The growth potential of your hearing practice ultimately boils down to two metrics: your patient retention rate and your new patient accrual rate. Both figures represent large swaths of related details, but stand alone as strong indicators of how your business is faring overall.
Taking advantage of what digital marketing can do for your practice’s growth and success often means focusing on improving the latter of these two metrics—that is, helping you to attract more new patients through your website and other online listings. But digital marketing is vast. It also includes more subtle branches that not only help increase your visibility online, but also serve to nurture patients that have already chosen you as their hearing healthcare provider.
Email marketing is one of these branches and is a reliable, time-tested means of connecting with your current patient base, as well as reaching new ones. Don’t be fooled by its namesake either—email marketing often doesn’t seem like marketing at all. Monthly email newsletters sent out to your current email list of patients, for instance, would fall under the category of email marketing even if they’re just updates about the current news or happenings at your practice.
When approached this way, your email content is referred to as indirect marketing, as there isn’t any focused pitch or offer being made in the newsletter—it’s just informative content. It does, however, still promote your practice simply by reminding people of your services. Direct marketing can play a role in these emails as well, and as we’ll see, both routes are useful for building an abundant stream of patients to your office.
The benefits of connecting with your patient base through email are significant:
- It’s easy and efficient (no printing, stuffing, or stamping)
- There are plenty of free and inexpensive email services to make it cost-effective
- It’s wide-reaching with nearly everyone using email to communicate (including 95% of baby boomers)
- It lends a personal touch to your practice’s image
The last benefit—of adding a personal appeal to your brand—is worth highlighting. The hearing healthcare marketplace is a crowded one, and standing out often requires developing a rapport or relationship with your patients. While you certainly get the chance to begin that important process while rendering your services, email marketing gives you an easy opportunity to continue nurturing that connection long after they’ve left your office.
This becomes especially true when you focus your emails on providing valuable information to your readers. Including a brief article on a topic that’s commonly asked about is an easy way to create value in your emails. It not only increases the odds that your emails will be read instead of deleted, but it also reinforces the helpful and knowledgeable image of your practice, and—most importantly—keeps you top of mind for your patients.
This is why you want your email newsletters to go out in regular intervals. Keeping your business in the forefront of your patients’ minds is how email marketing organically translates into new patient inquiries. Simply put—your patients will be more likely to recommend your services to their networks when your name, value, and the impression you made on them in person is reinforced by a simple “hello” via email. The most common interval for business newsletters is a month. Monthly emails seem to strike the elusive balance of emailing your list “just enough” to keep them engaged and remembering you, but not so much that they unsubscribe or ignore your emails.
With regards to the type of content you send out, you have the option of making your emails entirely devoted to delivering valuable information, adding in personal details about your office to give it a more personal appeal (i.e. sharing when a staff member is getting married, or if a new member is added to the team, etc), or promoting various deals, offers, or new product selections.
A well-rounded email newsletter often contains all three. Promotions, or other direct marketing elements, don’t have to be in every email—but if you have an offer that never expires, such as a patient referral incentive, you may want to highlight it each time as a reminder. The general rule is to always provide strong value (aka helpful content) alongside any sales pitches or offers. The content you choose to include in each newsletter will set the tone for what your readers expect from you in general, and it’s wise to prove that your emails are worth opening for their educational or personal value alone, even if readers aren’t interested in any discounts or offers you might include.
Beyond sending these newsletters out to your existing patient base, you should also consider building an email list of potential patients. The most obvious source for this is your website, where a simple newsletter sign-up form can capture the emails of anyone interested in receiving news, discounts, and helpful information from your practice. You can also invite prospective patients who email or call inquiring about your practice to sign up. To reach out to your current patients’ networks, you can even create incentives for them to invite friends and family to simply sign up for your newsletter as an easy introduction to your services and special offers. To take your email list growth a step further, you could create an especially helpful piece of content, like a detailed article or video series, and allow access to it only upon receiving the name and email of those interested (commonly referred to as gated content).
Regardless of how you decide to create your email list, be it from current patients only or the active pursuit of potential ones as well, it’s important to keep your email marketing mindset as “content first.” When readers see you provide consistent value through your free email newsletters each month, they’re bound to consider that your paid services are even more impressive.
Any chance you seize to reveal your knowledgeable, personable, and trustworthy qualities, the better off your practice (and brand) will be. Let email newsletters be a monthly reminder of the quality care you provide.