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Top 10 Ways For Medical Practices to Grow Email Marketing Lists

Email marketing is a cost-effective and immediate vehicle for actively communicating with clients and prospects. To put it simply: the bigger your list grows, the less you pay per email distribution. And any effort you put into securing email marketing permission from your existing clientele can pay off in a big way in the months and years ahead.

In part two of our email marketing series, CEO Ryan Miller discusses the top 10 tips you can immediately utilize to start building a quality list of subscribers, as well as the dos and don’ts of email list growth in the medical marketing industry.

Did you miss part one of our email marketing series? Not to worry — you can read it here and download our free email marketing self-assessment form.


Video Transcription

Hi again and welcome back, it’s Ryan Miller with Etna Interactive. We’re going to talk this week about 10 great ways to grow your email marketing list. Now, if you caught our newsletter last month, you’re already clued into the idea that those metrics, the growth of your list, is really important to the clinic.

But let’s talk for a second about, based on who you are inside the practice and what your role is, you’re probably going to consume this video differently.

If you’re a practice leader, the takeaway that we want you to have is that it matters that you’re focused on ways to grow your list. If you’re a marketing manager inside the clinic, you’re going to watch a little bit further, and we’re going to look at some specific ideas —10 of them in particular — that you can use to help that list grow.

Now, why do we care about list size?

Well, it’s really simple. The cost to distribute each email is roughly the same whether you have 10 or 10,000 subscribers. So as the list gets bigger, it’s more efficient, or cost-effective, for you to send out each distribution. Now, before you get too excited, remember that we’re in the medical space, so we have to be mindful and follow the laws that are out there about how exactly we go about growing that list.

The Don’ts

HIPAA and Can-SPAM laws ultimately govern what we can do with emails that we collect in the course of patient care. So, you may not use those emails that you gather on patient intake forms to grow your email subscriber list unless you expressly get permission from the patient to add their name to that list. Well, how do you do that? You might need to modify your form adding a checkbox or a place where the patient can initial giving you permission to add them onto the list. Just remember: if you’re grabbing those emails as a part of care, those don’t count. You cannot add those to your list or you’re going to be violating patient privacy.

We need to be concerned about focusing on list growth because, well, the rules are fairly simple. Each year, depending on whose data you look at, about one in every five patients is going to leave your list. They might do so because they don’t feel connected to your content. They might do so because their email changes, or they change jobs, and they’re no longer receiving email at an older address. So, it’s really important that we’re looking at growing the list at a rate of better than 20% every year. Otherwise, we’re going to be flatlining in terms of our total list size.

Our last warning for you here, because some of you are going to be encouraged to do exactly this: the danger or the quicksand that we want you to stay away from is buying lists.

You probably get approached all the time in emails by people who would like to sell you names of potential patients in your market. This is a bad idea because having people on your list who don’t want to be there? They’re going to mark your email as spam and it’s going to bring down the deliverability and the success of your distribution, making it harder for you to reach those potential patients and patients who actually want to get your message.

The Do’s

Now, the warnings aside, let’s start talking about what do we do to grow those lists. Here’s 10 ideas, and they’re organized into three key categories, that you can use and you can check yourself to see if you’re doing everything you can to grow that list.

Promoting your subscription in-office.

I think this one is probably the area that’s most often overlooked. It’s promoting subscription to your email newsletter while patients are in the office. Think about it: These are people who are directly connected to you and your brand. They’ve done business with you in the past. That should be one of the easiest vehicles available to you to grow your list.

Use signage to promote your list.

Make people aware as they’re in the office, that the list is an option. Explaining to them the value and the reason why that they, why they would want to ultimately subscribe.

Update office forms to collect consent.

Make sure those office forms that we talked about a moment ago are updated so that the emails you do collect are emails that you can use by and are able to add them directly onto the list.

Capture subscriptions during events.

Be sure that you’re capturing subscriptions when you’re doing things like hosting events inside your office. Look for those opportunities to take activities in the real world and transform them into opportunities to grab new subscribers.

Check protocols and add names to the list daily.

An interesting thing where we see practices fall down is, they gather the names and then they forget to actually add them on to their lists. Adding them to practice management software may not be the same as getting them in your email marketing software, so make sure you have a process at the end of each business day to add people in a timely manner onto that list.

Tip: Provide an instant reward for subscribers.

Now here’s the thing, a little pro tip here. We see a lot of clinics that are really focused on using email marketing well actually providing incentives either for their staff or, more commonly, for patients who subscribed that day while they’re in the office. How would it work? Have someone subscribe, show you their phone that they’ve successfully been added, and they might earn something like an instant $25 off that day’s treatment.

Subscribe them on your site.

  • Offer subscription forms across the site. Now, the next thing, and this is the one that we generally get right, especially for Etna clients because we take care of this for you, are subscribing those people directly on the site.
  • Include the opt-in option on contact forms. You would like to add a simple standalone form on each one of the pages of your site — it might be in the footer, it might manifest as a pop-up. In addition to that, we want to go the next step further and include an option to opt-in (it’s an opt-in, not an opt-out) on each one of the major forms on your site, like your contact form or your consultation request form.
  • Check the connection and test that addresses are added to your list. And we want to test those connections. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve on-boarded a new client and check their forms only to learn that for years they had a checkbox on their form, but it never actually subscribed that person immediately onto their list. So, we want to make sure that the forms you use on your website are actually connected to the software that you use to run your email marketing.

Tip: Test your form on mobile. 

Now here’s the pro tip: Check your forms on mobile and make sure that the auto-fill works correctly. It’s a little matter of programming to get that right. We want those forms to be super simple for people to use when they’re on their mobile phones.

Now the final piece here, this is the third major bucket and I’m guessing this is only going to be appropriate for those of you who are in kind of an advanced position in the way that you’re approaching marketing for your clinic.

Use an integrated approach.

  • Encourage sharing as an example in each distribution. Providing the tools and the incentives for people to forward those messages that you send out along to their friends.
  • Use PPC and social media ads to grow your list. Look at using things like your pay-per-click advertising and your social media ads to run campaigns to directly promote list subscription. Ads aren’t just for immediate generation. For many of the people that you reach through those advertisements, they may be more inclined today to connect with you and your newsletter, so you earn the opportunity to connect with them in the future.
  • Cross promote your list on things like your email signature file, on YouTube, and your blog. Looking at each one of these channels where you’re active online as a chance to talk about the value of joining you on your subscriber list.
  • Run a campaign with a downloadable resource. I think one of our favorite ideas is running a campaign with a downloadable resource (like an e-book) that patients will value, that’s going to help them as a part of their journey, and at the same time, offering a box that they can check in order to subscribe to your list.
  • Use online contests to capture registrations. Contests are a major driver for interest among your target patient audience. Use that moment in time as you’re running a contest to not just gain registrations, but also to gain subscriptions into that list.

So, the question I have for you right now is, “How many new subscribers are you going to capture this year?” Well, if you have any questions or ideas, be sure to share them at the bottom of the blog and we’ll see you just about a month’s time with our next newsletter.


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