- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 23, 2015
- Email marketing
If you think we spend a lot of time here talking about your email lists, you’re right.
Email marketing can have a tremendous impact on your hospital’s branding, reach, and fundraising efforts, but if you don’t have a strong house email list, you can’t take advantage of those benefits. Email marketing can help you cut costs by migrating from a print newsletter to an online one, but if you don’t have a list of people who have opted in to read your content, you have no way to distribute it.
No matter what kind of digital marketing tactics you’re trying to use, your results will only be as good as your email list. And no matter what kind of results you’re looking for, email is probably your best way to get them.
Social media, video, and other cutting-edge techniques are all the rage these days, but their effectiveness pales in comparison to plain old email. Believe it or not, email has an ROI around 4,300%, according to the Direct Marketing Association, blowing other digital mediums out of the water. For every dollar spent on email marketing, your ROI is over $40—if your email list is good enough.
If your email list leaves something to be desired (and let’s face it—every email list has room for improvement), don’t worry. You can’t just buy or rent email lists like you can address lists for print mailings, but there are still plenty of ways you can make your list better so you can see better results and bigger profits. Just take a look at this graphic:
There are a lot of items on that chart, but that’s the point. In fact, you could replace them all with a single field that says that every interaction you have with a current or potential patient is an opportunity to collect an email address. Here are some things to keep in mind throughout the process:
1. Ask, then ask again
If your conversion rate is lower than you’d like, you may just need to ask again. Strategically place calls-to-action in more than one place on your website or blog so there’s more than one opportunity for people to sign up, and be persistent. They may skip over the first or even the second one, but if they’ve read all the way to the bottom of your article, they’re more likely to be ready to sign up.
2. Offer something in return
Email addresses are valuable, so most—if not all—of the time you won’t be able to convince visitors to give them up for nothing. Just think about how many unwanted emails end up in your own inbox every day. Even if you’re just sending out your best blog content first thing every morning, you’ve got to have a way to incentivize your readers. Premium content pieces that aren’t available anywhere else are the best way to do this, and they’re easier to make than you think.
3. Run a contest
Everyone loves free stuff! Oftentimes people won’t think twice about handing over their email address if there’s a chance to win something great. Running a contest is a great way to integrate your email collection efforts across your website, blog, and social media accounts. Make it easy to share so people can enter and then pass it along to their friends and family members in a tweet or email. You can even allow bonus entries for sharing to up the buzz.
4. Optimize your landing page
Your landing pages are the most important pages on your website. The purpose of your home page and all of its child pages is to direct people to your landing pages. Once someone arrives at one of your landing pages, they’re just a button click away from becoming a lead, so you want the process to be as simple and straightforward as possible. Go over every element with a fine-toothed comb, and make sure you set up a thank you page for those who do click on the submit button.
5. Test everything
Copy, images, fonts, colors—even the smallest details can have a big impact on your conversion rate. Conventional wisdom says that images make everything better, but that’s not always the case. And a few key words could be the difference between winning someone over or losing them. Don’t be afraid to go against the flow, as long as you’re keeping track of what works.
6. Target your content
If you’re having trouble getting people to sign up for your email list, maybe you’re not offering the right content. Creating separate lists with their own landing pages for each of your hospital’s specialties could be more effective than sending the same emails to everyone. Targeted emails have higher clickthrough rates, and they give users more control over what they read so they’re not buried in messages that don’t matter to them. And if you send frequent emails, offer them the chance to receive weekly digests with all of your most important content in one place.
7. Step offline
Landing pages and text boxes aren’t the only places people can enter email addresses. Integrate your online and offline marketing efforts and leverage whatever print surveys or sign-up forms you’re already using to build your email list. Make sure you collect addresses when your hospital holds special events, or make things easier by making registration online only. You can even set up a video stream and turn a conference into a webinar.
What methods have you used to build your email list? We’d love to hear about them.