By: Will Koziey-Kronas
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is the process of promoting your practice through email. Regular newsletters directed at patients are a good example of email marketing in the healthcare industry, but generally speaking, any email containing promotional content and/or offers sent en masse to a target audience is an example of email marketing, often an "email newsletter" or "email blast".
If your practice doesn't already run a newsletter, consider it: newsletters help maintain patient retention, ensure existing patients keep you top-of-mind, and forge a greater connection between you and your patients thanks to the increased lines of communication.
You may be wondering how to analyze your newsletter campaigns. Are they effective? What numbers and rates are most important? Statistics and other information, known collectively as analytic's, can give you valuable insights into your campaign, So if these questions sound familiar then read on - this is our cheat sheet and primer!
We'll first address the most important metrics used to judge the success of email marketing campaigns. Then, we'll look at the specific rates you should be aiming for in the healthcare industry.
The Big Two: Open Rate and Click-Through Rate
The first metric - the open rate - is straightforward. Defined as the percentage of recipients who opened your email out of the total number of successful recipients, the open rate is a simple measure of patient interest.
The second, the click-through rate, goes beyond interest, and measures engagement: what percentage of recipients who opened the email, clicked on one or more links within? The click-through is often the most desired metric, indicating that your content and promotions were successful in engaging with your patients.
With these metrics introduced, let's talk numbers. As a healthcare practitioner, what rates should you be looking for? Sources as of February 2017 indicate that the average open rate for the dental industry is 22.43%, and the average click through rate is 2.42%. Those numbers might sound good, or not so good - but again, they represent the “average”, not the ideal. With best practices, and an engaged client manager, UpOnline clients reach average open rates of above 25%, and click-through rates of 8.5% percent.
Watch for Bounces
Another important metric is the bounce rate, often divided into "hard" and "soft" bounces. A soft bounce usually indicates that the recipients inbox is full, or some other temporary error. Your email will be delivered if and when space is available - assuming there are not additional issues that keep a mail server from receiving, like specialized email filters.
A hard bounce - a metric that is easier to take action upon - usually indicates emails that were sent to an address that does not, or no longer exists, or that there exists a greater configuration issue that needs to be resolved. Of course, that means your email is never getting seen by those individuals. The average bounce rate in the healthcare industry is 0.72%. Should your rate exceed that average noticeably, your email list may be in need of maintenance. At UpOnline, we parse email lists for you to ensure that they are correct and up to date, and that your email campaign is reaching a minimum amount of active addresses. We also work with you to ensure regulatory compliance in your region. Over time, we work to reduce your bounce rate.
More than just Retention
That's three important metrics covered, but there are others to keep in mind. We mentioned that newsletters and e-blasts are a great way to engage current patients, but they can be very effective at attracting new ones too. The next two metrics, the growth rate and forward rate, determine the rate at which your campaign’s audience is expanding.
The growth rate outlines your campaign's overall growth (or loss) in open rates over time. If your growth rate is increasing, that means your practice has a good handle on acquiring patient email addresses, and the content is interesting enough to keep existing patients subscribed.
A declining growth rate can mean the reverse: you aren't acquiring enough patient emails on a regular basis, and/or the content is no longer of interest for existing patients. Your list will always lose the occasional email due to patients changing their email addresses, moving out of town, and so on. But those losses should never be responsible for overall decline in your mailing list. At UpOnline, we follow best practices to ensure that your newsletter content is consistently engaging, and that your growth rate stays in the green as opposed to red. That works best if your office consistently checks and updates email addresses in your system, each time patients visit your office.
There you have it - the perspective you need to analyze your practice’s email marketing efforts. If you feel like your newsletter is under-performing, and want more out of your patient communication, feel free to visit or contact us.