or clicked on the links in your email? How many people responded to your call to action and how? What kind of traffic bump did your website receive, when did it occur, and how long did it last? What are the demographics of the people who responded to your messaging? Did you get any direct feedback via replies to your email, and if so, what?

Notice trends over time and compare your results to the industry standard. Mailchimp reports, for example, that email campaigns for the pharmaceutical industry had on average an 18.58 percent open rate and a 2.25 percent click rate in 2022. You can apply this knowledge to improve your future email campaign content and timing.

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Email marketing is an essential part of every life science marketing campaign. It’s an effective way to connect, engage, and empower your target audience as you share valuable information, nourish existing relationships, and create new ones.

To learn more about email marketing for life science and chemical companies and how Cobalt helps science-focused companies with all aspects of communications, visit the Cobalt services page or contact the Cobalt team.

Did you know? Cobalt’s monthly newsletter is called Bolt From the Blue and is delivered by — you guessed it — email. Check out the archive and subscribe here.

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As a strategic communications agency serving science- and R&D-driven organizations, we specialize in highly technical markets where complex ideas and information must be conveyed with clarity. Our team includes writers, designers, strategists and content architects, all working together to help you reach — and engage — your internal and external audiences.

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