When is email marketing most effective for patients

When is email marketing most effective for patients

Email is still one of the most effective forms of marketing; especially for healthcare organizations looking to improve patient acquisition! If it’s not already, email marketing should be an integral part of your overall healthcare marketing strategy. According to MailerLite, the healthcare industry’s open rates sit at the top end of the scale, featuring a 41.2% average email open rate, which is pretty exceptional. In general, email open rates range from 0-50%, with anything above 25-30% considered highly successful. Email marketing in healthcare can be used in both patient acquisition and patient retention activities with the understanding that there are more impactful phases of the patients journey in which to use email marketing than others.

The patient acquisition marketing funnel

The healthcare marketing funnel is usually divided into patient acquisition and retention and within those two areas it’s broken down even further to help marketers utilize the right content and strategy at the right time. Typically, and with most of our clients, we rely on a four stage patient funnel to drive a robust content marketing strategy:

  • Awareness – Generally, this is when your audience becomes aware of your organization and the services you provide. They may come across your brand through advertisements, content pieces, social media campaigns, and many other avenues depending on your brand strategy. Email marketing is brilliant here!
  • Consideration – In the consideration stage, patients are going to be actively considering using your services, so it’s an ideal time to reach out with a variety of relevant, engaging content about your organization through email marketing campaigns.
  • Decision – One of the most important stages of the funnel! The patient is going to be making a decision and may be comparing your services to other competitors. We usually suggest highly personalized content if possible and special offers or discounts. It’s a good idea to remove any barriers to entry by incorporating online scheduling capabilities and other patient-friendly initiatives.
  • Customer – Congrats you’ve closed the deal! Onboard your new patient and then move them into the retention stage to make sure they stay a patient for awhile.

Sending emails in the awareness and consideration phases

Over the years, we have found a lot of success sending healthcare email marketing campaigns to patients in the awareness and consideration stages.

Email marketing in the awareness stage: The awareness stage is a chance to welcome the (hopefully) future patient to your organization and introduce them to your brand with curated content. At this point, don’t push services or discounts as you’re just starting to build a relationship and there’s no better way to ruin a new relationship than aggressive sales tactics. Rather, use this opportunity to share valuable information, such as whitepapers, videos on different topics, ebooks, etc, and very general information about your brand. Also, keep in mind that at this early in the game, a fair number of your new contacts may not make it to the other stages in the funnel. Just as they are learning more about your brand, you are also learning if they are your ideal patient.

Engaging email ideas for the awareness stage:

  • Branded infographics teaching your audience about new research, common ailments, misconceptions, or best practices in your medical field.
  • Introduction videos welcoming the new audience to your brand, featuring some of your providers and staff to make it more personal and authentic.
  • Industry news updates that may also include resources for them to stay up-to-date on news.

Email marketing in the consideration stage: Time to make it more personal because at this stage the audience likes what you’ve been sending so far! The consideration stage presents a perfect opportunity to give potential patients more curated content without a strong sell. Focus on highlighting your brand’s differentiators, values, and commitments to its patients through engaging and insightful email content.

Engaging email ideas for the consideration stage:

  • Client testimonials and case studies are a great way to have a third party tell your story for you. Many patients use recommendations and referrals to pick a provider, and client testimonials and case studies are excellent examples for your brand.
  • Brand-specific content about your services, providers, and products. Keep it engaging, and consider doing an introductory series that gives them a little bit of information at a time and accounts for their interests.
  • Invitations to exclusive webinars or events where you can showcase more of your expertise or outstanding services and track record.

Patient retention strategies should all include email marketing

Patient acquisition benefits greatly from email marketing, and we love coming up with innovative ways to engage potential patients. However, one of the most effective places to use email marketing campaigns is with patient retention efforts. There are so many ways to engage your patients with highly targeted, personalized content, they can’t help but keep coming back to your practice! Consider adding the following email campaigns to your patient retention strategy:

  • Referral programs – Getting patients to refer other patients is a great way to get new patients and keep current patients engaged. If you don’t have one already, setting up a patient referral program can help both efforts. Some practices include incentives or special offers for new patients to sweeten the deal.
  • Newsletters and industry updates curated for the patient – By segmenting your audience you can send information that resonates. For example, create a few different versions of a newsletter and send them to different segments of the audience based on their interests or past services. You’ll stay top of mind and they’ll appreciate you remembering what it is that interests them, building trust and loyalty.
  • Promotions and “it’s been awhile since we’ve seen you” – Promotions are always a great way to get people interested in your services again! This can also be true if they haven’t been back to your practice in awhile. You can combine the messages for certain audiences and just send promotional messages to others. Who doesn’t love a good deal?!
  • Seasonal or holiday highlights – In the medical field, there are numerous occasions to send out seasonal emails, and it can be a great way to stay top of mind with your patients and show you care about their health and wellbeing throughout the year.
  • Patient appreciation – No patient wants to be just another number. So, taking the time to recognize a patients’ importance to your organization can go a long way in building strong relationships and loyalty.

General email marketing tips to keep in mind

Email marketing can be a very impactful tool in both the patient acquisition and retention processes. Whether you use it in the awareness stage, consideration stage, or for patient retention, keep in mind the best practices below to get the most from your email strategy.

  • Segment and categorize your audience for targeted emails!
  • Play around with subject lines to make them engaging and effective
  • Make the email visually appealing and true to your brand
  • Perform tests to determine the best time to send, the most effective subject lines, and the most engaging content
  • Always include a call to action or way to contact your organization
  • Optimize for mobile

If you’re looking for more advice on how to incorporate best-in-class email marketing practices, consider working with the MDG team. We’ve worked with some of the nation’s top healthcare companies and we always love helping to solve our client’s most pressing marketing challenges.