emailDo you want to email current and potential patients to increase your marketing efforts? Not sure how to get started? Discover how to easily build an email list and use it effectively below.

One of the cheapest, most effective ways to market and grow your practice is through targeted email lists.

In fact, email marketing is considered to be 40 times more effective than social media marketing in a recent survey.

Why? It’s all about the list.

These lists are developed by your office for the sole purpose of informing recipients about what’s going on in your practice. No matter what strategies you’re currently using in your marketing mix, if you’re not collecting email addresses of current and potential patients, you’re missing the boat.

In fact, the boat already sailed. We’re out at sea, waving at you landlubbers.

But don’t worry, here’s your life preserver: start collecting addresses now.

Why Email Lists?

Essentially, these records provide you with the ability to create targeted lists of current and potential patients that you can advertise to on a continual basis for only several dollars a month. This creates a direct line of communication to them which can increase sales, website visits, practice knowledge and word of mouth advertising considerably. The key is to provide them with relevant content they find interesting so they will not only open your email, but will continue to read it and share it within their social circles.

The key is to provide them with relevant content they find interesting so they will not only open your email, but will continue to read it and share it within their social circles.

Emails are also useful because they can go viral, pushing the campaign far beyond its initial reach as people share content. If you’re linking to articles and content on your website, the added boost in traffic is always a benefit. On top of that, the effectiveness of your campaign can be analyzed from a handy online dashboard, allowing you to instantly see what people are reading and clicking, when they’re doing it and how often.

Types of Lists

There are several types of email lists to be aware of.

The first is what’s known as an opt-in list. This is a collection of addresses gathered by a tool with the consent of the subscriber, either directly or indirectly. Think of a website you’ve seen that has a box asking the reader to sign up for updates or to receive free offers. That is an opt-in list.

Next up is the opt-out list. These addresses are purchased or sourced indirectly from group sites, such as telephone companies or email list brokers (yes, there is such a thing). The people on these lists generally don’t realize they’re on a list until the first email gets to their inbox. These lists are not highly recommended as they can make people a little angry, or just plain confused.

Finally there’s the double opt-in list, widely considered the most ethical way to build a list. Here, after collecting an email address, the subscriber is then asked to confirm their subscription again. This way you’re double sure they want to see your content, increasing open rates and retention (even if it takes longer to build a high quantity list).

List Building Tips

Gathering Emails

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a method to gather emails. This is as easy as adding a line to new patient forms requesting they put their email down. When you ask this question, be sure to let them know by writing an email address down they’re consenting to receive occasional updates from your office.

For returning patients, you can ask that they update their contact info the next time they’re in the office. If you’re at an event, create some type of incentive program, such as a free visit or giveaway as a means to collect the data. Be sure to include ways and incentives to join your list via social media as well.

Signing Up

Next, you’ll want to sign up with an email marketing company in order to create, distribute and schedule your message to the addresses you collect. Most are affordable and offer dozens of free templates so you can give your message a professional, enhanced look without much work on your part. MailChimp (the service we use) and Constant Contact are some of the best sites on the market today to help you connect using email newsletters.

Segmenting Lists

One of the most important things you can do is segment and organize your contacts. You want to be as specific as possible and drop each email into a “bucket,” essentially breaking them down into relevant categories.

This is highly effective and will ensure the right patients are receiving the right offers and information. For example, let’s say you offer cosmetic procedures such as Botox as a part of your facial reconstruction practice. Obviously you’d want a list of patients who are interested in the cosmetic side to promote special offers that you may not send to the patients who are strictly seeing you for a reconstruction following an accident.

This target allows you to get the right message in front of the right people instantly.

Creating Your Email

Finally you’ll want to create your email. Here’s a few tips to help you get started:

  • Make the content important and relevant to the recipients
  • Include several links to articles and/or pages on your website
  • Create “exclusive” information or photos a patient may only see if they open the email to make them feel important
  • Come up with a consistent schedule so you aren’t emailing people twice a week for two weeks and then stopping for three months

Be sure to find some time each week to go over your email marketing plan, objectives and results to maximize your return on investment. Happy swimming!