How do you find new patients for your practice? And how do you stay in touch with established patients? With email, social media, or a combination of the two?
Whatever your choice, the objective of marketing your practice comes down to:
- letting people know about your practice and
- what you can do for them, how you can help them.
Through your marketing, you’re attracting people interested in your services, “converting” them to become your patients, and finally establishing trust and building relationships so they will become part of your patient base.
Easier said than done…but this is what it takes to build your practice.
You have plenty of options to accomplish these objectives, two popular ones being social media and email marketing.
Let’s look at both and see if there are more significant benefits to one or the other. Let’s start with email.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, email has gotten a bad rap…
You’ll hear things like email is outdated, no longer used, ineffective, and just old school.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth…
Email marketing is:
- still used
- still relevant
- still cost-effective
Benefits of using Email Marketing:
Ownership: Your email list is an asset. You own your email list but not your social media account. You have no real control over your social media followers, and your account could get shut down anytime for any number of reasons. However, no one can take your email list away from you.
Portability: Since you own your email list, you can take it with you if you decide to move to a new email provider. Not so with your social media following… if you want to leave one social platform and move to another, you have to start over building a list of followers on the new platform.
Control: You control what to write and when to send your content to your list. While you can post content to social media anytime, the algorithms decide how much your content will be shown to your followers.
Independence: The emails you write will be mailed to all email addresses on your list. Not so with content on social media, where frequent algorithm updates and changes determine what percentage of content will/will not be seen by your readers.
Competition: The email inbox is far less competitive than social media, which pulls readers in many directions. Your email stands out in the inbox, whereas the same message will likely be missed in the social media feed.
Personalization: You can boost engagement with your readers by personalizing the emails, such as using the subscriber’s first name. Personalization helps build trust with subscribers.
Automation: Email allows you to automate parts of your marketing using automation. Using email, you can build welcome sequences or other automation, i.e., to remind people to get their flu shot or make an appointment for preventive care.
Higher Engagement: People are likelier to open a link in an email than in a social media post. Additionally, email shows consistently higher conversion rates than social media.
Longevity: Emails you send to your subscribers stay in their inbox until deleted. I don’t know about you, but frequently, an email from a few days or even weeks ago catches my eye, and I then open and read it. The same is not possible with social media… the post hits the feed, and unless you see it or specifically search for it, it’s gone.
Potential Cons of Email Marketing:
Deliverability: Not all emails will be delivered to everyone on your list. Depending on the quality of your list and content, some emails may bounce and not be seen by the email address’s owner.
List Building: You need to have a list before you can send emails to it. It can take time to build up an email list. Ironically, you can use social media to help you build an email list.
Time Investment: Email marketing is seen as being very time-consuming. However, it does not need to be complicated. Once you decide on a mailing schedule (for example, twice per month) and develop a content plan, the time it takes to create and send emails is minimal.
Monetary Investment: To send out emails, you must sign up with an email service provider, an ESP, which will result in a monthly or yearly expense. Many ESPs offer free trials until users build their list to a specific size and start charging for their service. Watch for my next article and email, where we’ll compare email service providers, what to look for, and how to choose the one that’s right for you.
Social media, no longer the new kid on the block, is popular with many Nurse Practitioners. Users scroll through their feeds and stop to consume content that catches their eye. They connect with family, friends, and brands they are following. They smile at cute images, like exciting posts, and glance at ads.
Benefits of using Social Media Marketing:
Instant Traffic: Social media platforms provide speed to users, and posting to social media can bring instant visitors to your website.
Instant Reach: When marketing, you want to go where your customers are; that’s social media today. Having a presence on social media allows you to reach people who are a good fit for your products and services.
Better SEO Rankings for your Website: While not 100% official, social signals seem to matter to Google. The number of likes, shares, and comments you get from social media channels influences how your site ranks in Google. More likes, shares, and comments may translate into a higher website ranking in Google.
Increased Brand Awareness: Utilizing various social media platforms allows you to have an online presence beyond your website. When potential patients see you in different places across the web, they are more likely to recognize, trust, and like you when looking for a new provider.
Targeting & Retargeting: If you’re buying ads from social media platforms, you have some ability to determine (target and retarget) who will see your ads. While 100% precise targeting may not be available, targeting allows you to show your ads to the people you want to attract to your business.
ROI: The jury is out regarding return on investment (ROI). Some say that social media brings a higher ROI, whereas others maintain that email is the winner. Both are correct. On one hand, it’s easy to post to social media and get that post seen by many people quickly. On the other hand, you must have an email list before anyone can see that same post. But once you have a list, watch out! For this reason, I think it’s tough to compare ROI.
Potential Cons of Social Media Marketing:
Most have been covered above, so there’s no need to repeat it here. However, there is one drawback I haven’t mentioned yet …
Time and Effort: The amount of time and effort required to keep posting to social media. If you think that email marketing is time-intensive, think again. While you can get away with sending an email once per week or once every other week, the social media monster demands to be fed every single day, multiple times. And that takes up your time and effort. On the bright side, though, it’s quick and easy to post or to hireout social media posting if you don’t mind the expense.
In some ways, the benefits of email marketing outweigh the use of social media. However, both have their place in marketing your practice, and I suggest you take a combined approach.
While email lets you build a true asset you own and control, you can tap into social media to help you grow it. Use social media to help build your email list, bring more visitors (aka drive traffic) to your website, and continue to build your brand.
Email marketing will help deepen your connection with your patients, build trust, and establish your authority in your field. Leverage your list to introduce and market new products and services as they become available in your office.
Finally, use your list to educate patients about their health and reinforce how you, the Nurse Practitioner, can help.
If you’d like to learn more about email marketing and how it can help you build your practice, come back next week for a comparison of Email Service Providers and how to pick the one that’s right for you.
And if you want to learn more about marketing your practice overall, go here to find out more.
But for now, let me ask you:
- What marketing channels are you using currently?
- Do you prefer social media over email?
- Or do you prefer another channel altogether?
Please share your experience in the comment section below… we want to know!