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Guide to Healthcare Email Marketing

A Comprehensive Guide to Healthcare Email Marketing

Learn how email marketing can pioneer quality engagement, dynamize patient outreach, and maximize your reach as a healthcare provider/brand....

In our decades-long experience as “email doctors,” we’ve consistently observed one thing: Once a prospect recognizes the potential of email, they’re eager to use it but often lack direction on where to begin.

This holds true for almost every niche we’ve worked with, including the healthcare sector. And we get it. Email is vast! It might seem like a Penrose staircase initially.

Hence this guide which covers healthcare email marketing from the ground up. We will share core concepts, illustrative examples, and best practices.

But before we begin, if you’re not yet convinced about the importance of email marketing, let’s explore why it’s crucial for the healthcare sector. (If you’re already persuaded, feel free to skip this section and move on to the next.)

Why you need email marketing for healthcare

Here are five key reasons why email marketing is critical for the healthcare industry:

  1. Targeted messaging: Create audience segments in order to send highly targeted messages. So a diabetic patient will receive emails related to their condition, whereas new parents will receive well-child reminders.
  2. Patient engagement: Sending emails with helpful information and appointment reminders helps patients stay informed about their health and connected with your brand.
  3. Cost-effective reach: Email remains the most cost-effective marketing channel. You can reach a large number of your target audience at a very low cost. Email still has the highest ROI of all marketing channels.
  4. Build relationships and foster loyalty: The personal nature of email enables you to build relationships with your audience, fostering trust and loyalty over time. In fact, the average open rate for healthcare emails is 23.46%. 
  1. Timely updates: If you want to send out urgent communications such as appointment updates, public health alerts, or info related to new products or services, email is the quickest channel available. 

Now let’s take a look at the core concepts of email marketing.

Healthcare Email Marketing: First Steps, Core Concepts

1. Email list

The first step in email marketing is building an email list. How to build one? By using opt-in forms on your website. In the following example, Calibrate, a healthcare brand focused on weight loss, uses a signup form on their blog page to collect email addresses. 

Email List

Some healthcare brands may include the signup form at the bottom of the home page, like Everlywell below.

signup form

The signup form can have additional fields. For instance, Oak Street Health’s form has eight fields as shown below.

Oak Street Health's form

The goal of having multiple fields is to collect as much user data as possible. However, it’s important not to overwhelm users by asking for everything at once. Include only fields that are relevant and useful for your marketing goals. After a prospect subscribes, you can gather additional information through email marketing.

You can also leverage social media to boost email signups. With a substantial follower count, you could strike gold. For example, Serenity Health has placed a link to their landing page on Instagram.

landing page on Instagram

2. Welcome series

After successfully establishing a small-to-start-with email list, your initial focus should be on crafting a welcome series campaign. This entails sending emails to new subscribers, extending a warm welcome to your brand. 

Feel free to offer a welcome discount in your email. For instance, you can offer a 10-15% discount on the subscriber’s first order. In the following example, Everlywell’s welcome email provides a Mother’s Day discount, among other offers.

Everlywell’s welcome email

Source: Inbox

3. Segmentation

Initially, your email list will be short. Imagine you have 35 new subscribers to your newsletter. After completing the welcome series, your task is to categorize or “segment” these subscribers based on relevant criteria.

With the current number of subscribers, it’s unnecessary to create numerous segments immediately. This is due to the limited data available on your subscribers at this stage.

But you can analyze your welcome campaign for basic insights to segment your subscribers. To start with, you can use the following criteria:

  • Those who opened your welcome email
  • Those who didn’t open your welcome email
  • Those who clicked a CTA button in your welcome email
  • Those who didn’t click any CTA button in your welcome email 

That’s four segments right there. Now, you can tailor campaigns specific to each segment to cultivate relationships with one group(s) while nurturing the other group(s). 

4. Personalization

Sending the right message to the right people – that’s email personalization in a caplet. How do you do that? By following the signals your subscribers give. Based on these signals, you’ll send personalized emails. Example time!


A subscriber downloads an ebook, titled ‘Diabetes: To Eat or Not to Eat.’ The subscriber has shown interest in learning about diabetic diet. Using this cue, you can send personalized emails featuring tips for diabetic-friendly diets, expert interviews, recipes with diabetic superfoods, dietary supplements, and so on. 

Another scenario arises when a subscriber makes a purchase from your online store. For example, if someone buys an incentive spirometer, you can utilize this information to send emails about preoperative exercises, instructional videos on using the spirometer, a list of precautionary measures, etc. 

Personalization also involves acknowledging negative signals. For instance, in a segment of 10 subscribers, if three consistently show reluctance to purchase a product, it indicates a need for further nurturing. Instead of sending promotional emails to these subscribers, you can share educational content and, importantly, patient/customer testimonials to build trust. 
Read more:Best Email Personalization Strategies

5. Email automation

If you’re doing everything right at the signup stage, rest assured that your email list will grow over time. You’re not going to be stuck with just 35 subscribers. 

However, as your subscriber list grows to, say, around 200 by the end of 2024, manually sending personalized emails becomes impractical. 

Automation becomes crucial in this scenario. It allows you to send emails based on triggers. For example, new members receive a welcome email automatically upon signing up. Likewise, emails reminding patients of their scheduled appointments can be sent automatically just before their checkup dates. 

6. Email analytics

Just like a patient in the hospital is monitored for vital signs, your email campaigns need consistent monitoring— via email analytics. Here’s an example of healthcare analytics on Salesforce Health Cloud. 

Email analytics

Image source

The analytics dashboard keeps track of subscriber behavior, trends, and areas for improvement. You can use these data points to optimize your campaigns to prevent low engagement and high unsubscribe rates. Once again, let’s look at an example. 

Healthily Ever After, a general hospital-cum-research center, launched an email campaign announcing the opening of an oncology department. Their email analytics reported a decent open rate, but flagged these behavioral trends:

  • Age groups with specific cancers did not open the email
  • The click map analysis revealed that there was a higher concentration of clicks on general information within the email compared to the clicks on the CTA button
  • The younger audience spent an average of five seconds on the email 

All this is valuable information. Based on these data, HEA can optimize their email campaign in order to send more targeted, relevant messages. 

Healthcare Email Marketing Best Practices

Here are five best practices for successful email marketing for healthcare.

  1. Follow email deliverability best practices to bypass the spam filter. Enable compliance with email privacy laws like the CAN-SPAM ACT, HIPAA, and always add an unsubscribe option at the bottom of every email.
  2. Optimize your email campaigns for cross-device viewing through responsive design. A/B test your emails before sending.
  3. Establish an email cadence that strikes a balance, neither too spaced-out nor too dense. The aim is to stay top of mind without annoying your audience.
  4. Measure, measure, measure! Keep tabs on email analytics for actionable insights, and leverage real-time data to optimize your campaigns.
  5. Use the 80-20 rule in email marketing. Considering your niche, aim for emails that are 80% informative content and only 20% promotional sales material.

Read more: How to Leverage Email Marketing to Improve Patient Adherence and Health Outcomes

New to Email? Get in Touch with the Oldies!

Our guide was a comprehensive overview of email marketing. But there’s more to email than meets the eye. Like we said in the beginning, email is vast. 

But thanks to our decades of experience, ESP-agnostic expertise, and short TAT, you’ve nothing to worry about. We’re all about email. Feel free to schedule an appointment to share your vision with us, and we’ll be more than happy to assist!  

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    A realist at heart and an idealist at head, Susmit is a content writer at Email Uplers. He has been in the digital marketing industry for half a decade. When not writing, he can be seen squinting at his Kindle, awestruck.



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