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Reactivate Now! How to Get Past Patients to Come Back

Here's how to reactivate past patients and get them back in your practice. Click here to learn more and get past patients to come back today!

Kylie McKee
5 min read
January 17, 2019
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Goodbyes shouldn’t be permanent—especially when it comes to discharging patients. In fact, should those patients ever need to return to therapy, your practice should be the go-to for all their PT needs. That’s why it’s crucial to integrate a patient reactivation plan into your overall healthcare marketing strategy.

What is patient reactivation?

But, first things first: what do we mean when we talk about patient reactivation—and why is it important? In a nutshell, patient reactivation refers to the process of re-engaging with past patients and, ultimately, bringing their business back to your practice—instead of your competition’s—should they need additional treatment.

So, why focus on reactivating past patients? Easy: As this resource from Invesp states, “it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one”—and retaining patients over the long term (i.e., through multiple courses of care) is something you can do by leveraging reactivation email campaigns. (Not sure how to build a reactivation campaign? WebPT Reach makes it super-easy to create automated, customized campaigns for your practice. You can learn more here.)

But, reactivating a patient isn’t as simple as writing and email and hitting “send.” With that in mind, we’ve put together some strategies for closing the deal.

What are some strategies for boosting reactivation?

Increase Your Open Rate

Your open rate refers to the percentage of recipients who opened your email. According to this Mailchimp resource, the average open rate for marketing emails in the healthcare industry is 21.09%. With that in mind, if you’re not getting the open rates you want or expect, here are some common reasons for low open rates (and how to fix ‘em):

Your subject line isn’t strong enough.

If you want people to open your emails, you need to make sure the subject line speaks directly to them and their interests. Assuming you’ve segmented your patients into different audiences (and you absolutely should), make sure that whatever you include in your subject line speaks to that segment directly. For example, if you’re sending an email to all of your low back pain patients, a subject line that mentions back pain—or better yet, that your services can help them with it—may catch their eye.

Additionally, make sure your subject line:

  • isn’t more than 50 characters long, and
  • doesn’t look “spammy” (i.e., doesn’t contain things like multiple exclamation points, phrases like “click here,” and dollar signs).

Your content is underwhelming.

Here’s the truth: if your last email was great, people are more likely to open the next one. So, make sure your marketing emails are always engaging and informative. If your emails provide information people could easily find with the most cursory Google search—or worse, they’re essentially just promotion after promotion—folks will be less inclined to open them. Keep it interesting, and keep it consistent.

You’re emailing from a general email address.

Chances are, you’re far more likely to open an email from a person than a faceless entity, and your patients aren’t any different. Instead of sending your marketing emails under a generic email address (e.g.,, send from a real name (e.g., According to HubSpot, “emails sent by a real person are more likely to be clicked on than emails sent from a company name,” likely because email recipients feel like they’re interacting with a real person, which makes them far more likely to open the email and respond.

You’re not collecting enough contact information.

As for contact information, keep in mind that your open rate is a numbers game. Of all the patients who come to your practice, a percentage will sign up to receive marketing materials. And of those who sign up, only a certain subset will actually open the emails you send. Thus, the number of contacts you collect will have a direct impact on your ultimate open and conversion rates.

You may want to implement policies for contact collection (e.g., have your front office staff ask patients if they’d like to receive discounts and coupons via email during their initial visit). The more contacts you collect—specifically, contacts who vocalize their desire to receive messaging from you—the better your open rate will be.

Grow Your Conversion Rate

Whereas your open rate considers the percentage of people who open your email, your conversation rate reflects the number of individuals who actually take you up on your offer. According to this resource from Remarkety, a typical conversion rate for marketing emails is anywhere between 1% and 5%. However, if your marketing efforts are highly targeted (something that WebPT Reach can help you with), your conversion rates will likely increase—and that directly translates to an increase in revenue. On top of segmenting, here are a few other things to watch out for when it comes to your conversion rate:

You’re giving the wrong offer.

Your email content should be super clear about its intentions without being forgettable. You may need to play around with your email content to find the sweet spot, which is where A/B testing comes into play. Remember: Different messaging—and offers—will resonate with different populations. For example, your geriatric patients are less likely to convert on an offer for a free sports screening than your athletic patients are. Whatever offer you decide on, be sure to include a clear call to action (CTA), and make sure that CTA is relevant to your target audience.

It’s not optimized for mobile.

According to the marketing gurus at Hubspot, “74% of smartphone owners use their devices to check their email,” and 51% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. So if mobile users have trouble viewing your emails, you could be missing out on a lot of potential conversions.

You don’t follow up on leads right away.

As a rehab therapy professional, your conversion rates also depend on your follow-through. In other words, you must promptly reach out to patients after they’ve expressed interest in your offer. To increase your chances of conversion, make sure you:

  • follow up with the patient as soon as possible;
  • use a script;
  • take a consultative approach to determine whether he or she is a good candidate for the offer; and
  • coach any staff members who will provide such consultations.

Collect Patient Feedback

Today’s patients are shouldering more of the financial burden associated with their care than ever before, which means the competition for winning those patients is getting tougher. Potential patients—even those who have received your services before—want to make sure they’re getting the greatest possible value for their dollar, which means providers who have the data to prove that they deliver exceptional patient experiences (e.g., high patient satisfaction ratings) are at a major advantage when it comes to attracting new patients.

Collecting—and listening to—feedback increases engagement.

But, positive satisfaction data doesn’t just pull in new patients: tracking patient satisfaction can also be highly beneficial to keeping current and past patients engaged with your practice. As WebPT President and Co-founder Heidi Jannenga mentioned in this webinar on increasing patient retention, when you collect patient satisfaction data, “you’ll be able to be proactive and identify your detractors early and work with them directly—often in real-time—to improve their experience and keep them engaged in their care.” (And when it comes to tracking patient experience, we at WebPT are huge proponents of the Net Promoter Score® [NPS®].) Plus, when you track patient satisfaction—and more importantly, make changes based on feedback—your patients will know you value their input, and thus, you’ll earn their loyalty. The result: They’ll be far more likely to return to your clinic should they need services in the future.

Goodbyes are never easy, but saying goodbye to patients at discharge is a whole lot easier if you have a reactivation strategy in place. Ready to make patient reactivation a breeze? Check out WebPT Reach—PT’s premier software for patient engagement, retention, and reactivation.


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