Recently, I’ve shared how there are several marketing and promotional channels that are ideal for independent community pharmacies. In January, I blogged about one of those channels: the Internet and the importance of maintaining a consumer-facing website. This month, I’d like to share some facts – and some myths about – email marketing.
Email is an important marketing tool for independent pharmacies
Just like social media and web marketing, email marketing is a viable promotional tool for independent community pharmacy. In fact, email marketing is more powerful than ever. In their 2016 State of Email Report, U.S.-based agency Litmus says that email has the highest return on investment (ROI) among digital marketing channels – with an ROI of 38-to-1. More importantly for small business owners who want to maintain high levels of patient satisfaction, Litmus says consumers actually want to receive emails. 72% say they prefer companies to communicate with them via email.
In a separate study by Millward Brown Digital, researchers found that 76% of consumers not only open emails but conduct their shopping from retailer emails.
Less than 8% of people said they “never” click through a retailer’s email or go immediately to its site after reading an email. Comparatively, almost half (46%) of consumers say they “never” use social media for shopping. See my post on keeping social media social.
You need to start using email marketing to your patients. Actively work this promotional channel. It should be a primary component of your ongoing advertising strategy. Here are a few tips to help get you going.
Tip #1 – Consistently Capture Email Addresses
If you haven’t done so already, lead a pharmacy-wide effort to collect or confirm email addresses each and every time the patient checks out. Have your clerks or technicians simply ask, “Do you have an email address that we can add to your patient record?” Probably eight patients out of ten will give out their email without a second thought. For those that express a concern over the use of the email, have your teammates say, “From time to time, the pharmacist would like to share opportunities for you to improve your overall health.”
Tip #2 – Obtain the Proper Permissions
Make sure you take a little time to document your patients’ communications preferences.
1. Try to get permission in writing.
Getting permission in writing still is the best protection. A simple google search can find forms that you can print and ask patients to complete as they are waiting for prescriptions or checking out.
2. Document verbal permission in the patient record.
Where written permission is not possible, make a note in the patient record of their communication preference.
3. Honor “opt-out” requests immediately.
This fosters the pharmacy-patient relationship and keeps negative situations from getting out of hand.
Tip #3 – Brand your “From” Name
Pharmacy has long been recognized as one of America’s most trusted professions. You can increase that trust with your email readers by having a more personable “From” name. For example, an email from “Gary with High 5 Pharmacy” is better than the unpleasant “firstname.lastname@example.org”. The idea is that an email with a name provides a more personal touch with readers.
Tip #4 – Stick to a Consistent Schedule
Another way to build trust (and subsequently engagement) is by maintaining a consistent frequency. If you send emails at erratic times of the day and days of the week, your readers may stop reading or interacting with your email. Figuring out the best cadence can be tricky, so try a couple different approaches and monitor the success. Remember, sending emails too frequently can cause higher unsubscribes, and rarely sending emails can lead to higher delivery failure rates. I’d suggest that once a month is not enough and that more than once a week would be too much.
Creating a prospect database and using email marketing to nurture non-customers is a great way to win new business and educate your community on all of the services you provide. We’ll cover that in a future post.
I encourage you to take advantage of these valuable, yet inexpensive, brand-building advertising opportunities.