You’re so busy running your practice and seeing patients that ongoing communication can often be overlooked. But, to stay busy, it’s important to keep your current patients engaged and informed, about your practice and the care you deliver.
Email marketing is a proven strategy for medical and dental practices alike, but not all campaigns are created equal. Following best practices can drive greater engagement and lead to an increase in appointments — making email marketing a sound investment.
In our last email content post, we provided five quick content tips to get you started. Below, we go further with five more tactics to make sure your email marketing campaigns deliver results.
The benefits of email marketing for your healthcare practice
Regular email communication can drive practice loyalty, and improve your patient retention and appointment volume. With the right messaging, email marketing can keep your patients adhering to their plan of care, maintaining follow-up appointments, or sticking to routine screenings and vaccinations – all of which can lead to better outcomes. As we continue to move toward a value-based world, this sets the stage for a win-win for everyone.
“One of the greatest benefits of email marketing is its versatility,” says Brian Clevesy, an email marketing manager with PatientPop. “Using a hybrid approach of informative and action-based emails can keep you as a trusted voice in your community while driving patients back to your offices.”
Effective email campaigns offer your practice a competitive edge
If you’re already busy, you may be asking: Why should I spend time creating and sending emails?
If you’re looking to grow your practice, fine-tune your visit types, or maintain market leadership, email can play a key role in combating the competition that exists in most markets, as independent practitioners continue to vie for the same patients as larger hospital-owned practices.
In the 2020 PatientPop practice growth survey report, a significant majority (89.7 percent) of healthcare providers consider their local market competitive. More than one-third say they’re in a highly competitive market.
Email marketing can give you a real edge, especially in keeping loyal, local patients. According to a 2016 study, 80% of professionals say email marketing drives both customer acquisition and retention.
Developing an email marketing plan takes preparation and consistency. But once you have a strategy in place, follow best practices in what you create and deliver. That will keep your patients engaged and more likely to open that next email. To keep them interested and taking action, here are our next five content tips to improve your email marketing ROI:
- Use your practice name in the subject line.
If you’re investing time and money on email marketing campaigns, the first step toward success is getting patients to open what you’re sending. Including your practice name in the subject line is critical for increasing those open rates, which are historically higher for healthcare (21.7%) than they are in industries like retail (18.4%) and real estate (19.2%).That’s because consumers generally trust their healthcare providers aren’t spamming them and that the information you send will be of value (see tip #2). Even in cases where recipients don’t open your emails, seeing your name in the subject line will remind them you care enough to reach out regularly. In that way, think of your subject line as your own mini-billboard.
- Think “patient first” and always deliver value.
True experts in email marketing know sending an email for the sake of sending an email won’t break through the clutter of today’s overburdened inboxes. When developing your editorial schedule, think through the mind of your patients – which questions that you hear often might be helpful to answer for all your patients? What kind of education might help patients manage their health or conditions? What’s going on in your community that might relate to your specialty?If you’re not providing valuable information with every email, over time you’ll see your open rates decrease and your unsubscribe rates increase — which severely limits your opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
- Provide seasonal, timely content.
To keep your email content fresh and relevant, consider timely topics. Think cold and flu season, spring allergies, New Year’s resolutions, and back-to-school season. Sync up with well-known health observances such as breast, prostate, or lung cancer awareness month. Rely on well-timed reminders for flu vaccines, mammograms, annual physicals, and routine screenings.Take these opportunities to remind patients of all the health considerations that may be relevant to both your specialty and the season. If you aren’t familiar with common health observances, there are several each week and month, for plenty of chances to promote specific health topics and relevant calls to action (CTAs). You can Google search them for your specialty or check out the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD), which offers a free downloadable guide each year for easy reference.
- Focus on frequency, not length.
If your email marketing campaign plan feels overwhelming, remember that your messages don’t have to be content-heavy. Not only do most people lack the attention span to read a lot of text, but creating an abundance of content can be time-consuming.Equally, if not more, important is finding the right frequency for your email schedule.
“There are no hard and fast rules about what’s best,” explains Fimi Fafowora, also an email marketing expert at PatientPop. “Most experts agree the right frequency varies by industry, so you’ll have to determine what works best for your practice and your patients. For example, a dermatology practice is likely to reach out more often than a radiology office — it’s all about finding the right cadence for your specialty and your audience.”
Regardless of the frequency you choose, be clear with your patients about how often they should expect to hear from you, and then stay on schedule. As with all patient communications, setting expectations and then keeping promises, is paramount. This will help you minimize unsubscribe rates and maintain your credibility with patients.
- Keep it eye-catching.
How your email looks is just as important as what it says. Lead off your emails with a featured image that will resonate with your patients.Choose images and graphics wisely. Be sure your logo and practice name are displayed prominently at the top, and make sure any graphical text is easy to read, especially on mobile. Since most people now use a mobile device, a mobile-friendly design is a must, which often means limiting your number of fonts, colors, and images.
Finally, use clickable buttons that make it clear and simple what you want patients to do, whether it’s reading a blog post, scheduling an appointment, or watching a video.
Following these email marketing best practices can help ensure your strategy is meaningful for your patients, and drives loyalty, retention, and appointment volume for your practice.