If there’s one sound that elicits instant nostalgia for the 1990s, it’s the fuzzy whirring and techy chirps of a dial-up modem. To an entire generation, this sound heralded the dawn of a new age and connected people over all over the world through email. By the late ’90s, many businesses had gotten on the email bandwagon, which provided them a speedy and effective way to connect with their target consumers—and it didn’t take long for rehab therapy practices to follow suit.

Two decades later, email is one of the most powerful tools a practice can have in its marketing toolbox. Here’s why:

  • In the US alone, 89% of people check their email every day. And while some people don’t have a social media profile, it’s fairly common to have an email address.
  • Plus, as we mention in our marketing e-book, Modern Marketing Decoded, “Users report an average of 222% ROI on their email services.” That’s a big return for a small price tag.

Unfortunately, some practices miss out on this opportunity, as they assume that email marketing requires a lot of time, money, and coding know-how. Don’t fall into this trap! You don’t have to know the difference between HTML and CSS to capitalize on the power of email. Ready to get down to business? Follow this guide to get your email marketing program off the ground:

The PT’s Guide to Software Implementation and Training - Regular BannerThe PT’s Guide to Software Implementation and Training - Small Banner

Pick the right tool.

Assuming you have a marketing budget, you need to decide how much of it will go toward email. Fortunately, email marketing is one of the most cost-efficient forms of digital marketing, so you only need to devote a small percentage of your budget to it.

Next, you need to choose your email marketing platform. You’re likely familiar with common email services like Office365, Gmail, and Outlook, but these major-league players aren’t ideal for true email marketing. That’s because:

  • one-to-one email services produce plain-looking messages that don’t exactly scream “professional business email”;
  • they don’t allow you to schedule emails in advance, forcing you to carve time out of your day to write and send messages individually; and
  • you can’t segment and target specific groups of patients.

Fortunately, software that’s designed specifically for email marketing can make it super-easy to craft beautiful, professional-looking emails; save templates; schedule emails; and segment your recipients. These are the platforms WebPT’s marketing team recommends, along with some of their features:

  • Constant Contact
    • 60-day free trial (for up to 100 email addresses).
    • Discounted pricing for prepayment.
    • Limited pricing options.
  • MailChimp
    • Pay-as-you-go options.
    • Free version available with limited capability. No phone support.
  • Emma
    • 30-day money-back guarantee.
    • Phone and email support (Monday through Friday, 5:00 AM – 7:00 PM CST).
    • More expensive than other options for small-to-medium businesses.
  • Campaign Monitor
    • Flexible pricing plans.
    • Email and phone support (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST).
    • Pricing based on the number of contacts you have (not the ones you use).
    • Limited template-editing capabilities.

Craft your message.

Next, you need to figure out what kind of content you’ll send. As a rehab therapy provider, your email strategy should revolve around retaining current patients and reactivating past patients. Here are some examples of different emails you can incorporate in this strategy:

Once you know what kind of emails you want to write, it’s time to put pen to paper—or fingers to a keyboard—and jam out some email copy. But, you want to make sure people actually open and, more importantly, read your emails. So, as you write your emails, make sure you’re following these basic tips:

  • Write an eye-catching subject line. Your subject line is the first part of your email people see. But, if your subject line is too spammy or long, it’ll be the only part they see—because they won’t bother opening it.
  • Keep it short and sweet. People have busy lives, so when they’re checking their email, they’re more likely to read a short message than a long-winded essay. Have a lot of information you need to communicate? Use bullet points to get your message across succinctly.
  • State your purpose. Every email you send should have a clear, concise message (e.g., “schedule an appointment” or “rate your experience”), otherwise known as a “call to action.” Make sure that every message has one—and only one. (Some newbie email marketers make the mistake of having more than one call to action, and you don’t want to be one of them.)
  • Put a face on it. Who are you more likely to open an email from: a real person or a faceless corporation? Chances are, unless you’re anticipating an email from a business, a real name is more likely to earn your trust—and your click. The same goes for your audience. So, consider making yourself or the practice manager the sender.

Email marketing got you stumped? Does planning your marketing budget leave you with analysis paralysis? Wish there was a simple, comprehensive guidebook with everything you need to know about marketing your rehab therapy practice? If so, you’re in luck: download your free copy of Modern Marketing Decoded: A Guide for Rehab Therapists.

Get permission.

It’s not glamorous, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it: before you can do anything marketing-related with email, you need to make sure your processes adhere to HIPAA rules. So, follow these guidelines to avoid getting yourself—or your practice—into hot water:

  • The HIPAA rules around marketing aren’t exactly straightforward. That’s why we advise that practices err on the side of caution and include a marketing communications opt-in form as part of every patient’s intake packet. That way, it’s crystal clear to your patients that you’ll be using their email addresses for marketing purposes—and you’ll have their permission to do so.
  • Within your opt-in form, lay out the types of communications you’ll send (e.g., appointment reminders, announcements, newsletters, and announcements of discount and specials).
  • 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.
  • Legally, you must provide patients a clear way to unsubscribe from your emails at any time. And should you receive any requests to opt out, you absolutely must comply.
  • Verify that your email software vendor understands HIPAA and that it’ll keep you compliant.
  • Remember: Email addresses are considered PHI, so you must handle them like you would patient names, addresses, or other personal information.

Consider total automation.

If you’re not keen on spending your time writing emails and creating recipient segments, there’s a simple, easy solution: you can totally automate the process by using a patient relationship management (PRM) platform. With PRM software, you can send:

  • intake forms to patients before their first visit to speed up the intake process;
  • targeted marketing emails to reactivate past patients;
  • educational content relevant to specific patient diagnoses; and
  • NPS® surveys to track patient loyalty and satisfaction.

The icing on the cake: If you use a PRM platform like WebPT Reach, all of that information is housed right in your EMR, so you know it’s secure and easy to access.


The rise of the Net opened up doors that were once invisible to PTs, OTs, SLPs, and their patients. And while our ears are rarely graced by the sound of a dial-up modem anymore, one thing remains: the Internet is connecting businesses to the people who need their products and services most—and rehab therapy practices are no exception. Does your practice have an email marketing strategy? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

  • What’s Wrong With Physical Therapy Marketing Today Image

    articleMay 7, 2018 | 7 min. read

    What’s Wrong With Physical Therapy Marketing Today

    There’s a lot at stake when it comes to successfully marketing your physical therapy practice —as well as your profession. But unfortunately, many physical therapists avoid the topic altogether. After all, marketing is closely related to sales—and sales often gets a bad rap. But, we’re not about the hard-ball, cringe-worthy, manipulative sales tactics that make us all uncomfortable; instead, we’re all about positioning your value in such a way that your audience can actually relate to it—and …

  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing Image

    articleOct 15, 2014 | 8 min. read

    The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing

    It took expensive membership dues, countless lobbying and volunteer hours, and 25 years, but we finally did it: Direct access to physical therapy services is now available in all 50 states in at least one form or another. It wasn’t easy, so it’s important to take a few moments to celebrate our achievements and raise a glass to all of the passionate physical therapists and physical therapy advocates out there who made it happen. Okay, time’s up—and …

  • Referrals Run Dry: How Consolidation is Impacting PT Practice Revenue Image

    articleMar 19, 2018 | 6 min. read

    Referrals Run Dry: How Consolidation is Impacting PT Practice Revenue

    The physical therapy industry has seen more than a few ebbs and flows when it comes to consolidation. However, as WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, pointed out in this predictions post , consolidation is currently on the rise—and more and more independent practices are being absorbed into larger systems. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for the remaining small-to-medium-sized practices to obtain enough physician referrals to compete with big physical therapy companies and large …

  • Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding Image

    articleMay 14, 2014 | 8 min. read

    Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding

    Your next-generation rehab tool is poised to be a big hit in the market, but you can’t construct a prototype because you are maxed out on credit cards. You’re looking to expand your practice to a second location and are on a capital campaign to secure the lease and fund the build-out. Maybe you’re simply trying to purchase a much-needed piece of equipment for you clinic, but the bank isn’t extending your business’s line of credit. What …

  • 3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy Image

    articleMar 24, 2015 | 6 min. read

    3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy

    Starting a clinic in a new city—with new referral sources and limited networks—can be very challenging. But with the right online marketing strategy, you can expedite the process. In fact, over the last three months, I’ve been able to grow my patient base by using old school word-of-mouth marketing and establishing an online presence in the local community. There are many ways to use the power of the Internet to market to patients and referring providers, and …

  • webinarFeb 1, 2013

    Achieve Greatness: Basic Tips, Tricks, and PT How-To's

    Sure, you’ve got your New Year’s resolutions down on paper but if achieving greatness isn’t on the list, there’s still time to include it—and check it off after implementing what you’ll learn from this month’s webinar. In this 60-minute session, WebPT Co-Founder Heidi Jannenga and Marketing Manager Mike Manheimer will discuss basic tips, tricks, and how-to’s to help you achieve greatness in therapy practice—everything from how to hire top talent and choose the right CEUs to maximize …

  • How to Install Google Analytics on Your Website Image

    articleSep 7, 2016 | 8 min. read

    How to Install Google Analytics on Your Website

    You already know that you need Google Analytics on your website. (And if you didn’t know that, then I recommend reading my Intro to Google Analytics for Private Practices to find out why you need to drop what you’re doing and install it right away!) So now, you’re probably wondering how to actually add Google Analytics (GA) to your site. Well, buckle up for a fun (and slightly technical) ride to unlocking the power of analytics on …

  • Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar Image

    articleFeb 7, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar

    Earlier this week, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, the president and co-founder of WebPT, teamed up with Charlotte Bohnett, WebPT’s director of demand generation, to host a webinar on common barriers to patient progress —and strategies for overcoming them. During the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, we received quite a few audience questions on the nuances of fostering patient engagement and moving patients toward their therapy goals as efficiently as possible. We’ve compiled the most frequently …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.