Newsletters create interest and keep your patients engaged
SENDING A NEWSLETTER IS AN EFFECTIVE RETENTION, REFERRAL AND MARKETING TOOL. I’ve been sending a newsletter to my patients every month for 13 years. Initially, it didn’t produce the results I expected because I used a standard newsletter template, limited the audience to my own patients and only delivered it via email.
Mail versus email
I may have had some results, but patients didn’t engage with it and it didn’t produce big results. Then I started mailing it out, and after five months, it improved retention. Once I finally injected my personality into the newsletter, it became one of the best business weapons in our practice. I have shared this with many, but most didn’t want to take the time to write a newsletter.
This article will illustrate a step-by-step process for creating a newsletter.
Why are newsletters important in chiropractic?
Staying in touch regularly with your patients is one of the best ways to retain patients in your practice. The number one reason patients quit coming to your office isn’t that they were unhappy; it’s typically because they forgot you existed.
A newsletter is a great tool to help patients stay engaged. If you do it correctly, it also makes it easier for them to make a referral. Other touchpoints outside a newsletter could be weekly emails, birthday cards, special events or workshops for your office. In addition, engaged patients are more likely to refer their friends, family members and co-workers to your practice.
Newsletters make it easy to share content
Within the newsletter, I also provide “sharable” content patients can forward to a friend. Social media has virility because of shareable content, and if you make your newsletters enjoyable with shareable content and inject your personality into it, it will be a successful newsletter.
I like mailing and emailing our newsletter, because the consumption rate has increased significantly. We all get a lot of emails, some of which we intend to consume later, but typically need to remember about. If it’s printed and mailed, it will be consumed; if it is consumed, patients become engaged with your practice.
Some owners can be concerned about injecting their personality into the business if they do not see patients anymore, but that is something you need to get over. I can assure you that Elon Musk isn’t assembling cars or cranking out lines of code for the Tesla, and Dave Thomas hasn’t been grilling burgers at Wendy’s.
Some CEOs and celebrities will attach themselves to a brand to promote it. Michael Jackson moved the needle with Pepsi vs. Coke; Ryan Reynolds was the co-owner of Aviation Gin, which sold for more than $600 million. I can’t imagine he was a master of distilling gin or a distribution expert, but he is a likable brand. My wife doesn’t even drink gin, but she insisted we buy the bottle one day to try it because she likes Ryan Reynolds.
Injecting your personality and family adventures into your newsletter boosts your brand and creates an attachment to your business. Remember, people do business with people, so attaching your persona to your business through your newsletter will help it succeed.
The following are some tips and tricks to make your newsletter more successful.
Tips and tricks for writing a newsletter
Make it interesting. Save interesting emails, articles or portions of a book patients may find interesting and create an idea bank.
Use a theme. Having a theme for each issue around the month makes it easier if you follow a formula. For example, in January, you can discuss New Year’s resolutions, weight loss, detox, goal-setting and how your family applies that in their life. February can have a Valentine’s theme, and you can discuss the history of a holiday. In March, you can talk about St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, spring or special seasonal events in your area.
Set a schedule. Send the newsletter every month at the same cadence. I send mine out on the first Wednesday of the month. Consistency matters a lot; it will take five months of consistent newsletters to gain traction.
Ensure delivery. Make sure it gets delivered. It will only get opened and consumed if it gets delivered. That’s why I prefer to mail over email. I do both, but the physically mailed newsletter creates the relationship with your patients. If you only want to email it, send it to patients who visited in the last two years or less.
Do not send your newsletter to every email you have on your list. At the bare minimum, you need to run your emails through a service like emailable.com. This will purge your bad emails, which will increase your deliverability. Bad emails do not mean typos. If someone doesn’t use their email, that is considered a bad email.
Email services like Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo look at your open rates, response rates and errors. If they see a large amount of unopened or “not responded” emails, you look like a spammer. Your score gets lowered and you go into the “promotions” folder on Google, then eventually SPAM. Once this starts happening, it’s a vicious cycle, and it only gets worse. If patients do not open their emails, companies will flag your email as a spam account.
Make it engaging. With your content, you should consider things that prompt a response or even special activities, such as bringing the newsletter into the practice with the answer to a riddle or question, so they get a free 15-minute chair massage. Consider having a patient of the month, which highlights their success. Consider creating shareable content, such as the symptom of the month, an article about a service you offer or some health tips readers can share with a friend. This makes it easier to generate referrals for your practice, because it’s much easier for a neighbor to share content than to engage with you and tell you about their chiropractor. Your goal is for your patients to engage with the newsletter, consume its content and eventually let you become part of their life.
How to format the newsletter
- I recommend a standard masthead (the section that identifies who makes the newsletter and where it comes from) and a tagline at the top of your newsletter, which gives it a common identity.
- The opening article is the most important and should not be about your business. It’s all about connecting with your patients here. I typically relate the monthly theme with something happening locally with the Hashimoto family. I may also mention a local event in the area.
- I put a symptom of the month, therapy of the month or something a patient can hand to a friend describing a problem and how we solve it. This is shareable content, which is how the newsletter generates referrals.
- Include patient of the month, referral incentives or staff member highlights.
- Value-added content could be recipes, puzzles, jokes or trivia.
- I always end with a final thought, which may be a follow-up from my opening article or something our family did last month.
- I always ask for a referral at the end of the newsletter.
How do you know if the newsletter works?
Just stop mailing it one month to your patients, and if they say, “hey, I didn’t get my newsletter last month,” you know it is working, because now people are looking forward to it.
NAOTA HASHIMOTO, DC, is the cofounder of trackstat.org, patient-tracking software that allows admins to attract and convert new patients while ensuring existing patients stay in your practice. It offers new ways to retain patients, as well as ways for staff to communicate and schedule patients, while providing you all the metrics of success.