The Evolution of Email in Healthcare: An Essential Element of Funnel Marketing in Digital Advertising Strategy

by | Sep 23, 2020 | Digital Strategy | 0 comments

Email lists aren’t just for appointment reminders anymore. Sending timely, engaging content directly to the inbox of current and prospective patients is an effective way to build a pipeline of candidates for priority service lines.

If you are like many health­care mar­keters who do not have a sophis­ti­cat­ed CRM plat­form or estab­lished strat­e­gy for fun­nel mar­ket­ing in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing, do you strug­gle with get­ting a good, qual­i­fied email list? Did any­one ever find the time to input the names and email address­es from the paper, hand­writ­ten raf­fle forms they filled out years ago at the health fair or com­mu­ni­ty event you attend­ed? Is your call cen­ter ask­ing for email address­es at the time of appoint­ment? How do you make sure peo­ple have opt­ed in to receive mes­sages, and why is that so important?

These are just a few of the com­mon ques­tions we get from hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems seek­ing to enhance their email mar­ket­ing efforts. To address these issues, we’re help­ing clients tran­si­tion from sim­ply send­ing email reminders to devel­op­ing an inte­grat­ed strat­e­gy that dri­ves fun­nel mar­ket­ing in dig­i­tal advertising.

Below, we’ve includ­ed the most fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions about email mar­ket­ing in health­care. Here are best prac­tices for lever­ag­ing this high­ly effec­tive chan­nel— gen­er­at­ing $42:1 ROI on aver­age—to engage con­sumers along the health­care journey.

How is healthcare marketing changing when it comes to email?

Email mar­ket­ing is emerg­ing as a lead­ing dri­ver of con­sumer and physi­cian engage­ment for hos­pi­tals and oth­er health­care orga­ni­za­tions. This is illus­trat­ed by our 2020 State of Health­care Con­tent Mar­ket­ing study, which found that email is the No. 1 tac­tic to engage physi­cians and No. 2 tac­tic for gen­er­at­ing ser­vice line leads. With more than 3 in 4 health­care mar­keters sur­veyed using email, the key is avoid­ing gener­ic mes­sages. This is espe­cial­ly true for mes­sages relat­ed to COVID-19. Instead, engage con­sumers in a per­son­al­ized way by deliv­er­ing time­ly, rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion based on demo­graph­ics along with self-select­ed or mod­eled inter­est categories.

Lead gen­er­a­tion is ide­al when you have a CRM plat­form or mar­ket­ing automa­tion plat­form. You can tar­get mes­sages around pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines. Typ­i­cal­ly, this con­sumer jour­ney will con­sist of month­ly engage­ment around annu­al phys­i­cals, year-end ben­e­fits uti­liza­tion and oth­er strate­gic top­ics with a call to action that con­nects to the ser­vice line featured.

How are marketers utilizing email lists?

First and fore­most, pur­chas­ing an email list is nev­er a good idea. Instead, lever­age email lists acquired through opt-in forms from your office or web­site, com­mu­ni­ty sem­i­nars or oth­er sources. Mar­keters are using email lists to map jour­neys designed to gen­er­ate aware­ness, engage­ment and action. When used for top-of-fun­nel engage­ment, email jour­neys con­sist of approx­i­mate­ly 8–12 emails designed to nur­ture assess­ment com­ple­tions, down­load­able guides and more. The emails need to have very clear calls to action that lead to a rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing action.

This can also be used for mid-fun­nel engage­ment in the form of con­fir­ma­tion of sem­i­nar sign-ups, reminder emails and re-engage­ment emails for no-shows.

Last­ly, lead nur­tur­ing can be used for bot­tom of fun­nel engage­ment. Direct calls to action can be geared toward appoint­ment request confirmations.

How do I create a patient journey with email marketing?

Here are a few proven tips to effec­tive­ly lever­age email to sup­port fun­nel mar­ket­ing in dig­i­tal advertising.

Map the email cadence and con­tent around the tar­get con­sumer. Focus on edu­cat­ing rather than “sell­ing” direct­ly through email. Take a long-term approach to guid­ing patients on their health­care jour­ney rather than con­stant pro­mo­tion. Too much email can “burn your list” and impact deliverability.

Sub­ject lines should be clear, suc­cinct and atten­tion-grab­bing. A/B test­ing for sub­ject lines and con­tent should be used when­ev­er start­ing a new email cam­paign. This com­piles per­for­mance data, allow­ing mar­keters to plan future emails accordingly.

Length is impor­tant. Con­sid­er that the aver­age per­son receives 120+ emails every day. Try using short-form emails that include health tips, recipes and oth­er action­able con­tent with a link to your blog for more infor­ma­tion. Long-form emails could high­light a physi­cian or patient sto­ry with a call to action to view a pro­file or down­load a guide.

Calls to action should be aligned with the con­sumer jour­ney. Appro­pri­ate and well-timed CTAs direct users to the pre­ferred point in the con­sumer journey.

Test and learn. Send emails on dif­fer­ent days of the week and at dif­fer­ent times to reach new audi­ences. Con­sid­er resend­ing the mes­sage three days lat­er to those who did not open it.

Use paid search and social ads. These tac­tics help to get new peo­ple engaged with your brand by link­ing engage­ment ads to a land­ing page or email sign up page. For exam­ple, if you are inter­est­ed in get­ting patients back for elec­tive pro­ce­dures, tar­get your paid search and social specif­i­cal­ly to that audience.

Pro­mote your email newslet­ter through organ­ic social media posts to dri­ve sign-ups. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent ele­ments, such as video con­tent or inter­view excerpts, to gauge interest.

Most impor­tant­ly, remem­ber that guid­ing health­care con­sumers from engage­ment to con­ver­sion requires mul­ti­ple touch­points over a peri­od of time. Email is just one of many tac­tics that can be com­bined to cre­ate an effec­tive fun­nel mar­ket­ing in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing strategy. 

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