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Finding affordable ways to build a brand and generate new leads and patients is a top priority for most healthcare decision makers. Yet, many businesses get in the rut of marketing the same way over and over, just because that is how its always been done. Today’s patients don’t respond the same way to traditional marketing. In order to be effective, businesses must break free from tradition and go where their target market is.

According to Pew Research, 72 percent of internet users searched for health information online. Now, more than ever before is it necessary to connect with healthcare consumers online. Email marketing is a great way to achieve this.

Each inquiry presents a new opportunity to build a relationship. It may begin with something as simple as them reading a blog or liking a Facebook page, yet over time that relationship should evolve into one founded on loyalty and trust. This is what transitions an inquiry or prospective patient into a paying patient. Yet, many practices find it challenging to connect the dots between an inquiry and patient. It doesn’t have to be hard. It simply has to be intentional.

Marketing intentionally means devising a plan for what happens when a new inquiry is received. The inquiry may arrive as a phone call, Facebook fan, newsletter sign up or website inquiry. Regardless, there must be steps taken to ensure their connection is not lost.

One of the most valuable pieces of information a medical practice can get for intentional marketing is an email address. Having an email address allows the practice to stay connected with their contacts through strategic marketing messages targeted at what they are interested in. Email addresses should be captured and categorized based on the type of patient or prospective patient they are. For example, a dermatology practice can separate contacts by age. This is because products and services offered are appropriate for specific ages. Acne treatment marketing messages can be sent to teen patients, where Botox treatments wouldn’t be appropriate.

As a medical marketing agency, it is not surprising to learn when a practice is not capturing email addresses from their inquiries and their patients, or perhaps they are capturing them but not doing anything with this valuable information. This is an easy mistake to fix, but it requires making sure email addresses are requested from each and every inquiry and patient. Not everyone is going to want to share his or her email address and that is fine. It is better to have a healthy list of people interested in what the practice has to say than one who doesn’t want to hear from them.

The next step is to put a plan into place as to how email marketing inquiries will be categorized. Look at the services and procedures offered and consider who the target audience is and create groups accordingly. Also consider the services the patient has had in the past. If they have had Botox, chances are, they will be interested in learning about other anti-aging treatments and specials offered.

While it takes some marketing planning, it is well worth the effort. Practices that deliver targeted messages have a much higher return than those that send the same messages to everyone. By marketing intentionally practices will find it easier to connect and build relationships with both inquiries and patients.