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Tag Archives: marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Patient Referral Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Patient Referral Marketing

Developing a strong referral network is critical to ensuring the success of your medical practice. In order to grow your medical practice’s revenue, it is important to attract new patients consistently. In addition to advertising and connecting with insurance agencies, establishing a reliable referral network is an excellent way to bring in new business.

However, as healthcare practices merge and consolidate, it can be tough for small practices to build and nurture referral relationships. Moreover, even if a referral channel is set up, sustaining it becomes a challenge. While you may be playing your role well by referring patients to specialists, you need to make sure other doctors are returning the favor by referring their patients to you. This is where networking plays an integral part as other doctors will only feel comfortable referring patients to your practice if they trust you. The more well-known your practice is, the more likely other doctors will refer patients to you.

What drives physician referrals?

In the last decade or so, the rate at which doctors have referred patients to a specialist has more than doubled. Professional referrals have not grown just because doctors want to expand their practice, but for a multitude of various factors that drive physicians’ decisions. The following are some of the points that are contributing to the increased referral rate:

1. Too few doctors: There is a shortage of primary-care physicians in the United States, which means they lack the time and resources to pay attention to patients with complex illness. So rather than decreasing the quality of patient care in order to maximize revenue to balance expenses, these patients are referred to specialists who have sufficient resources for handling their complex symptoms. According to published reports, the availability of primary-care physicians is not going to improve for the next few years at least. Therefore, in the years to come, the rate of professional referrals will grow as physician availability declines.

2. Fear of malpractice: Recent studies have revealed physicians’ constant worry over malpractice. This concern is one of the strongest drivers behind requesting lab tests and referrals. According to a study, physicians’ fears of being sued for malpractice are disproportionate to the risk of being sued. But as long as malpractice remains a concern for physicians, it will influence their referral patterns. Also, patients often demand to be referred to a specialist. In the past, a patient with shoulder pain might be told to take a Motrin and wait for a few days. However, now the patient demands to be referred to a neurologist. So, a larger portion of referrals is coming from patient requests as well.

3. Keeping the patient satisfied: Patients are more informed today than they were a decade ago. Healthcare websites, online reviews and heaps of online information have increased patients’ role in their healthcare decisions. Some patients even walk in to the physician’s office determined what specialist they want to be referred to. In such cases, in order to make the patients happy, the physician usually refers them to the desired specialist.

Why do you need professional referrals?

Studies show that referral marketing can trigger the growth of your medical practice. Moreover, that is what doctors want. Industry experts believe that referred patients tend to be more loyal and profitable than regular patients. This means that getting including a referral program in your marketing strategy toolbox is essential for every medical practice.

While there are many more reasons to consider a physician referral program for growing your practice, here are three primary ones:

1. Attract new patients: The most significant benefit of a physician referral program is that it creates a continuous stream of new patients. Your patients will come looking for you rather than you having to find them.

2. Increase brand recognition: Once your referral sources start referring patients to your practice, brand recognition is an apparent benefit. The more happy patients you will have, the more personal referrals you will get. This will result in increased traffic through your practice website and social media profiles. All of this is bound to boost your brand’s image.

3. Higher ROI: Online networking, eNewsletters, online discussion groups and social media groups have made it easier for smaller practices to promote themselves and become a trusted source. These referrals programs have considerably higher ROI than traditional marketing methods.

Some valuable tips to get you started

Physician referrals are a critical component in growing your practice and attracting new patients. However, just waiting for patients and other doctors to refer to you might not be sufficient for filling your appointment book. You will have to go after them.

Here are some expert tips for small medical practices that are looking to establish, maintain and strengthen their referral relationships:

Create a plan and adhere to it: You will need to create a plan or work in close collaboration with a healthcare marketing expert to help you design a referral marketing plan and then execute it. It is critical that you have perseverance, discipline and trust in the plan. Many practices expect instant results from such plans. You must understand that developing a referral network is a process and not an event. An effective referral marketing plan requires time and effort. Too often, practices change their priorities or suspend their referral-building plans before they have time to yield results.

Adopt technology: In the healthcare business, you must be technologically savvy in order to share electronic information with networking doctors for improving efficiencies and delivering better patient care. The ideal solution for hosting and sharing patient-related information is cloud-based. This solution will not only allow the physician to receive referrals electronically but will also streamline the referral process and eliminate paperwork.

Communicate often: You will need to keep communication channels open for your referrers to discuss any patient-related issues. This will improve the quality of patient care and support your relationship with the referring doctors.

Know your target audience: The most important criteria for building patient volume is your practice’s specialty. For instance, growing a primary-care practice requires a patient-friendly approach, while creating a dermatology practice requires a targeted approach to physician referrers.

Welcome new physicians: You must have a plan to contact and welcome any new doctors in your area. You can call, write a personal letter of introduction and provide your contact details. You can also offer to serve as a resource and a friend, whether for professional or family needs.

Meet your referrers: When you are looking to increase your referrals, a face-to-face meeting with the referring physician can make a huge difference in enhancing your relationship. Also, networking and maintaining cordial relationships with the referring physician’s staff is a good way to increase the number of referrals.

Advertise your practice: You must advertise and promote your practice locally and make yourself available. Join your local medical societies and chambers of commerce, and become known. In order to determine your largest resource pool, keep track of where your maximum ROI comes from and invest efforts in enhancing it accordingly. Network with other medical practitioners as they may turn out to be sources of referrals.

Keep the referring doctor informed: Usually, referral doctors want to work with specialists who do not require constant follow-up on paperwork or the patient’s treatment. Also, providing excellent patient care makes the referral doctor’s life easier because they will not need to see the same patient again.

Re-evaluate and revamp relationships: This is the most important part – to regularly evaluate and update your relationships with referral sources. To be successful in a referral marketing programs, you have to be aware of the changes occurring around you. For instance, what may have been a good referral plan in dermatology three years ago may not be suitable today as facilities and equipment change.

Avoid these mistakes

The quality of your referral network can impact your income, patient experience, information security and your medical career. That is why it is critical to building a strong referral network from the very beginning. Moreover, once you have established your referral network, you must maintain and upgrade it regularly. Just a few mistakes can damage the reputation of your medical practice. Here are some of those mistakes:

1. Not monitoring patient satisfaction: While there are various ways to control the health of your referral network, patient satisfaction is one of the most important ones. Just because your patients are interacting with other healthcare providers as well, you should not stop monitoring their satisfaction. The more satisfied your patients are, the less chance of you being involved in a lawsuit.

2. Choosing challenging referral partners: This is an easy mistake to make. If you are not careful and selective while choosing your referral partners, you could find yourself neck deep in a sea of unhappy patients and bad partner relationships. It may seem tempting to sign on with any provider with good reviews, but you must spend some time getting to know them and their practice. If you are looking to form long-term partnerships, find partners who have similar goals and target audiences.

3. Poor communication: Communication is the foundation of the patient experience. Patients want to feel cared for and welcome, and not that they are being shuffled from one office to another. Therefore, it is critical to have rules around your communications. Your staff should be trained to communicate effectively, and they should be regularly evaluated.

4. Listen to your patients: You must manage their expectations around the referral process right from the beginning and make sure their doubts and questions are resolved. Patients expect smooth and flawless communication from their providers, and you must make the effort to live up to this expectation.

Even if you think your medical practice is doing well and that a physician referral program is a waste of time, think again! Your medical practice is a business, and it is critical that you think of the future. You must implement a systematic method to identify, create and maintain healthy relationships with prospective referrals.

At Practice Builders, our referral development experts will ensure your referral network is giving you the best-quality patients rather than an office full of low-quality patients. You can call us to take advantage a free referral marketing evaluation for your medical practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How you can use Twitter Moments to improve your content marketing

Last year, Twitter opened its storytelling feature “ Twitter Moments ” to the public.

Users can create and share stories consisting of tweets and multimedia that have been uploaded to the channel. By prioritizing concise, digestible pieces of content, Twitter is attempting to compete with social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Here’s an example of how Twitter used this feature to announce its arrival.

For health care organizations, this feature could dramatically improve the return on marketing investment.

“Twitter Moments just leverages what Twitter is already about, which is real-time marketing,” says Rebecca Lieb, a digital media and marketing analyst quoted in a recent AdWeek article .

Here are a few ways Twitter Moments can help your health care organization improve its content marketing in 2017:

  • Showcase the value of your brand. A health care provider crafted a moment in order to highlight the value of physician assistants. It included tweets with statistics about the growth of the profession over the last five years. Not only is this a great way to tell a story, but it also emphasizes a mutual sharing of information and visuals relevant to a given topic.
  • Engage with your brand advocates and followers. A best practice in social media marketing is to share your followers’ content. Using Twitter Moments to do this helps your health care organization build a deeper level of trust among your audience by showing how well your staff pays attention to what’s said about the brand, trending topics and current events.
  • Shape your health care brand’s messaging and reputation. Don’t let detractors have the last or loudest commentary on your message. With Twitter Moments, your health care organization can issue a statement, frame perspective on the topic and highlight relevant messaging, as well as sharing pertinent information that bolsters your position, focuses the narrative and keeps your organization’s reputation intact.

Digital storytelling with Twitter Moments is an efficient way to give your audience the news it wants and the content your organization seeks to promote.

Audrey Chittick is an account executive and a social media manager for Scott Public Relations . The original version of this post appeared on Scott’s Einsight blog.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Top 5 Digital Marketing Issues You Need to Consider to Hire the Best Digital Marketer for Your Healthcare Practice

Top 5 Digital Marketing Issues You Need to Consider to Hire the Best Digital Marketer for Your Healthcare Practice

Here’s the hard truth: You need to invest in digital marketing if you want your healthcare practice to remain competitive. The unfortunate reality is that digital marketing can get costly, and not every digital marketer is worth his weight in conversions. So if you’re going to make the investment ¬ as you know you need to ¬ be sure to do it carefully and cautiously so you don’t waste your time and money.

Here are the top five digital marketing issues you need to consider as you look to hire an effective digital marketer for your healthcare practice:

1. A long-term marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential digital marketer to describe for you the 180-day marketing plan that he/she envisions for your healthcare practice. While a decent digital marketer might think three months ahead, a more skilled marketer should be thinking much farther into the future. The foundation you build now with your online presence will support your future marketing efforts. You want a digital marketer who will test and refine strategies along the way, not someone looking to implement cookie-cutter solutions with no plans to test results.

2. Solid metrics to gauge marketing results. You want your marketer to measure not only followers and traffic, but also conversions – the people coming into or returning to your practice because of your digital marketing strategy. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great tool, but make sure your marketer can track a lead from a PPC ad all the way to that new patient lead. You also want to rank high in search engines and make sure your marketing efforts pay off in retaining current patients.

3. Future plans for your website. Be cautious if your prospective marketer seems more interested in beefing up your website with bling but isn’t discussing your site’s current analytics. Your digital marketer should be able to show you what your site’s traffic and conversions look like now, how they compare to other medical practices similar to yours and what the marketer plans to do to your site to get ROI for your practice.

4. Social media solutions. Be sure to inquire about which social media solutions your prospective marketer proposes to use for your practice. It should raise a red flag if he/she wants to just get your medical practice linked into as many channels as possible without a strategy. Your marketer should first be considering which channels your patients will likely frequent and why. Pay close attention to how a prospective marketer will select and post on those channels as well as how he/she intends to convert those followers into new or returning patients.

5. An email marketing plan. If you’d like your digital marketer to handle your email marketing, you should ensure he/she knows the rules for healthcare and, once again, ask about conversions. Can he/she measure click-thru and conversion rates? You want to know you’re generating some form of patient contact as a result of the emails. Does your potential marketer have strategies to improve your list quality? It’s also important to know how much you’ll need to spend to produce the emails vs. how much patient traffic you should get in return.

There are a lot of details to consider when creating a digital marketing strategy, but Practice Builders has the tools to help! Do you need more guidance on how to hire the right healthcare digital marketing person for your practice? Sign up for a free consultation with us and we’ll help you. Call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com.

PB product: Want more guidance on how to hire the right digital marketing person for your practice? Sign up for a free consultation with us and we’ll help you. Call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Measure Your Practice’s Email Marketing Campaign Success

How to Measure Your Practice’s Email Marketing Campaign Success

An email marketing campaign is a great opportunity for healthcare practices, but to make your campaigns successful, you need to pay attention to how it does after you hit “send.” Tracking the success of your emails helps you make your email marketing campaigns grow in their effectiveness. How do you know if your email campaign has been successful?

First, determine what your measure of success is. What was your goal and call to action in your email campaign? Do you want patients to click on a link, new patients to walk through your doors, etc.? This will help you measure the data that counts most and avoid wasting your time measuring data that doesn’t really matter.

Whatever the goal of your campaign, here are some basic metrics that can help you refine your campaign’s success:

Delivery rate

This is the number of emails that got through to the recipients. If you have a large number of invalid email addresses in your list, you put yourself in danger of Internet service providers considering you a spammer. Remove email addresses that bounce back because the addresses are invalid. (If, however, an email bounces back for a temporary reason, such as the recipient’s inbox being full, try resending the email instead.)

Clickthrough rate

This is the number of people who clicked a link you included in your email, which indicates their interest in learning more about your practice. To calculate this, take the total number of clicks OR unique clicks [if you want to specify a particular link] and divide by number of delivered emails, then multiply by 100.

Using clickthrough rate metrics can help you compare the success of one email campaign over another, and it is also useful to measure effectiveness if you did an A/B test within a campaign.

Conversion rate

This is the percentage of people who took the action you specified, whether that was buying a glasses cleaning kit or making an appointment. If your conversion can be measured online, you will need to set up some technical aspects first so you can track the desired action back to the email. Once you have that information, you can calculate by taking the number of people who completed the desired action divided by the number of total emails delivered, then multiply by 100.

Share rate

Make it easy for your patients to share your emails by including a “Share” button that allows them to share on social media or forward via email. Once you have this in place, you can measure how many people shared your email. A strong share rate tells you patients found the content relevant and worth bringing to others’ attention. This will in turn help you grow your audience and gain new subscribers.

Let us help you make sense of the data for an ever-more effective marketing for your healthcare practice. Email: info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

7 difficult social media marketing truths

Talk to professional online marketers, and they’ll likely tell you about the raw power of social media marketing.

Talk to business owners from an older generation, and they’re likely to tell you how social media marketing is a useless fad.

Related: Social-Media Marketing Is Not Dead: 10 Companies That Are Still Rocking It

Obviously, the former group has an incentive to tell you how great social media marketing is and the latter group has a negative bias toward communications technologies. Does the truth lie somewhere in the middle? Kind of.

With proper planning and successful execution, social media marketing can be effective for practically any business.

In a survey of 357 marketers that I recently conducted, social media marketing had the highest percentage of respondents (96 percent) who claimed they planned to increase or keep their social media marketing budgets the same over the next year. Social media marketing also had the third-highest average ROI rating, out of 10 strategies surveyed.

Still, there are a handful of dark secrets about social media that no marketer—including myself—likes to admit:

1. Social media marketing isn’t free.

One of the greatest advantages of social media marketing that marketers like to play up is the fact that it’s free.

It won’t cost you anything to claim your business’ social media profiles, flesh them out or post on a regular basis—at least not monetarily. The problem is, even though you won’t necessarily have to spend money to fund your strategy, you will spend lots of time.

It takes hours of work to build out your profiles and several hours a week to even maintain the most basically active presence. Add up those hours, and suddenly the amount of time that social media marketing does “cost” will become clear.

Time is money, right?

2. There’s no predictable pattern of success.

No matter how sure people seem when telling you they hold the “secret” for a business’ social media success, know that there’s no verifiable or consistent way to guarantee success for this task.

For starters, every business is unique, with a unique target demographic, history and competitive landscape.

There’s no way any single strategy could possibly apply to everyone. Add in the fact that social media is always evolving and other random variables that could interfere with your results, and the predictability of success sinks even more.

3. You need a lot of followers before social media marketing starts to pay off.

The bottom line for social media, like any online marketing strategy, is your total return on investment.

Over an extended period of time, it will be very good if you execute your social media strategy correctly, but your initial ROI will probably be terrible.

Imagine that it takes you 15 minutes to write a good post, and you submit it to your 15 followers. Now, imagine you create the same post, but for 15,000 followers. Which one do you think will have a higher ROI (assuming those followers are all genuinely interested in your organization)?

It takes a long time for social media to start paying off.

Related: How to Make Time for Social Media Marketing

4. Social platforms restrict your reach.

Social media companies have a vested interest in getting you to pay for their advertising. As a result, they often restrict the amount of reach you’re able to get through organic (unpaid) posts.

Even though you have 500 followers, that doesn’t mean that every post you make is going to reach 500 people.

Keep this principle in mind when considering the sheer potential of social media—it’s probably far, far less than you think it is.

5. Data won’t tell you everything.

Another advantage social media has is its access to sheer volumes of data—you’ll be able to probe deeply into user behavior, patterns of interaction and demographic information.

Unfortunately, data can’t tell you everything. It can’t give you qualitative insights about how individuals feel toward your organization or about specific interactions.

Data also can’t help you generate new ideas you haven’t tried before. It can’t even give you actionable insights—unless you’re asking the right questions of that data in the first place.

6. Adapting is important, but exhausting.

Social media changes often, with new platforms cropping up seemingly constantly and new trends coming and going at an ever-increasing pace.

If you want to be successful, you have to try to keep up—but keeping up is exhausting even for the most passionate, dedicated marketer.

It’s comforting to settle into a routine, but with social media, you’ll never get that opportunity. At least, you’ll never get to stay comfortable for long if you’re doing things right.

7. You’ll end up kicking yourself—a lot.

There’s a lot of regret in the social media world, especially on a minor level.

You’ll end up making typos or mistakes occasionally, but more often you’ll kick yourself for what you didn’t do.

You might miss a good opportunity for a post, a hashtag or an engagement. You might see a competitor’s post and wish you’d thought of it first. In any case, your strategy won’t be perfect, and you’ll be all too aware of that fact.

Related: How to Save at Least 2 Hours Per Week on Social-Media Marketing

Despite these ugly truths and seldom-mentioned secrets about the true nature of social media marketing, it remains one of the most cost-efficient and approachableonline marketing strategies you can adopt.

No matter what stage of growth your company’s in, who your target market is and what your long-term goals are, social media can help you in your journey—as long as you recognize its advantages and limitations.

Jayson Demers is the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur. Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com

Marketing Eye to Eye: Don’t Let Your Computer Get in the Way

Marketing Eye to Eye: Don’t Let Your Computer Get in the Way

Medical marketing may get you thinking about websites, social media and email campaigns, and while those are all important components, there’s no substitute for the power of a good doctor-patient relationship. Not only is a good doctor-patient relationship a good end in and of itself, it can also yield tangible benefits to your practice. Patients who have a good relationship with you will be more likely to refer you to friends and family. They will also be more likely to give you positive reviews online and to insurance companies, leading to more patients and cash bonuses for your practice.

Don’t let the computer in the exam room become a barrier to that integral one-on-one time with your patients. When it comes to both the room’s configuration and your interaction during the appointment, here are some strategies to ensure your time at the computer does not harm that essential rapport with your patients.

Configure for Common Experience. How is your exam room set up? If you have a computer and a computer desk, make sure it does not function as a physical barrier between you and your patient. If you have the computer screen facing so the screen is visible to you and to the patient, you can involve the patient in your data entry time if he/she can see what you are typing. Also make sure your configuration does not turn your back to your patient while you’re sitting at the computer.

Keep Some Time Screen-Free. It’s human nature to form impressions in the first moments of an interaction, especially when it’s something as sensitive as your health. Stay cognizant of this by keeping the first moments of the appointment focused on the patient. To avoid having to sit right down at the computer to access the patient’s record, pull it up before you enter the exam room, whether it’s a paper chart or logging in to a different computer. If you head straight for the computer when you walk into the exam room, the message you send your patient is one that comes off as impersonal and transactional.

When talking about something sensitive, keep that time technology-free, as well, and be sure to maintain eye contact.

Communicate While at the Computer. When you do need to sit down at the computer, help patients feel involved in the process by explaining what you are doing and why. This will increase understanding so your patients know how this is part of you taking care of them. As part of letting your patient know you are keeping their health information private, make sure your patient sees you log off.

MedPage Today recommends involving the patient even further by sending your patient this information, if they would like, via secure online messaging or even personal email. Just be sure you let your patient know what the security risks may be. If you’re worried about this violating HIPAA, MedPage Today says you shouldn’t be. The open lines of communication will help increase trust, and if your patients opt-in with awareness of any risks, then this is actually to your advantage.

The computer is a valuable tool for doctors, but be sure you don’t let it come between you and your patient. The relationship you have with your patients is the foundation of any medical marketing plan, and good relationships with your patients will lead to positive ripple effects for your practice in reviews, number of patients and your practice’s bottom line.

For more ideas about how you can foster good communication in the exam room, email info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Is Email Marketing Right for Your Healthcare Practice?

Is Email Marketing Right for Your Healthcare Practice?

The good news is email marketing is effective – really effective. According to Mawazo.ca, email marketing is 40% more effective than Facebook or Twitter. Before you integrate email into your healthcare marketing plan, however, there are some factors you should consider.

What makes email different than other online marketing forms is the fact that it is directly delivered to your target audience. Where social media and the sea that is the Internet at large are filled with unwanted advertisements and blasts, email is a place of relative quiet where (ideally) only the people you’ve invited can reach you. That is its main advantage, but it also means you need to be responsible with that privilege. In short, you need a plan before you begin.

To think through if email marketing is right for your healthcare practice, ask yourself a couple of questions:

-Do you have content your base wants?

To justify showing up and to earn your patients’ trust to continue showing up in their inboxes, think about what’s in it for them. If your email marketing is only to ask them for something or remind them to come visit, your patients will likely just trash your emails and unsubscribe. Think about what content or offers you can provide for your patients via your email marketing. For instance, offer patients 20% off glasses frames or your professional tips for maintaining healthy eating habits in the busy back-to-school season.

-Can you deliver it consistently?

Email marketing campaigns are most successful when the emails are delivered on a consistent basis. It could be once a month, once every two weeks – as long as it is consistent enough that your patients know to expect it. If you wait too long, patients may forget they signed up for your email list and unsubscribe.

If you answered “Yes” to both these questions, then you will need to put some things in place to launch your practice’s email marketing campaign. You will need:

-A good email list

Gather email addresses by asking patients to opt-in when they visit your practice and your site. Here your work from before will pay off: When you ask patients for their email address, tell them something specific about what you plan to do with it.

-Good content and design

You can plan out your emails in advance. Again, make sure you are considering your patients’ point of view and be sure you are providing them something valuable. To make sure your emails are not doomed to be unread or trashed, you will need an enticing subject line and more than just a block of text. Give your email a colorful banner or design. You do have to make sure you include information on how patients can unsubscribe, but make your email so worthwhile and engaging that they won’t want to.

If you’re ready to learn more about adding email to your healthcare marketing strategy, we would be happy to help you get it off the ground. Email info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Email marketing missteps to avoid

Like most bad habits, a lazy and aimless email marketing strategy can be tough to turn around.

Despite marketers’ opinions, familiar email marketing strategies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Brand managers will continue to send out templated emails, and they’ll still hope to see increases in sales, brand loyalty and interaction.

Instead of twiddling your thumbs while you wait for a response, data from Reachmail suggest avoiding these common pitfalls to ensure success.

Here are a few highlights from the data and how to turn bad habits into positive outreach:

Write clearly, cleanly

Don’t be too cute—or confusing—with the language you choose.

Data say you should cut out the buzzwords and lingo and focus on your message.

From Reachmail’s blog:

It’s tough to strike a balance between exciting and informative, but a good subject line should strive to indicate what the email is about. Get in the habit of communicating clearly and people will appreciate you more.

Make sure your subject line matches the body text of your email copy.

[FREE DOWNLOAD: Not all staff sit at a desk all day. Here are 10 ways to reach them.]

Just as grammar pros hate dangling modifiers, consumers wince at copy that feels disconnected from its subject line.

To improve the flow—and look—of your copy, hire an editor. Doing so will make your emails look and read more professional.

Avoid “bait and switch.” Strive to be genuine with your tone and offer. An underwhelming email is preferable to a deceptive one.

Put your subscribers first

To improve results, data suggest abiding by four key rules:

1. Stop emailing people who never opted in.

2. Honor the requests of those who unsubscribe.

3. Make it easy—and painless—to unsubscribe.

4. Avoid over-emailing.

Brand loyalty is an important part of an email marketing strategy. If you leave a bad taste in subscribers’ mouths—or inboxes—their trust will diminish.

To build trust, Matt Zajechowski, senior outreach manager at Digital Third Coast, says marketers should avoid sending emails that lack authenticity or come across as spam.

He adds:

Too frequent emailing, as we all know, is terribly irritating and does little to foster a good relationship between the brand and the customer. It inches you closer towards the dreaded unsubscribe, which ends the game—and your relationship with the consumer.

Don’t bombard consumers’ inboxes with repetitive emails. Be courteous of their requests and concerns. If someone wants to be removed from your subscriber lists, have them removed—and don’t make them feel guilty about it or delay their removal.

Optimization and design

Imagery is often viewed as a necessary component of a successful marketing email.

Is it possible to overdo it?

Zajechowski thinks so:

Email marketers should note that some of their subscribers are consuming emails in a text-only format, so it’s important not to embed crucial information in images they’ll never see.

Sending emails with too many pictures and design elements can overwhelm, confuse and test consumer patience.

From Reachmail:

Emails are meant to be opened and read quickly. We’re a society on the go—make your point and make it fast. Be careful not to bury important information within images.

To reach mobile consumers, ditch lengthy sentences and quirky fonts.

Make sure your emails are easy to read on smartphones and tablets. Catering to mobile consumers will broaden your reach and increase your views and compressions.

What alternatives to email would you recommend?

HealthCareCommunication.com

How to create a social media calendar for marketing your healthcare practice

How to create a social media calendar for marketing your healthcare practice

When you run an active healthcare practice, it might seem impossible to keep up with the demands of an active social media slate at the same time. How do you generate enough new posts every week to remind the world of your work?

That’s where a social media calendar comes in. It can be a saving grace for a busy practice, helping to lay out a road map for months worth of content. Best of all, it can radically reduce the amount of time you spend on social media while radically raising its effectiveness. Below are a few tips for creating a social media calendar to help market your healthcare practice:

  • 1. Identify your networks. Quality matters more than quantity, so pick a few social media networks to really focus your attention on. Use a visual icon to identify each network on your calendar, and you’ll be able to see when you’ve over-posted or under-posted to one of them. Keep in mind that some networks demand more frequency than others; experts recommend posting at least five times a day on Twitter, while Facebook can thrive with as few as three posts a week.
  • 2. Create or mine your content. Decide on the content you want to post, and make a plan to get it! If you’re linking to a blog post on your website, make sure that your calendar includes a reminder to assign a writer to create that post in advance. If you have special events or deals to offer your patients, be sure to spread the word several times across your networks well in advance of the date. If you want to share images, be sure to assign a staff member as designer or photographer. And if you’re sharing health-related content from other sources, be sure to identify the system – such as Google Alerts – you’ll use to mine that content.
  • 3. Humanize your content calendar. Content comes not just from within your practice but from outside it, as well. Search for important healthcare dates, such as National Nurses Week, updates on MACRA, even staff birthdays, and put them on your calendar to be posted. Human touches light up your social media presence.
  • 4. Use your calendar as an analytics tool after the fact. Calendars aren’t just for looking forward! Mark what kinds of post generated the most views, interactions and shares, and use that information to design next month’s content and posting frequency.

With this detailed social media calendar saving you time and work, effective social media marketing is easier than you think. You’ll see the direct benefits when your online interactions help to bring new patients in the door.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to thrive in content marketing

You probably already know how important it is to incorporate content into your marketing strategy.

What you might not know is how to get started, or how you’ll put out good content day after day.

The important thing is that you begin the process. Here’s how:

Assemble a content team

The first step is establishing who will be developing and promoting your content. Your team should be led by a content manager (someone who sees the big picture). You’ll also need at least one writer, a graphic designer and a promoter.

When you’re just starting out or if your company is small, members of your team might wear more than one hat.

As your content volume and mix of formats expand, your team can grow, as well. For more on forming a team that works best for you, check out Corey Eridon’s “How to Structure Your Content Marketing Team.”

Define your goals

Before you create content, you need a good understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish (and how you will know if you succeed—more on that later). How will your content support your business?

In “ Two Essential Elements for Getting Started With Content Marketing ,” Michele Linn, Content Marketing Institute’s VP of content, suggests asking these questions:

  • Do you want to raise awareness for your brand?

  • Do you want to build your email list?

  • Do you want to nurture prospects along their buyer’s journey?

  • Do you want to convert your audience to paying customers?

  • Do you want to retain customers and/or increase their purchases (up-sell/ cross-sell)?

  • Do you want to convert customers to evangelists?

Write a mission statement that outlines your target audience and what your content will do for them. You must know your audience to create content that is relevant to them.

Setting clear goals and writing a mission statement will help guide every piece of content you create. Conversely, each blog post, video or infographic you make should support these goals.

Diversify your content

Maximize your reach by creating a varied mix of topics and content types—including blog posts, infographics, e-books and podcasts. Audience members consume content in many ways, and each social or promotional channel does better with specific formats. Think about the different formats that will attract your audience, as well as which types will be best suited to the platforms you use most.

This doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch with each piece of content. You can easily—and effectively—repurpose text and data from one format to another.

“A single blog post can be purposed into an infographic, a SlideShare, a podcast; multiple blog posts on similar topics can become an ebook,” writes Gal Rimon in “ Getting Started With Content Marketing: 9 Takeaways From One Company’s Experience .”

Create an editorial calendar

Plan ahead—it’s difficult to create content that supports your goals (or even think of what to write) on the fly.

Sit down with your team, and brainstorm content ideas for the next three to six months; then map out a schedule of posting and promoting them. Of course, as you develop your calendar, you should think carefully about your goals and your audience.

Support your content with strong SEO

Once you’ve created fantastic content, make sure your audience can find it. A big part of being “findable,” of course, is search engine optimization.

Linn writes in “ The Basics of SEO for Successful Content Marketing ” that there “is no downside to optimizing your content for SEO.” Adding metadata such as keywords, tags and meta descriptions to your content postings will greatly increase their visibility. (Not sure what “metadata” means or how to use it? Don’t worry; Linn breaks it down clearly.)

However, SEO is just “one part of the puzzle” when it comes to your content promotion. Paid search, direct site visits, social referrals and email campaigns help get eyes on your content, too. Don’t neglect any of these essential channels in your promotional strategy.

Even more important, says Linn, don’t let SEO become such a priority that it overtakes creating high-quality content. SEO “should not be your primary consideration. … Write compelling content about the things your target audience would be most interested in.”

Match your content to various channels

SEO is only one part in what should be a multi-channel distribution plan. Prioritize the platforms favored by your target audience and those best suited to a specific piece’s format. 

[RELATED: Learn new strategies to tell your story with social media, images and video]

It’s also crucial to consider the ongoing relevance (or lack thereof) of the topic at hand when promoting your content.

Measure your success

As you set your goals, define how you will measure progress toward them. This means first identifying metrics you’ll use as benchmarks for success, then consistently tracking, analyzing and implementing them.

A rule of thumb from Lars Lofgren’s “ Metrics, Metrics On The Wall, Who’s The Vainest Of Them All?”: Good metrics help you make decisions about what to do next.

Although analytics can be daunting, there are many tools and tutorials to help you. (Keep in mind that you’ll need a combination of tools to follow what’s happening on all your channels.) Google Analytics is free for basic functionality, user-friendly and accompanied by tutorials. Dashboards such asHootSuite, Buffer and Hubspot help you manage and track activity on social media platforms; they also provide advice for making the most of your data.

With some research and thoughtful planning, you can take the content marketing plunge now—and soon see its benefits.

Deirdre Breakenridge is CEO of Pure Performance Communications. This story first appeared on the Pure Performance blog.

HealthCareCommunication.com