Email marketing: Is it really worth it for physical therapy private practices? That's a question on many practice owners' minds as they divvy up marketing funds. After all, you've got employees and bills to pay, so you don't want to throw too many dollars into marketing efforts that aren't effective—and with email marketing, it's tough to assess effectiveness on a short timeline. In the grand scheme of things, though, email marketing is relatively cheap—and when done well, it can be highly effective in the long term. On that note, here are some tips for creating a successful email marketing program:

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Do have a catchy subject line.

Don't be fooled: while the content of your email is super-duper important, an interesting subject line is what gets people to open it in the first place. So, what makes a subject line good? Well, think about the emails that catch your eye as you're scanning through your inbox. If you're like most people, those messages probably speak directly to you or your interests. So if, for example, you're sending a follow-up email to your most satisfied patients with the goal of getting them to leave an online review of your practice, you'll likely get more clicks with a subject line like, “Be honest: how did we do?” as opposed to, “Please leave a review for XYZ Physical Therapy.”

Not sure if your subject line is “clicky” enough? Try running it through a subject line tester like this free one from CoSchedule.

Don't make your subject line too long.

While you want to hook your audience with a subject that explains why they should open your email, keep in mind that brevity is best. So, when crafting your subject line, try to:

  1. Keep it under 50 characters.
  2. Avoid spam triggers (e.g., words in all caps, dollar signs, multiple exclamation points, or terms like “free” and “click here”).
  3. Be direct. Let your audience know what's in the email instead of being vague or murky in an attempt to trick people into opening it.

Do write compelling content.

What piques your audience's interest? What do they care about? One word: themselves. People are much more likely to read emails that are clearly relevant to them. For example, if you treat a lot of diabetic patients, you may want to send out diabetic-friendly recipes around the holidays. Or, if you specialize in sports medicine, you may want to send stretching or exercise tips. With the help of a patient relationship management (PRM) platform like WebPT Reach , you can even create separate, targeted email campaigns for different segments of patients (e.g., runners, skiers, low back pain patients, or active seniors).

And of course, be sure you proofread any email before you ship it off. This resource from CoSchedule actually suggests sending a test email to yourself first to ensure that:

  • “There are no typos;
  • The images show up;
  • The format looks great on both your desktop and smartphone;
  • All the links work; and
  • There is nothing glaringly wrong with the email.”

The same resource also recommends testing—and proofing—both the HTML and plain-text versions of every email you send.

Don't write an essay.

As with your subject line, when it comes to the body of your email, being brief is just as important as being interesting. After all, most people aren't going to read more than a short paragraph. So, if you have a lot of points to make, incorporate bulleted lists or section headers. That'll draw the reader's eye down, and he or she will be more compelled to read the whole thing.

Do include a call to action.

What's the point of your email? In other words, what action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to book an appointment? Attend an upcoming event? Follow your clinic on social media? Don't beat around the bush—say it outright! And as this article from Campaign Monitor advises:

  • use compelling, action-oriented words (e.g., “get,” “try,” and “download”),
  • put your CTA on a large, clickable button that navigates directly to the page where your readers can complete the action,
  • keep it short and simple,
  • try writing in the first person, and
  • project a sense of urgency (e.g., by presenting a limited-time offer or urging the recipient to book an appointment while they're still available).

Don't have too many calls to action.

While it's perfectly acceptable to have more than one CTA, don't convolute your message or crowd the page by having too many. Your CTAs should stand out, and they should clearly direct the reader to take a specific action, such as booking an appointment or signing up for a lunch-and-learn seminar.

Do put a face on the email.

Are you more likely to open an email from a faceless entity or one from a real person? Instead of using a generic email address for your marketing emails (e.g., frontdesk@yourclinic.com), use one that includes a real name (e.g., janesmith@yourclinic.com). According to testing conducted by the marketing team at HubSpot , “emails sent by a real person are more likely to be clicked on than emails sent from a company name.” This is probably because recipients feel like they are communicating with a human, which in turn makes them much more likely to interact and respond.

Don't ignore email replies.

Speaking of responses: The whole point of an email is to increase engagement, so the more patient interaction you spark, the better! When patients reply to your marketing emails (and they will reply), make sure you follow up and respond in a timely manner. After all, promptly replying to an email could be the thing that gets a potential patient to come to you and not your competition.

Do use an email marketing platform.

Email marketing is important, but that doesn't mean you should spend more time on it than you need to. That's where an email marketing platform can help. Some of the benefits of using this type of software (as opposed to a one-to-one email service like Gmail or Microsoft Office) include:

  • the ability to create neat, professional-looking emails,
  • scheduling capabilities, and
  • advanced audience segmentation and targeting options.

If you're unsure about which platform you should use, check out our recommendations here . N o matter which software you select , though, make sure it's HIPAA compliant. (Pro tip: WebPT Reach checks all of these boxes and more, and it s EMR integration feature makes it even easier to use.)

Don't forget about HIPAA compliance.

Now, even if your email marketing platform satisfies all HIPAA requirements, there are still things you must do to keep your entire email marketing process HIPAA compliant. And because the rules around email marketing are often murky at best, we strongly suggest using an opt-in form when collecting patient email addresses. After all, your patients' email addresses are actually considered PHI, so you should handle them with the utmost care. On your opt-in form, be sure to explain that you will use the patient's email for marketing purposes, and list the types of communications they can expect to receive from you (e.g., newsletters, appointment reminders, event invites, and announcements of special discounts).

And as we suggest in this post, “If a patient is iffy about opting in, explain how those communications will benefit them. And if patients still choose not to opt in, respect that decision and don't press the issue. After all, they can always sign up at a later date.”

Looking for more ways to up your marketing game? Check out our free guide to modern marketing for rehab therapy practices. And if your practice has ventured into the world of email marketing, tell us about your experiences in the comment section below!

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