How to Get More Patient Referrals Through Email Newsletters

By: Caitlin Barbin

Email Newsletters can be a powerful tool for patient referrals. With the right approach and content, enewsletters can build trust and a strong relationship between the patient and the doctor/practice. All of which can translate your brand and reputation, through interactions with your patients outside of the office, to potential referrals.

Email Newsletters' success as a marketing tool comes in large part due to the analytics. At even the basic level, tracking tools allow measuring the open rate of newsletters sent and click-through rates that show how many times viewers opened and/or clicked embedded links. These results give a better idea of what content works best with each subsequent issue. When you figure out what content and links that patients are gravitating towards, you are closer to boosting patient referrals. If you have been considering a newsletter for your practice, it is beneficial to note that emailed versions are also extremely cost-effective compared to print campaigns. If you are considering newsletters or already have an enewsletter and you're looking to maximize its potential, here are 5 ways to earn patient referrals through newsletters:

  1. Ensure your brand and contact information are prominent
  2. If you want patient referrals, you need your contact information to be noticeable for patients to easily grab this information for friends and family. Your communications should also be well branded so that the prospective patient can better associate the referral with your brand. Ideally, branding and contact information should be displayed at the top and be distinguishable from the rest of the newsletter.

  3. Communicate your expertise on dental practices
  4. Patients are interested in learning about the best dental practices and they want that information from a credible source. This is where newsletters excel to fill this need. Since your patients trust you as their credible source of information regarding dentistry and oral health, you can dedicate a section of your newsletter to an article or list a few points on best dental practices in regards to one type of service or another. Adding links to existing articles works well too. Teeth whitening, children's oral health, sensitive teeth, anxiety, and other topics are very popular with patients. These are great starting points to increase engagement. If you need more ideas on topics, remember to write for your audience. Your particular client-base may have certain needs or interests that you can target to help increase interest, and subsequently, patient referrals (think mouthguards, Apnea, Amalgam removals, TMJ treatments).

    Related Article: 9 Benefits of Having a Newsletter for Your Healthcare Practice

  5. Inform patients when you have new services, products & promotions
  6. In addition to articles, you should update patients on any new services or products through your newsletter. Promotions or changes in staff are great things to highlight and often show high click-thru rates. This is an excellent way to add variety to your newsletter content and keep patients in the loop about your practice. Other updates you can include in your newsletter are policy/practice changes, restating specific website updates, achievements such as local awards, new technology, or even waiting room amenities. Sharing this information will show how much you value your relationship with patients and encourage them to share with others.

  7. Include a "Forward to a Friend" Button
  8. Having a direct "Forward" call to action will remind patients that they have the option to forward newsletters to a friend. When a subscribed patient uses the "Forward to a Friend" button, they are directed to a form where they enter their friend's email. After filling out the form, their friend receives an email promoting that newsletter, directly from their contact. If a patient were to use the "Forward" button in their email client directly, the newsletter may not display properly when it arrives as forwarding in that manner can alter layout, and fonts. It's beneficial to add a "Forward to a Friend" button in order to avoid any layout issues, have a clear way to encourage patients to refer others AND make a great first impression, all at the same time.

  9. Keep your contact list updated and get permission!
  10. It's important to check with existing patients that you have the correct email address on file. To insure a minimum amount of hesitation, remind them that their email address is on file primarily to confirm appointments and do proper follow up. Also, let them know that they can opt-out of any marketing materials at any time, and do so easily with a click of a button. Depending on your region, you may also need to ask for permission to send marketing materials separately from all other communications. If you're unsure about your compliance and how to best seek permission, contact us.

These tips will help enhance your newsletters and encourage patient referrals. It's crucial to reach patients where they spend most of their time, or where they prefer to receive certain types of communication, whether on social media or email. Having a strong social media presence and clear call to actions on your website will help with gaining patient referrals outside of newsletters. So remember to post your enewsletters to your social media channels as well!

Lastly, a simple "thank you" can go a long way to retain patients and increase your chances for additional referrals. So remember to track who referred any new patient and express your gratitude. A 2016 survey by TD Bank showed that 84% of consumers prefer to be thanked in person. Showing gratitude towards your patients will not only solidify or maintain your relationship, but can help expand your client base through ongoing referrals.

If you are looking to start or revamp your newsletter, or boost your social media presence, speak to an UpOnline representative to learn more about our services and how you can engage patients.