Marketer Sam Hunt discusses the importance of targeted email lists and provides tips on how to reach target audiences successfully
Using emails to market your clinic’s products and treatments can be a simple, cost-effective solution to gain more appointments and increase brand awareness. Many people may think that the days of using emails for marketing purposes are long gone as there are more advanced marketing techniques readily available, such as social media management tools and pay-per-click (PPC) functions. We can often forget about more original marketing techniques but I think that there will always be a place for email marketing and targeting. One key ingredient to ensure your marketing is successful is to know your audience like you do a friend. There may be a number of different audiences that you are targeting, and a one size fits all approach just isn’t going to work; this is where email marketing lists come into play.
Simply put, an email list is a collection of names and email addresses used by an individual or an organisation to send material to multiple recipients.1 With a record number of people now owning or having access to a smartphone, emails are often accessed at various times during the day. In a recent study, it was found that 75% of consumers said they use their smartphones most often to check emails.2 Many people have email notifications enabled, so it is even easier for clinics to reach their previous or current patients at any time throughout the day. By creating a specific list, for example a list of women aged between 40 and 50 interested in facial volume restoration, your patients will feel valued and as though they are being targeted personally, which I believe undoubtedly helps to create a good rapport.
With various customer-relationship management (CRM) systems on the market that incorporate email marketing, building an accurate email list is now easier than ever to do. Many CRM systems provide this, and some allow you to run reports to separate data into appropriate lists.
So how do you decide on which groups of people to email? You need to look at the options available to you and what you can offer them in the long run. When patients sign up to your clinic, you should be asking them specific questions on an electronic sign-up form. This should include questions such as:
These answers will then feed into your CRM system and depending on the system you are using, patient details will be added to the appropriate lists based on the answers they provide. As well as creating lists based on the answers to questions patients provide, you could also create lists according to other information previously supplied. Whilst you are able to do this manually, it can be very time consuming. In my experience, however, most clinics are already using some form of CRM system, so it is a good idea to utilise its capabilities in order to make the whole process easier and more professional. Figure 1 shows a breakdown of the types of categories you can utilise to create your targeted lists, based on answers from patients and data you have on file. It also demonstrates examples of messages you can send to patients, based on the lists they are added to. While the table provides some examples, the lists you can create really are endless and different emails can be used for different occasions and scenarios; I would advise that you look at what the patient can achieve from these different statements and there always needs to be a call to action (CTA). The CTA requires your recipients to ‘do something’ once they have read the email. Whether that’s getting in contact with the clinic for more information or even booking an appointment, without this, the email will probably get lost in their ever-growing inbox.
As mentioned, lots of CRM systems sort this data for you once it’s been collected. I would suggest creating a new email list before every marketing newsletter to ensure you include all of your new patients too. Some CRM systems will update email lists automatically but if you’re unsure, contact your provider’s support team so that they can train you on how to do this.
If you have asked for relevant information in the initial registration process, why would you send a targeted email that focuses on a new range of dermal fillers to a patient who has said they are only interested in IV drips? Your email list should be made up of people actually interested in hearing what you have to say. Don’t forget that emails are personal. I recommend that your marketing emails should be correctly addressed to the recipient and signed off by a person at the clinic. You shouldn’t be sending out generic emails that just say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. A good CRM system will have a function that automatically enters patients’ names, most often called a ‘merge tag’. Remember that emails can easily be forwarded on, so you have to always remain professional.
There are a number of things to consider when creating a marketing email, like whether it’s compatible with mobile devices and the overall design. But for the purpose of this article I reiterate that you should be sending your emails to those who are actually interested in what you are offering, which you would have collated in the stages mentioned above. Don’t forget that by utilising all marketing methods and linking them into each other builds a strong, reliable brand. I recommend adding social media links at the bottom of your emails, as well as linking content to your website. You should also send your newsletters and marketing emails out at a time when your clinic is open so that your recipients have the opportunity to pick up the phone and speak to somebody if they require more information, or if they want to book.
Once you have sent an email, or have a sequence of emails scheduled as part of a campaign, it is vital that you constantly evaluate if it is working to get the best results possible. Look at subject lines, open rates and the overall design of the email; all of which can usually be done through your CRM system. Examine how many recipients opened the email, how many clicked through to your website or even how many people opted-out. According to email marketing platform MailChimp, on average for the healthcare industry, 2.25% of recipients click through from an email newsletter and we see an average 0.29% unsubscribe rate per newsletter.3 While the click-through rate is fairly low, it is useful to be aware of this benchmark. In my opinion, with the right CTA and design, your emails can achieve a higher click-through rate.
Opt-outs are a good indication that you’re either marketing to your patients too much or about the wrong subjects, in which case you would need to review your email list. If your email open rates are down, this may be due to your subject lines not being relevant or appealing enough. As such, you should review your email subject lines to ensure they contain key words that will interest your target audience and provide valuable information that will encourage potential patients to open your emails.
Essentially your email has been successful if your patients have booked an appointment. So how do you find out if they did so as a result of your email targeting?
You could use keywords and then ask the patient to quote them when booking e.g. OFFER2FOR1, however many CRM systems have options to record exactly where a patient came from and what encouraged them to book that all-important appointment.
If your CRM system doesn’t have a facility where this information is recorded automatically, I would advise recording all of this in a spreadsheet. You could mark off all of the recipients who booked an appointment within a week of your campaign going out and record which treatments they’ve booked in for. It’s also worth briefing your front-of-house team to ask and record what encouraged patients to book when they present in clinic.
When it comes to patient data, it is essential that you follow the regulations in place, in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).4 You must only use your patients’ data for the reason you’ve stated, which should be detailed when they provide it via your website. You should also keep all data hidden from unauthorised persons, ensuring that files are password protected. It is essential that within marketing emails you give the recipient the opportunity to opt out, which is usually automatically managed by your CRM system.
If you are found to have breached GDPR you could be charged up to 20 million Euros or 4% of your global annual turnover. It is essential that you understand this regulation, so familiarise yourself with the requirements to avoid any detrimental consequences.4,5
With the right plan in place, your clinic can really stand out and benefit from email marketing. Building an email list can be simple if you have a system that automates the collation and segregation of patient data. As discussed above, there are some great CRM systems on the market which do this. Your clinic does not want to miss out on being able to directly reach your target market with tailored messaging opportunities.
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