Beginning to do marketing for your practice is a daunting task. Not only are providers limited in time and resources, but learning and understanding the complex, ever-evolving marketing industry can be incredibly challenging.
A first glance into potential digital marketing opportunities can feel like a paralyzing paradox of choice, making it impossible to even know where to start. Should you buy AdWords on Google? Start posting on social media? Content marketing? All of these can be effective marketing tactics, but they also require dedicated time and attention to ultimately be successful.
The truth is, your best bet is to start marketing with a tried-and-true email newsletter. Although some may be skeptical that such a traditional channel could outperform shiny new technologies, it’s still the most effective and cost-efficient marketing tactic there is. Here’s why:
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1. It’s inexpensive
Implementing an email newsletter is incredibly affordable compared to other marketing tactics, such as AdWords or advertising on social media. For providers who are just getting started, MailChimp’s entrepreneur package allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers. The cost after that grows minimally, but then again, if you have over 2,000 subscribers, your email strategy probably is on the right track.
2. It provides instant analytics
The most frustrating aspect of some types of marketing, especially for those just getting started, is not being able to measure a direct return on investment. With email, however, you will receive immediate analytics that allow you to measure success. Open rates, click-through rates, bounces and unsubscribes are among the key metrics you should be tracking. After a few sends, be sure to clean up your list by removing bounced email addresses, as these will skew your analytics. From then on, try to improve your metrics with every send and periodically clean up your list to maintain accuracy.
3. You’ll have a higher response rate
People only subscribe to email newsletters from brands and businesses they’re interested in, so if someone is subscribing to your newsletter, they’re probably interested in what you have to say. If you see your unsubscribe rate increasing, you’ll know you probably aren’t providing the content your audience wants and will need to tweak your strategy. If your unsubscribe rates still continue to increase, consider decreasing your send frequency. People may still want to hear from you, just not as often!
4. You reach existing patients and prospects at the same time
Even if you’re deciding to invest in marketing to help generate new business, you still want to make sure you retain the patients you already have. Although some types of businesses may want to communicate differently to customers and prospects, it’s unlikely a provider would communicate much differently to existing patients and prospects.
So for a provider’s email newsletter, you can send the same or similar newsletters and essentially reach both audiences at the same time. To see if patients and prospects are responding to your newsletter differently, segment your subscribers into a patient list and prospect list and compare metrics.
5. You own the experience
The complicated truth about investing in most digital marketing channels, such as Google search and social media sites, is that businesses will always be at the mercy of the algorithms and changes of the channel. Because of this, many marketers preach, “Don’t build your house on rented land.”
Take Facebook as an example – when it was first introduced as an advertising channel for businesses, company pages were positioned as “owned” media. Businesses shared similar content they would in emails, such as company updates or blog articles, and people would follow these pages to receive updates organically in their feeds. Brands had the option to pay to advertise their content if they wanted an extra boost to reach new people, but it wasn’t necessary in order to reach an already engaged base.
But gradually year after year, Facebook would update its news feed algorithm in ways that made it harder for businesses to connect with people without paying to advertise. Most recently in June 2016, Facebook announced that it planned to make even more changes to its algorithm so that it would boost content posted by the friends and family of users over publishers and businesses. By the end of the month, reach of business and publisher stories had dropped 42%. This was all done to improve the site’s revenue model, but has essentially resulted in Facebook switching from an owned to a paid media channel.
With email, you own the experience your subscribers have with your newsletter. You build your house on owned land and forgo any risk of hurting your reach.
These are just a few of many reasons why an email newsletter is a great way to begin your marketing efforts. Although you may be tempted to start with newer, more advanced tactics, email has stood the test of time and continues to be an important marketing channel for even the most sophisticated companies.