Email isn’t just for appointment reminders anymore. Delivering timely, engaging content to current and prospective patients is part of a modern healthcare email marketing strategy—and an effective way to build a pipeline for priority service lines.
Many healthcare marketers struggle with how to leverage qualified email subscriber lists in a way that adds value for both the consumer and marketing outcomes. Whether your challenge is in not having the right technology pieces in place, not having the resources to manage a sophisticated CRM solution, or not having the content to deploy — you’re not alone.
Below, we’ve addressed the most frequently asked questions about healthcare email marketing.. 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 email marketing evolving?
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, return mammogram visits, year-end benefits utilization and other strategic topics with a call to action that connects to the service line featured.
Further, sophisticated platforms and expanded expertise around email marketing are enabling more thoughtful lead nurturing than ever before. For consumers who download content on your site, engage with HRAs, attend seminars or interact with your blog content, personalized nurturing journeys can be developed to build and solidify meaningful relationships.
How are marketers generating and maintaining quality email lists?
First and foremost, purchasing an email list is never a good idea. Instead, leverage email lists acquired through opt-in forms from patients, and from digital and traditional marketing efforts.
Throughout your digital consumer journey, providing ample opportunities to sign up for regular engagement from the health system is a best practice. This includes pop-ups to invite blog visitors to sign up for regular updates, having a default opt-in on all marketing forms for lead generation and more.
As you build your list, it’s important to treat it delicately. Be thoughtful in developing a framework for how many emails an individual can receive from you in a given week or month, find a sweet spot of how long nurturing journeys should be, and develop a cadence for blog outreach based on how often you can provide relevant, high-quality content.
The value of your messaging is also important. Make sure each touchpoint is relevant, accurate and actionable. Balancing quality and cadence well will minimize unsubscribes and maximize the return on investment in email marketing.
How do I create a consumer journey with healthcare email marketing?
Here are a few proven tips to effectively leverage email to meet patients and prospects where they are and guide the healthcare experience.
Map the email cadence and content around the target consumer. Take a long-term approach to guiding patients on their healthcare journey rather than constant promotion through smart journeys and leveraging opt-out logic to remove consumers who’ve converted, or who aren’t engaged, from the email strategy. Along with creating a negative impression of your brand, 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 best next step on their care path.
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.
Most importantly, remember that guiding healthcare consumers from engagement to conversion requires multiple touchpoints over a period of time. While highly effective, email is just one of many tactics that can be combined to create an effective funnel marketing in digital advertising strategy.
What about healthcare email marketing to engage patients?
While much of the above advice addresses best practices for both patient and potential patient engagement via email, there are a few nuanced ways to engage existing patients to boost retention and satisfaction. These include:
Work to implement the ability for patients to book follow up appointments or referral appointments online through a link emailed to them after an encounter. This could reduce strain on your call center staff and is an ideal scenario for your busy patients.
Develop strategies to engage with patients with chronic conditions. This can improve outcomes and satisfaction among diabetics, CHF patients, pregnant women and more.
Send regular reminders about back to school visits and annual physicals, annual mammograms and more. This will improve retention significantly—and bonus points if online scheduling for these appointments is a possibility!
Overall, it’s important to note that starting small with healthcare email marketing is perfectly acceptable, and is in fact likely to make you more successful in the long run. We recommend identifying 1–2 key strategies like blog engagement or HRA nurturing, or one key audience like 26–45 year old women to develop plans around. This will help you learn about what works well for your team, where gaps in your skill set or tools are, and where your resource allocation is most valuable when it comes to email.
Ready to Elevate Your Email Marketing?
Connect with us to learn more about how we can help with content development, journey strategy and audience segmentation approaches specific to email marketing.