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Email marketing remains an invaluable tool for healthcare organizations looking to engage patients and drive loyalty. 

However, healthcare email campaigns come with unique regulations and sensitivities. This article provides highly actionable tips for creating more effective, compliant, and customer-focused email campaigns in the healthcare industry. 

Whether you’re looking to improve open rates, and click-throughs or simply deliver more value to subscribers, you’ll find tactical advice to make the most of this vital outreach channel.

Benefits of Email Marketing in Healthcare

Email marketing tools provide numerous benefits that make it well worth the effort for healthcare organizations. Studies show that email generates $42 for every $1 spent, delivering the highest ROI of any marketing channel. 

Beyond impressive returns, email enables personalized communication that builds patient trust and loyalty. Through tailored content and valuable wellness tips, healthcare providers can position themselves as partners in patient health. 

This drives higher engagement, satisfaction, and referrals. Email also allows seamless appointment reminders and direct access to prescription refills or medical questions. 

With informed consent, transactional and promotional messages keep patients informed and empowered regarding their care. 

For these reasons, no healthcare provider can afford to overlook email as a vital patient communication and retention strategy.

1. Build a Subscriber List with Incentives

Gaining subscriber permission must be the first step of any compliant healthcare email program. With care and creativity, compelling incentives can make patients and leads more willing to share contact info and opt into communications. 

For example, offer exclusive health content, checklists, or calculators in exchange for a name and email sign-up. Discounts and giveaways also persuade subscribers while showing appreciation. Just be sure the reward matches the value being requested. 

A 25% off coupon works well for access to a nurturing content series. It pays to get creative too. 

Here’s another example of an effective lead magnet for healthcare businesses: 


One fertility clinic gained contacts by raffling a free IVF cycle. The key is aligning opt-in incentives with target audience interests, demonstrating the value subscribers gain in return for their contact information. 

Through relevant, ethical bribes, you gain the privileged capability to directly engage patients while supporting their health and wellbeing.

2. Segment by Patient Attributes

Today’s email platforms make subscriber segmentation easy by pulling fields right from a healthcare provider’s EHR or patient portal. This allows emails to be tailored based on helpful criteria like age, gender, and health conditions. 

For example, send targeted content to expectant mothers about nutrition and lifestyle changes during pregnancy. 

Or focus messages to seniors on medication management and preventing falls. Segmenting by patient attributes allows more relevant communication. It also enables you to split happy birthday emails from appointment reminders. This reduces message overload and improves engagement.

Further segmentation can happen based on patient interests and preferences. Ask subscribers about hobbies, wellness goals, or types of information they want to receive. 

This feedback allows even more fine-tuned groups for personalized outreach. For example, a patient excited to train for her first 5K needs different resources than one managing arthritis pain. Get to know subscribers through their attributes and you can better serve them through email.

3. Ensure Mobile Responsiveness

Patients increasingly expect seamless mobile access to their healthcare providers. Research shows that 7 out of 10 emails are opened on mobile devices. Yet many healthcare email campaigns still suffer from tiny text, chaotic layouts, or broken links on phones. 

This frustrates subscribers and causes unsubscribes. Thankfully, modern email builders make responsive design easy.

Start by previewing emails on all major device sizes. Check that images, buttons, and text layouts are cleanly adapted across screens. Use minimal large text instead of dense paragraphs. 

Confirm forms remain visible and links all function properly. With responsive design best practices, your campaign meets subscribers on whatever device they prefer. 

The small upfront effort pays off through better-branded impressions, user experience, completion rates, and stickiness. Patients will come to rely on your smooth mobile messages amidst their daily digital routines.

4. Personalize Content

One-size-fits-all emails don’t cut it anymore in healthcare. Today’s patients expect an understanding of their unique needs. While segmenting by attributes helps, personalized content takes it further. 

Now dynamic content and smarter technology make 1:1 messages scalable. For example, trigger a customized email when a patient cancels a checkup. Reassure them of ongoing care options while addressing common hesitations.

Or if Mary Smith signs up for a Healthy Heart challenge, send encouragement emails with her name and current step count integrated. 

Even small personal details including the hospital location a patient visits build familiarity amidst an automated system. The more you can tailor messaging to individual contexts, the stronger the relationship. 

Personalized subject lines also boost open rates by catching readers’ attention and curiosity. While crafting endless fully custom emails may not be possible yet, strive to incorporate personal elements wherever feasible. It shows customers they matter as individuals.

5. A/B Test Subject Lines

Even the most compelling email content gets ignored if subscribers don’t open messages. That makes subject line optimization vital, especially in crowded healthcare inboxes. Thankfully, A/B testing different versions allows determine what works best for your audience. 

For example, compare “Time for your Annual Checkup” against “We Miss Seeing You!” – which gets more opens? Or test urgent wording like “Action Required” versus softer asks to “Please Review”.

The key is crafting multiple subject line options that speak to different subscriber motivations. Should you highlight value? Emphasize convenience. Make it personal? The possibilities are endless. With each email sent, alternate subject lines across groups to see which resonates most. 

Many email service providers like Mailchimp even automatically track open and click rates by variant. Then double down on what’s working while trying new concepts too. Don’t forget to consider length as well. Play with truncating subjects or adding emojis to catch the eye. A/B testing subject lines takes a bit more effort upfront but almost always improves open rates.

6. Integrate with Social Media

Email and social should have a symbiotic relationship in your healthcare marketing mix. Use email to turn social media followers into more informed subscribers. Segment them for exclusive content downloads or flash sales on health products. 

In return, promote email sign-up incentives across your social channels through posts and ads. Cross-promoting across channels builds your overall audience while keeping messaging consistent.

You can also integrate social sharing buttons directly within email content. After reading a helpful wellness tip or disease awareness message, subscribers can easily share it with family and friends on their feeds. 

This expands your email reach as readers endorse it to networks most receptive to them personally. Just be sure shared posts comply with regulations. The more seamless you make cross-channel pollination, the faster your health-focused community grows.

7. Send Welcome Emails

The first email subscribers receive after signing up sets the tone for the entire relationship. Make this introductory message count through a well-crafted welcome email. Start by thanking new contacts for joining and restating the value they can expect from your content. 

For example, “Thanks, Jane! By signing up for our Healthy Pregnancy emails, you’ll receive weekly tips to keep you and your baby healthy, plus news on free prenatal classes at our office.” This immediate utility helps subscribers feel good about their choices while knowing what’s next.

A warm welcome email also presents the perfect opportunity to gather more helpful recipient details. 

Ask subscribers to complete a short profile indicating due dates, health goals, or areas of pregnancy concern. Segmenting by these attributes right away allows better personalization moving forward. 

Just keep requests friendly and related to tailored care. A little extra effort makes welcome emails work double duty – both introducing your brand while also collecting data for relevance. Patients will remember your gracious opening touches as the relationship blossoms.

8. Send Timely, Useful Info

With subscribers’ inboxes at peak capacity, healthcare emails must prove their worth through valuable content. Stick to timely, useful information that enriches patients’ lives and supports better health. 

For instance, send weekly or monthly newsletters featuring health observances for that period. Draw attention to worthwhile causes while providing helpful resources. 

During fall’s flu season, share shot clinic schedules, prevention tips, and even kid-friendly vaccine info-graphics.

The example below shows an email sent to new parents with essential tips to help them get through the first days and beyond. 


Relevant content also means matching messaging cadences to care moments. Send post-discharge instructions immediately after a hospital visit, along with access to online patient portal features. 

Or follow up a yearly wellness exam by emailing a subscriber-only guide to keeping on track with health goals for the next 12 months. 

Coordinate touchpoints around appointments, procedures, convalescence, and form completion. In all communications, inform and empower patients by sending emails when the utility is highest. Timely relevance earns readership and response.

9. Automate Campaigns

Managing a growing subscriber base while sending consistent, personalized messages is tough without help. That’s where marketing automation shines in coordinating all the moving parts. 

For example, set up an automated welcome series to nurture newly subscribed patients. Over their first month, send tips for making the most of their patient portal along with introductions to care team members. 

Compliance paperwork, prescription options, and pre-visit questionnaires can also flow through automated, intelligent workflows. Or automate outreach around health observances tied to annual schedules or seasons. 

Campaigns focused on women’s health, heart health, sun safety, and more rotate year after year with relevant content – no added work needed. 

Even timing appointment reminders, post-discharge follow-ups, and patient satisfaction surveys after service interactions remove manual strain. Identify key initiatives perfect for automation. Let smart systems handle the details so staff can focus on individual patient relationships.

10. Track Opens/Clicks

Understanding subscriber behavior takes the guesswork out of optimization. Modern email services make tracking easy through open and click-through rates. 

See overall performance metrics to identify weak points across messages. Maybe your emails get below-average opens indicating subject line trouble. Or perhaps clicks lag within detailed content sections, signaling engagement issues.

Granular tracking also shows response variances by patient segment. 

For example, are expectant mothers more likely to click pregnancy-related content than wellness tips? 

Segment-level insights prove what resonates so you can tailor accordingly. Tracking even calls out underperforming sections within a single email campaign. 

If that tasty recipe graphic outperformed a medication adherence paragraph, make a note to prioritize foodie content. 

Optimizing through data-backed insights ensures future emails continually improve. With time, honing relevancy and engagement through tracking fosters loyal subscribers who await messages.

11. Survey Customer Needs

Even when using data to fine-tune messaging, nothing beats asking subscribers directly what they want. Surveying patients gives clarity while making them feel heard. Keep polls concise using email construction tools or link out to simple online forms. 

Ask subscribers to indicate their biggest health struggles, wellness interests plus any current unsatisfied needs. This guides your awareness and education efforts to areas offering the most value.

Surveys also build goodwill and set expectations around how feedback gets used. Close by reiterating how respondents help shape better patient experiences through guidance. 

As a bonus, a little incentive goes far here too – offer a gift card raffle entry for extra survey motivation. 

Just remember to follow up once you apply the learnings. If pregnancy subscribers ask for more nursery design inspiration, create a Pinterest profile to share and promote through email. Closing the loop makes patients feel listened to while speaking directly to expressed needs.

12. Highlight Customer Success Stories

Satisfied patients make great email endorsements through compelling success stories. Ask patients who lost significant weight, reversed chronic conditions, or achieved health aims for their pictures or content around outcomes. 

Use this within promotional campaigns and nurturing content to showcase real people who benefitted. For example, an email series on getting fit might highlight “Susan Smith shed 40 pounds and 5 dress sizes through our health coaching!”

While often more effective than generic claims or stock imagery, ensure proper permissions to leverage patient likenesses. 

Consent forms outlining intended promotional usage help providers legally integrate enthusiastic subscribers into branding touches. 

To incentivize participation, offer discounts, free products, or other perks only available to featured success stories. The more relatable stories woven through email communication, the more receptive new subscribers will be after seeing benefits reinforced visually by others like them.

13. Focus on Patient Experience

Ultimately, every healthcare email marketing effort must keep patient needs and perspectives top of mind. Ask at every step: 

“How does this communication improve subscriber experiences and outcomes?” 

Transparency builds trust and loyalty faster than self-focused promotion ever could. 

  • Tell patients upfront how their contact information gets used and when they can expect messages. 
  • Give them easy subscribe, unsubscribe, and frequency controls within every email.
  • Provide helpful education even to non-patients just discovering your brand, not just those booked for appointments. 
  • Put subscriber convenience first by allowing digital form completion and automated messaging involvement wherever desired. 

While driving health outcomes, also respect additional communication preferences ensuring your emails uplift rather than overwhelm. 

When nurturing patient relationships eclipses all commercial goals, you earn brand advocates who confirm your care through word-of-mouth and repeat business. Prioritizing user experience makes email marketing not just more ethical but also more effective long-term.

Email marketing will only grow in importance as healthcare communication channels expand. Yet real connection and compassion remain core to standing out amidst crowded inboxes. 

Follow these 13 tips to make the most of email’s potential while respecting patient preferences. With creative incentives, value-focused content, and automation liberating staff, your organization can build substantial goodwill through inbox ubiquity. When email enables better experiences, outcomes improve across the board.

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