Oldie but goodie! This post was originally published in Sept 2015 and updated in Oct 2017 as part of an on-going series highlighting popular past posts.
Email is such a common way of communicating that it sometimes feels plain and uninteresting. It’s easy to overlook the impact it can have on your marketing effort, and by extension, on your practice. But using email wisely is important. While a lot of businesses use the “throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” method, it’s far more important to understand the various kinds of email you can send and how to work them into your overall marketing strategy. Here are seven specific emails you can send to patients that will not only create a top-of-the-mind awareness, but will also ensure that you are increasing the effectiveness of your communication with them.
1 - Promote It! Are you offering a discount or a special? Are you trying to build your referrals and reward patients who refer friends of family? Is it time for summer wedding season or back to school? There are a lot of elements about your practice that are worth promoting, so make sure you’re looking for all the opportunities that you have. Whatever you want to promote, you’ll find your audience is waiting to hear about it.
2 - Something New! If you are offering a new procedure or product, let your patients know. Did you hire a new staff person? That’s something new your patients would appreciate hearing as well. While this won’t be a regular email you send (at least it won’t be something you could schedule weekly or monthly), anytime you introduce a new element to your practice, you’ll want to share the news with your patients.
3 - Newsletters! Newsletters are a great way to pack a lot of informational value into a small amount of space. The key to successful email newsletters is to keep both your design and your content simple and short. You can include helpful hints that will keep patients on-time and moving through your office more efficiently, offer a staff member focus so patients will be familiar with the faces they see, or provide useful seasonal information or holiday schedule changes. Think about the information you appreciate receiving from businesses and apply those principles to your newsletter. And be sure you include your contact information so patients have an easy reference if your newsletter leaves them with questions.
4 - Welcome! Busy offices can be very intimidating to new patients, and it’s important to make a good impression and make new patients feel comfortable. A Welcome email lets new patients know they are not just a number on a file and is your opportunity to pass along important information about your practice, your staff, insurance, or other details you want to make sure they are aware of. You can use this opportunity to offer discounts on future visits or request referrals as well. Establishing positive communications early on helps to build confidence in your patients that they’ve chosen the best provider for themselves and their family members.
5 - Education! Everywhere you turn today, advertising for healthcare products and services are bombarding your patients. Talk shows, magazine ads, internet banners and more are flooding your patients with information that may not always be accurate or useful. Using email to educate patients can help answer questions your patients may have and save time when they come into their appointments. Giving your patients reliable, accurate information demonstrates your concern for their well being as well as respect for their trust in you.
6 - Testimonials! When a patient takes the time to share their opinion of your practice you have an excellent opportunity to recognize their thoughtfulness by sharing their point of view with others. This public acknowledgement encourages other patients to share words of support with your office as well. These emails become a source of free marketing for your practice which, with the patient’s permission, can be used not only in your emails, but also on your website and social media sites. Testimonials are one of the most important factors in recruiting new patients and reactivating former patients, so their value is significant.
7 - Surveys! One of the best methods for improving your practice and demonstrating to patients that you value their input is to offer patient surveys. When patients feel they have a voice and that their input is appreciated, they are more likely to remain loyal to you and your practice. Patients often see things which you and your staff overlook due to familiarity, comfort, or complacency. From outdated reading material in the waiting area to chipped paint or a surly staff member, patients want to point out the things that make them uncomfortable, but they also want to be helpful and comment on those areas of your practice which they appreciate. Surveys give your patients a voice in your operation and make them feel like they are part of your team.
By following these guidelines, you can be sure your messages are targeted and valuable to your patients, building solid communications and a strong rapport with them. Email is a fast, effective medium for conveying your message. It’s easy to use, and your patients appreciate the convenience and simplicity of the medium. With a bit of forethought and consideration, you can have a solid and effective email marketing plan that benefits your patients and your office.
Check out some other key pieces of an awesome patient educational program in our free white paper.