Sending a patient education newsletter monthly increases your branding, keeps you top-of-mind with patients, and more …
Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with patients, increasing their engagement with your practice while building your authority as a health care provider. Whether you’re looking to start this type of communication or already send a patient education newsletter but want to ramp it up, there are five things you must have first.
Your patient’s consent
Your patient must consent to receive your newsletter to meet compliance requirements. HubSpot explains that this consent can be implied or explicit.
Consent is implied if the patient gives you their email address but doesn’t outright say that you can use it for marketing purposes. Consent is explicit if they had to take some type of action to agree to receive your newsletter, such as by signing a form or going through an opt-in process.
While either is acceptable, HubSpot does indicate that taking the step to get explicit consent can help ensure that your communications are legally compliant. It also helps keeps your practice from developing a reputation as an email spammer.
Utilizing a patient education newsletter creation and delivery service
You can send patients a monthly email and call it a newsletter, or you can use an online service to create and send communication that has more of a newsletter feel. The latter can make it easier to stay in touch with patients as the service provider will help manage your contact list for you. It also enhances the recipient’s experience with a more appealing design.
PC Magazine shares that the best email marketing software overall is Salesforce. HubSpot gained the top spot for scalable marketing plans, Mailchimp was named the best for offering e-commerce options, and Sendinblue earned the top distinction for small business marketing automation.
A list (and calendar) of topics you want to cover
Sending a patient education newsletter monthly means that you need 12 or more “feature” topics to cover in your communications. Creating a list upfront keeps you from getting ready to send your newsletter only to realize that you don’t know what type of information to include. While coming up with a list of 12 different things may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. You can talk about one topic in a few different ways, supplying unique information in each communication.
For instance, in one newsletter, you might share a couple of exercises that patients can do to ease sciatica pain. In another newsletter, you could talk about how research supports acupuncture for sciatica relief. If you sell products, include topics tied to their use. If you have a new service, talk about that. The options are limitless.
Once you have your list, use it to create a calendar of when each topic will be discussed. Consider holidays, other annual events, or what might be going on during a specific time of year to increase topic relevance. If several of your patients play football, for example, July is a good time to talk about ways to prevent injuries while training or on the field as it is right before the season starts. February is American Heart Month, making this a good time to discuss topics relevant to heart health.
The body of your content
The next must-have for a patient education newsletter is content. The good news is that, for newsletter purposes, each section of content is relatively small. A paragraph or two is often enough for written content. If your content is video-based, keep it under two minutes. Make your content too lengthy and your patient may delete your newsletter without looking at it. Worse yet, they might even unsubscribe.
Content can be created by you or your staff, or you can hire someone to develop it for you. There is no right or wrong approach. It’s more about whether you enjoy the content creation process and if you have the time. If neither of these applies, outsourcing your content creation can help you continue to provide a newsletter without draining your energy or time.
Regular review of newsletter performance
You’re not done with a newsletter once it is sent. Like any other marketing method, it’s important to track whether it is effective. This information is often available through your newsletter delivery service.
If your newsletter’s open rate is low, changing your subject lines may help. If it has a high bounce rate or a large number of patients are unsubscribing, this is a sign that your content is not engaging enough, or it may be too long. Try different approaches and see what works.
Another option is to talk to your patients and get their input. The more you personalize your newsletters to their wants and needs, the greater your content’s effect — and the greater your ability to continue to promote your services and products.