Most marketing strategies on the web focus on the website. While the website is central to any web strategy, making it your strategy’s only component means you’re missing out on other powerful web marketing tools. Of these other tools, e-mail is perhaps the most useful. E-mail communications are an excellent way to reach patients with your message quickly and virtually cost-free.
But, how does your message go out? The most cost-effective way is to distribute an e-newsletter. An e-newsletter allows you to reach your patients quickly, and with little investment in time or money. Sending an e-newsletter is a three-step process from start to finish: Cultivation, Creation and Distribution.
Step 1: Cultivation
Before you can send out your e-newsletter, you’ll need people to send it to. Begin asking your patients for their e-mail addresses on new patient forms and other office paperwork, and ask them on the forms if they would like to receive your e-newsletter, information on seminars, special offers, etc. You can also provide a link on your practice’s website for visitors to sign up for the newsletter. When you give community health talks or exhibit at wellness fairs, be sure to extend the e-newsletter offer to the many potential patients attending those events.
With some time, you should have a steady bank of people who have signed up to receive your message. These people can be entered into your e-mail program’s address book, or in a simple database that you can use to send out mailings.
Step 2: Creation
When you’re ready to send out your e-newsletter, you should strive for a compelling subject line. In an e-mail inbox, the subject line separates the messages that get read and those that don’t. Try to think of a subject that would make you open the message – without going overboard.
After the subject is the body of the newsletter. The body can be comprised of just about anything you feel is pertinent to the health of your patients (or potential patients). Whether you decide to tell them about office news or health conditions you can treat, it’s important to include something on which the recipient will act. Ask the reader to forward the message to a friend, and/or to call your office for details on a specific item in the newsletter. At the very least, ask the recipient to click on a link to visit your website.
Be sure to offer recipients a way to unsubscribe from your e-mail newsletter, but frame the verbiage in a positive way (i.e., “We’re sure you’ll find as much value in our e-newsletters as our other loyal readers have, but if you would like to unsubscribe for any reason, please send us an e-mail and let us know.”)
Step 3: Distribution
The simplest way to distribute your message is to send the message out to a group of people via a simple e-mail program. To do this, create a group of contacts that are comprised of the e-mail addresses you gathered, and when your message is ready, send it to those contacts.
Of course, you’ll need an Internet access account to send your message, but the mail transaction (unlike U.S. mail) is free. More elaborate ways to send your message can involve databases and merges of addresses, but in the beginning you can keep things simple.
Your e-newsletter can play an integral role in your overall web strategy, boosting your practice growth by reaching your patients and sparking referrals and reactivations along the way.