Email. It’s that pile of daily correspondence that seems to haunt you with an ever-growing list of people and information you have to respond to in an already-busy day. But, have you ever considered email as a means of marketing? If your practice isn’t using email for patient marketing, you’re missing an opportunity to communicate in a friendly, informative way that builds patient loyalty and can contribute to increased revenue.
As a medical practice it’s important that your correspondence with patients via email is not “salesy”, but provides valuable and relevant health information.
In choosing to communicate regularly with patients via email about relevant health topics, services your practice provides, and what’s new in and about your practice, you are actually marketing your practice in the best, most credible way.
Here’s why patients should hear from your practice regularly via email:
- Email is a low-cost, time-efficient platform to communicate with many patients at once.
- There’s no better way to inform patients of changes within your practice. It gives you the opportunity to frame those changes the way you want. For example, when adding a Physician Assistant, you can ward off concerns about access to the physician by sharing the skills and training the new hire brings in a celebratory introduction email.
- When you stay current with patients on hot topics that are already on their minds (i.e., vaccinations, latest news on cancer screenings, etc.) you deepen their trust in both your credibility and authentic care for your patients.
- Showing patients that your practice is active and evolving builds credibility and confidence to stay with your practice. For example, you can announce new equipment, new training, lines of service, or involvement in community events.
- Your patients can help you make better practice decisions. By using email surveys you can find out what services they would utilize, if they’d follow you to a new location, and answers to other important questions that affect your success. Patients may also have great ideas. They may say something in a survey they would not have the nerve to say in person.
All of the above can deepen patient loyalty and reduce attrition, remind patients of your services—which can provoke new appointments by existing patients—and encourage patients to refer others to you by forwarding your informative emails to friends and family.
Now that you know why your practice should be emailing patients regularly, you’re probably wondering how to go about doing so the right way. Below are tips for getting started and reminders for those of you who already engage patients this way.
- Permission is crucial. You absolutely MUST gather email addresses directly from patients and give them the opportunity to indicate permission to send emails and an understanding that they are not mandatory. Be prepared to show proof should a random sample audit be provoked by a high number of unsubscribes.
- Don’t be a spammer. Frequency and content need to be appropriate. Sending sales and marketing emails is not appropriate, but informing patients of a new product or service line is okay. Keep these three things in mind: don’t mention a product or service every time, stick to the facts, and quote sources of any data or statistics.
- Knowledge is power, not only when you have it but when you give it. By providing free, credible, and relevant information you will strengthen your brand and become a trusted source of useful information in your field of expertise.
- Choose an email service or marketing application. For a monthly fee you can easily send out professional looking emails. These tools will also provide reports and manage your email list by letting people directly unsubscribe or subscribe to your emails.
- Consider hiring a professional or assign someone who understands your practice, specialty, and how to write and brand your practice with a consistent “voice”. Whatever is sent in an email is coming “from the practice” so having practice leaders or a medical director approve them is a good idea.
You’ve got the basics, now engage patients through email. You’ll strengthen your practice-patient relationships and boost loyalty, visits, and referrals! And increased appointments and referrals means a boost to practice revenue!