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Using email marketing to promote your practice

Of course, being a therapist or coach, your clinical ability is a given. But having professional competence isn’t always enough to sustain a viable private practice. In this guest blog, Bob Bond at WriteUpp looks at how you could use WriteUpp (or any other practice management system for that matter) and MailChimp to conduct engaging email marketing campaigns to promote your practice.

You can read the original article here.

How to use email marketing as an effective tool to promote your practice

Before you get too excited, please bear in mind that email marketing can be a great vehicle to send and receive engaging content, but it can also be a pain if you are the victim of spammy messages – however well meaning they are.

So, if you’re going to use email marketing effectively, you will need an opted-in list of recipients (i.e. your clients) and some interesting and relevant content to include in your email.

We’ll tackle both of these points later, but unless you can tick both of these boxes you should not be considering using email marketing to promote your practice.

Why do you need to use an email marketing service like MailChimp?

These days “spamming” via whatever channel (social media, phone, SMS or email) is taken very seriously and there are ongoing attempts by both legislators and companies to reduce the amount of spam that we all receive.

Legislators in the most extreme cases (like Denmark) have made it illegal whilst others have provided codes of conduct. Companies like Google (with GMail) have “baked in” very aggressive spam filtering and email prioritisation into their products to help users cut the wheat from the chaff.

Tools like Mailchimp, whilst not immune from spam filters, provide you with a structured and controlled mechanism to:

- Build & manage a list of recipients.
- Provide the recipient with “required” information about the source of the email and why the recipient has been sent the message.
- Enable recipients to unsubscribe from the list and complain/mark your message as spam should that prove necessary (we hope it doesn’t).
- Prevent you from accidentally emailing any recipients that have unsubscribed from your list.
- De-duplicate your list so that you never send the same email twice to a recipient.
- Capture valuable analytical information about who has read and interacted with your message along with other useful information like demographics and technology used.
- Create consistent and branded email templates.
- Test your emails on a range of devices, including mobiles – don’t forget most people read emails on their phone.

Companies like MailChimp have spent years perfecting their products and ensuring that they stay abreast of global legislation and best practice. So, here at WriteUpp we let them get on with what they’re good at and we don’t try to “pretend” that we offer a marketing module that sends “bulk emails”. Doing so, would run the very real risk of your emails ending up in the recipients’ spam folders and worse still you may find your domain blacklisted, meaning that you’ll have little or no chance of getting emails through to bodies that subscribe to blacklists, like the NHS.

All of this functionality is FREE in MailChimp if you have less than 2000 recipients that you wish to send emails to.

(Disclaimer: We have no affiliation with MailChimp and you can, of course, choose to use any email marketing tool that you feel is right for your practice. It is WriteUpp’s humble opinion that MailChimp is one of the best.)

Opted in list of recipients

For you to get off first base with email marketing you need some people to send your emails to and these should be people that have “opted in” to receiving your email communications. There are a few things you can do to facilitate this:

1. Capture client email addresses in WriteUpp when they register with your practice. This in itself doesn’t give you the right to email them but it does ensure that all of your client-related data is in one place.
2. Motivate your clients to provide their email addresses by offering value-added services like appointment confirmations and reminders.
3. Include a clause in your Terms & Conditions of Service that permit you to send emails to your clients.
4. Provide an unsubscribe mechanism in your email that allows clients to remove themselves from your list if they object (for any reason) to being added to the list or if they have been added accidentally.

Creating your campaign

Once you have built your list the fun stuff starts. You can now begin creating your campaign in Mailchimp. This article isn’t intended to provide you with a tutorial on how to use MailChimp so we’ll focus on how you can organise your campaigns.

I say “campaigns” because you shouldn’t view email marketing as a “one off” activity. It should be a continued, consistent and planned process of communication over months not weeks.

When you start constructing your email marketing campaigns you must be clear about your objective. There can obviously be many nuances around why you might want to use email marketing but the primary reason should ultimately be to increase revenue, which in most cases will involve getting more clients through the door.

With this in mind, you probably need to get the recipient to do one of two things:

- Visit your website – this would our suggested channel.
- Call you – although bear in mind that you may not want to be taking calls if you’ve already got a busy caseload.

Visit Your Website

If you are going to drive traffic to your website, you need to do some prep work first as you need something to encourage recipients to visit your site.

The best way to do this is to have a blog on your website where you periodically post articles that you have written that will appeal to your target market. What you write depends on your speciality, but if you were a physio for example you might write articles on the following topics:

A new piece of kit that you’ve started using in the clinic.
- New research into a popular complaint like “Frozen Shoulder” – written in terms that a layperson would understand.
- A new exercise regime that you feel your clients would benefit from.
- Low-carb recipe – just a suggestion!

The frequency depends on you, but in the first instance I would suggest trying to write one article every couple of weeks.

If you write every couple of weeks, then after three months you should have around 6 articles that you could include in your first email marketing campaign. If you want to be really fastidious I’d suggest using Google Analytics (if you have it installed on your website) to determine which of your articles are most popular with visitors.

Having done the legwork in your blog constructing your first email campaign should be pretty straightforward:

1. Set up your MailChimp account.
2. Set up your campaign.
3. Choose which list you’re going to send it to.
4. Choose a design template.
5. Add your content.
6. Check it.
7. Send it.
8. Analyse it.

When you add your content you should include brief “teaser” snippets of three or four of the more interesting/compelling articles that are on your blog with a link allowing the user to “Read More”. This then achieves the desired objective of getting the recipient on to your site where they can find out more about you or as is more likely make a mental note that a) you exist b) you’re an authority in your subject matter field.

Which in turn (and over time) should lead to them remembering you on the next occasion when they need treatment and/or mentioning you to friends and family as the guy or gal that really knows their stuff!

Sidenote: The content that you write for your blog should also be pushed out on social media so you get extra bang for your buck!

Call You

If your sole intention (from email marketing) is to get people to call you then you obviously need to have a strong “call to action” to motivate the reader to get in touch, so something like a special offer on treatments or early access to a new treatment might do the job.

However, in my humble opinion, within the healthcare industry I would advise against this rather salesy approach and focus on the more subtle (but authoritative) approach of offering up intelligent, informed content and try to drive recipients to your site.

I hope this proves useful and in conclusion here are few points that should keep you on the straight and narrow!

Key points to bear in mind:

1. Use a tool like MailChimp to manage your email marketing campaigns.
2. Ensure your email is brief and punchy.
3. Drive traffic to your site by linking to blog posts.
4. Respect your list – don’t over burden your list and make sure you send high quality content.
5. Frequency & regularity – don’t be a one hit wonder. Have a clear communication plan and stick to it.
6. Brand consistency – ensure your email marketing is consistent with the branding of your website, collateral etc.
7. Analyse the results – be sure to check out how many people are opening your emails and how they’re interacting with them so that you can tune them over time.

Find out more about practice management software WriteUpp here.

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