5 Best Practices for Email Marketing in Healthcare

By: Alex Greger  | 02/22/2017


In today’s world, with information at one's fingertips – and the variety of choices out there for healthcare – healthcare organizations must nurture relationships with current and prospective patients. This includes educating about treatments, as well as offering general health and wellness information.  This will keep your brand top of mind when a patient or prospect needs something health-related.

Enter email marketing.

A hospital’s patient communications can be a lot more than transactional emails. Through working with many of the largest hospitals in the U.S., we have gathered some best practices when it comes to using email as a communication and/or marketing tactic within the healthcare industry. 

We have broken down our 5 email marketing best practices to staying top of mind with prospective and current patients.

  1. Build a benchmark to measure against

    Health-related content directed towards patients tends to engage a lot more than it would in traditional B2B or SaaS marketing.  Using traditional industry benchmarks could hurt you in the long run, making it look like your campaigns are running much better than they truly are. 

    We recommend pulling historical data and build your own specific benchmarks based on past and future email marketing communications.  This way, you are comparing any future emails and programs to your particular audience and marketing tactics. 

    Below is an example of how we benchmark our healthcare clients:

*Based on current healthcare managed programs by Hileman - Date: 1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016
  1. Educational content over direct sale

    When it comes to the health problems for yourself or loved ones, there is no higher priority. Therefore, people tend to research on their own a lot more than they would to buy a product, hire a company or sell a service.

    We have seen more educational-based emails with topics like patient treatment options, wellness tips, and ways to improve comfort, as well as general information on a diagnosis have gone a lot farther than immediate requests for appointment or finding a location.

  2. Give ability to move quickly if needed

    As mentioned above, we are in an "information first" world, with many different ways to find and consume information. This has changed the patient journey dramatically in the last 10-15 years, giving patients the ability to be more educated and move through the process at their own pace. So, even though we said above that educational emails are better than the direct sale in terms of engagement and keeping your brand top of mind, it's imperative to make it easy for those entering the journey, yet ready to schedule an appointment or make a decision.  This way, at any time, one can click through, call to schedule an appointment or visit a location.

  3. Map the patient journey to the content of email

    Understanding the diagnosis, treatment options, and how patients inform themselves about their recent diagnosis helps align your content strategy. By doing so, you share the most relevant content to the right person at the right time and place. It does not help to share discharge and recovery information about a surgery procedure before they even know what their treatment options are. Ensuring the content flows with the patient journey through a specific diagnosis or disease helps patients stay informed and gain appropriate information when needed.  

  4. Be hyper-targeted and sensitive with content

    Health information is a very sensitive subject, so when sharing and educating, you want to be extra careful that you target the right audience and not accidentally scare or instill fear in anyone. As a best practice, use a gated asset that someone needs to opt-into for information about a particular disease or diagnosis. This way, you know for sure they are interested in receiving additional info about procedures or treatment options.  Also share broader information about treatment options or health and wellness tips that help with a disease, not specific medications/remedies or diagnoses that a doctor or medical expert would provide.

Interested in learning more? Check out our Healthcare Marketing eBook for service-line strategies & beyond.

How do you use email marketing for your healthcare system? I would love to hear your best practices or the experiences you have had using email tactics to communicate with patients. Share in the comments below!


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