Physical Therapy Patient Email


Would you like to increase patient service utilization and referrals for about the cost of your daily latte? Look no further than your patient email marketing system.

If you’re looking to up the impact of your email marketing, take 3 minutes to read these 928 words…

PT Referral Machine email system flow infographic

PTRM Physical Therapy Patient Email System Flow

After 15 years of implementing PT email marketing we know it creates the highest return on investment (ROI). That’s because with the right system, for less than $100 a month, you can reach a large audience of your most highly qualified leads. These leads include existing patients, former patients, and prospective patients.
At the very least, your patient email campaign should increase service utilization and reactivations. This alone can lead to an off-the-charts ROI. As a result, there is no other advertising format that comes even close. However, it needs to be made a priority and  setup right.
As a physical therapy business, you can use email marketing to:
1.       Increase compliance rates
2.       Spur reactivations
3.       Promote referrals
4.       Offer additional “follow-up” services and products
5.       Improve the overall patient experience
To get the best ROI, you need to avoid the four most common physical therapy email marketing mistakes touched on below…

The 4 Most Common Physical Therapy Patient Email Mistakes

#1: Ineffective Content Strategy

A good example of ineffective content strategy is the most common type of physical therapy “newsletter.” It may feature things like the various events you attend or staff pictures. When this is the feature topic you are executing a social strategy. Social strategies are not the best fit for healthcare providers. Read “Facebook FOMO” for more about my thoughts on this. Instead, consider focusing on the patient experience.

What About PT Newsletter Services?

Another typical format that gets disappointing results is the stock monthly PT health tips. You know the ones I am talking about – one month it’s knees, and the next the back, and so on. If you’re a PT scrambling to crank out an email, this type of content can be very appealing. But think of it from your patient’s standpoint. It’s just not engaging (we know from years of data). We all use them (even us!), because it’s a good basic start! That’s because staying in touch with cheap email is better than nothing at all. However, it doesn’t make a financial impact. Instead, you get the best results when you focus on the immediate patient experience AND offers with added value. You can’t get this from stock newsletters. To pull this off it takes planning and customization. You can get a better idea of what we mean by learning more about internal marketing for PT here.

Are Your Subject Lines Engaging?

Aside from avoiding problems like these with your feature content strategy, another results-killer is the poorly worded subject line. For instance, “July Newsletter – My PT Clinic.” Nothing makes a reader’s eyes glaze over faster than a boring subject line like that; it lacks the power to engage readers. Instead, it assigns the job of unburying key ideas to your readers, and that’s your job, not their’s!
Ineffective content strategies like these train your readers to ignore, delete, and eventually opt-out. Obviously, that’s not the best money-making email marketing strategy. By contrast, an effective strategy engages the audience where they are in their patient experience and offers added value. This Internal Marketing Strategy quite naturally leads to increased patient engagement, service utilization, and referrals.

#2: Setting The Wrong Frequency

If you send too many emails, you risk fatiguing your audience. This trains people to skip or delete your messages without even previewing. On the other hand, if you send emails too infrequently, your audience loses that critical connection to your brand. It’s hard to specify the “exact right frequency.” Your “right” frequency will depend on the quality of your content. However, it’s safe to say that if your unsubscribe rate is 0% then you are not sending frequently enough.

Tips For Setting Your Initial Frequency

A good place to start is to follow our initial new patient frequency plan, shown here:
  • Booking – Email #1: Provide a new patient info pack via email.
  • Arrival – Email #2: Arrival 1st visit: Patient follow-up email.
  • Treatment Progress – #3-6: Treatment progress, compliance, and feedback survey.
  • Post-discharge – Email #7+: News and follow-up offers (Eg: options for “what’s next” after discharge).

Frequency is highest during treatment. It falls off to a monthly interval per interest group. Exceptions would be things like class schedules and other “need to know now” information.

As mentioned before, you can check for good frequency by monitoring unsubscribe, open, and click-through rates.

#3: No Value-Added Offers

Permission To Send Email To Patients Is A Privilege – And A Valuable Practice Asset

Your permission to use your subsribers’ email address is a special (and valuable) privilege. In exchange for the permission to use their email, your recipients expect you to provide things of value to THEM. That’s why a successful content strategy needs appealing offers. Make sure you reward your subscribers with value-added product and service offers. This can be very challenging, but it’s also an ideal opportunity to create marketing alliances with other businesses who MAY EVEN PAY YOU for the privilege of being part of your offer program. PT Referral Machine subscribers get help and support for building these types of offer programs.

#4: Low Email Capture Rates

Making Email Capture A Priority

Many clinics still do not make capturing emails a priority even after setting up a new system. The obvious explanation for this is that before the new system they didn’t use email to communicate with patients. Instead, they relied on the phone and in person visits. Hence, overlooking the importance of capturing emails can be a hard habit to break.  What makes it even harder is the excuses. Staff will say that patients won’t give their email, and that’s why they aren’t captured. However, when you review patient records for missing email addresses it tells a different story; it’s more often the case that email addresses exist but weren’t entered or requested. Even as far back as 2009, 56% of 65-69 year olds and  45% of 70-74 year olds used personal email.*  And 2017 data shows people 65+ at 85.5% today. A 30% increase!
It’s hard to police email capture rates. That’s why it’s important to make your new email marketing  an integral part of your patient communications system.
At this point I hope you’ll agree that if your content strategy is setup like I have described here, then  your email marketing profitability will increase dramatically. Give it a try with our guidance and see.
*PEW Internet & American Life Project Research


When you build your physical therapy patient email marketing to avoid these most common mistakes, it’s impossible not to see positive results. To help you get started, we provide a series of physical therapy email templates you can use . In addition, subscribers receive training, strategic content consulting and support.

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