Until the COVID-19 pandemic, your healthcare newsletters were all about building community with your audience.
Suddenly, with the arrival of the coronavirus, your newsletter had to pivot to share crucial COVID-19 information: new safety procedures, rescheduling of nonemergency surgeries and where and how to get the vaccine.
A year and a half later, the Delta variant is putting our “back-to-normal” plans on hold. Your newsletters may be solely focused on communicating essential pandemic info.
But now’s the time to start working those community-building emails back into your newsletter rotation. These tips will rev up your newsletter and make your readers eager for more.
The Value of Community-Building Healthcare Newsletters
You love how your digital newsletters are great for saying “Hey there!” to your organization’s patients and families. They’re a relatively simple and inexpensive way to connect — to build trust among your current patients and develop relationships with prospective patients.
But how can you make sure your audience will say “Hey!” back? You’re competing for attention with a lot of other emails in their inbox.
If you want to develop a strong open rate (the percentage of recipients who open your newsletter after it lands in their email), you need to stand out from the digital crowd.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Healthcare Newsletters
Ideally, your patient newsletter will:
- Give readers useful health-related information they can use in their everyday lives
- Showcase your organization as a leader in selected healthcare issues
But your newsletter won’t:
- Hit readers over the head with overt marketing messages, such as pleas for donations or sign-ups for services
- Read like stiff press releases about new staff members or hospital programs
So what exactly makes for a good health newsletter? Check out these 5 tips — and 5 hospital websites where you can see them in action.
Success tip #1: Zero in on your audience
The best newsletters home in on a specialized group of patients and families. They don’t try to offer an information smorgasbord to your entire patient population.
Who does it well?
Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s “Health E-Hints”
The parent of a toddler is interested in very different articles than the parent of a teen. Nationwide Children’s lets readers enter their children’s ages and customizes content for them. Then they automatically send age-appropriate newsletter articles to the subscribing parents as their children grow.
Want to include readers who aren’t parents? Nationwide lets subscribers identify themselves as child care providers or pediatricians and targets appropriate articles to them, too.The best newsletters focus on a specialized group of patients & families. They don’t try to offer an info smorgasbord to an entire patient population. Click To Tweet
Success tip #2: Share specialized knowledge your audience (probably) can’t get elsewhere
Patients and families who have “niche” health issues may have trouble finding trusted information from general consumer websites. Show potential and current patients that your organization’s experts are on top of the topics that matter to them. When these families need care, they may be more likely to turn to you.
Who does it well?
University of California at Davis MIND Institute’s “Friends of the MIND”
This quarterly print and digital newsletter shares patient stories as well as the latest research and treatment options for families who are facing neurodevelopmental challenges. These health issues include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, fragile X syndrome and chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.
MIND Institute practitioners are prominently featured and/or interviewed in every article. This practice drives home to readers that UC Davis is a national leader in treating children and other family members with neurodevelopmental issues.In your healthcare newsletters, show potential & current patients that your organization’s experts are on top of topics that matter to them. Click To Tweet
Success tip #3: Speak directly to your readers, using verbiage like “you,” “we” and “us”
It’s good to get personal when creating patient newsletters. Readers connect with your organization more easily when you use friendly, second-person language — almost as if you’re writing a letter to someone you know.
Who does it well?
The title of this digital and print newsletter is clearly a nod to the subject matter (cardiovascular/heart issues). And it implies that articles will be personal, honest and compelling.
“From the Heart” includes patient success stories written in their own words, heart-healthy diet and lifestyle advice from Saint Luke’s experts and updates on new cardiovascular treatment options written in patient-centric language (e.g., “This very large and well-done study raised a lot of eyebrows among physicians and forced us to rethink how we dose blood pressure medicines.”)Readers connect with your org better when you use friendly, second-person language — almost as if you’re writing a letter to someone you know. Click To Tweet
Success tip #4: Use newsletter articles to drive readers to your blog
Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re already creating strong online content, use quick synopses in your newsletters to invite readers to your blog. Patients and families who may not know about your blog may become regular visitors and improve your web statistics.
Who does it well?
Seattle Children’s Hospital “my Good Growing”
High-quality stock photos, easy-to-scan headlines and succinct article descriptions make it simple for time-pressured parents to pick and choose their topics. Seattle Children’s groups article descriptions clearly, both by topic and children’s ages.
When you follow links to the site’s “On the Pulse” blog, you land on professionally written articles featuring Seattle Children’s Hospital experts. Bullets, subheads and clearly labeled links make articles easy to read. A few selected links take readers to authoritative, outside sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.If you’re already creating strong online content, use quick synopses in your healthcare newsletters to invite readers to your blog. Click To Tweet
Success tip #5: Create well-rounded content
Your readers, like everyone else, are leading busy lives, pulled in many different directions. But who doesn’t want to know about the health benefits of napping? Hook them with topics that pique their interest, answer a burning question or surprise them.
Who does it well?
Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials Blog
Cleveland Clinic’s newsletter includes helpful, timely content that interests a wide variety of readers — such as how to prevent and treat bee stings and a list of must-have first-aid items for your travel bag.
The blog posts all have a health angle as well as a general interest appeal. Besides links to popular blog posts, the newsletter often includes answers to engaging, health-related questions like, “Which hangover cures really work?” And every email includes a link to a nutritious recipe.In your hospital newsletters, hook readers with topics that pique their interest, answer a burning question or surprise them. Click To Tweet
Make your newsletter the highlight of your audience’s inbox! These tips can help you turn a ho-hum newsletter into content that connects.
Explore more about writing for healthcare newsletters:
- How to Write Better Emails & Increase Content Downloads by 900%
- Subject Lines: You Have One Line. Use It Well
- 4 Ways to Up Your Email Open Rate