The digital era has ushered in a lot of fun and buzzy new ways for health care marketers to connect with patients online — we’re talking social media, video marketing, blogging and more. Compared to tweets, Facebook Live, and YouTube videos, email marketing seems…..old-fashioned. Boring, even.
But the truth is that email marketing is still one of the most effective investments you can make into your marketing strategy. On average, email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every $1 spent. And that’s not all. In the health care industry, email marketing can help your practice communicate, manage, and engage with patients throughout their care journey.
If you want to see real results from health care email marketing, learn best practices and tips for building and launching effective campaigns.
Before You Start a Campaign
Implement these best practices while you’re planning your overall health care email marketing strategy.
1. Know what your patients want to see. Marketing outreach — including email marketing — is all about putting the right content in front of the right people. So figure out what your audience wants to see most from your brand. Do your patients want appointment reminders, prescription renewal reminders, and seasonal reminders about relevant health matters (like getting a flu shot)? Do they want to receive special treatment deals and service offerings? Would they like to read educational health care content like blogs? One way you can get these answers is to send surveys to patients asking for their content preferences. Or you can build in a preference center to your email signup form that lets people choose the type of content they want to receive.
2. Brainstorm multiple campaign types. Get creative with your email marketing. Build campaigns designed to attract and engage both existing patients and potential new patients. Here are some ideas for the types of campaigns you can create.
- Engagement campaigns. Engagement campaigns are designed to keep existing and prospective patients engaged with your brand, even when they don’t need care or services right away. Emails can include information about who you are, who your providers are, the services and treatments you offer, and testimonials from satisfied patients (demonstrating social proof is an effective email marketing tactic). Engagement emails ensure that your brand is top of mind when your readers need the type of care and services you provide.
- Educational campaigns. Education campaigns establish your brand as a trustworthy, credible and authoritative leader in the field. Sending subscribers a monthly email newsletter with relevant blogs from your website is a fantastic education-focused campaign that demonstrates brand expertise.
- Promotional campaigns. Let your patients know when something new is happening. Is a new provider joining your clinic? Are you offering a new service or treatment? Are you opening a new clinic location? Use promotional campaigns to keep your patients up-to-date on relevant happenings at your practice.
- Feedback campaigns. Every relationship is a two-way street, so make sure you’re asking for patient feedback on how you can improve your processes, services, communications, and patient care. You should also be asking readers if they like the email content they’re receiving and what you could do to make it more engaging.
3. Use audience segmentation. This best practice goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Audience segmentation is incredibly important to ensure that your followers are seeing emails that are useful and relevant to them. You can segment audiences by demographics, stages of the patient journey, and type of subscriber (for example, patients vs. referral partners).
4. Brush up on avoiding spam filters. The last thing you want for your email campaigns is to send them directly to spam. Make sure emails are landing in subscribers’ inboxes by avoiding spam trigger words and phrases, authenticate your emails, and regularly clean up your email lists.
Before You Press Send
Keep these tips in mind while you’re drafting health care email campaigns.
1. Start with an engaging subject line. Consumers are bombarded with dozens of emails daily, many of which sit unread in their inboxes or move directly to trash. A captivating subject line is your first impression for readers and has a direct correlation to your open rate — so take the time to come up with a good one. There are multiple styles to choose from that can yield positive results —browse these email subject line styles to determine which ones you think would resonate most with your audience.
2. Be conversational. Make sure your emails sound like they’re coming from a real person, not an automated text generator. Be warm, conversational and casual to keep your readers engaged once they open the email.
3. Add personalization. Add a personal touch to all your email campaigns so that your readers know you’re talking directly to them. One simple way to personalize emails is to set up programming that inputs the recipient’s first name in every email. Better yet, input the recipient’s first name in the subject line to really catch their attention. Audience segmentation plays a significant role in personalizing email content. When you segment your audience into smaller groups, you’re able to craft specific, relevant, and personalized content that resonates with your readers’ pain points, problems, and interests.
4. Keep it short and concise. Practice KISS — keep it simple, sweetie. Your patients are busy, and many of them probably only devote a small portion of their days to checking and reading personal emails. After your audience opens an email based on its captivating subject line, keep them hooked by sticking to a single, concise message that’s short and sweet.
5. End with a clear next step. Always, always, always include a call to action and next step, whether that’s clicking a link to read a blog post, clicking a button to download a free offer, or clicking a link to fill out a form or schedule an appointment. Make sure your patients have an actionable next step to take once they’re finished reading your email.
Before You Move On
There are a couple metrics you should be tracking for your health care email campaigns.
- Open rate — the percentage of the total number of people who opened your email
- Click-through-rate (CTR) — the percentage of the total number of people who clicked on a link in the email
- Bounce rate — the percentage of the total number of emails that weren’t successfully delivered to inboxes
- List growth rate — the rate at which your subscriber list is growing
Analyzing these metrics can help you gain insight into what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve for future campaigns. For example, low open rates could be a sign that you need to spice up your subject lines to make them more engaging. Low CTRs are an indicator that your readers aren’t very engaged with your content or brand. And a high bounce rate could be a warning signal that it’s time to clean up your subscriber list to remove invalid email addresses or take steps to avoid the spam filter.
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