Home Physical Therapy Outcomes & Marketing Blog

Physical Therapy Outcomes & Marketing Blog

Your Definitive Guide: Simple Content Marketing for PTs

Estimated Reading Time: 30 minutes
Last Update: 1/3/2018

I spend most of my work time in one of two places. Either in clinics checking out their workflows and helping them use outcomes data to market or reading, reading, reading what’s going on in the world of heatlthcare and marketing, especially in our industry.

Here’s what I’ve found. There are a handful of resources that are SPOT ON for great advice like Updoc Media, Build PT, and the PPS’s Monthly Marketing Toolkit (for members). 

But you’re probably stretched too thin to do a deep dive into their materials. Stick with me to break it down to your first steps. Then go back and read with some background experience and have your mind pleasantly stimulated rather than totally overwhelmed.

Think of the following steps as equivalent to the home program you give your patients in the beginning. They need to do way more, but if they start small, they might stick around long enough to take some serious strides.

Before we start, let’s talk about step zero. Do not do this alone. Start thinking about office staff, friends, independent contractors, college interns, old friends from PT school that you’re not in competition with, etc. Never market with just one brain. Plus, you’re too busy to do all this anyway.

Phase I: Set Up

1.1 Target Market: Are you accidentally selling tiny male genitals?

The first step in any marketing plan is realizing that it’s not about you. It’s about your patients and clients. How do you know what, when, and how to talk to them unless you know who they are? What does this have to do with tiny male genitals? Hang with me, we’ll get there.

First, can you specifically answer the question, “Who is my target market?” and “People with pain” does NOT count. It will not help you craft a targeted message heard over the noise of the day. “Middle-aged women with chronic neck pain (over 120 days) working in sedentary jobs with employer-provided private insurance” will help you craft a message with a better chance of someone seeing it and saying to themselves, “That’s me! Maybe I should listen to this message.”

Knee pain Neck pain due to laptop use

This doesn’t mean you are only going after one kind of patient or client forever! It just gives you a starting point to help you craft messages that will get heard over the noise. It’s better to be #1 in a market than a distant second. Once you’ve dominated one market, you can go into maintenance mode and start on the next market.

This brings us to tiny male genitals. In this incredibly entertaining article you can see extreme examples of what happens when you don’t speak your customers’ languages. In this case it’s literal. In Brazil, Ford tried to sell the Ford Pinto; sadly, Pinto translates to, you guessed it, tiny male genitals. Coors’ beer tagline in Spanish promised consumers diarrhea and Electrolux tried to convince us Americans to buy their vacuums with the tagline, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

You likely won’t suffer this level of #epicfail. In your case you’ll just waste time, intellectual capital, and money if you’re buying ads. No biggie.

If you don’t already know who your target marketing is, take an in-depth look at:

  1. Your data – mine your EMR/billing software and your outcomes software. What population has the highest margin? (Call your customer service rep if you don’t know how to get this info from your software.)
  2. Your community – who’s in your neighborhood who needs treatment?
  3. Your mission – are you about prevention? Athletes? Wholistic health?

If life is too crazy, wing it and go with your instincts. Just be sure you answer age, gender, body region, and acuity at a minimum.

1.2 Analytics and KPI: Measure the RIGHT variables or black out on foofy pink drinks

This time I’ll start with the cautionary tale. I went to a pirate-themed running event/scavenger hunt. The next day laying very still in bed, I had a great deal of time to parse out my many measurement mistakes.

I started with the usual: Quantity/time.

This got a little blurry as we scavenger hunted a bottle of Kraken Rum out of the local pond. It’s hard to measure how many ounces are in a sip, especially after the first twenty. Last thing I remember is walking into a local bar. I’m told I allowed my very corrupting friend to buy me not one, but two pink drinks. I never drink that stuff. It’s a hangover waiting to happen. Now I can’t say never…

I will gloss over the reports of the rest of the evening, but there were random tears, and professing love and appreciation to my friends, telling everyone how wonderful they were, and slipping from a crappy pirate voice to a crappy Irish accent.

Here’s a comparison of what happens when you measure the right metrics and the dangers of not measuring at all.

Effective equation to determine drinking rate Effective equation to determine drinking rate

So, lesson 1 is to measure the things that will really make a difference. Only you know your practice and your community. This is a learn by doing endeavor. Start basic and learn as you go. Here are some suggestions to start with quarterly:

  1. Financials & Productivity (available through your EMR/billing)
    • Profit per visit by insurance type – pull your reimbursement rates sorted by insurer and average them for each insurer. Calculate your cost/visit. From your P&L, add your operating costs + payroll and divide them by the average number of patients per month. Now you have your cost per patient. Divide your average reimbursement per insurer by your cost per patient. Now add your top insurers to the profile of your target market.
    • Vacancy rate – take the total hours available that are NOT booked and divide them by your total available hours. 
    • Net collection rate – divide your payments by charges. If this is less than about 90%, dig deep to profile what type of patient/insurer is causing problem.
    • Denial rate – add up the dollar amount of your denied claims and divide by your total claims amount. You should be under 10%.
  2. Performance. In the coming era of value-based care, you’ll need to prove your worth in terms of functional outcomes. Why not start now, since taking data to referral sources or payer negotiations is always valuable. With outcomes software, you can also evaluate staff and treatment sites.
    • Functional change by target market by clinic and/or practitioner
    • Number of Patients seen by clinic location and/or therapist
    • Completed plans of care or self-discharge rates
    • Net Promotor Score
  3. Marketing. If you’re spending time and money, you need to know if it’s worth it.
    • Customer acquisition cost (CAC) – this is how much it costs you to get a new patient. Just add up what you’ve spent on marketing and sales and divide it by the number of new patients. If you’re running your own show, assign a dollar amount to your time and include it. Run a new marketing initiative each quarter and see if you can bump the number down.
    • Traffic from Google Analytics – visits to your website over time. Are they going up or down?
    • Referral Sources from Google Analytics – where are people coming from? Your Facebook ads? From Google searches?
    • Website bounce rate from Google Analytics – this is the percentage of people that hit your site and run away. It’s a good way to start to see if your keywords and ads are communicating properly.
    • Anything related to your specific marketing efforts like top referrers, performance of Facebook ads, sign ups from a community outreach event, etc. If you do it, measure it.

Now every month have your staff collect and give the data to you to review. Then you bring it to the staff meeting and set at least one goal as a team!

1.3 Your Practice Website: If you’re not going to maintain your vehicle, you’d better have a surplus of runners in tutus

What happens to a website that never gets maintained? The same thing that happens to a vehicle - eventually it becomes a pointless heap of junk! Sometimes this happens in the middle of a busy intersection with a van full of drunk runners in tutus who are yelling at you but you can’t hear them over your own panicked screaming.

Tutu powered clown van

You don’t have to have a fancy website, and there are plenty of great templates out there. Go for it! If you do get a management company, make them earn their money. Below are my very bare minimum requirements that will stop the screaming.

Website:

  1. If your website is not “responsive,” meaning optimized to be viewed either on a computer or a phone, call up whoever is responsible for your website and don’t stop yelling at them until they fix it. Or fire them and give your money to someone who actually gives a bleep about your business.
  2. Ditch the slider. Need proof, read here. Get a nice pic of someone in your target market getting great care, with faces in the picture. No pictures of headless body parts. You’re in the PEOPLE business, not the random body parts business. The picture should convey how you want your patients and clients to feel. Probably something like engaged, supported, and accomplished. See for yourself. Look at the following pairs of pictures and note what feelings come up when you look at each. Which tells the patient-centered story about the care you provide?
Engaged patient care Joint manipulation

 

Engaged patient education Spinal mobilization
  1. Work on your value proposition with your target market in mind. Read this article. But don’t do it alone. Make a team of the owner, an admin staff member, and a PT staff member. Come up with a few options and then show them to spouses, friends, and especially any patients and clients that you feel comfortable asking. This text overlays your banner photo and maybe some spills into your first subheading and body of the website.
  2. Simplify brutally. If you have Google Analytics set up, see which pages get no traffic and delete them. If you’re not there, go to each page, ask the following questions, and edit accordingly:
    1. Can I delete this page without losing business?
    2. Is it clear what I want a prospective patient or client to DO on this page? (Call for an appointment? Subscribe to a newsletter? Click to another page?)
    3. Test all your links and be sure that if they direct someone away from your website, they open a new tab. You don’t want people to leave your site. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your web person or google “how to make a link open in a new tab in xyz web program.”
  3. Have a contact form. This should be an option either as a service from your web hosting company or a plugin for your WordPress site. You’ll want one to field questions and requests for appointment, and you’ll need a version on your blog page for subscribers to join your email list.
  4. SEO
    1. Brainstorm the search terms you want to rank for. That means figure out the words that your prospective patients and clients are typing into google. You want your company to come up (rank) when they hit “search.” Pro-tip – vast numbers of people who need PT don’t know that it’s PT that they need! Don’t make all your keywords revolve around PT. Remember our “Women over 50 with chronic LBP group?” Think about “exercises for back pain,” “how to treat back pain,” “relief for lower back pain,” “numbness and tingling,” “ergonomics for office workers,” etc.
  5. In your website program, there should be a place to enter your Title Tag (50-60 characters) and your Meta Description (about 250-300 characters) for each page. (Side note: Google recently upped their meta description or “snippet” length from 160 to the current 250-300. My web company had put in a 160-character length limit, so I had to contact them and ask them to increase the minimum.)

Meta tags for title and description

Search engines use title tags and consumers use the meta description that comes up (there is no guarantee that Google will put your meta description in there, but it’s likely).

Google search results

If you have a management company, get on the phone with them and ask for a review of both for your main pages. If not, do your own review and be sure your tops words and phrases are there in complete sentences and not copy/pasted identically for each page.

  1. Check to see if your top keywords are on most pages in headings and subheadings. Don’t make them cookie cutter, but make sure they’re well integrated. Your meta descriptions should answer the questions 1) What is this page about? and 2) Why should I click the link to visit?

Final tip: Put it on your calendar to do a quick link check every six months and a deeper review every year or with any major changes in the practice.

Need a bonus tip? Never borrow a van from a dude named B*tchy the Clown

Overwhelmed? Click here to get this article broken down and delivered to your inbox one section per week.

1.4 Presence on Directories and Review Sites: Write your own story or start working on your clown face

If you don’t write your own story, someone else will. Like this one guy I dated, voluntold me to run around in a clown get-up in front of the local tourism bureau for three hours promoting the Oregon County Fair. Because all of my decisions are guilt-based, I stuck to the agreement he made on my behalf. And that is how you end up dressed as a clown in a strip mall pretending not to contemplate murder. To be fair, clowns are evil, so maybe contemplating murder when you have clown-face on is normal.

Reluctant clown

Don’t let someone turn you into a clown! Claim your place in cyberspace! Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Take or gather some great pictures of each of your clinics, including:
    1. The external entry so you can see the building and your signage
    2. PEOPLE! Don’t shy away from the camera – have pictures of your staff at the front desk and…
    3. Your PTs in the treatment area
    4. Anything fun or distinctive (optional)
  2. Go set up in Google My Business. Google does a great job of leading you step by step. Contact me if you get stuck and we’ll work through it together. Set up each location. This may involve waiting for Google to send you a postcard, so start now.
  3. Go to Facebook and create a page. Hopefully you’ve already done this. If so, review your contact info, making sure your phone and website are up to date and you have a good story in place.

There are a million places to check out, so if you’re looking for extra credit, check out these 50. You’ve got 2 down! As a bonus, Google will like you better if you’re listed in more places. But be sure you keep your business name, address, and phone completely uniform. If they all match, Google is more likely to assume you’re legit.

Okay, Phase I is complete! Congratulations!! You made it through tiny male genitals, pink foofy drinks, and bad clowns x 2. Ready for more?

Phase II: Write a Blog (aka the foundation of content marketing)

2.1 Blogging for PT Practices: We all know you can’t fold your toilet paper

Bunch with paints
Folder with ruler

When you first join my running group, they haze you a bit. Part of this hazing is asking, “Are you a buncher or a folder?” It usually takes them a few seconds to figure out that we’re talking about how you handle your toilet paper. Over time, the group noticed that this seemingly random question was actually a pretty good predicter of who would be the more anal retentive, organized planner and who would be the spontaneous, unpredictable entertainer.

No one is all one thing, but I fall towards the folder end of the continuum. Not long ago I was dating a guy who is definitely all one thing: buncher. I was dating the exception to the rule. I would walk into my kitchen and every chair would be pulled out from the table and half of the cupboards were open. I would find keys hanging in the door, my car keys dangling from my trunk, doors unlocked, and piles of paperwork left everywhere, including personal checks not deposited for many months.

Despite being a wonderful person, after many conversations and his attempts not to leave my house wide open to robbers, I realized I had to give up. I was asking him to be something he wasn’t and he was just feeling bad for not meeting what turned out to be unrealistic expectations.

If you’re a PT, there’s a slim chance that you will enjoy opening your computer AFTER you’re done charting. Give up before you start and let’s save everyone a headache.

Decide who will be your ghost writer or co-author and collaborate on the blog. Also, consider whether you’re comfortable with doing video. This is getting away from beginner and into intermediate territory, but it’s also the way the web is going, especially Facebook.

Co-authors could be staff members, another practitioner who likes to write, or even a hired hand. Check out Upwork

Here’s your blog plan:

  1. Sit down with your co-author and figure out what info you want your target market patients and clients to learn about. Peek back at your keyword research to have a sense of what’s getting searched for already. Then put your PT spin on it. Here are a few tips:
  1. Shoot for a length of 1600 words or 1000 if it’s graphic-heavy. Since my day-job is peddling outcomes software, I can’t in good conscience recommend following an average without leaving you at least a link to the intermediate discussion of the data. I will add, if 1600 is too hard, start with 500-800. Better to ship something short but good rather than blathering on for half the blog just to get to a number.
  2. Have two calls to action.
    1. Primary is to subscribe to your newsletter for quarterly updates on how to manage your target market’s issue. See the Email Communication section for how to build a sign-up form in MailChimp that you can link to. Have your marketing staff person run through that section while you’re writing content.
    2. Secondary, sprinkled throughout the article as appropriate, is identifying who should schedule an appointment and have that phone number and email handy in your header.
  3. ALWAYS have at least one graphic. I recommend Pablo and select a size friendly for Facebook. You can also take your own graphics and drag and drop them into TinyPNG to have them optimized for the web for free.
  4. Head to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. Come up with at least 10 titles of no longer than 60 characters. Pick the best and the second best. Try to use the second best or something similar as a heading partway through the post so you take advantage of the keywords and you can keep it handy for testing later. (Caution, don’t go over 20 headlines and set a benchmark to be over 70. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten higher than 82.)
  1. Plan working titles or detailed topics and dates by which the articles will be published. Plan for at least three a month. You give your writer the outline, some bullet points, another online article for reference, etc. They do the actual writing. You proof read for content before publishing.
  2. Once written and published, be sure to promote them based on the promotion schedule that you’ll learn about in the next section.

Why are we blogging?

You blog for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It tells the internet robots that your site is actively updated and full of good keywords. You want SEO because it helps people in need find you.

You collect emails so that you can reach your customers and prospective customers. Previous patients and clients need reminders to maintain their health and come in before things get bad. They also know other people who could use your services, and this makes it easy for them to forward valuable information to those in need.

Finally, a little on the intermediate track, social media robots won’t show your Facebook posts to anyone unless you pay them. That’s why there’s a section on here for paid social. Email will give you better access to your target marketing and word-of-mouth (WOM) assets.

Overwhelmed? Click here to get this article broken down and delivered to your inbox one section per week.

Part III – You wrote it, now promote it!

3.1 Promotion Schedules for your Physical Therapy Blog: Choose your own sexual orientation

GossipDo not underestimate the power of promotion. A lovely man in my “drinking club with a running problem” tended to set off peoples’ gaydars despite his serious interest in the ladies. Being the horrible friends we are, at no point did we dispel this myth. Oh no. This myth was confirmed, and yes, promoted.

Before long, we were consoling him on the mysterious tragedy of his misperceived orientation. It never had a very harmful impact on his social life. He is beyond attractive and thanks to our promotion, the ego strokes were now coming from twice as many people.

Unlike my dear friend, you are going to take control of your own promotion so the right message goes out.

No one will see that lovely content you’ve been creating unless you tell them where to look. Below is your recipe for each blog post. If you want to be like me and put it in an Excel file, you can use mine here. The following sections will get a bit deeper on the exact how-to if you get lost.

☐Sunday – publish your blog post

☐Sunday – use tips from the social media section to build a post in support of your blog. Post it on Facebook.

☐Sunday – use the tips from the paid social section to build a post to use as an ad. Make sure to use the A/B testing and change one variable to test (e.g. title/headline, CTA button, image). Run the ad.

☐Sunday (or Monday) – Add to your Google My Business listing as a post with your post picture, title, a short summary of what they will get out of the article and link to your blog page

☐Tuesday – post again on your Facebook page

☐Thursday – post once more on your Facebook page

☐Thursday – put notes in your calendar to repost again every two months

☐Sunday – Review your advertised posts and see which performed better. Double down on that one and spend the rest of your allotted budget on it. Run until your next blog post or until you stop getting a return on it. If you gained any relevant valuable insights, go ahead and edit your blog post to reflect them. Did you find a better headline? More effective CTA? It’s never too early to review and update your post.

☐Quarterly – Review your best performing blog posts on your website, not Facebook. You care less about how many people saw you on Facebook and way more about how many people visited the website. If any articles generated the most email sign-ups, start there. If you had some other call to action – use that. Otherwise look at number of visits and time on page. Put the top three in your email newsletter (see details below).

Pro-Tips: Sunday itself is a pro tip. Although there’s usually less traffic, there’s also less competition. It will also give your post a head start getting clicks and likes, which will increase its popularity and your exposure. The other pro tip is that you can use usually schedule your post in your blogging program and I use Buffer for scheduling social posting. Just in case you wanted to have a weekend or something.

Want to read some of the experiments on this? Have Twitter or other social accounts? Find a posting schedule here.

3.2 Social Media Strategy for PT Practices: Acid vs opium (no one wins)

Dali's Melting ClockOnce upon a time, in his younger rabble-rousing days, my best friend headed out to a Grateful Dead concert with one of his buddies. He took a hit of acid on the way, thinking it would kick in right around the time they made it to the concert. An hour into the traffic jam, he looked over at his buddy and said, “Man, my foot is melting around the gas pedal. You gotta drive.”

His friend put down his opium pipe and responded, “Dude, I can’t drive. I’m #%&*@ high!”

This is a lesson about too many cooks. People need to know what they’re responsible for. You need one person in charge, who knows they are in charge, whether they are the ones doing the work or just making sure it gets done. Let’s add that if the leadership never checks in, it won’t get done either.

So on to your actual strategy.

Look at your social accounts as part resume and part open-for-business sign. You want people to know you exist and they can scroll through and see that you’re saying smart things and are friendly.

When you’re ready for intermediate, we’ll talk about how social media is a conversation, how to get involved in groups, and use your analytics. For now, here are your instructions:

  1. Have your social media marketing point person open a “Facebook Page” for your business. Here’s a great tutorial. Someone on your staff will be excited to do this. If not, let’s rely on stereotypes and assign it to the youngest person. Especially if they’re not a PT. Sorry, but if we’re playing with stereotypes, PTs stink at tech. (PLEASE prove me wrong!!)
  2. At a staff meeting, poll everyone for websites that have useful information for patients. Remember your target market and make a list of websites and topics for your social media point person. For example, you can’t just give them www.ted.com and ask them to post things at random. Guide them with “pain topics,” “motivation topics,” and/or “the benefits of physical activity.”
  3. Set a clear expectation to your social media point person to post at least once a day and between the hours of 12pm and 3pm. Have them visit one or two of the websites on the list, copy the link, and paste it into the business page’s status with a quick note about the value of the article. If you’ve published a blog post, this gets priority (see the Promotion Schedule section for more details).
  4. Publishing a blog post. You have your promotion schedule from the previous section. Here are some suggestions for what exactly to post on Facebook in addition to the link to your post.
    1. New Blog Post! Post Title. Link to post (your post image should automatically appear)
    2. A quote from the blog post. 
    3. A question the article answers
    4. Cite a statistic or fact
    5. Two to three sentences about what they will learn from the article
    6. Extra credit: go to Pablo and put your title, quote or question on a picture and publish it. Varying the graphics will help but it’s verging on intermediate skills territory.
  5. Set a clear expectation to staff to check the Facebook page and like and SHARE the posts to their own pages – this is best done in the first 24 hours if you want to play to the Facebook algorithm. Since this page is directed at consumers, ask them to ask their own networks to like the page.
  6. Follow up and make sure this gets done! Have them report in staff meetings and keep it on everyone’s radar and reward your social media point person for adopting a new responsibility.

If you have a particularly social, savvy person running this, say or email them the following, “Hey there extremely valuable employee, do you have the skills to set up an Instagram account and link it to our Facebook? If so, great! Please set that up and post there daily between 12pm and 1pm and have it automatically post to the Facebook account at the same time.”

Overwhelmed? Click here to get this article broken down and delivered to your inbox one section per week.

3.3 Paid Social for Your Physical Therapy Practice: Wandering around aimlessly will only lead you to the porn store

Are you drunkOne new year’s, my ex-husband’s friend Dan came down from Alaska for some lovely Portland weather. His first night in town a group of us went to the Dublin to tie one on. As the night progressed, we slowly drifted away with our designated drivers. Dan was chatting up a lady and offered to walk her to her car. The last of the drivers assumed he was headed home with her and he departed.

Dan got shot down and headed back to an increasingly empty bar with no friends in sight. After another very unnecessary round or two, he called a cab. “Where to?” asked the cabbie.

“Um…do you know where the big porn store is?” We happened to live about a half mile from that notable landmark.

“Yeah, I know where that is.” And the cabbie dropped him there. At that point, Dan started walking aimlessly around our neighborhood in his t-shirt and shorts looking for a familiar house. He made exactly no progress (unless you count finding the porn store again) for hours until he saw the paper delivery guy driving the neighborhood. He managed to talk this guy into letting him ride in the back and look for a familiar house. Now he was making a faster, systematic search for his target (in a warmer environment).

Before long he was pounding on our door. Bleary eyed, I opened it and asked, “Did you forget your key?”

As you can probably guess, the lesson here is don’t wander around aimlessly or you’ll just end up back at the porn store. Have a systematic plan and you’ll reach your goals earlier.

Here’s your plan:

  1. Use your newest blog post, or if already blogging (CONGRATS!), find your best performing blog post. Your goal will be to get more folks to read it.
  2. Create a post that links to the article. Since you already selected a great graphic for your post, it should pop up automatically when you enter your link.
  3. For text, ask a question that your article will answer or an issue it will solve. Do you know how to set up your workstation to minimize lower back pain? Do you know the three exercises that will have the most impact on your lower back pain?
  4. Now we throw some money at it. DO NOT boost your post. I know this is the basics, but I’m going to ask you to jump through some better hoops so you can target your audience better and spend your money more wisely! First, for your two-minute overview, watch this. I know it goes too fast. I’ve got your back with this walkthrough: 
    1. Drop down menu in the top right – select “Create Ads”
    2. For your campaign objective, since we’re promoting a blog post, select “Traffic” under “Consideration”
    3. Select your geographical location
    4. Select the age and gender of your target market
    5. Depending on how well you know your target market, see if you can’t put some criteria in the “Detailed Targeting” section. Maybe a local employer? Maybe a sport if you’re seeing athletes? Maybe you select everyone who has liked the page of the gym next door? The better you know your target market, the bigger the benefit you’ll get out of this section.
    6. Now you’ll set your budget. I recommend picking a lifetime budget that will get you through the next Sunday – Wednesday or Thursday. Start on the lower end as you’re learning. Don’t go over $50 for the lifetime. Less is okay.
    7. Select “Continue” and look for “Use Existing Post” tab above the formatting options
    8. At the next page, make sure your business page is connected and go to the “Select a Page Post” pull down menu. Select your post from that menu.
    9. You’re done!
  5. Now do the whole thing over again and change one variable in the post
  6. Once the week is over, look and see which performed better
  7. Shift your budget to the best performer and spend the rest of the month’s budget on it

Pro tip: Instead of testing two different headlines, images, or CTAs, you can test different variables in the “Detailed Targeting” section mentioned above. If you don’t know much about your target market, this is a good way to experiment. Of course, we’re just going for visits to your blog post, not actual customers, so take this with a grain of salt. But since we’re starting with the basics, this is a good place to experiment.

Caution: If you don’t see a good ROI on your paid social, watch this video. You might not have enough name recognition to generate clicks right off the bat and that will boost their cost. If this is the case, start with uploading the emails from your EMR and create a look-a-like audience to get you rolling. Then you can branch out from there.

3.4 Email communication with patients/clients: Testing may reveal stinging nettles, bees, and the need for kayaks

A couple of years ago I was part of a team that had to set a running (drinking) trail for about 100 runners (drinkers). First, we built the outline of the trail (ours included a river swim with inflatable doughnuts) and did a good tasting at a winery on the trail.

Then we grabbed some of our friends and ran it again. We decided that stinging nettles were acceptable, but we needed to prune back the blackberries in some areas. We took the friends to taste the wine too.

Then we ran it again with more folks. We decided to reroute around the bees and that the swim would be better with less alcohol and more kayak assistance. By this time, we knew which wines to suggest.

We ran one more test run with about 30 people. One light beer to enjoy while blowing up your doughnut. Lots of running and walking and general tom foolery before the winery and most walked after that to the end.

We nailed the big group run. Why? Because we tested!

River float in inflatable tubes

If you are going to put something into someone’s overloaded inbox, you’d better make it worthwhile. And they had better be expecting you to email them or you’ll get a bad spam reputation in a short period of time. Email servers know and will block you!

Here’s my suggestion for your email list:

  1. Sign up for MailChimp. Signing up should be straightforward and they have support.
  2. Next, I’m passing the buck on this one. Read this article and/or watch the video. Melyssa does a nice job of walking you through getting started. Most important is to get that sign-up page and link together. That needs to be sprinkled throughout your blog post to gather subscribers.
    1. If you already have a list of emails of people who are expecting to hear from you, you can upload this list to MailChimp. Instructions are here.
  3. I recommend a quarterly email to your list featuring your top three blog posts.
  4. Pick a template in MailChimp and throw your logo in there. Link it back to your website. Be sure your contact info is there too, in case they’re ready for another appointment.
  5. Review the blog articles published in the last quarter and identify your 3 highest performers. If you don’t have enough content, look at the Facebook posts of other people’s content and see which has done best. Link to their article. Put this one at the bottom though. You need to provide value first, but a close second is getting folks to YOUR site.
  6. Add article #1’s title. The graphic and a couple of the first paragraphs. Then a “Read More” link to the blog post, which will have a call to action somewhere in there to get more information or make an appointment.
  7. Repeat for #2 and 3
  8. You can also consider using the space for #3 for clinic news. Use sparingly! Remember, you want to provide them with value, not talk about yourself. Some exceptions might be a case example of a happy customer, special offers you’re providing, or any events you’re sponsoring that you want to invite them to.
  9. A week or two after you email it out, see what you can learn from the analytics. Set your benchmarks for opens and clicks on the links. Add the link clicks to your KPIs.

Shut the front door. You’re done.

Congrats! Those are the basics of a content marketing plan for your practice. Keep in mind, this is just the starting point. We’re working on the minimum here and you can spend a career diving into the best practices for each of the above areas. But the important thing is you’ve started! Now keep it up!!

Well you read it all. Did you do it all? Click here to get this article broken down and delivered to your inbox one section per week.