Patient communication is one of the foundations of any healthcare practice. In an ever-evolving digital world, it can be difficult to grab the attention of new patients, and keep the interest of existing ones. Newsletters offer a dynamic and personalized approach for you to keep patients engaged, and also promote and grow your practice in a trackable, strategic way. If you're looking to retain existing patients, and also acquire new ones, here are a few reasons newsletters might be the tool you've been searching for.
Email newsletters are one of the most effective ways of boosting your patient engagement. In fact, a recent study of 300 unique demographic target markets found that online newsletters generate a 70% higher response rate than printed counterparts. There are many ways you can encourage engagement through a newsletter. One way is to include informative articles in newsletters but instead of posting the entire article in the newsletter, include a "read full article" button right after an eye catching title and excerpt. You should also include links to your website and social media platforms, which after receiving and reading through a newsletter, a potential or returning patient is more likely to press, whether to book an appointment or just request to more information. Engagement does not stop after you have sent out your newsletter. Once sent, you should add past newsletters to a section on your website. A tip to keep in mind is to add past newsletters as text links, not graphics, making it easier for search engines to locate your articles and enjoy and increased SEO benefit. If there is an article in particular that might be of interest to a broader audience (not only applicable to your patients) someone might stumble across your website during an internet search. For those doing research on a particular topic, it is possible that they cite your article, further boosting your website back-links.
Now once you’ve had that increased engagement, newsletters make it easy to measure just by how much. A newsletter can provide instant, trackable results. The two key pieces of information you will likely be tracking are your open rates, and click-through rates so you can strategically monitor and work to improve. This allows you to see which type of content your patients are most interested in, which content is not doing as well, and what changes to make accordingly. If you revamp your newsletter format or implement a drastic change, seeing a rise or drop in your monthly rates provides an instant source of feedback that could be used to improve and modify your approach with articles and other content.
Compared to social media posts, an email newsletter permits you more freedom of flexibility and control over the content you include, the angle with which you present it, and how often you send it out. Of course there are some newsletter best practices you should keep in mind, but even so, you are able to control and personalize your content. You know your patients and what most of them would find interesting. You can even tailor specific versions of the newsletter to different patients, for example those who have come in for a recent cleaning and those who have not. With Facebook or Twitter, any interaction you initiate with your followers is restricted by the guidelines and format of the platform. There are only certain types of posts you can share, as well as character limits that while useful in their own context, aren't compatible with a newsletter format. In fact, these websites could lose a large portion of their active users, similar to the likes of MySpace, or completely restructure their primary algorithm like Instagram, or entirely get rid of a popular and useful feature as IMDB demonstrated earlier this year with their message boards. This is something you don't have to worry about with newsletters. When you gather emails for a mailing list, the data you obtain is yours. If you find that the server you are using to put together and schedule your newsletters is no longer fitting your goals, you can always switch to a better option and be assured that your email list is not going anywhere. A list of patients is a priceless asset for your practice as a whole as it gives you total flexibility over how you communicate with your patients.
Related Article : 5 Tips on How to Create a Great e-Newsletter
AutomationWhile newsletters do provide a great way to personalize and control your content, they also make things more convenient by allowing for automation of some components which would be otherwise require tedious effort to complete manually. Firstly, scheduling. Regardless of the time you finish editing the newsletter, or the time you are available to publish, or if you want to send one out weeks in advance, you can ensure that it reaches mailboxes at a time selected by you to be optimal for engagement. Being able to pre-schedule newsletters to be sent out is a great way to be consistent and precise. Another way automation plays a role in newsletters is through bouncebacks. After deployment, in a few mere instants you will be able to identify undeliverables and then make an effort to correct and resend them. Your feedback statistics will also give you a better idea of how frequently you should be sending out your newsletters, and which times you should be sending them out to see the best results.
As a healthcare professional who prioritizes patient education, newsletters will complement all your ongoing efforts. Many patients will often either forget or not be attentive to all the information you provide to them during appointments. Through a newsletter, you can send articles to reinforce what you have already mentioned in person. Articles can include information related to new or updated service offerings, additional solutions or treatments, and even just general topics about good hygiene and best practices. In doing so, you are informing your patients of potential concerns, and reminding them that you are the solution. You can fortify this by increasing awareness of specialty services and equipment you personally offer.
Beyond this, newsletters are a great way to educate and inform patients about current healthcare issues in a non-confrontational way, allowing them to read the information at their own leisure and not feel overwhelmed or singled out. By keeping your patients informed and educated, you are also increasing the chances of them complying with your treatment recommendations, and actively doing more to improve their health as per your advice. Additionally, the more you customize your content, making it relatable and applicable to your patients and office in particular, the more your patients will actively choose to read the entirety of it. Sharing tidbits about ongoings in your office will personalize your content, making patients feel like they know you better, and overall make reading more enjoyable. In fact, 85% of patients enjoy receiving and reading their patient newsletter. You're actively engaging with patients, reminding them to consider their health, and fostering an active and attentive relationship with them.
Source of ReferralsAlong with educating your current patients, a monthly newsletter acts as an excellent tool for acquiring new patients as well. This is arguably one of the major benefits of having a newsletter for your practice. Patients can easily share or forward newsletters with friends and family members that may be on the search for a new healthcare practice, or dealing with a specific issue. Whether this be through the ease of hitting forward on an email, or clicking a "Refer a Friend" link you include in your newsletter, you can make the referral process easy. In fact, dentists report that of all new patients, the most lucrative new patients are those who were referred to them by existing patients. This is understandable as people are more likely to trust and try something recommended by family and friends. Specifically, a study has found that 77% of young people would trust endorsements by friend or family members. With that considered, your newsletters are a prime opportunity for acquiring not just any new patients, but new patients that are more likely to become returning patients.
A newsletter is also a great way to promote and establish the branding of your practice. Having a cohesive and consistent design, style, or colour scheme in your newsletter layout can often be enough to familiarize patients with your brand. If it is something they are consistently seeing and reading, it becomes more recognizable and something they will associate with comfort for future appointments. Essentially, the consistency of your newsletter will encourage patients to think about you more often and positively than they would otherwise. Especially when you're sending them content that applies to their lives, they start to think of you as a proactive industry leader, not just another company.
For tips on how to establish a brand for your healthcare practice, see our related article Branding: The Underrated Step to Building a Successful Healthcare Practice.
DirectIn addition to providing gentle reminders that benefit your patients without being overly confrontational, newsletters provide a larger chance of your patients actually being receptive. On a platform such as a Twitter, you only reach a certain percentage of your followers' newsfeeds, with rates as low as 2-3%. Even with that, it is easy to miss a post on a busy newsfeed that is constantly refreshing. Through email, you are sending your newsletter directly to inboxes. There is no algorithm hindering which of your email list subscribers will actually receive your newsletter. The best part is that newsletters allow you to be direct without being overbearing. Especially if you choose to include a reminder about the importance of regular checkups, newsletters are less confrontational than a phone call or personal message on Facebook.
Cost Efficientmore of an incentive to book an appointment. Of course, patient communication in general is a time commitment, but newsletters are really easy to outsource to marketing companies like UpOnline. If you find that you are not the strongest writer or graphic designer, and have other high priority tasks, delegating the work to a specialist will ensure your newsletters are always completed and sent on time, and top quality.
If you want to learn more about the newsletter management service we offer, contact an UpOnline representative to learn more.