Email Campaigns: Trends and Solutions in Automated Healthcare Marketing

Posted on by Erik Michal

In a way, automated marketing campaigns and healthcare-focused businesses ought to go hand-in-hand. Email reminders are a great way to motivate consumer behavior. Care providers are constantly reminding patients to take some sort of action—to book a check-up exam, to get the latest recommended vaccinations, or pay a bill, for example. Spurring another person to action is often the primary challenge facing the clinician treating a patient, and the marketer messaging a customer.

Direct-to-consumer marketing involves encouraging a transaction, seeing an immediate conversion, then starting the cycle over again. Because the medical field has small enrollment periods for insurance and is largely referral-based for providers, marketing automation is rarely used for conversion. Instead, it’s a tool that helps build a relationship with your client base. Doctors and patients can also use it to begin forming relationships and help solidify loyalty.

What should be the focus of targeted healthcare automated marketing campaigns? The answer, in short, is a little bit of everything. The effects of a well-executed campaign can be powerful, benefiting customers on a personal, life-changing level.

Encouraging Action

Reminding people to take care of their own health concerns rarely falls under the category of “marketing.” Your goal in medical marketing is very rarely to sell a thing. It is to inform your base on what options are available to them, how coverage can best be used, and how to navigate an extremely complex industry that has a direct impact on your health. Many of the same tactics marketers use to motivate consumer behavior perfectly lend themselves to care objectives.

By using data about age, gender, prescriptions and medical conditions, and behaviors, you can help a member carry their load on their health journey—acting more as a partner than a provider. This data can be used to remind patients to take specific actions like:

  • Updating prescriptions
  • Booking annual check-ups
  • Making regular check-ups based on health conditions
  • Screening for specific health conditions particular to the patient’s demographic group
  • Selecting a primary care provider
  • Encouraging other behaviors, like when to go to the emergency room or urgent care

Anticipating Needs

Although they don’t fall under the “care” category, administrative tasks sometimes lend themselves to traditional marketing tactics as well. Historically, the doctor’s office was a place for patients to wait and fill out forms before being seen by a care provider. Today, those forms can be sent and signed electronically before a patient comes to the office, if only to make sure their contact and insurance information is up to date.

Most patients can only make changes to their health plans once a year, typically in November or December, when Open Enrollment allows providers to update their list of coverage options for the coming year. Exceptions include life events—the birth of a new child, for example—which also provide an obvious opportunity to text or email patients a reminder to review their coverage options when their family situation changes. This is a great time to remind patients of any new offerings at their local clinic or hospital.

What about the rest of the year? Automated marketing revolves around anticipating the customer or client’s needs. Healthcare campaigns need not be any different. As care providers collect data around patients’ behaviors—utilization of services (or lack thereof), following through on appointments, scheduling check-ups—each action presents an opportunity to remind patients of their options and guide them to what’s next.

Consider each of the following questions as part of a patient email campaign:

  • Based on the patterns of the actions the patient is taking, how could they use their plan better?
  • Based on their actions, what’s the next logical step for their care journey? What information might they need?
  • What features, partnerships and perks does their plan offer that are unused or underutilized?

Be mindful of email fatigue. The effects of over-sending are well-documented, so be mindful of annoying or fatiguing patients with too many reminders.

Personalized Content Through Advanced Targeting

The solutions recommended by an email campaign can be hyper-focused on patients dealing with specific conditions as well.

Take diabetes, for example. If you know a patient was recently diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, consider a campaign providininformation specific to their condition around emails like:

  • High-level information about their diagnosis
  • Meal plan suggestions and foods to watch out for
  • Information about medication/treatment options
  • The difference between Type 1 and Type 2, and how to handle each
  • If Type 2, ways to remediate your situation and return to a healthy lifestyle

Not all diabetes diagnoses follow a predictable path, but pregnant women and their partners can generally know what to expect for the next nine months of their lives. Reminders of what to expect can be useful and save time for parents who want to do their own research but don’t know where to look. An email that takes 10 minutes to read can save a patient hours.

Each of these use-cases can establish your practice or hospital as a go-to thought leader for onlininformation about general or specific medical conditions, and further the relationship between provider and patient.

For medical groups and hospitals, your practice or network could be among a handful of options that, in many cases, a patient inherited from their family or was assigned by a parent’s medical plan. Your job is to build a long lasting relationship. The game is literally yours to lose. If you’re not able to prove your value, your members will find another option.

Don’t let the grass get greener across the fence—use the tools at your disposal to create a personalized experience for every single member.

Erik Michal is marketing automation manager at ddm marketing + communications.


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