Healthcare businesses must leverage a variety of channels to reach consumers. One of the most effective ways to do this is with email marketing, which helps businesses develop lasting relationships with customers. In a study by Nielsen Norman Group, 90 percent of people chose to receive email newsletters from companies while only 10 percent preferred to receive updates from Facebook.
The most effective email campaigns understand the audience receiving the content. It must be relevant to the consumers' specific interests in the healthcare industry, demographics, and current position in the sales funnel. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other healthcare businesses can utilize email for different purposes. In addition to transactional emails, businesses can also send branding and storytelling emails to engage consumers, enhance the customer experience, and build an excellent reputation. In fact, one study found that 90 percent of adults preferred a doctor's office that provided email communications.
Ultimately, both branding emails and transactional emails are important aspects of a digital healthcare marketing strategy (however, because of compliance and regulations, typically transactional emails are less of a focus). In this article, we will go over different types of branding emails and transactional emails that healthcare businesses can incorporate into their strategy.
Branding and Storytelling Emails
Branding and storytelling emails are meant to build relationships with customers through the use of brand stories, customer stories, educational content, and re-engagement opportunities. When integrated with other channels and accompanied by multimedia, these kinds of emails can create a rich customer experience. The most effective branding and storytelling emails appeal to consumers' behaviors, motivations, and needs—which then lead to increased engagement and transactions.
A welcome email is the first email a customer receives from a brand. The tone, branding, and content of this email is the customer's first impression and sets the foundation for the communication to come. Welcome emails tend to be a subscription confirmation or a post-purchase email.
According to an Experian study, customers are more likely to open welcome emails compared to other kinds of promotional emails. In addition, the same study found that welcome emails have more revenue per email than other types of emails.
Welcome emails should include formal introductions, a mention of the acquisition source, and an option to customize the subscriber's email preferences. This email is also an opportunity to include calls to action, special offers, coupons, and links to social media to increase engagement.
Customer Stories Emails
Customer story emails highlight customers' experiences with a brand's products and services. Additionally, they put a spotlight on who is part of your brand's community. For healthcare businesses, this is a wonderful opportunity to share uplighting content on how a product or service improved customers' lives. NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, for example, built an entire marketing strategy around this concept. In one video, a patient tells his story and accounts how NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital's doctors and nurses helped him recover.
Mayo Clinic is another institution that uses patient stories to establish a sense of community. Their blog, Sharing Mayo Clinic, showcases stories from patients and the Mayo Clinic staff. These inspiring stories strengthen Mayo Clinic's well-known reputation as a trust healthcare resource.
As shown in the examples above, effective customer stories emails should show how your company provided a clear solution to customers' problems. Using customers' real names, pictures, and quotes can strengthen the stories' credibility.
Moreover, Boston Children's Hospital found that patient stories were a powerful tool for highlighting their team's skill level and expertise. In addition to that, patient stories were the hospital's best-performing social media content.
When it comes to health issues, people tend to do their own research to learn what their options are. As a result, educational emails are an effective way to build trust and connect with customers. While these emails can help customers better understand a brand's products and services, they also act as a resource for customers to look forward to. Depending on subscribers' needs, email topics can range from patient treatment options to diagnosis information.
A drug company that manufactures diabetes medication, for example, can publish a newsletter that includes diabetes research, patient stories, and wellness tips. One organization that has successfully executed a newsletter campaign with educational content is Harvard Medical School. Their newsletter covers a variety of health topics ranging from men's health to heart health.
Educational emails are also a good opportunity for brands to incorporate video content. Cleveland Clinic, for example, produced a video series showing doctors speaking passionately about patient care and their areas of expertise. Watching a doctor talk about a condition or procedure can help patients feel more comfortable about what they are experiencing.
While customer stories highlight the customer's experiences, brand stories highlight the company's values and identity. In a study published in the Journal of Brand Management, customers who have engaged with a company’s brand stories were more likely to favour that brand and spend more.
Eyewear company Warby Parker is a company that effectively uses brand stories to build a connection with their customer. In their emails, Warby Parker uses storytelling to share how their glasses are made and why they can sell them at lower prices without sacrificing quality. They also use email to share their socially-conscious message: for every pair of glasses they sell, they donate another pair to communities in need.
Emails with brand stories are a good opportunity to direct customers to a company's website for more content. To maximize a customer's experience on a company website, it is essential to back the website's content with quality research, expert opinions, and social proof. For a more in-depth look at creating the best website for your healthcare company, our article "What Does a Good Website Experience Look Like?" breaks down the essentials.
Re-engagement emails are meant to re-engage customers who are inactive or who do not engage with the business in the way expected. To create a re-engagement email, identify your inactive users and decide how you want to win them back. According to a Return Path study of re-engagement campaigns, approximately 12 percent of those who received re-engagement emails read them. The study points out that the two kinds of emails that work best are "we miss you" emails and discount emails. Other options are emails with polls, surveys, and product recommendations. Businesses can test different content and messaging to determine what is more effective in re-engaging with this segment of customers.
Non-profit organization Asthma Foundation uses re-engagement emails to convince previous donors to demonstrate their generosity once more. Their emails include an overview of asthma triggers and concludes with persuasive copy to get the reader to make another donation.
Transactional emails involve transactions your customers have had with your business. Their key objective is to initiate or close a sale. According to Nielsen Norman Group, the most successful transactional emails were straightforward and communicated the information quickly and easily. In addition, they answer the users' questions and should have a simple user interface where customers did not have to do extra work (such as contacting the company, clicking a link, or logging into an account).
Because of compliance and regulations, transactional emails are typically less of a focus of healthcare, and only applicable to some healthcare business, such as consumer health.
There are different kinds of transactional emails: promotions, post-transaction emails, cart abandonment reminders, and requests to review a product or service.
- Promotion emails are used to announce the limited availability of a product, service, or discount. These emails can be sent before and/or on the launch date. Emailing customers before the launch date is an effective strategy to build anticipation and create a buzz around the offer.
- The purpose of post-transaction emails is to update customers on their order. They include shipment and delivery information, contact information for customer support, and relevant promotions.
- Cart abandonment reminder emails are sent out when potential customers add items to their online shopping cart but do not buy them. These emails remind customers of these items and entice them to follow through with the purchase. According to Baymard Institute, approximately two-thirds of shopping cart transactions are abandoned. Thus, cart abandonment emails are a good way to increase potential sales.
- Developing trust in a brand is an essential part of building successful relationships with consumers. Companies can earn trust and demonstrate authenticity by making the most of customer reviews. Customer reviews act as social proof and can help consumers feel more confident in a brand. By requesting customer reviews, brands show that they value transparency and want to uphold their brand promise. In Reputation.com's 2018 Retail Reputation Report, 86 percent of people revealed that authenticity matters when deciding if they should support a brand. Moreover, statistics from BrightLocal's Consumer Review Survey show that 91 percent of people read online reviews and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Making the most of branding emails and transaction emails creates opportunities for more engaging interactions and transactions. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help your healthcare company create a digital strategy that enhances customer experiences and leads to sales growth.