Marketing is an ongoing challenge for all businesses, no matter the industry, nature, or size of the company.
To implement their marketing, business owners may choose from video, social media, or content marketing. They may place ads in newspapers and magazines, leverage public speaking, or publish their own e-Newsletter to let ideal customers know about the products and services they have available.
Now, if you think that e-Newsletters might be old school, you are not alone. Some regard e-Newsletters as outdated and far too yesterday. And while these channels have been around for some time, you will see that they are not “over the hill.”
You may be surprised to learn that email marketing and e-Newsletters are still effective marketing channels and amongst the best performers when it comes to return on investment.
But ROI (return on investment) is not the only reason to add an e-newsletter to your marketing mix. While we’ve talked about some of the reasons before, let me revisit three of them.
- Emails are yours; every email you collect in your autoresponder belongs to you, not to social media or some other platform.
- There is no account risk. Unless you do something to violate the terms of service of the autoresponder company, your account will not get shut down… unlike social media, where your account may get shut down without you even knowing what you may have done to prompt the shut-down.
- It builds relationships; an effective e-Newsletter builds relationships and establishes credibility with subscribers. Readers may even look forward to receiving, opening, and reading your emails.
But before I continue, let me address one common question…
What’s the difference between email marketing and e-Newsletters? Aren’t they the same?
While it may seem that they are the same, there are significant differences between the two. Both use email to accomplish their objectives, but this is where the similarity ends.
Companies use email marketing to build a list of customers they can market to. Some businesses stay in touch with their list by sending a mix of educational and promotional emails, while others send sales emails alone.
Overall, email marketing has a strong sales component and typically includes some form of “call-to-action.” Emails may be sent as needed, sporadically as a marketing campaign, or at regular intervals.
When website visitors are asked to sign up for a newsletter, they sign up because they expect to receive valuable information. Most people don’t subscribe to a newsletter because they want to be sold to.
Sure, we all know there will be some selling from time to time, but the primary reason for someone to subscribe is to get information. Newsletters are sent (or should be) regularly. While publishing frequency varies, many are sent weekly or even daily.
How to Start…
So now, let’s talk about how to get started with an e-newsletter to market your practice. But first, let me say there are many moving parts when it comes to publishing an e-newsletter. And before you can sit down to write the first issue, there are several decisions you must make.
Decisions to make…
- You need an idea, a vision for your newsletter… will you focus on health news, educational content, the latest medical treatments, or breakthroughs in medical research? Whatever your focus will be, choose the information that will be of use and interest to your typical reader.
- How often will you publish your newsletter? What day of the week will you publish? Newsletters take a lot of work. It’s better to commit to a lighter publishing schedule than to overcommit, unable to deliver on your promise. I suggest you start with less publishing frequency, perhaps twice a month, or weekly. Once you have a publishing routine, you can always increase the frequency of your newsletter.
- You must decide on a format for your newsletter. Will it consist of a few articles, or will you include several sections with every issue? Will there be an article, industry news, office news, interesting tidbits, funny stories, Q & A, or other topics you think would benefit the reader?
- You also want to include a header or a logo for your newsletter. If possible, think of a name for your newsletter. You want people to instantly recognize your newsletter when it sits in their inbox, waiting to be opened.
- And then, of course, you need content to publish in your newsletter, you need articles and other newsworthy information. Where will you find the material? Will you write it yourself, curate it, or will a staff member do the work?
- How long will your newsletter be? Will you cover one topic in great detail or provide more content, without going into too much depth?
- Who will collect and edit the content and then set it up in the autoresponders every time the newsletter gets published?
- Who is doing the talking? In other words, will the newsletter be written in your voice, or will it be in the voice of your clinic?
- What email address will the newsletter come from? Will the email address contain your name or the name of your clinic? If a reader replies to your email, where will the email be sent to?
- Last but not least, you need to pick a company to collect and store email addresses for you. That company is referred to as the autoresponder. Here is a link to an article covering the topic of autoresponders.
- How much time can you devote to creating an e-newsletter, and how easy will it be to come up with content ideas?
- Are you willing to put in the effort and stick with it? Publishing an e-newsletter is a long-term marketing strategy, not a quick fix.
Now is an excellent time to stop and ponder whether publishing a newsletter is right for you. Should you determine that it’s not for you, that’s alright, no harm is done.
But should you decide that newsletters are right for you, it’s time to move forward.
On a side note…
Be sure to include a HIPAA disclaimer in your newsletter. Let people know that the content in the newsletter is for educational or informational purposes alone.
Make sure your readers understand your newsletter goes out to all patients who subscribed to it, and that no personal health information is to be disclosed, shared, or communicated because it will not remain private. Provide your readers with clear instructions on how to contact your office if they have medical questions or concerns.
Before you publish your first issue, there’s a bit more detail left to iron out. Come back here next week to find out what’s left to do.
Tell us what you think and share your experiences with e-newsletters…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“