Your Roadmap for Creating an Effective & Engaging E-Mail Marketing Plan for Your Weight Loss Practice
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Your e-mail list is one of the most important, yet often under-utilized assets you have in your weight loss practice. Use it wisely to nurture, educate, and engage current and prospective patients while also increasing brand awareness and promoting the amazing services and products you offer.
If the words e-mail marketing conjures up a large “spam” sign in your mind, you are not alone. However, when done properly, your current and prospective patients will readily put you on their e-mail “whitelist” and actually look forward to hearing from you.
There are many definitions of e-mail marketing. One of the best is the process of targeting your audience and customers through e-mail in order to boost conversions and revenue by providing readers with valuable information to help achieve their goals.1 Note: the last part of this definition is the most important part and should be top of mind with every e-mail you create and send.
Value of E-Mail Marketing
Your e-mail list is something you own. It contains names and addresses of people that raised their hand and asked to receive information from you. Additionally, it doesn’t rely on an ever-changing social media platform that often provides inconsistent results. Below are some of the primary reasons why e-mail marketing is so valuable:
- Keeps You Top of Mind: With consistency, you remain top of mind. This is especially helpful when you are the trusted resource people see when they are ready to get started or continue their weight loss journey.
- Builds Authority: As you address the concerns and questions of your weight loss patients, this helps secure their view of you as the weight loss authority and minimize distractions from a myriad of other external sources.
- Differentiates You from Your Competitors: While entirely worth it, there is strategy and work involved in running an effective e-mail marketing campaign. So, many of your competitors are focusing their efforts elsewhere. You can take this opportunity to uniquely fill the gap with exactly what your patients want and need.
- Creates Anticipation for New Services/Products: E-mail is a great way to build excitement for any new services or products you decide to offer as well as any pertinent announcements.
- Generates Sales on Demand: Having an engaged e-mail list creates sales on demand. You can showcase a product, have some special offer (limited only by your imagination), and link it to a way to purchase and wake up to additional revenue while serving an important patient need.
- Gives You a Valuable SEO Boost: In your e-mail marketing, you can build valuable SEO by providing links back to your website to anything such as a service, product, blog, podcast, free report, webinar, in-person event, team member highlight, or the like.
Your Simplified E-Mail Marketing Plan
Throughout each step, two things will make your e-marketing efforts more feasible and effective: First, focus on the message your patients not only want to hear but need to hear. You can do this by asking yourself: What do my patients need to hear from me today? Or, where are my patients struggling and how can I help them most? Second, focus on simplicity — this will help ensure consistency. If you choose to delegate or outsource your e-mail marketing campaign, verify that the messaging content is consistent with your vision. People are busy so keep your content easy to access and concise.
Now, let’s get to the roadmap:
- Determine Your Purpose: When creating an e-mail or e-mail series, it is important to know your purpose since this will guide your content and a related call-to-action. A few include education, feedback, announcement, promotion, social media connection, website SEO, testimonial request, nurturing prospective patients and engagement.
- Create & Build Your E-Mail List: You can segment your e-mail list if desired to focus your message (i.e. medical weight loss vs surgical weight loss) depending upon your chosen secure e-mail provider. You should always be adding more prospective and active patients to your list due to natural list attrition and so you aren’t always talking to the same people. A few ways to do this is automatically adding the e-mail for all current/new patients and having online ways for people to ‘opt-in’ to your e-mail list via your website, social media or landing page.
- Design Your E-Mail Template: A simple and consistent design that includes your branding (logo/color scheme/contact information) tends to work best. For example, if you send a weekly newsletter, choose 2-3 elements you want to include and consistently deliver them in the same order. For example, logo at the top, helpful article, recipe (can be a graphic or link to a video you have on your website or YouTube channel), patient success story (with photo) and featured product/service or team member. At the bottom, you should include a way to unsubscribe if desired, your address/website and phone number. You can test these elements through your performance metrics and modify as necessary. There are many secure online software options with a variety of templates you can choose from to simplify this further and positively impact your deliverability and open rate.
- Determine Your Subject Line & Content: Just as you select which e-mails you decide to open; your patients will be more likely to open e-mails if the subject line catches their attention. Thus, a subject line of ‘weekly newsletter’ is less likely to be opened than one that says “5 Healthy Foods that May Be Preventing You from Losing Weight” or “Dr. [insert name]’s Top 3 Tips for Getting Back on Track after Weight Regain.” For your content, make sure it is a topic your patients are interested in, easy to understand, concise and conversational.
- Automate When Possible: It is extremely easy to batch content creation such as nurturing and relevant e-mail sequences ahead of time and schedule automated delivery to segments (or all) of your e-mail list. This makes e-mail marketing much more convenient. Of course, you can also add on the go blast e-mails as appropriate to share spur of the moment announcements. Just be sure to not over-deliver and have fun with it!
- Monitor Metrics: As with everything, you should monitor what matters. When it comes to e-mail marketing, below are some of the primary metrics to measure:
- Open Rate: Percentage of total e-mail subscribers who opened your e-newsletter campaign (Health Care Average: 23.4 percent)
- Click-through Rate: Percentage of the number of subscribers who click on a link or image in your email out of all the total emails you’ve sent, regardless of whether or not the subscriber opened the campaign. (Health Care Average: 3.4 percent)
- Click to Open Rate: Percentage of email viewers (those that open an email) who click on a link or image within an email. (Health Care Average: 15.6 percent)
- Unsubscribe Rate: Percentage of e-mail subscribers that opt out of receiving any further e-mails. (Health Care Average: 0.31 percent)
- Campaign Deliverability: You want to be as close to 100 percent as possible.
Bottom line, with over four billion e-mail users worldwide and an average return on investment of e-mail marketing of $36 for every $1 spent, e-mail marketing is a great tool to utilize in your weight loss practice.3