You know that email newsletter your mom sends out each Christmas? Yeah, the one filled with crummy Microsoft Word clip art (may it rest in peace), a banal list of little Becky’s latest soccer triumphs, updates on your brother’s spring wedding plans (can you say allergies?), and pictures of the family dog dressed up like a bee for Halloween (cute, but no). Your patients deserve better, so I’m here to kick your newsletter game up a notch (or nine). A clinic email newsletter—that fabulous piece of bottom-line boosting email marketing—will rock your patients’ inboxes, but only if you do it correctly. Here’s how to create a kick-butt email newsletter:
Bend it Like Beckham
You don’t need to be a pro soccer player to put together a great newsletter, but you will need to be focused on a goal: Your content strategy (which should be about more than just improving your open rate). Figure out what you want your newsletter to say and do—like generate leads, obtain emails, or increase web traffic—and then make sure all your content aligns with that strategy. Keep in mind that a narrow focus will allow you to be more specific—and efficient—with your email newsletter content.
Hunt and Gather
Don’t worry; you can still shop at the grocery store. I’m talking about choosing your content. If you plan to send out a newsletter fairly often—like once a week—then you’ll have to be a bit more proactive in hunting for your content. But if you’re on a once-a-month schedule, you can take your time collecting (i.e., gathering) content all month long.
But don’t just pick any ’ol pieces of content. The articles you select should relate to your speciality, a monthly theme, or something seasonal and timely. Don’t go crazy with the amount of content you cram into your newsletter, either. Three to five articles should be plenty (you may want to highlight the one with the best or most relevant content as that issue’s “feature story”). And rather than including the entire body of each article within the email itself, try to tease your readers with just a few sentences from each article; then, insert a link to the full article underneath each excerpt.
Bait Your Hook
Keep the worms in the bucket. All you need to get your clients’ attention—hook, line, and sinker—is a click-worthy subject line. (Because if you wouldn’t want to read the email based on the subject line, why would anyone else?) So, generally speaking, keep it short, sweet, and to-the-point. And while you’re at it, avoid spam triggers, especially certain punctuation and symbols. Basically, if it’s something you’d see in place of an expletive in the Sunday comics, leave it out of your subject line.
But even the best subject line can’t reel ’em in all the way if you haven’t thought about email form and function. Your newsletter needs to read well on multiple devices and in multiple browsers (yes, some folks out there still use Internet Explorer), so design is just as crucial as content. To cast the widest net possible, you’ll need to create a template that works on all types of computers, mobile devices, and web browsers.
Edit Twice; Send Once
You’ve probably heard of the saying “measure twice; cut once,” right? Well, this little nugget of wisdom applies to writing as well. You’re not building cabinets, but you are building your brand, so it’s important that you edit your newsletter for all those little errors you think aren’t there. Get your red pen ready and prepare yourself to proofread. Once you believe your grammar and formatting are on point, edit again—preferably several times, and with several different sets of eyes. Have your PTA read it, have your front office staff read it—heck, even have your mom read it. Just be sure it’s really ready to leave the nest, because once you hit “Send,” there’s no going back.
You’ve got a great start here, but to ensure your email newsletter inspires the results you’re looking for, you must test for success. Email marketing doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Your clinic’s patients are yours alone—and subject lines, design, and content that work for one region or speciality might not work in your specific situation. Dig in to your marketing email program—track, analyze, and modify—to make sure it actually functions for your practice (and doesn’t go the way of Mom’s annoying holiday spiel).