WE’VE TALKED WITH THOUSANDS OF HEALTHCARE MARKETERS AND ATTENDED A LOT OF CONFERENCES. YOU KNOW AS WELL AS WE DO THAT LEAD NURTURING AND MARKETING AUTOMATION ARE NO LONGER LIMITED TO ASPIRATIONAL POWERPOINT DECKS—THEY’RE NECESSARY TOOLS FOR MARKETING SUCCESS.
According to the 2017 State of Healthcare Content Marketing Report, more than three-quarters of healthcare marketers continue to struggle with attracting new patients and nurturing existing patients.
EMAIL AUTOMATION CAN NURTURE PROSPECTIVE PATIENTS THROUGH WHAT IS TYPICALLY A LONG SALES CYCLE. HEALTHCARE DECISIONS TAKE TIME, INFORMATION, AND TRUST. EMAIL IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT AND COST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO KEEP THE CONVERSATION MOVING AND CONVERT PROSPECTIVE PATIENTS TO SATISFIED ONES.
In fact, survey respondents indicated that email was one of the most effective content marketing tactics for boosting their bottom line. The majority of healthcare marketers are using email and find it to be effective. However, they are not using it to acquire new patients or engage existing ones.
Prospective patients are not always ready to make a decision right away. Despite this fact, many marketing strategies focus on the bottom of the funnel and moving buyers to the next stage through the use of hard calls to action, ads, direct mail, and contact forms.
Focusing your efforts on moving prospective patients from step two to step three is an effective approach to start with. However, you can expand your existing digital toolbox with a few simple email campaigns.
We’ll use these scenarios to illustrate how a typical marketing campaign without lead nurturing can be effective.
Sarah is ready to do something about her joint pain. She’s done her homework and is ready to make an appointment to discuss her options. Sarah finds out about your hospital’s orthopedic services close to her home from an ad she saw on Facebook. From there, she visits the associated landing page to book an appointment with a joint care specialist. Easy! But Sarah already knew which option was best for her situation.
Steve needs a different approach. He just started thinking about responding to his joint pain. He’s early in the process, so he’s looking for more information. Like Sarah, he learns about your hospital’s services from a campaign and clicks through to the landing page. Instead of calling the to book an appointment with a joint care coordinator, he takes a joint health risk assessment (HRA). From there, he moves to step three—nurturing. Because of the information Steve provided in the HRA, you can send him personalized emails that build a relationship and establish your hospital as a helpful resource for exploring his options.
An email automation sequence based on Steve’s HRA results can be a great way to keep your hospital top of mind and provide helpful information through Steve’s decision process.
A well performing nurturing sequence has 8-12 drip cycles. This ensures you send digestible, relevant information over time, rather than overwhelming Steve with too many details too soon. The length of the drip cycle also presents an opportunity for optimization and further understanding your prospective patients. What topics is Steve most interested in? What links does he click on? Email is the perfect sandbox for testing which email variables work best for your audience.
Now that we've discussed email automation applications, let's review guidelines for creating effective email nurturing campaigns.
Where will the email addresses for your nurturing campaign come from? Is it a contact form? A health risk assessment submission? If you begin with your lead sources and the desired actions you want your website visitors to take, you can easily create relevant emails that nurture these qualified leads to conversion.
Keeping your lead source(s) in mind, create workflows and content designed to connect with your audience with their stage in their journey. Engage your audience with topics that align with their needs, extend engagement, and offer a path to conversion with relevant calls-to-action.
A/B tests could include items such as:
• Subject line • Email format • Content types • Time of send • Day of send • Personalization tokens
Varying the types of email you send keeps your audience interested and engaged with what you have to say. These are some email types to consider using in your workflow.
• Track all opens/clicks to help inform content types and choices, and to shape future campaigns. Current data can serve as a baseline and a performance indicator for the content and campaign.
• Set up goals in your site’s analytics to attribute email as a conversion source.
Email automation is an effective and cost-efficient way to engage prospective visitors who are not ready to book a consultation. Segmenting your email list based on actions taken on your website, distributing customized messaging, and providing relevant, specific content build trust and nurture leads from your website to conversion.
Learn more about how lead nurturing strategies and email automation can generate more revenue for your hospital or health system. Contact Jason Skinner, CMO, at (423) 305-7692 or firstname.lastname@example.org