Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why not engage the healthcare consumer with email?

Email marketing on the consumer side is a staple of any B2C marketing operation. Email marketing can be an effective way to engage the healthcare consumer, enhance the experience and build brand preference.  It also provides a mechanism for continuous content presence to build/enhance relationships, as well as being one of the more cost effective marketing channels available for communication. In the semi-retail environment of healthcare with information flowing to the healthcare consumer along price, choice and outcomes, market presence is everything.

Gone are the days when someone uses your healthcare organization, walks out the door and they never hear from you again until they initiate the next medical encounter.  In between medical encounters, email marketing can keep you engaged with the healthcare consumer. And isn’t that what engagement is all about, a continuous method of communication that focuses on the needs of the healthcare consumer aka the patient and not just a response to an episode of care?

The topics are virtually limitless and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an individual or group of individuals.  From diet and exercise tips, to medication adherence, wellness programs, clinical service offerings, appointment reminders, test follow ups, etc, email marketing can help to engage and enhance the experience with the healthcare provider or practitioner.  What you choose to communicate is really only limited by the market research you need to accomplish to understand the needs of your audience to respond accordingly with the right engagement information at the right time.

There is some resource investment capital and human, but it will pay dividends in the long run. Email marketing is driven by data and analysis of that data. Sending an email is an activity.  It’s the outcome of those activities- open rates, unique visitors, unsubscribed, click though rates, calls in response etc., that is important to measure and track for a variety of reasons.

Beyond the obvious of needing to collect patients email addresses, you will need a email marketing automation system such as Eloqua, Marketo, Constant Contact  or one of the many other fine systems in the marketplace. These type of systems will assist you in meeting the can spam law requirements as well. This isn’t collecting some email addresses, make a distribution list and send from Outlook type of program. It’s about meaningful content that speaks to and engages the individual in a very personalized way. Part of that is driven by market research and A B testing of your message to learn what works and what doesn't. This is moving the organization forward in a new environment where the consumer is king and cost is everything.

Email marketing pre and post healthcare experience is an acceptable and desirable method to engage the healthcare consumer, build a relationship, strengthen your brand and maintain a continuous market presence. 

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