It comes down to basics such as setting goals, crafting relevant content, and evaluating your efforts, says email marketing specialist Kate Bluhm.
Get your email marketing campaign in shape with six best practices for success.
Set Clear Goals For Your Email Marketing Campaign
Eager to get patients to review your practice online? Want to increase monthly appointments or referrals to your business? Every successful campaign starts with a purpose — an endgame — so it’s important to know yours before sending a single email or otherwise investing time, labor, and money in the process.
“The No. 1 thing is making sure you’ve clearly defined those goals, and what it is you’re wanting to measure with the emails,” says Kate. “What is going to be an effective email for you and your business?”
It’s hard to measure results, know if and when to adjust key tactics, or even develop an effective message without first determining your objectives — what matters to you and your practice — so give a good amount of attention to this step.
Use a Professional Email Marketing Platform
It’s possible to launch a DIY email campaign using a basic email service such as Google’s Gmail, but nothing takes the place of higher-level platforms that are specially designed for email marketing, let you create templates with a more sophisticated look and feel, and reduce the risk of being labeled a spammer.
“Going with an email marketing platform is always your best bet because you’re able to design an email to look like your brand, utilizing your logo or colors,” says Kate. “You can also create different links and images that really capture somebody’s attention and want to hold them, whereas nobody’s going to pay attention to a plain-text email when you’re trying to market something.”
Professional-grade platforms also help you:
- Track metrics such as click rate, open rate, bounces from bad addresses, and more
- Ensure the email will display correctly across diverse mobile and desktop devices, email clients, and operating systems
Rock the Subject Line
Other than the sender name, what’s the first thing you notice in an email? Likely the subject line. Marketing emails live and die by this essential element, so you can’t afford to give it short shrift.
“The subject line is probably the most important thing of an email,” says Kate, “because you want people to open it, read your content, and then take all of those other steps like clicking on a link or making that phone call to schedule an appointment.”
These email marketing subject line basic reminders go a long way:
- Understand your target audience, including the needs and interests that drive them.
- Think of the subject line as the beginning of a compelling story.
- Keep copy to a maximum 50 characters — including spaces — so it fully fits in the window.
- Use education (“5 Ways to …”), problem-solving (“Fed Up With …?”), urgency (“Last Day to …!”), anticipation (“They’re Here! Get Your …”), deals (“Save 50% Off …”), current events (“Best Back-to-School …”), empathy (“We Heard You, and We’re On It …”), and other approaches that speak directly to your audience’s motivations.
- Test two different subject lines when possible — with half of your audience getting version A, the other getting version B — to gauge which approach results in a higher open rate.
Maximize the Preview Text
If the subject line launches the story, then the preview text — those one to two lines of copy that may appear beneath the subject line in your email inbox — helps continue it, offering a last chance to pull the reader in.
A subject line such as “Tired of replacing phone batteries?” may be paired with preview text that teases more details. For example: “Come see our new line of solar-operated devices — buy 1, get 2!”
Just be sure to keep the text to 75 characters — including spaces — so it all fits within the designated window.
“More and more email marketing programs are supporting preview text,” says Kate. “It’s really beneficial because it allows you to elaborate on that subject line.”
Deliver Good Email Marketing Content
Getting patients and prospects to open your email is more than half the battle, but how do you keep their attention once you’ve cleared that hurdle? It’s all about providing timely, relevant content that helps build a connection.
That may involve providing lists of important things that might be beneficial to the reader, advises Kate, or it might concern a new product or service your business is offering.
“With the content inside, it all depends on your messaging that you’re wanting to do,” says Kate. “I like to think of e-newsletters, for example, as educational and maintaining and building that relationship with your customers.”
It could also be “something that just keeps your practice top of mind for your customers,” adds Kate. “Or if it’s event-based, making sure you hit those points that describe what’s in it for the customer. Why are they going to want to come to your event or register for that event?”
Technology evolves, consumer habits change, and audiences can sometimes prove fickle, which makes analyzing your marketing campaign results and keeping an eye on trends an important part of staying atop your email game.
As mentioned earlier, goal-setting helps determine what to measure in evaluating results — the number of registrants for an event or the increase in monthly appointments, for example — but a key measurement for any email campaign is the open rate, which tracks the percentage of recipients who opened the message.
“A good average open rate within the health care industry would be around 19 percent, which might seem low but is actually quite good for this sector,” says Kate.
Click rates, which reflect the percentage of recipients who select at least one link within the content — a button, for example, that leads to more information or a fillable form — are a lot lower in the industry.
Does it take a lot of patients or prospects for that 2 percent to make a difference? In many instances, no. A smaller business, for example, doesn’t necessarily want customer traffic to quickly swell beyond what it can reasonably handle.
“Ultimately it comes down to the goals that you’ve set for this email or that campaign,” advises Kate. “Maybe one of those few clicks is somebody scheduling an appointment. They come in and purchase a product. That would probably be more beneficial to you than having a ton of people scheduling an appointment or wanting to learn more about some service that you offer.”