This is Healthcare Marketing Rx, where our goal is to help the decision makers of the practice – the practice owner, the practice manager – make good decisions about marketing. You’re not the ones who are going to be doing the marketing yourself. At least in most cases, you’re either going to be asking some of your staff to do it, or maybe you’re going to outsource it to somebody. Nevertheless, you’re the ones spending the money on it. And so what we want to try to help you do is to make better, more informed decisions about all the different types of marketing that are out there.

And today we’re going to zero in on email and email campaigns and whether they should be a part of your practice’s marketing plan. The moment you hear email, I bet you think this:

I hate getting emails

If you are listening to this, I’ll bet you’ve said this to yourself already. I hate them too. I delete a lot of emails in my inbox. The emails that I hate getting are the ones that I have no idea why I’m getting them, how they relate to my life, either personal or professional, how I got on that list. All of those things are true, and those are the emails that people really hate getting.

Nobody loves getting emails. At least nobody loves getting all the emails that they get. But one of the things that we’re going to show you is how to try to really limit the people who say they hate your emails, if not eliminate, but at least limit a lot.

So generally speaking, we believe that email campaigns should be a part of your marketing plan. And what we’re going to do is show you some of the tips to integrate it in a way that’s not breaking the bank and limits this feeling amongst potential patients and current patients.

There’s two types of patients that we’re going to talk about

  1. potential patients
  2. current patients

Potential Patients

How do they find you?

  1. You can be on their insurance list
  2. They can be referred to you by a friend or family member of a current patient or by a professional referral source
  3. they can find you online on their own
  4. they can drive by your office and see your signage

email campaign

Email can fit principally in these two areas – referrals and people finding you online on their own. We’ll come back to referrals in a second. We’re going to zero in on people finding you online on their own.

And so here’s how it works. The goal here is to educate potential patients about the problems they have that you solve and then continuing to educate them more over time.

When using email, you put out a piece of educational content that solves a problem that a potential patient has, they download it to their email, which they’ve given to you to get the content, you add that email to your email list, and then you send them more emails, judiciously, over time.


email campaign prospective patients

Here’s an example. A former client of ours is a podiatry practice. There are a fair number of patients that they have who are diabetics with foot problems – foot wounds, foot ulcers, etc. The practice believes they’re very good at solving those and the patient population suggests that they can. For this practice, we put out an in-depth article on the top things that diabetics can do to take care of their feet. We put it online. We promoted it so that people who fit that description could decide if they want it to download that article on their own.

So potential patients would click on an ad on Facebook to get to the page with the article on it. They have to put in their email to download the article. The potential patient got the article and we got their email address. And now that they were on our list, we would continue to send them a regular email with more educational, informative content. In our case, we really like newsletters. We don’t overload people with newsletters. It’s once a month, which feels like a good balance. And some of those people eventually do turn into patients because they’re seeing our content regularly. Some of them also unsubscribe. It’s the nature of the beast with email, but nevertheless, it was working for them.

You Have To Promote Your Content

To get more patients who don’t know you and you don’t know them is you’ve got to promote your content in different ways.

The online ways are pretty common. You can use social media channels. Like I said, we used Facebook. You want to use the channel or channels that make the most sense for you. Instagram is another good one, and it’s nice that Facebook owns Instagram. When you’re managing this or somebody on staff is managing this, you can manage both your Facebook page and your Instagram page from one backend portal. You can also do some promotion directly through search engines. That’s typically paid ads, whether it’s Google or Bing or whatever. But the point is to remember that these potential patients don’t know you yet, and you don’t know who they are yet.


As far as what could a budget look like for doing emails, I intentionally don’t have numbers here because numbers can be all over the map, but here are the components of what I just went through.

  • content: free –> $$
  • advertising: $ –> $$$
  • email tool: $ –> $$
  • regular ongoing emails: $ –> $$
  • time

It’s no money or you can hire somebody else to do it. And the reason this is a range is because it can be a simple design. It can be a very elaborate design. It can be a video, it can be written. So it’s really kind of hard to tell, but at the low end, it could be free.

You need some kind of advertising budget. This can be a little or a lot. This can be as little as $10 or $20 a month. If you’re on Facebook and you think your patients go to Facebook among other places you can boost a post. Boosting on Facebook as a form of advertising. You create a post which is free, and then you boost it and you define the audience that you want it to go to. And then Facebook’s just going to show it to that audience.

In our example, you’re not able to select diabetics with foot ulcers as an audience on Facebook. For example, in Facebook, you can’t get to that level of information, but you can define other things. And for 10 to $20 a month, when you boost the posts, it can get you a lot of exposure.

Next, you’re going to need an email marketing tool. That’s where the email addresses are going to go. This can be a little, or this can be a lot. For example, with Constant Contact, which is the email tool that we prefer, you can have up to 500 contacts for $20 a month, and you get all the functionality, which is pretty good. It’s also HIPAA compliant, which is a big deal for you if you’re a covered entity.

Finally, you need regular ongoing emails. I talked about a newsletter. You don’t have to do a newsletter. You could do a single few sentence email. You could do a little bit more. You could write a newsletter yourself, or you could have somebody else do it.

If we added up the lower end, this could be very little.

  • content: $0
  • advertising: $30/month
  • email tool: $20/month
  • regular ongoing emails: $0
  • time

Let’s say it’s $30 a month. This is another $20. You’re up to $50 a month, plus time, is $600 a year. I know that’s the low end and I’m not trying to avoid what the upper end could be. It really does depend on how elaborate and how much you’re doing these other components. If that amount fits your budget, then already, maybe, maybe it’s worth considering doing for you.

Current Patients and Professional Referral Sources – Fight Out of Sight Out Of Mind

Now let’s talk about the other source of new patients – referrals from current patients and referral sources. Why do current patients stay with you and refer others to you? Why do professional referral sources refer you? They’re clearly happy with you.

Current patients are getting a good clinical experience. You’re solving their clinical problems. And they also like the rest of the experience. It’s easy to schedule or reschedule. Billing is easy. The front desk is nice. The nurses are nice. They have a good experience. There’s really no reason why they would leave you because you’re meeting their needs. And for referral sources, it’s pretty similar.

When a referral source sends you a patient, you treat that patient well, you give them good care and you treat them as well as their current patients. You’re helping make the referral source look good. There’s no blow back to the referral source about a bad patient experience. You don’t cause any problems for the referral source. It actually does the opposite. It makes the referral source look better and more valuable to the patient that they sent to you.

The reason to consider email marketing and email campaigns for current patients and referral sources is because out of sight, out of mind is a very powerful force. Even though you have lots of current patients or you may, it’s very easy for them to forget, not necessarily who you are, although it’s possible, but it is easy for them to forget about you over time. Falling out of sight out of mind is the force that you need to fight. Email campaigns are a good way to fight back against that.

When you’re doing campaigns, there are good reminders of you and bad reminders. Good reminders look like these:

Good Reminders

New Updates In Your Field

New updates in your field that are relevant to patients or those referral sources, helpful tips that patients can do on their own. Some practices out there say, why would I show a patient how to do something on their own? I want them to come to me. The reason is because it’s very authentic. For example, we’ve got a chiropractor client. He’s often telling patients what to do when they go home to continue their recovery and get better. He doesn’t have to do that, but that’s good practice. He also tells them that if they feel a certain way instead that they need to come back to see him. It’s very authentic and builds trust, which gets more patient visits and more referrals.

Staff Changes

When staff have been hired or if staff changes. Remember, you as the practice owner or you as the doctor are not the only people that patients interact with in your practice. In fact, patients who come to the practice, probably interact with a lot of other people, maybe even more so than you. You want to make sure that they know who’s coming and who’s changing because they’re part of the 360 experience that those patients have with your practices

Community Involvement

You’re a good citizen in your community. And there could be other examples. There are other examples of good reminders, but this is just to get you started

Bad Reminders

  • Anything that’s overly promotional or salesy
  • Not your style
  • Not your tone
  • Not your voice
  • Anything inauthentic

The easy way to tell if a reminder is a bad one is if it’s something you would say to a patient or referral source if you were talking to them. If you talk to them one way but send them emails with a different tone and style, they’ll get confused and probably turned off. That creates a bad feeling that they’ll start to associate with you. Nobody refers patients to anyone who gives them bad feelings.

Email Campaigns with Current Patients and Referral Sources

We do that same monthly newsletter. We do articles about new research and new treatments in their field. We do other things as well. We do them once a month – clients and referral sources are getting a reminder in their inbox that we’re still in practice and we are good at what we do. We are experts in what we do. We have two clients that do a newsletter with us, but they only send it to referral sources and current patients. We don’t send it to prospective patients. If you have a large list of patients and a good list of referral sources, then this is a way to get new patients too. And the purpose served is still the same as far as budgeting.


The budget gets a little simpler because these are already patients that you have and referral sources that you know. You don’t have to create any content to download. You’ve already got them. You don’t have to have an advertising budget. So you can cut those two right out. You need the email marketing tool. You need some kind of regular ongoing emails. You need a little bit of time. And so this one’s even less expensive to do no matter where you fall in the spectrum of cost.

The Main Principles of Good Email Campaigns in Healthcare

Be Judiciously Consistent

Consistency is key with email marketing. Consistency is key with a lot of marketing. I’d rather see you do something that you think is okay but do it regularly rather than trying to make something unbelievably good and only do it every once in a while. Judiciously consistent means do it well, but don’t be annoying with how often you do it. What’s the guard on that? Nobody really knows. Go with your own gut. Our once a month newsletter is hard to argue that that’s too much.

Too much more starts to feel like it’s crossing a line for a healthcare practice. People wonder why medical practices email them that much. But once a month, maybe a twice a month, isn’t too much.

Good, not Perfect

Be goo, not perfect. Whatever you do it’s going to get better over time. Do not let perfect, become the enemy of the good. Get something out there, do it as best you can, watch how your email list of people interact, and make things better. You’re not going to be your best on the first few tries, but if you do it consistently judiciously consistent over time, they will get better.

HIPAA Compliance

When you do email marketing, you must be HIPAA compliant. When you take a patient’s email address and you pair it with their name, you now have protected health information. You’ve got to make sure that you are using a HIPAA compliant email tool.  Whether it’s the people in your practice, if they’re going to be doing this, they are, you know, in your HIPAA umbrella that they’re authorized to see this information.

Make it Easy to Unsubscribe

Make it easy to unsubscribe. The good email tools out there include a link on every email where anyone can unsubscribe.

We offer email marketing services to clients who use our healthcare marketing systems or as a standalone service.

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