HIPAA compliant email marketing with Paubox Marketing is a great way to improve patient outcomes, set you up as a leader in your field, boost your brand, and grow your business. Besides complying with HIPAA’s rules about marketing communications, you want to make sure your emails are actually delivered to your patients’ inboxes.
An important aspect of this is obeying the CAN-SPAM Act, but there are also a number of industry best practices that you should keep in mind to make sure your message doesn’t end up in the spam folder.
SEE ALSO: HIPAA Email Marketing Use Cases
There are two ways that your email can end up going to the spam folder: either spam filters flag the email as spam and send it to the spam folder directly, or recipients tag your email as spam themselves. Once enough people do this, your spam score will increase, and eventually your emails will start going to the spam folder before anyone has a chance to read them.
We’ll explain how you can avoid both scenarios below.
Avoid being delivered directly to the spam folder
First and foremost, do everything you can to keep your marketing emails from being sent to spam automatically.
Update your SPF record
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) lets an email domain owner identify the servers they have approved to send emails on their behalf. In short, an SPF record makes sure that an incoming email was really sent by the person it says it was sent from.
If you’re a Paubox customer, you can find directions to update your SPF record here.
Create a DKIM signature
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) authenticates emails through a pair of public and private cryptographic keys. After a message is received, the destination server uses the public key from the domain owner to decrypt a message. If the signature can be decrypted, the message is validated and recipients can trust its authenticity.
Paubox customers can find directions to add a DKIM signature to their emails here.
Remove bounced email addresses
Hard email bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. Bounce rates are one of the key factors internet service providers (ISPs) use to determine an email sender’s reputation, so having too many hard bounces can cause them to stop allowing your emails to arrive in patients’ inboxes.
Be sure to delete any bounced email addresses that you see in your Paubox Marketing sent analytics.
Ask subscribers to add you to their address book
Spam filters are more aggressive than ever—so much so that sometimes emails people value and want to read still end up in their spam folder.
Most spam filters allow you to whitelist a sender by adding it to your address book. You can recommend that your recipients do just that. Spam filters will not block emails to your patients that have added you to their address books.
Never use a no-reply email address
Certain ISPs, network spam filters, and patients’ personal email security settings are set up to send no-reply email addresses to the junk folder. Also, most ISPs do not allow email recipients to add no-reply emails to their address books.
No-reply email addresses are also more likely to get marked as spam by users themselves as well. It is much more likely for subscribers to hit the spam button if they can’t reply back requesting the removal of their email address.
In addition, using a no-reply email blocks two-way communication, which limits the relationship you can build with patients via email marketing.
Don’t use an overwhelming number of images, or huge images
Using one large image as your entire email, or too many images in general, tends to end up in recipients’ spam folders.
You’ll also want to make your image file sizes as small as possible without losing their visual integrity to prevent long email load times.
Don’t include attachments
If you want to send your recipients something like a PDF or a Word document, don’t attach the file to the email—otherwise your email could get blocked by spam filters.
Instead, upload the attachment to your website and link to the file location in your email. This will minimize the chance of being blocked by spam filters and decrease the load time of your email.
Avoid being marked as spam
After doing everything you can to make sure your healthcare marketing email makes it to the inbox, be sure to consider the following tips when crafting your email message.
Don’t use ALL CAPS
Some people consider all caps annoying (like you’re YELLING) and spammy.
Instead of using tactics like all caps to get people’s attention, try personalizing your emails, establishing relevancy, and using catchy language.
Don’t use exclamation points!!!!!
Another thing that can make your subject line or email look unprofessional and spammy is exclamation points. And since 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line, you’ll want to stay away from triggers like this as much as you can.
Don’t use spam trigger words
One of the easiest ways to avoid spam filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email’s subject line. A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds like something a used car salesman would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Think “free,” “guarantee,” no obligation,” and so on.
Don’t embed forms
Forms aren’t supported in email across common email clients due to security risks. Instead, include a link to a landing page with a HIPAA compliant contact form in the body of your email.
Use standard font sizes and colors
Using a red font or using invisible text (white font on top of a white background) is a common trick that spammers use, so it’s an instant red flag for spam filters.
Also, according to a Radicati Group Study, people don’t like when marketers use irregular fonts, font sizes, or font colors in emails. Over 60% of respondents considered it unacceptable for email marketers to use different font sizes, irregular fonts, and different font colors. Nearly 70% of respondents prefer fonts to be one size.
Check your spelling
Eighty percent of Radicati respondents found spelling and grammatical errors the most unacceptable email offense. Spelling mistakes aren’t just unprofessional—they’re also a trigger for spam filters.
Personalize your messages
Since Paubox Marketing is fully HIPAA compliant and supports smart text, you can include protected health information (PHI) in your emails to your patients, personalizing the message for each recipient.
Create different types of campaigns
Healthcare email marketing can take many different forms. An email campaign can provide educational messaging (i.e. summer skincare tips), promotional messaging (i.e. six Botox sessions for the price of five), seasonal greetings (i.e. Happy New Year!), or even be in the form of a monthly newsletter.
Serving up different types of content will engage and inform patients, keeping them interested in your emails.
Use email segmenting
Every email campaign you create won’t apply to every patient on your list, so use email segmenting to tailor messages to the correct audience.
Keeping patients informed on topics they’re interested in will boost your engagement rates.
Keep your emails short and sweet
Too much copy is another red flag for spam filters. Not only that, but people generally like concise emails better.
If you have to write a lengthier email, break it up into multiple paragraphs. Giving visual breaks and composing the email with a clear introduction, middle, and conclusion will make it much easier on your reader.
Hit the right frequency
According to the Adobe 2018 Consumer Email Survey, 50% of people prefer to communicate with brands by email. However, 45% said sending emails too often is the number one reason they unsubscribe from mailing lists.
You don’t want to overload inboxes, but reaching out too infrequently can also hurt your cause. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula, so take the time to figure out what works for your healthcare practice.
Healthcare email marketing with Paubox Marketing can help you grow your business and improve patient outcomes. But crafting an email that avoids spam filters and that patients want to read takes time and practice.
Using the guidelines above to write effective email campaigns, the sky is the limit on what you can communicate to patients.