Mass emails to clients in the form of monthly newsletters and occasional company updates are fashionable across all industries. While a one-size-fits-all approach to email communication works well in some cases—for instance, to parents of children attending a daycare or to fans of an entertainer—many businesses offering a product or service are realizing their audience needs more targeted messaging.
Private practices owners especially benefit from a better communication strategy—specifically, segmenting their email marketing strategy. Consider the following:
Do your clients need the same information and messaging as a prospect?
Is it really effective to send existing clients a pitch for that a phone consultation or unknown prospects a heartfelt holiday message simply because they’re all part of the same email list?
Segmented email marketing enables private practices to group their contacts into a handful of buckets; at the very minimum two groups for existing clients and prospects. More nuanced approaches might entail segmenting the prospects further into those who have already been spoken to and the inevitable randoms with no tangible communication to date.
Regardless of how granular a private practice segments their emails, the process has proven to be effective and doesn’t need to be an overwhelming undertaking. Popular newsletter services like MailChimp can just as easily automate three simultaneous email campaigns—all using the same template, but with different content.
The following sections provide insight into the effectiveness of segmented email marketing and how to start developing a strategy for your own private practice.
Important Email Marketing Metrics
No two email lists are created equal; smaller audiences who know a sender well are naturally more inclined to open messages than relatively anonymous readers of a large company. Still, some important metrics are worth considering as private practice owners view their own campaigns and set benchmarks for future improvement.
Average open rates for email campaigns typically range from 25%-30% and click-through rates, or times in which a reader clicks on a link contained in the email, are more consistent at around 2-3%. A campaign sent to 100 subscribers might expect a quarter of its audience to open the email and a mere 2-3 people to click on that important call-to-action button or article link.
Note these numbers are just averages and private practices who enjoy great relationships with their clients and an email list swayed towards established relationships versus random prospects will likely enjoy better rates without much effort or implementing a segmentation strategy.
Remember, though, there’s always much room to improve.
How Can My Private Practice Improve?
Implementing a strategy to segment messages between clients and prospects should mark an immediate improvement. Open rates may remain somewhat static, but click-through rates—the most important number—are likely to enjoy a significant boost.
A recent MailChimp study updated on July 5th of 2016 notes the following boost for segmented email campaigns:
Opens are 14.41% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
Clicks are 63.75% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
Consider the above statistics and how it might apply to your private practice: What if 63.75% more subscribers clicked on a button to schedule an appointment or simply clicked through to your website where other best practices for visitor engagement take over?
A Group-Building Exercise
The aforementioned strategy of grouping existing clients and prospects into separate buckets is a great starting point for private practices. Yet every practice is different and more established companies might have a larger email list in need of further segmentation.
Is a significant subset of your client base interested in a specific topic such as autism? Larger practices might also be located in multiple locales and want to send location-specific information. Sit down and come up with a list of your existing audience and any commonalities worthy of a segmented marketing approach.
Finally, build and segment your email lists behind-the-scenes in MailChimp or whatever service is currently preferred. Unlike other businesses able to directly ask subscribers on a sign-up form about their interests, private practices and other service-based entities prioritizing prospect versus client lists needs to handle the segmentation internally and periodically change a subscriber’s status.
Different Messages for Different People
Much of deciding what content to send different groups of subscribers is intuitive and will come naturally to private practices with a pulse on their audience. Many practices already involved in segmented email marketing prefer to use the same template design for every group and often send much of the same content.
A recent blog post of interest to everyone might take up one column and the other remains open to swap out as needed—perhaps a referral request for existing clients and new client special for prospects.
Word choice and diving into the psychology behind marketing messages can also pay big dividends. Private practices on a budget can use a little trial and error or alternatively contract a seasoned copywriter to serve as a consultant or write sample copy for the first newsletter.
The Bottom Line
Both statistics and common sense show how sending different emails to different audiences is extremely effective for private practices. In an industry relying so heavily new appointment requests, the ability to better resonate with every subscriber and improve the chances of a website click, contact form submission, or social share is a worthwhile consideration for anyone looking to grow their client base.
Matt Milloway is the founder of Experient Media. His company launched a niche service called Private Practice Launcher to provide highly specialized web design, SEO, and online marketing to private practices.