Now that the online health care marketplace has opened, clinics and other care providers may be increasingly drawn to reaching current and prospective patients on digital and mobile platforms – and assembling an email marketing list can be an excellent starting point.
However, once you have your list, you'll need to know how to most effectively speak to your patients' concerns, and the principles of good marketing in the health sector differ in many key ways from other industries. These four tips can help you make sure you stay on track and on message for your email contacts.
Promotional messages are the name of the game in most forms of email marketing: Your content reaches consumers, draws them, presents a compelling offer and specifies how they can take advantage of it.
However, that's not the case in the health sector, where promotions may be viewed with some suspicion. EContent recently recommended that marketers in the field who write email or other online content take a tone of authority rather than salesmanship. The effect of this strategy, the news source suggested, is that it helps patients view your content as a source of respected, trustworthy information, and those are key characteristics people look for when choosing a health care provider.
An empathetic tone that helps patients believe you understand their point of view can be highly effective, Medical News of Arkansas suggested.
"In the past, communication may have been more image-oriented; now there's a lot more specific messaging and more specific dialog that the consumer is looking for," Chip Culpepper of medical communcations agency Mangan Holcomb told the news source.
Consider ways in which your emails can speak to patients' concerns. EContent pointed out that one way to make your content seem more personal to recipients is to include positive stories of other patients' recoveries.
Make sure your emails reinforce your brand
Branding may be an unusual term in marketing for care providers, but ensuring that the goals and character of your organization are clearly articulated to consumers is just as essential in the health field as it is elsewhere.
"The best messaging, best campaigns we've ever created have had at their core a deep understanding of who the organization is at its heart," Culpepper told Medical News of Arkansas.
Reinforcing your brand also means setting yourself apart from competitors. The news source also spoke with EXIT Marketing's Shawn Solloway, who insisted that marketers should be able to identify in precise terms the unique strengths of their organization so that their emails and other content effectively communicate why patients should choose their services.
Research and utilize the latest technology
Companies are releasing highly sophisticated tools to benefit email marketers all the time, and these technologies can provide marketers in the health field with detailed data about contacts on their targeted email list.
In a post on the official Fathom blog, Paul Richlovsky noted the benefits tools like email automation can offer health firms.
"Imagine being able to segment with exact precision (e.g., women over 50 who live in Cuyahoga County who have attended one of your health fairs in the last year) and then set up delivery of messages that apply to this specific audience once they click on a link in your standard health newsletters," he wrote.
Richlovsky also noted that automation tools streamline the process of creating email content on the marketer's end by providing collaborative solutions in which individuals can easily approve or disapprove of a drafted message, whether across departments or between the organization and an agency.
Sometimes, though, it's OK to get old-fashioned: The Washington Post reported that the 4.7 million unique users who visited Healthcare.gov in its first 24 hours of existence were directed there primarily through email blasts organized the firm GovDelivery.