Marketing Automation for Private Practice: A Hands-Off Approach

The Private Practice’s Guide to Marketing Automation

Marketing automation allows you to do everything from engaging prospective clients on the need for mental health services to reminding current clients of upcoming appointments. There’s a misperception that marketing automation is only for big practices, but I’d argue that marketing automation is even more useful for small to medium practices where staff and other resources are limited. Automating your marketing allows you to stretch your reach without constantly performing the same tedious day to day tasks that business growth requires. In this post, we’ll explain how to get started with marketing automation for private practice.

Here’s a look at the most popular marketing automation software that you can use for your private practice.

What is Marketing Automation?

If you read our most recent post on 8 automated emails you should always send to your therapy clients, you already know a little bit about marketing automation.

In a nutshell: Marketing automation is when you set up a system to respond automatically to client-triggered behavior. That still sounds complicated, right? Let’s make it even simpler. When your client (both current or prospective) initiates an action, you can respond automatically. For example, if a prospective client decides to sign up for your email newsletter, you can send a response automatically to thank them for signing up. Or, if a current client is celebrating a birthday or special anniversary (such as sobriety), you can send out an email to commemorate the event.

While marketing automation can be used in a variety of ways, such as social media marketing and qualifying prospective clients, we’ll keep it simple in this post. We’ll focus on the top marketing automation need for private practice: Email. To be more specific, we’ll discuss how to effectively automate your emails.

What are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of marketing automation, let’s look at the many benefits of using this technology.

Communicate More, Do Less – It’s no secret that when you’re running a private practice, you’ve got to do a thousand things at once. Marketing automation allows you to erase at least a few of those tasks off of your to-do list. You can communicate more efficiently while actually doing less.

Nurture Relationships – Whether you’re educating a prospective client about your therapy services or you’re continuing to build a relationship with an ongoing client, marketing automation helps you stay in touch and keep clients on a successful path. Wherever the client is in your sales funnel (from lead to prospect to client to referral), you can set up automatic messages to gently nudge the client along.

Rescue Your Time and Money – Marketing automation takes a lot of work off of your hands. This means that you don’t have to steal time away from appointments to tend to your communication needs. Compose your messages, set the delivery time or assign a trigger, and then you’re done. This allows you to get back into seeing clients and making money.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of benefits, hopefully, you’re starting to see how you and your practice will benefit from implementing marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Requires a Human Element

Before we delve too deeply into setting up marketing automation for your private practice, let’s start with the most important consideration. Don’t forget to be human.

It’s easy to create “soul-less” messages for marketing automation. After all, your emails have to be applicable to multiple recipients.

The easiest remedy for this is to inject your own unique personality into your messages. Don’t sound too corporate. Your emails should sound like they’re handwritten by you (because they are) and intended for that one specific reader (because they are). Sure, the information that you present in your message may be generic, but the way you present it can be human and personal.

Instead of a hopelessly robotic message like: “Your appointment is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19th,” you can choose a human message like: “Hey there! I’m looking forward to seeing you this upcoming Tuesday, March 19th. Let me know if you have any questions!”

Even if this is your standard confirmation email, the latter sounds more personal and friendly. This is the key to your success when automating your emails.

Start With the Most Important Actions First

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with marketing automation. Instead of trying to do everything at one time, you can start with the most pressing needs first. Identify the repetitive tasks that are taking a lot of time and/ or effort. Then, once those needs are addressed and automated, you’ll be free to work on what’s next.

There are two ways to approach this:

  • Start with the emails you find yourself sending all of the time
    Think about all of those mundane (but necessary) emails that you find yourself sending over and over again. For example, it may be an email about what to expect during a first visit. Turning these popular messages into automated emails can free up a lot of your time.
  • Start with the emails that nurture prospective clients
    One can definitely make an argument for the importance of these types of email. Once a client is interested in your service, you need to persuade them to set an appointment. Do this through a series of drip emails that lead the prospective client from “maybe” to “let’s book.” For example, an email here may contain educational resources about a certain mental illness.

Create a Prospective Client Journey

When creating a set of automated emails to send to your clients, you need to be clear about the average client’s journey. From their initial awareness of your private practice to advocacy and referral, it’s important that you communicate with your clients every step of the way.

Set up emails to meet clients on every key step in the journey.

Segment Your Audience

With marketing automation, it’s extremely important that you segment your audience. The last thing you want is to send a one-size-fits-all message and find out that it doesn’t fit. Instead, organize your recipients into smaller groups and create a message for each.

For example, let’s say you’re composing a “Welcome to My Practice” email that’s intended for new clients. if you offer multiple services (divorce counseling, marriage advice, singles workshop), slightly tweak your email so that you can speak directly to each client type. The email for each client type doesn’t need to be completely new. You can work off of the same template and make little adjustments that personalize the email for each segment.

Final Thoughts

Marketing automation doesn’t mean “set it and forget it” especially in the beginning. You must still find the right marketing automation software, write your messages, define relevant trigger behaviors, and assign events. You’ll also need to periodically test different components of your email messages and make adjustments. All of this requires an investment of time and other resources. However, it’s worth it. Marketing automation remains one of the best ways you can develop lasting relationships with your clients and thereby grow your private practice.

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