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Medical Email Marketing - What you aren’t doing now but should be

In 1971 the first network email message was sent between computers and since then email has had it’s highs and lows from “You’ve got mail!” to “SPAM SPAM SPAM”

Since 1971 email has become an integral part of our daily lives.  Now my 21 year old daughter claims that email is “too slow” and she barely used it until she got into college — where email communication with professors is required.  And the same will be true when she enters the business world, email communication will be required.

Email is still the life blood of Internet messaging.  Social media sites will come and go but email will remain.  And the power of email in marketing has never been seen more fully than in the recent and rapid growth of Groupon, Living Social and others.  Email remains the glue behind marketing messages.  Potential customers may find out about you from search engines but it is email that keeps them coming back.  And unless you are selling products bought on impulse, it will be email that helps you nurture the prospect through the buying cycle and build your relationship with them.

However there are still some critical issues we come across when looking at medical email marketing campaigns.  Keys to successful campaigns that should be implemented but usually are not.

1. Building a list but not sending to the list

What could look worse than getting a visitor to your site to trust you with their beloved email address and then you never email them.  Or you wait a week or month or year and then start sending them content.  This can quickly become the chicken and egg problem but it needs to be dealt with.  Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of not creating content simply because you don’t have anybody registered on your list.  You must have  a content plan in place before the first user signs up.  And you must have resources allocated to sending consistent campaigns as your list grows.

2.  Using your best content in your emails

Oh no!  Tomorrow is the first of the month and we have to send out our newsletter.  What are we going to write?  I’ll get to newsletters later.  First let’s look at what is wrong with the idea of creating content specifically for email and feeling pressured to get the content out.  Email works best when it is an extension of your overall marketing strategy.  If you are creating content strictly for an email, your email marketing process is upside down.  Content drives traffic and engagement on your site.  The purpose of email is to drive more traffic to your site.  This means your email marketing should be highlighting the content on your site and not creating original content.  When your email format becomes simply including:

  • Monthly promotion on the web site
  • Most popular articles from the web site
  • Top before and after pictures from your web site

Now your email campaign almost creates itself based on the activity from your site.  AND what is even better about this strategy is people love receiving information on the latest and most popular content on your site.  Now your email is saving them time and money (popular article and promotion) and your email is welcomed when it is received instead of being rushed content because the 1st of the month was approaching.

3.  Putting your newsletter to sleep

I don’t know about you but I don’t open a single ‘Newsletter’ in my email inbox unless I have been asked to review it.  What I do open are emails that are timely and relevant to who I am.  When we have drought conditions in our area, Scotts Lawn Care will send me an email ‘Protect your lawn now to survive the drought’ and I will open the email and consume it because:

  • It is targeted specifically to my lawn type and region
  • It was timely (current drought conditions)
  • It was relevant (I enjoy having a thriving green lawn)

Now if they want to include company news in the email, they can do this.  But it isn’t the primary purpose of the email.  The purpose of the email was to help me protect my lawn from drought.  In medical marketing this could be a series of emails timed out and sent after a procedure with recovery tips (and additional products/services at the bottom).  These timely and relevant emails require more effort to setup but once in place, you will see open rates and click-through rates 10 times those of traditional newsletters.

4.  Progressively profiling your leads

I hate to tell you this but all of the 5,000 names in your email database are not equal.  Some of those names are marketing qualified.  Some are sales qualified.  And some may not know how you got their name

A primary goal in your email marketing efforts is to let the cream of that list float to the top so you can scrape it off and turn the cream into customers.  When a recipient of your email clicks a link in the email and browses your site, are you recording the content they viewed?  We call this progressive profiling and it allows the email campaigns for our customers to be highly targeted and relevant to the user.  Most email providers will allow you to track click-throughs.  But what happens if the user clicks on a Botox link in the email and after browsing your site, they spend quite a bit of time reading up on liposuction or face lifts?  Would you want to know this when you send them the next email?  Web marketing is built on data and if you are missing out on this user data, you are missing a huge opportunity to leverage your email list.  Now you can’t send the liposuction content to everyone on your list because they aren’t all interested in it.  But this visitor who was just reading about it on your site would probably appreciate additional information on the procedure.  Now your are catering to their interests instead of forcing material upon them.

5.  Using triggered emails based on actions

I’ve never liked the name drip campaigns but we use the name anyhow.  Basically a drip campaign is a predefined email campaign (usually 5 to 15 messages) spread out over a couple of months intended to nurture a lead that took some particular action on your site.  Building off the liposuction example above, this visitor could now be added to a triggered drip email campaign to receive 10 liposuction tips in 10 weeks. Each email is filled with information about liposuction and each email builds your reputation with the prospective patient — helping reinforce not only the procedure but also your ability to complete the procedure.  The beauty of triggered email drip campaigns is that they are write once and send many times.  We have had campaigns running for years with only occasional tweaking of the content.  What could be better than sending timely, relevant content that you didn’t stress out about getting completed before the 1st of the month

6. Scoring your leads

Over time names on your email list will move from hot to cold and back to hot again in the buying cycle.  If you aren’t scoring your leads, you have no idea which names in your list are currently hot or currently cold.  Imagine the opportunity when you can segment your list by lead score and send a re-engagement email to everyone who was hot but has now become cold.  Further segment the list by products/services they are interested in, and you have a powerful sales weapon at your disposal.  Now that liposuction prospect who received your drip campaign 4 months ago but never scheduled a visit can hear about the latest laser procedure.  And you save yourself the embarrassment of sending the same email to the patient who received the procedure yesterday.

Email marketing is still the glue that empowers the rest of your marketing efforts.  Collecting email addresses helps you identify social media influencers, visitors to your site, and allows you to market in a scalable and cost effective fashion.  All 6 items in my list above can not be handled by your $50 or $100/mo email providers.   They require a lead nurturing and marketing automation system to be integrated into your site.  Lead nurturing systems generally start around $500-$1,000/mo and work their way up from their based on features.


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About Marc
Marc Ohmann is president of Digital Solutions, Inc in Minneapolis. Digital Solutions is the company behind the MDWebPro blog and tool set. Marc was a computer science and engineering student at the University of Minnesota in 1999 when he started Digital Solutions. Marc, now a husband and father of 3, greatly enjoys the clients and creativity he is involved in each day through Digital Solutions. Follow Marc on Twitter @marcohmann and @MDWebPro and also on Google Plus

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