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10 Insider Tips for Doctors About Email Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Email marketing iphonePerhaps the most revealing thing about email marketing is evidenced by the smartphone that you have in your hand right now.

Smartphones now account for 80 percent of the mobile phone market, and IDC Research says that 80 percent of those folks--likely both you and I--checked email before their first cup of morning coffee—or anything else in the AM.

Of course, not everything in your inbox is marketing-inspired, but you can trust that at least some of what you’ll receive today is, according to research by trend-observer Gigaom, is intended, in consumer terms, to inspire brand awareness, acquisition, conversion or retention. Email is a primary marketing tool, they report, that’s used regularly by 86 percent of digital marketers. (Because the audience is online and email-centric.)

We recognize that not every provider can use email marketing or use it the same way as it applies to a retail business. But the following tips and insight about email can help doctors and group practices get greater traction with their healthcare marketing for attracting or retaining patients.

Let’s assume that your email marketing plan recognizes and respects the consumer/patient protection constraints of HIPAA, CAN-SPAM and other regulations and guidelines. Ten tips, in somewhat random order:

  • Consider the small screen, and be mobile compatible. Your message is likely to be read first on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Keep the subject and message short and concise. In addition to the constraints of a small screen, effective email messages focus on a single topic and call to action. Use less than 150 words.
  • Monitor and measure each email. No longer a “spray-and-pray” proposition, professional email distribution systems track and report important metrics to indicate performance and effectiveness.
  • Target with precision and personalize. Picture your reader as an individual and refer to them by name if possible. Your “broadcast” might be to hundreds, but each reader is a single person.
  • Consumers prefer permission-based messages. Their permission signals their interest and they are often predisposed to act or buy. [Salesforce/ExactTarget]
  • Your subject line is an essential, not an afterthought. If they never read past the subject line you have a failure to communicate. Use your best five or six attention-getting, compelling, action-inspiring words.
  • Don’t “hard sell.” Readers like to be informed, advised or inspired, but they will slam the digital door on pressure-packed sales messages. Build trust and a lasting relationship.
  • Test before rollout. Evaluate how the message or content works—and revised as needed--before the full-list release. You can also test performance of version “A” vs. “B.”
  • Proof your content and clean your list. Shabby material and duplicate messages are red-flag warnings that are hard-wired to the delete and unsubscribe buttons.
  • Deliver something of value. Know it or not, the reader wants to know what’s of value to them. Consider how the email will benefit the individual reader.

The effective use of email is a cornerstone consideration in healthcare marketing. How, when, where and why it’s used in a doctor’s plan to attract new patients will vary, but email continues to be a marketing workhorse for many practices.

For more help with email marketing, give us a call. And for related reading, see our previous article titled, The Curious Origin of Unwanted Email: Keeping Medical Marketing in the Safe Zone.

Stephen Gregg

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