Psychologists: Should you send out an email newsletter?

Is it SPAM or a way to maintain relationships?

Psychologists: Why would you write an email newsletter?

So the topic for today’s blog post is a business one related to content marketing for psychologists (and shockingly has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day). You could have patients, potential patients and/or potential referral sources subscribe to your email newsletter (ex: perhaps with a sign about it in the office and having a subscription form on your website). You could then occasionally write a newsletter that includes news about your practice and informative content which you send out to the list of people who have subscribed. The informative content would typically be about the type of problems you work with/things you do so that it would presumably be interesting and relevant to the people you’d potentially see in psychotherapy (or related to whatever other services you offer).

This can help people stay engaged with your practice, even if they aren’t currently attending psychotherapy with you, so that they remember you when it is time to make an appointment or make a referral to a psychologist. Many times you may get referrals made by happy previous customers. It also helps to demonstrate your expertise to people who sign up and get your newsletter. This might make them more comfortable in working with you.

A newsletter isn’t for patient communication of course. You certainly don’t want to send confidential information out over an email list and it isn’t something where you’d be establishing a professional relationship with someone (feel free to include whatever disclaimer statements you feel are necessary related  to this). However, if you sent educational materials out that could actually help people.

If you wanted to use a professional email service that includes automation features (I’ll talk about this more below), you can even segment subscribers in to different groups and send different messages out to them. So you could have standard newsletter messages for new subscribers as well as newsletters that are designed for new or current patients if you wanted that were timed to go to them early in the treatment process. You could have newsletters that educated them about the psychotherapy process and were geared at preventing early termination. You could have other newsletters geared toward former patients which helped with relapse prevention and offered that subtle reminder that they were still connected to your practice and that you were still there if they needed anything or if they knew someone else who could use your services. Of course, you can make this as involved or not involved as you’d like and even just writing an informative article that goes out to anyone who subscribes may be enough for you.

You can do this with a blog as well but with a blog there is much less guarantee that they will see it (email is more likely to make it to their eyeballs). However, one benefit of a blog is that it will be indexed by search engines and someone might find your website by searching for the topic you wrote about in your blog. This “article” started on a blog and you may be reading it on the web or you may be reading it in your email right now. For example, if you wanted to subscribe to get new posts to this blog by email you could. I personally just use Feedburner for this, a free service owned by Google, that lets people subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed by email. There are some nice tools with it but nothing like the substantial number of tools and analytics available from a paid service (and you don’t need to have a blog post to send email).

Sometimes with a blog you’re interested in trying to get new customers who might come in via Google (good luck to you). You will get the benefits of both worlds though if you offer an email subscription. E-mailing people you are currently connected with who agree to opt-in to your newsletter is a way to potentially improve the retention of the “customers” you already have as well as maintain a connection with them over time so that they may send you other people to be future customers. Of course, writing a newsletter also means that you have to spend time writing a newsletter– because this doesn’t work and you don’t seem like an expert or a trusted advisor if the email newsletters you send out seem like junk or just spam.

As an alternative to a blog/feedburner setup, if you wanted to create a professional email list with lots of features, options and analytics you may want to try a service like AWeber. AWeber is the one I see many of the pros using but you could also try other services like Constant Contact or the one I’m using MailChimp (MailChimp also has a nice free option for 2,000 or fewer subscribers). You can also integrate these services with your blog using your RSS feed in the future if you wanted to use them instead of feedburner to offer subscriptions to your blog and have more options and data available.

I am using MailChimp right now for my new, free Reviews and IME’s newsletter which is something I send out every Sunday to psychologists and physicians interested in medical records file review and independent medical examinations– if you’re interested in that check out

Remember, I may benefit if you purchase something from one of the links on this blog. For example, I’m using Mailchimp right now and I get a credit in my account if you use my referral link (I also benefit if you use this link to sign up at AWeber, which I almost decided to use and it actually seems like it has cooler features if you want to pay a monthly fee but also doesn’t have the free plan I decided to use at Mailchimp). I may go with AWeber though if I decide to go with a paid plan some day.

Thanks if you do sign up with one of these links, the small amount I make goes to cover the costs of hosting this blog. I appreciate it,