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Mastering healthcare email marketing: Tips and strategies

By Stacy Kimbell

June 3, 2024

As technology becomes a staple in our daily activities, more patients expect convenient and timely communication from their healthcare providers. 

Whether you’re sharing educational resources, appointment reminders, or personalized health tips, healthcare email marketing improves patient communication and engagement. 

This guide covers all the information you need to leverage healthcare email marketing effectively. We’ll walk you through proven strategies, best practices, and five inspirational healthcare email examples.

How can email marketing benefit healthcare providers?

Email marketing for medical practices offers a slew of benefits. It can transform how you connect with your patients and manage your services. 

Let’s take a look.

1. Improve patient communication

Healthcare email marketing allows you to keep your patients informed and engaged. Also, many patients prefer this communication method. According to a Salucro report, 56% of patients prefer digital channels like email or text for communication. 

Healthcare email marketing can streamline all official communication, from sharing billing details and medical reports to prescriptions and other treatment instructions.  

2. Increase patient engagement

Healthcare email marketing improves patient engagement by providing personalized health tips, educational content, and regular updates. 

It fosters a stronger connection with patients through interactive features like surveys and appointment scheduling. It also motivates patients with success stories and testimonials, thereby enhancing trust, loyalty, and proactive health management.

3. Streamline appointment scheduling

Another benefit of email marketing for medical practices is simplifying the appointment scheduling process. Automated appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

Streamlined appointment scheduling can also improve patients’ well-being. For instance, sending timely reminders to patients who are due for a specific screening or those managing a chronic condition can improve treatment outcomes.

4. Boost patient retention

Prompt and regular communication with patients via email helps deliver positive experiences. This can keep your healthcare service top-of-mind and foster loyalty.

A Salesforce study found that nearly 90% of customers say a company’s experience is as important as its services or products. 

Even in the context of healthcare, the quality of customer support and experience can be instrumental in retaining clients. Following healthcare email marketing best practices ultimately improves patient experience and satisfaction.

5. Save time and resources

Another key benefit of healthcare email marketing is its cost-effectiveness. Automated email campaigns save valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent on tasks like making phone calls to remind patients of appointments. 

This efficiency allows your staff to focus on more critical patient care activities, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of care provided.

Image via Milled

Seven steps to mastering email marketing for healthcare

Let’s dive into seven proven steps for mastering healthcare email marketing.

Define your email marketing objectives

Creating a successful healthcare email marketing strategy starts with defining your objectives. Go to the drawing board and decide on the goals you want to achieve with your campaigns.

Some common email marketing goals for healthcare providers include:

  • Gathering feedback
  • Promoting preventive care
  • Improving patient engagement
  • Increasing appointment bookings
  • Building a community for patients
  • Educating patients about specific health topics

When setting goals, make sure to make them specific and measurable. 

For example, instead of simply aiming to “increase patient engagement,” set a goal to “increase email open rates by 20% within the next 6 months.” This clarity will help you create better-targeted campaigns and track your progress over time.

Build your email list

Now that you’ve set your objectives, it’s time to build your email list. Your email list consists of patients who’ve agreed to receive your healthcare email communications. 

Here’s how to build a robust email list:

  • Use your existing patient base: Encourage your existing patients to sign up for your email list during appointments, through your website, or via social media.
  • State the value of joining your email list: Patients are more likely to sign up if they know they’ll receive useful health tips, exclusive resources, or timely updates from your facility.
  • Create a lead magnet: A lead magnet is a free resource or incentive offered in exchange for an email address. For healthcare providers, this could be a guide to managing a specific health condition, a free consultation, or a wellness checklist.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that building your email list is not a one-off event; it’s an ongoing process. As your list grows, make sure to clean it regularly by removing inactive or invalid email addresses to maintain high deliverability rates.

Segment your audience

One key to effective healthcare email marketing is segmentation. Segmenting your email list means dividing your subscribers into smaller groups based on shared characteristics. 

You can segment subscribers based on: 

  • Age
  • Health condition
  • Treatment history
  • Engagement level (e.g., new patients, loyal patients, inactive patients)

For example, you could send an email series to patients with diabetes, focusing on nutrition tips and medication reminders. Alternatively, you may send personalized appointment reminders based on a patient’s preferences or reminders to check women’s health only for the ladies on your list.

Segmentation helps you deliver more relevant and personalized content, increasing engagement and patient satisfaction. In fact, 83% of consumers said they are more likely to purchase based on hyper-personalized marketing campaigns. 

You can segment your audience using the data you collect from patient intake forms, surveys, and email engagement metrics. Start with simple segments and refine your approach over time as you learn more about your patients’ preferences and behaviors.

Create valuable and engaging content

Valuable and engaging content is at the heart of any successful email marketing campaign. If your patients find the content relevant and useful, they are more likely to open, read, and act on your emails.

To create such healthcare email content, you must first understand your patients’ needs and interests.

What health topics are they most concerned about? What questions do they frequently ask during appointments? Use the insights from these questions to guide your content creation.

Your email content can take several forms, such as:

  • Health tips
  • Practice updates
  • Educational articles
  • Patient testimonials

Here are some ways you can improve the quality of your healthcare emails:

  • Prioritize clarity and simplicity: Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and clear headings to make your emails easy to scan and digest.Avoid using complex medical jargon. Instead, opt for language that’s easily understood by a general audience.
  • Use stunning visuals to make your emails more appealing: In addition to text-based content, consider incorporating visual elements like images, infographics, or videos to make your emails more engaging.Visual content can also help break up long blocks of text and reinforce key messages.
  • Incorporate a clear call-to-action (CTA) into your healthcare email. Your CTA should encourage patients to take a specific action, such as booking an appointment, downloading a resource, or visiting your website. This helps drive engagement and conversions.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

Choose the right email marketing tool

It’s crucial to choose the right email marketing tool to streamline your efforts and ensure success.

Here are some key features to look for when selecting an email marketing platform for your healthcare service:

Data security and privacy

As a healthcare provider, protecting your patients’ privacy is paramount. Make sure the email marketing tool you choose prioritizes data security and complies with existing healthcare regulations. If you are willing to send highly-personalized sensitive data about your customers, you will need to use a HIPAA-compliant email service, like HushMail, or Proton. However, for promotional and less sensitive information, other platforms might be more affordable, feature-rich, and user-friendly.

Automation

Choose a tool with robust automation capabilities to save time and streamline your healthcare email marketing efforts. Automated features like welcome sequences and appointment reminders can help maintain consistent communication with patients.

List segmentation

As discussed earlier, segmenting your email list is critical for creating targeted campaigns. Choose an email marketing tool that allows you to easily segment your list based on various criteria, such as demographics, interests, or engagement level.

Customizable templates

Your email marketing platform should offer a range of customizable templates that align with your business and messaging.

Look for a tool that provides templates specifically designed for healthcare providers. This should include relevant content blocks and design elements.

Analytics and reporting

A platform with comprehensive analytics and reporting features allows you to monitor the performance of your email campaigns. Then, you can make adjustments as necessary. 

Now, let’s take a look at some popular email marketing platforms that cater to the promotional needs of healthcare providers:

1. Omnisend

  • 19 customizable healthcare-focused templates and 300+ email templates in general.
  • Up to 30 pre-built automation workflows
  • Robust data security measures and GDPR compliance (but not HIPAA-compliant, needs extra integrations)
  • Advanced segmentation options, such as tags, conditional splits, and multiple filters

2. Brevo (formerly Sendinblue)

  • Decent automation functionality, including a “best time” function that draws data from past campaign performance
  • Advanced segmentation based on factors like email activity
  • Nifty personalization options, such as gender and patient attributes
  • HIPAA-compliant integrations available

3. MailerLite

  • GDPR-compliant data handling and storage, for HIPAA compliance needs extra integrations
  • Affordable pricing plans for smaller healthcare practices
  • 90 customizable templates
  • Robust analytics capabilities that cover metrics like email campaign activities, opens by location, and subscriber engagement

Optimize your email campaigns

Here are a few key strategies for optimizing your healthcare email campaigns:

1. Test your subject lines: Your subject line is the first thing patients see when your email lands in their inbox. Test different subject lines to see which ones generate the highest open rates.

2. Optimize for mobile: With more than half of all emails being opened on mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure your emails are mobile-friendly.

3. Experiment with timing: The timing of your email campaigns can greatly impact their success. Send emails on different days and times to determine the optimal sending time. 

4. Personalize your content: Personalization goes beyond just using a patient’s name in the subject line. Use patient data to create targeted content that speaks directly to their needs and interests.

5. Include clear calls to action: Every email you send should have a clear purpose and a desired action. Make your CTAs prominent, specific, and easy to click.

Measure success and adjust your strategy

To ensure the long-term success of your healthcare email marketing efforts, regularly measure and analyze your campaign performance.

Track key metrics, such as:

  • Open rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Return on investment

Knowing where you stand with these metrics will help you understand how your audience engages with your emails as well as identify areas for improvement. Most email marketing tools provide analytics dashboards. Use them to track trends and compare the performance of different campaigns.

Look for patterns in patient behavior, such as the days and times that yield the most opens or the types of content that generate the highest engagement. Based on your findings, adjust your email marketing strategy accordingly.

Navigating compliance is a critical aspect of managing your healthcare email marketing efforts. Let’s explore the key considerations for maintaining compliance in your email communications.

Understanding regulations for emails

When engaging in email marketing for medical services, the protection of patient information is non-negotiable. As such, it’s important to understand how to meet regulatory requirements and standards. 

Two key regulations to be aware of are:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

HIPAA sets strict standards for safeguarding patient privacy and securing sensitive health information, particularly for healthcare providers in the US. Under HIPAA, any electronic communication containing protected health information (PHI) must be kept secure and confidential.

This means that when you send sensitive emails to patients, the content must be encrypted and only accessible to authorized individuals.

GDPR, on the other hand, is a European Union regulation that applies to any organization processing the personal data of EU citizens. Even if your healthcare business is based outside the EU, if you have patients who are EU citizens, you must comply with GDPR.

The GDPR framework mandates that you obtain explicit consent before collecting or processing personal data. You must also give patients the right to access and delete their data and report any data breaches within 72 hours.

Failing to comply with either HIPAA or GDPR can result in severe consequences, including hefty fines or damage to your reputation.

Implementing compliant email practices

To ensure your email practices meet legal standards, follow these actionable steps:

1. Choose a secure email platform

Use an email marketing tool that prioritizes data security and compliance.

2. Obtain explicit consent

Before sending any marketing or promotional emails, obtain clear consent from your patients. This can be done through a signup form on your website or a physical consent form in your office.

3. Provide an easy opt-out option

Every email you send must include a visible and easy-to-use unsubscribe link for patients to opt out of future communications at any time.

4. Ensure your staff are well-trained

Make sure that your staff who handle patient email communications receive proper training on HIPAA and GDPR compliance.

5. Use secure patient portals

Use secure patient portals to send sensitive data, such as test results or treatment plans.

6. Audit your email practices frequently

Conduct regular audits of your healthcare email marketing campaigns to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

Five examples of email marketing for healthcare

Let’s take a look at some real-world healthcare email marketing examples to put things into perspective.

1. Vessel

Vessel’s email starts with a limited-time offer for its personalized vitamin service, infusing a sense of FOMO among subscribers. It features a prominent “SHOP NOW” CTA button to drive recipients to take action.

Vessel promotes useful cross-sells to further drive clicks and sales. The email also features a clean design and product images that effectively showcase their services.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

2. Parsley Health

This Parsley Health informational email offers valuable tips for improving gut health, addressing a common concern among their target audience. 

The clean layout, engaging imagery, and clear “Learn More” CTA encourage readers to explore the content further. This ultimately fosters a sense of trust and demonstrates the facility’s expertise in digestive health.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

3. GoodRx Care

This GoodRx Care email is a great example of email marketing for doctors. The headline “See a doctor from anywhere with GoodRx” clearly communicates the main benefit of their service.

The simple three-point proposition and prominent “Learn More” CTA grab attention while making it easy for recipients to take action. GoodRx Care also infuses social proof into this email by featuring a testimonial from a satisfied patient.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

4. FOLX

FOLX’s welcome email introduces their mission of providing inclusive healthcare for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

The friendly tone, vibrant imagery, and clear product lineup create a welcoming atmosphere. At the same time, the prominent social media icons encourage recipients to connect with the brand on multiple platforms, fostering a sense of community.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

5. Calibrate

Calibrate’s testimonial email showcases a satisfied member’s experience, building credibility and inspiring others to sign up to achieve similar results. 

By featuring a relatable success story and a prominent “See More Reviews” CTA, the email effectively promotes Calibrate’s weight loss program. It also encourages potential customers to take action and visit the website.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

Wrap up

There you have it—a full breakdown of how healthcare providers can harness the power of email marketing.

We’ve highlighted some proven and trusted healthcare email marketing best practices and strategies in this guide. Implementing them can help you create effective email campaigns that resonate with your audience and deliver measurable results.

Relatec picks for you

Stacy Kimbell
Stacy Kimbell
Co-founder & Chief Editor
Stacy Kimbell has nine years of experience in email marketing. She's worked with different email platforms and created many successful email campaigns for online and offline, well-established as well as family businesses. Stacy is excited to share her expertise with readers.


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