By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
The most neglected healthcare provider marketing opportunity, and how to break the habit
Email is the communications means of choice for many individuals, but it’s a surprisingly neglected strategy that never gets off the ground for the simple lack of opt-in email addresses. Here are seven easy ways to build a permission-based contact list and grow a new provider revenue resource.
One of our big moments of frustration in working with healthcare providers around the nation is when we discover that they don’t have an email marketing strategy.
The reason? Many offices have a record of only 100 email addresses, often less. That strategy is dead before it begins.
Email is a popular and effective marketing communications tool. It’s accepted, even preferred, by a large segment of the public. Better than 90 percent of US Internet users use email, most on a daily basis.
An email strategy is completely appropriate for many, although not all, providers. It is nearly immediate, easy to use and low cost. It’s an effective way to increase patient satisfaction, retention, referrals and revenue.
To be clear, we’re not talking about doctor-patient email involving medical matters where there are legitimate concerns about privacy, liability, reimbursement, workload, etc. This is a permission-based email strategy, and for many medical and dental practices, hospitals, orthodontists, cosmetic surgeons and other providers – principally in elective care – the healthcare marketing opportunities are strong and varied.
The bottom line is that email works, but the first step is to have a system to regularly collect email addresses. In all cases, we’re talking about asking for their permission (opt-in, decline or opt-out), and that they opt-in with an understanding of what will be sent and that it will be pertinent and valuable to them.
These are individuals who want to hear from you; often they prefer email over phone calls or regular mail, and they are happy to provide their email information. (And with an understanding of the type of information you will be sending and that it is something they will value.)
So, here are seven easy ways to build your contact list quickly.
- INITIAL INTAKE FORMS: Include a permission request and multiple spaces for email addresses as part of your standard office form. Some people have more than one email address in the household.
- USE UPDATE MOMENTS: Ask when you confirm or routinely update records on file. Add this to the standard clerical steps.
- ASK ON YOUR WEBSITE: Invite people to subscribe to your eNewsletter, or timely updates, via a simple form on your website. Sites can be programmed to capture the data submitted and automatically update your master list.
- USE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA: If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account you can invite people to register, or subscribe by email. Not using social media yet? This may be a good opportunity to begin.
- OFFER A PRIZE: There are a dozen ways to structure a contest with products or services in your office as an incentive for submitting an email address. Be clear that you’re asking permission to use their email address subsequent to the contest.
- PROVIDE AN INSTRUCTIONAL SERIES: Invite people to receive a multi-part string of educational email advisories or lessons on a subject, or subjects, of interest. Free, of course.
- REWARD ALLEGIANCE: Create a loyalty program that includes special offers or early promotional announcements that are available via email. The idea of exclusivity has a built-in appeal factor.
In fact it’s easy to build an email contact list. Many providers can use email successfully in their marketing mix, but they are shy about the idea, unaware of its value, or are too busy to introduce a new office routine.
We’ve written several how-to articles on this topic that are available in our free library. Consider this a brief preamble to our original, in-depth instructional series about email marketing that begins here.