A reliable marketing strategy relies on the use of multiple media resources. One of the best ways to reach the baby boomer generation (who may not even be home checking their traditional mail) is through email. Email is highly portable and as such can be checked from wherever they are, even via their smartphone.
In order to begin email marketing you must make sure you’ve been gathering email addresses. If you’re not already doing this, update your patient intake form or simply have your front desk ask every patient for their email address. One point of clarification before you begin–don’t send marketing related messages through your office email system (this includes Outlook or Gmail). These systems weren’t built for marketing purposes and your account will be marked as sending spam which will present business challenges for sending transaction related messages.
Here are some key points to consider as you start incorporating email into your marketing approach:
- What is the purpose? The overarching intent for your email marketing program should be to build and maintain relationships with people in your database. If you aren’t actively engaging your database, you’re missing out on a major opportunity! Current patients, TNS/TNC, and those who have had an interaction with your brand but not come into the office yet (like those from a health fair) are all typically more receptive to your messaging.
- Who is the target audience? Figuring out how to best segment your database is an essential first step of strong email planning.. Sending a “We Miss You” message may not be well received by your most active patients and you don’t want to alienate anyone. Consider your objectives first –monthly newsletters are a way to strengthen your position in the community and as a thought leader. Is there a benefit to your business by re-engaging your TNS and Cancelled/No Show prospects? Reaching the correct audience will ensure your success. If you’re using a practice management system like Sycle, your rep will be able to help you pull correctly segmented lists that include email addresses.
- What is the message? And, how does it relate to your target audience? For example, do you want to send a birthday message with a small gift offer or are you trying to reengage TNS patients with a ‘quality of life’ message? One key to successful email messaging is to make sure that your emails sound like they’re coming from a friend, someone you trust. Tailoring the message to your recipients, developing relevant content for each database segment, and making sure your message isn’t too clinical or too sales-y is the best way to make sure your desired call to action is completed. You also want to make sure the subject line account is well thought out too. You want to aim for something between a very generic and boring “Office Newsletter” and the highly promotional “50% OFF TODAY ONLY” (which may end up in their spam folder). Subject lines are critical to your message and ensure your emails are well received.
- Who is doing the work? There are a multitude of options when it comes to commercial email marketing platforms such as MailChimp (mailchimp.com) and Constant Contact (constantcontact.com). While these applications are generally user-friendly, someone still has to take the time to design, write, send, and track them. For a business owner trying to juggle all aspects of their practice, this may be one marketing initiative that source to a professional partner
- How will it be measured? Tracking results is important for any marketing initiative but especially for email! By regularly tracking all of the behavior, like opens and clicks, related to your email campaigns, you can learn which emails are working and which list segments are receptive to the messages you’re sending. Also, since each email address is tied to a person in your database, your office staff can follow up with people who may have read a newsletter article then clicked through to your “Contact Us” page yet didn’t submit the contact form.
Email marketing offers a unique way to tailor your marketing messaging to the patients and prospects in your database and strengthen your current provider-patient relationship. As a hearing health provider who specializes in high-end, personalized technology, incorporating personalized email marketing just makes sense as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Consult YHN recently rolled out an email marketing program that features preloaded content and is executed by a digital marketing vendor and is something the Consult YHN Marketing team is happy to help you with! We can also look over any proposals you may receive from local vendors to help evaluate exactly what you’re getting, what information you may have to provide, and how well it fits with your overall marketing needs.
Newsletters keep subscribers informed about your business and brand while building a trusted relationship. Many companies produce and distribute newsletters either printed or thru email on a consistent basis. While people understand the importance of it, it’s not always easy to come up with content ideas for them.
Content that’s helpful to the subscriber
Your newsletter should contain content that’s valuable to its subscribers. Your newsletter is a way to communicate with your customers and build a relationship, so you don’t want to fill your newsletter with promotional material. However, once in a while it’s okay to add promotional messages.
To help you create customer-focused newsletters no matter how you distribute them, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ideas for your newsletter that you can use to inspire fresh and fun content. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. How-to articles
Create content that’s relevant to your audience and helps them accomplish something with step-by-step instructions. Try using content from the list of frequently asked questions your office gets from customers to solve routine challenges.
2. Product maintenance advice
Does your product require maintenance? If so, provide maintenance tips in your newsletter.
3. Top 10 lists
Top 10 lists are popular because they’re easy to read. Create a list of valuable tips, most popular articles on your blog or ideas that refer to your business.
4. Add an infographic
Use online tools to create an infographic for your newsletter. Turn industry numbers into an eye-catching chart, or provide customer satisfaction ratings in a visual way.
Create a post that offers a roundup of your company’s best blog topics or most popular social posts. It’s a great way to repackage content that already exists.
6. Customer reviews
Collect a few customer reviews on a specific product and share them in your newsletter. Start out by explaining the product, offer a picture of it and show subscribers what others are saying about it.
Use your newsletter to invite or remind subscribers about upcoming events.
Tell customers about events, charity drives and exclusive sales. Create an event on Facebook so guests can RSVP and include the link in your newsletter.
9. Upcoming health fairs or community shows
Planning to attend a health fair or even a local craft show? Share the details in your newsletter. Explain why you’ll be there, what’s new this year, or provide valuable information like the most affordable place to park.
10. Business history
Tell customers a piece of your company’s history. You can add a tidbit in each newsletter, create a timeline or write a longer piece on the company’s anniversary that covers the big milestones.
11. A letter from the owner
Have the owner craft a letter for the newsletter. The letter could thank customers for their support, provide goals for the upcoming year or talk about a new product the company is about to offer. Customers need to hear from those in charge now and then; it helps maintain a trusted relationship.
12. Employee of the week/month/quarter
Pay tribute to a special employee by highlighting him or her in your newsletter. Keep it short and sweet, but provide enough information to show customers that your staff is top-notch. Always include a picture of the employee.
13. Frequently asked questions
What are the top five questions that your staff receives each week? Use the information to create a frequently asked questions post for your newsletter.
14. Updates on changes
If the company has a new boss, a renovation is taking place or the company is changing the way it does something, use your newsletter to update customers.
15. Business video tours
Break out a video camera and provide a short tour of your business for customers to check out in your newsletter.
16. Discuss partnerships
Whether you’re teaming up with a local charity of the business next door, tell customers how the partnership benefits them in your newsletter.
17. Behind-the-scenes photos
Give customers a look behind the scenes by posting pictures of employees moving massive inventory for the holiday season, or a shot of your team stocking shelves.
18. Be Social
You can promote social initiatives in your newsletters too. It’s a great opportunity to cross-promote your business and encourage subscribers to become part of your social family.
19. Tell subscribers about giveaways
Are you giving away something cool on Facebook? Remind your customers about it in your newsletter. Provide participation details and a link to enter.
20. Encourage subscribers to follow you
Add a brief “Follow Us” section to your newsletter that includes all of your social links.
21. Tell subscribers about a social competition
Ask subscribers to submit photos of them using your product, or submit a short essay about a loved one that should be considered for a special prize. Launch the competition in your newsletter and remind subscribers to participate. This creates a wealth of testimonials and positive reviews!
22. A special coupon
Offer a coupon just to your newsletter readers. Provide a coupon code to use online, or a printable coupon that can be used in-store.
23. Mention a new product launch
When you have a new product coming in, tell your customers about it. Build the hype by providing availability, release dates and options like sizes and colors that are available.
24. Refer-a-friend promotion
Allow subscribers to forward your newsletter to a friend, and if they subscribe to your list, send the customers a special thank you (gift, deal or discount) for helping you grow your list.
25. Make a connection to a unique holiday
When an odd holiday rolls around that’s connected to your business, use it to spark a small post in your article. For example, you can can write an article on Senior Citizen’s Day and offer a discount. Here’s a list of odd holidays to use.
26. Cute or wacky photos of your employees
Did your company host a Halloween custom party? Are you hosting an Evening with Santa? If so, use a few of the pictures in your newsletter to give subscribers an “insider’s look.” Be sure to get permission to use the photos first, and use good judgment. Pictures from the 11th hour of the holiday party aren’t a good idea. Don’t overdo this one, it gets old fast!
27. What’s the deal with the weather?
At some point, the crazy weather will impact your area. Consider writing about it and how it impacted your business. Be careful, you don’t want to write about any storms or weather that hurt someone. Instead, stick to interesting weather topics like the lack of snow in cold weather spots.
28. Pictures of pets or mascots
Does your business have a pet or a mascot? Use a picture of your furry creature to liven up your newsletter. Put the company cat in a cute holiday sweater, or give it a birthday crown when the business hits its anniversary. Again, use your best judgment here, be careful not to let the content become the primary focus or a distraction from the important stuff.
29. Digital holiday card
Use online tools to create an e-card. You can create one for the holidays or the company’s birthday. ‘Punchbowl’ offers traditional options or try ‘JibJab’ for something a little more out of the ordinary.
30. Make a pop culture connection
Use pop culture references to spark an article about your company. For example, “5 things the hit show Scandal has taught us about business.” Make a connection to a hot TV show, a celebrity mishap or musical fads.
If you are interested in sending out a newsletter to your database, contact the marketing team to help you get started.
All too often, business owners make the mistake of focusing solely on transactional marketing. This form of marketing takes a “one and done” approach and emphasizes the short-term goal of a single sale. Some business owners fall into the routine of running an ad or dropping a mailer with the sole intent of attracting “new” customers in order to meet short-term goals. However, when you exist in this transactional state, you may lose sight of the strategies needed to sustain your business over the long-run. There was a time not long ago when we could get by with this approach, but competitive forces have changed the marketing landscape. Let us help you shift your mindset to also embrace customer engagement and become a relationship marketer.
What is relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is the practice of nurturing personal connections with your customers in order to build long-term brand loyalty. While implementing traditional marketing initiatives – direct mailers, ads, inserts, etc. – will get the conversation started, building relationships with your audience will keep that conversation going. Customers who are loyal to your practice will become your brand advocates. They will be using the most effective form of marketing for your business for FREE – word of mouth. Fostering relations with your brand advocates through relationship marketing is key in growing your referral program through word of mouth, social media interactions and online reviews.
How do I practice relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is essential in the healthcare industry – patients want to know that they are truly being cared for, and not just seen as a potential sale. The best approach to strengthen connections with current patients is to continually reach out to them with relevant messaging in the media they prefer. Staying in touch with patients through phone calls, birthday cards, and personalized letters makes them feel they are getting special attention. These efforts help to create a connection that moves you beyond a transactional relationship. Some great ways to stay connected are through your tested-not sold and out-of-warranty patients or by following up with other specific segments of your database.
Additionally, the patient experience is impacted by every member of your staff. Consider each contact with customers a single touch point within a larger experience. Every interaction is a chance to enhance the customer experience and build upon that coveted relationship. A positive principle to remember: build relationships first, transactions will follow!
If you are interested in learning more about how Consult YHN can help your practice grow through relationship marketing, contact your Associate Manager or Consult YHN Marketing.
We learned in kindergarten that honesty is the best policy but how many of us actually apply this advice on a daily basis? In a culture that’s increasingly driven by countless forms of communication resulting in 24-hour access with fewer and fewer chances to be ‘off the grid,’ has it become easier to stretch the truth, feign ignorance or simply lie? According to Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication and information science at Cornell University, being perceived as deceptive can seriously harm reputations and relationships, regardless of the medium. His studies have also shown [surprisingly] that we tend to lie less online than in person or over the telephone; perhaps it’s because our online, documented posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will be around for a long time. As a business owner, the type of communication you put in front of your audience adds up – and honesty is a big part of tipping the scales in your favor.
Enter social media.
Honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for business or Pinterest, Instgram or YouTube for pleasure, have you thought about how you are representing yourself online? The first thing to do is learn how to engage online responsibly and assume you are speaking in public at all times. We’ll say it again: the internet is not forgiving; posts, comments, status updates, and pictures will live on for the foreseeable future. Make sure your professional social presence is one you are proud of now and will be in years to come.
Also, be yourself – honest and open communication is the cornerstone of social messaging. Customers, or potential customers, will respect genuine communication that matters to them. For instance, use the 4-1-1 rule; post 4 interesting, funny or informational ideas, 1 promotional post and 1 re-post [share with a friend, answer a question, hit the ‘like’ button, etc.], all of which need to be relevant to your audience. Regardless of whether you post a few times daily or a few times per month, follow the rule above for a targeted strategy that will resonate with your audience. And as a general rule, before posting on any social medium, ask yourself if the information is honest and relevant.
The review sites.
Here’s where honesty may be most beneficial. What happens when online reviews about your business begin popping up via Yelp and Google? If they are positive, great! But what about the other side of that coin? We’d all like to think that we give 100% all day every day, but the reality is that sometimes we fall short. It’s inevitable that you’ll see a less than stellar business review at some point. When confronted with this ‘bad’ review, it’s how you handle this perceived setback that can set you apart.
Be courageous in the face of bad news, honorably standing tall despite conflict [even if you suspect the negative review is the handiwork of your competitor down the street]. If tempted to avoid the issue, or to make an excuse, think of how you’d feel if a comment you made went unaddressed or simply ignored. Not pleased, right? Human beings are deeply attracted to courageous honesty, but sometimes when we are on the other side of the complaint it’s difficult not to be defensive. It’s best to apologize and do everything we can to make things right — right away. A February 2014 study by the Social Media Marketing University found that 52% of US marketers respond to negative online comments within 24 hours. That means responding diplomatically to the comment online, calling the customer [if you can] and remedying the situation ASAP! The Retail Consumer Report found that of consumers who received a reply in response to their negative review, 33% posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. That means by handling the issue, you might even get that nasty, negative comment retracted!
It will work. Honest.
If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about why you get up every day, this honesty task will be a piece of cake. Communicating with a broader audience is easier today than ever before, but remember, your message needs to be relevant, timely and genuine.