Email marketing can be an important part of both inbound and outbound marketing strategies for many businesses. Using email in marketing for health care centers is not as straight forward as it is for traditional businesses. Elements such as HIPPA, patient privacy and the nature of medical care all necessitate a modified approach to email marketing. Substance abuse and other specialized treatment centers are even more unique in their patient population and sensitivity to privacy issues. So what can medical clinics learn from the traditional world of email marketing and how can that be applied to marketing to those in need of specialized medical proceedures?
Outbound marketing is reaching out to a population that has not reached out to you. Many companies will buy email lists and will send unsolicited emails to potential customers. While this may be effective is certain arenas, the medical field is probably not one of them. I am sure that you can imagine how the person getting an email from a treatment center, would react; “How did they get my email? How did they know about my affliction?” This would truly match the definition of SPAM. Obviously, we do not recommend outbound marketing for our clients who offer products or services that might be considered 'sensative topics' such as addiction treatment centers. However, there might be some circumstances in which it would be effective for medical clinics such as spa’s or plastic surgeons.
Inbound marketing is a completely different scenario. Inbound marketing is marketing to those who are looking for you. When potential clients or their family members come to your site through organic search engine results, this is inbound marketing. This is a totally different paradigm from outbound marketing or SPAM. However, as Lara Wellman points out in her recent post, “you want to get permission from people to email them.” How do you do this? By making sure you have a contact form clearly placed in strategic locations on your website. When anyone fills out a contact form on your website, they are telling you they want or allow you to contact them.
So how can you get potential clients and their family members to give you their consent to contact them and their email address? Again, Lara gives you the details: “Send them what they want. Send them what they value. Make them WANT to open your emails because they are going to learn something…” The key to Lara’s insight is helpful content. Your website must offer compelling content for your clients, families and other health professionals. This most commonly entails blogging and Ebooks.
If your inbound marketing efforts do not include these features, you are missing an important aspect of your online marketing efforts.