Digital Marketing

Totally Complete Healthcare Email Marketing Guide

Email marketing is a crucial strategy for healthcare marketing. It helps healthcare organizations reach new prospects and build brand awareness. If done correctly, email is an excellent communication tool for healthcare organization that want to keep current patients and induce new ones to join it.

But healthcare email marketing is not always straightforward. Patient behavior and technology change, and staying on top can be challenging. However, the effort is well worth it. The return on investment (ROI) for doctors and medical practices is an impressive $42 for every dollar spent, significantly higher than the overall $36-to-$1 email ROI.

But there’s more – healthcare businesses enjoy the second-best email open rate (21.48%), trailing only religious organizations. The click-through rate (CTR) for healthcare email marketing is an impressive 2.69. Even better, email is the most preferred channel by consumers to communicate and interact with healthcare brands, beating out social media.

However you look at it, email is still one of the most effective marketing channels for healthcare marketers. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with prospects and existing patients. And it can help support or ramp up responses on other marketing channels, ranging from social media to video campaigns.

Keep reading for an in-depth guide to healthcare email marketing.

First things first – Should you email patients?

Multiple studies suggest that people are happy to interact with businesses and brands via email. In fact, a recent survey has shown that about half of consumers prefer to communicate or interact with brands through email. 

However, the big question is: should clinics, doctors, and healthcare organizations email their patients? Thankfully, the answer has been a resounding yes — and healthcare organizations have been using email for years to communicate with patients for years, including developing or purchasing email systems that encrypt information.
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But there’s a big caveat. Although patients are willing to receive emails from their healthcare providers, you must be mindful of a number of things when writing and sending messages. First, you must ensure your messages comply with relevant regulations, including the CAN-SPAM Act and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act

The CAN-SPAM Act is the most comprehensive anti-spam legislation in the US. It sets forth the rules and checks for commercial email while establishing demanding requirements for non-personal messaging. Consequently, this law grants patients (aka email users) the right to stop any organization from emailing them without their consent.

The penalties for violating the anti-spam regulations are clearly spelled out in the CAN-SPAM Act. The legislation covers any messages for which the main purpose is promoting, advertising, or marketing a commercial service or product.

To comply with CAN-SPAM Act, here’s what healthcare marketers need to keep in mind:

  • They must disclose commercial emails as promotions, advertising, or marketing.
  • They must provide the recipient with a straightforward way of unsubscribing or opting out of future emails from your organization if they wish.
  • They must indicate where the healthcare provider is located.
  • They must accurately indicate the healthcare business or provider who initiated the communication.
  • They must not use false, deceptive, or misleading subject lines. Instead, the subject lines must mirror the email content.

All healthcare marketers must absolutely comply with these CAN-SPAM regulations.

Complying with HIPAA

The Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 covers most aspects of healthcare marketing. It spells out marketing as a form of communication about a service or product that encourages consumers to use or purchase it. This rule applies to healthcare email marketing because its goal is to attract prospects to your practice.

In this respect, HIPAA is a relevant law that requires healthcare marketers to:

  • Obtain express permission from the patient before using protected health information (PHI) for marketing usage.
  • Provide the recipient with a conspicuous and clear explanation of how to unsubscribe from future messages.
  • Ensure any email marketing service they partner with signs a business associate agreement.
  • Only use email vendors and marketing partners that are HIPAA-compliant
  • Ensure email addresses are encrypted.
  • Never send messages with patient information without their express permission.

HIPAA is a healthcare industry-specific law, so it should take precedence when implementing your email marketing strategy.

Healthcare Email Frequency and Timing

Multiple factors determine when and how frequently you should email your patients. First and most important is your specific marketing objective. You don’t want to overload your patients’ inboxes with promotional messages, but inadequate outreach can also hurt your marketing efforts.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to email frequency. Take the time, do your homework, and figure out what works for your organization and current and prospective patients. The time and frequency of what you send are important, as well. For instance, you’d want to send reminders ahead of the appointment, but not so often that it annoys the recipients.

Segmenting your Email List

It’s also important to send emails to the right people – in other words, to segment your email list.

As reported by Digital Authority Partners, email segmentation can significantly impact healthcare email marketing campaigns. It delivers results across a wide array of key performance metrics, including CTR, open rates, bounce rates, and subscriptions.

Crafting a clever email copy and sticking to HIPAA rules won’t cut it if the recipients don’t take the desired action of opening the email in the first place. Segmenting helps you tailor your email marketing messaging to appeal to the recipient’s pain interests and specific conditions.

You can’t send targeted messages to specific categories of patients without segmenting your list first. Recipients in an appropriately segmented list are more likely to open, react, and interact with your messages, resulting in better patient outcomes, more significant lead generation, and increased brand awareness.

You can segment your email list by:

  • Conditions or Interests– For instance, you could send resources about hypertension to patients diagnosed with high blood pressure. Likewise, patients interested in living an active lifestyle won’t mind receiving emails about the latest workout routines.
  • Age group – It would be a shame to send info about erectile dysfunction to breastfeeding moms. Segmenting your email list by age group is an effective way to target teenagers, parents of young kids, senior adults, or anyone in a specific age bracket.
  • Location – Email marketing becomes much easier if you segment your list by ZIP code, country, state, or city. It’s an excellent solution for healthcare practices with locations in many different geographical regions.

How to Track and Measure the Progress and Success of your Healthcare Email Marketing

Once you have sent out a few email campaigns, it pays to set up a way of tracking your progress and success.

You want to know if you’re getting value for your money and efforts. That’s why tracking and measuring your campaign’s progress and success is essential. Here are the most common key performance indicators (KPIs) that you need to keep an eye on:

  • Open Rate – The first thing you want to see is more recipients opening your emails. Most healthcare marketers say segmented emails enjoy a higher open rate than non-segmented messages. Even so, 32.9% of marketers cite low open rates as one of the main concerns in email marketing.
  • CTR – You want to encourage recipients to take the desired action once they have opened your emails. Click-through rate is a great metric to measure the performance of email content. It’s calculated by the number of recipients that click at least one of the links in the email. Including a well-defined call-to-action (CTA) and optimizing your email for mobile are a few tricks you can use to boost your CTR.
  • Unsubscribe rate – It’s sad to see some subscribers opting out of receiving future messages from you. But this metric tells you whether your emails are informative, engaging, or impactful enough. Luckily, the unsubscribe rate of medical practices barely goes beyond 0.4%.
  • Bounce rate – You must measure and track both the soft and hard bounce rates of your emails.

Tips for Boosting your Healthcare Email Marketing

Follow the tips below to ensure the right emails to the right people at the right time.

– Be Consistent with your Email Frequency

There’s a big advantage to emailing your patients frequently but not so often that they get annoyed. It helps boost engagement and reduce the spam score of your future emails. But don’t remove your eyes from the prize: KPIs!

– Clean your Email Lists Every 3 Months

Nothing ruins the reputation and authority of your domain quite like hard bounces. Thankfully, you can reduce this metric by cleaning your email lists every three months. You can check for duplicates, generic addresses, and errors manually. Or even better, use powerful cleaning tools like MyEmailVerifier, ZeroBounce, ListWise, and MailCleanup.

– Test, Test, Test

Make A/B testing your best friend when assessing every aspect of your healthcare email marketing. Don’t leave anything to chance! Test mobile-friendliness, email deliverability, spam score, and other core aspects that can affect the performance of your campaigns.

– Include the Physical Address of your Practice

This move will not only improve traffic at your brick-and-mortar office but will help you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM and HIPAA rules.

– Make it Easy for the Recipients to Unsubscribe

As healthcare providers, it’s always wise to act in good faith. Making it straightforward for users to opt out of future emails is another thing you can do to comply with both CAN-SPAM and HIPAA regulations.

– Write a Compelling Subject Line

Write an attention-grabbing subject line if you want prospects actually to open and read your messages. This could mean incorporating a name, CTA, question, or benefit directly into the subject line.


Healthcare email marketing is a superb way to interact with existing and prospective patients, as well as improve loyalty and engagement. However, you must comply with CAN-SPAM and HIPAA regulations right from the outset. Be sure to test your email deliverability and set up ways to track and measure results.

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