Which is more important: Marketing your practice and building a trusting relationship with your patients? Or staying in touch with your colleagues and being recognized as a leader in the field? It’s a draw – they’re equally critical to your success. A well-written, nicely designed practice e-newsletter is a fun way for both your readers and your staff to stay engaged with one another.
If you’re not currently sending or planning to send an e-newsletter to your patients, you’re one of the few in small business. 60.8% of US businesses surveyed say that sending an email newsletter is a component of future marketing plans.
- Keep a Consistent Schedule – Carefully consider the frequency of your e-newsletter. If you decide to send a weekly e-newsletter to patients, make sure you’re able to stick to that calendar. A monthly e-newsletter or quarterly email might be an easier deadline to meet—especially with the demands of such a busy practice. Whatever the frequency you decide, stick to it. Your patients will come to expect it. And this is really important: don’t miss a month or a week.
- Keep a Consistent Length – How many articles do you want to write each month? Two? Three? Try to make your e-newsletter about the same length every month. It will make your e-newsletter seem more thought out, and you’ll look better prepared if you have the same number of articles each time instead of e-newsletters that vary wildly in length.
- Use HTML Code – Until a few years ago, it was common to see people building e-newsletters in Microsoft Word and emailing the actual Word document as their e-newsletter. There are many resources now that enable you to create beautiful, professional e-newsletters in a format that will look the same to each recipient, no matter the programs available to them (some users do not have Microsoft Outlook, etc). Also, don’t forget the plain text version of the e-newsletter. If you create a document using HTML code, always create a plain text version for users opening on phones or in email programs without HTML enabled.
- Use Subject Lines to Describe Content – After you’ve decided on how often you’ll send your e-newsletter, how long it should be and the type of program you’ll use to create it, it’s now extremely important that people open it. You’ll want to entice people to click with a catchy subject line. It’s also important that your subject line describe the content of your e-newsletter. If you’ve written an article on the importance of a flu vaccination, try a headline like this: Inside this issue: How you can avoid the flu. Avoid boring subject lines such as: January Issue. Even though the content is the same, your readers will find the first subject line more enticing.
- Make It Uniform – Even though it’s very tempting to go crazy with colors and different fonts, resist the urge. An e-newsletter with the same font, in the same size throughout, void of random bolded sentences and a red or green word here and there is going to be a much more pleasant reading experience for your reader. It might be fun to create an e-newsletter with more colors and fonts in the text, but your readers probably won’t make it through the first paragraph. Their eyes will cross, their patience will wane and they’ll hit the delete button.
- Make It Pretty – Still, make it pretty. Making it uniform doesn’t mean it has to be ugly or boring. Create sections of content for your e-newsletter. Maybe a left or right side panel with links to your website or your blog. Another option would be a link to a refer-a-friend form with a custom logo that reads “Refer your friends to Dr. Johnson”. Invest in your brand and have someone who is really good at graphics create a beautiful banner that you can use at the top of every e-newsletter you send, no matter the season. You can add small pictures of snowmen or jelly beans in the body of the e-newsletter to make it look more seasonal.
- Let Your Personality Shine – They love you as their provider, and there is a reason why! They like you! When writing content for your e-newsletter, write to them as you would speak to them. Be fun, be witty, be silly. You can achieve all of these and still be professional. No one wants to read stale, boring articles. If you write in a way that shows you’re knowledgeable but still allow your fun side to show through, people will begin to look forward to your articles each week or month.
- Write About What You Know – This seems easy enough. If it’s a dental practice e-newsletter , your patients will naturally expect topics about dental health. You know all there is to know, so you should feel comfortable that the topics you’re writing about are what they’re interested in learning about from you. They’re not going to expect articles from your practice about couture fashion, kitchen DIY or French wine and cheese. It’s okay to stick to what you know. If you want to share an article on the effects of French wine and cheese on teeth occasionally, that’s fun too.
- Establish a Column – A fun way to write about what you know is to establish a column. Many e-newsletters have columns. Your e-newsletter could include an “Ask the Dentist” section or a “Doctor’s Notes” area. You could make observations that would be helpful to patients from things you’ve read about in trade publications or on industry blogs you frequent. A column is a great way to have one place in your e-newsletter that has a very consistent voice. It’s typically easier to come up with content when you create that.
- Be Social – Include as many links on your e-newsletter as you can think of for connecting with your practice. Include icons for your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Flickr accounts. If you have other social media accounts, include those too. Include a hyperlink for emailing your practice as well as a link to your website. Also, make your practice phone number very easy to find.