Doctors Are Using Automated Email Sequences To Get More Patients Without Spending More On Ads – Here's How

5 months ago   •   6 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels
Table of contents

Email is the most underutilized marketing tool in every doctor's toolbox.

Yet email was responsible for boosting my clinic's conversion rate (from inquiry to consultation) from 12% to >40%. And a full decade later, I continue seeing similar results whenever we deploy this strategy in our clients' practices. And it only requires email. Specifically, an automated email sequence.

In this deep dive, you'll learn why following up is a must, how often to send a follow up email, how many emails to send, and what to say on each one.

So let's dive in!

The money is in the follow up

Most patient enrollment processes involve a few touch points or interactions before they can enroll in your practice.

Ours looked like this:

In recent years, I've compressed the emailing schedule and send a new follow up email every other day instead of what's shown here.

As you can see, our sales process was pretty straightforward.

  1. Request information
  2. Have a virtual consultation
  3. Make a decision

These were our 3 "milestones" in the process. All of which are necessary steps our potential patients needed to take before becoming our patients. Chances are, you have a similar process.

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Most doctors I work with have a process but don't have it mapped out. If that's you, take a moment and do it. You just need a piece of paper and a pencil.

Put yourself in their shoes

"I just don't want to be pushy… They got the info, they can decide on their own."

If you've ever entertained this thought, you've lost more than half your potential revenue. And here's why: we are all busy. We have demands, requests, and obligations coming at us from every direction. You have them. I have them. And your patients certainly have them.

Don't assume your patients will follow through on their own.

It's not they don't care about their health, or even about you or your practice. They just forgot about it!

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Don't believe me? Follow the instructions in this article to see all the ads you've recently engaged with on Facebook / Instagram. See how many of them you had completely forgotten about…

Control what's controllable

While you can't force a potential patient to take the next step in your process, you can influence them to do so.

And there's no better way to do it than email. When someone gives you their email address, they expect you to send them something. But here's the thing, the longer you wait to land in their inbox, the more likely they'll have forgotten about you!

Which is why you need an automated system to do it.

I use Ontraport –and encourage anyone who'll listen to use it– but you should be able to set an automation like this on any email marketing platform.

Setting Up Your Automated Sequence

Whenever I discuss this strategy with a doctor, there are two things they wish to know:

1. How often should follow up emails be sent?

When I first implemented this strategy I sent out Email 1 right away, then Email 2 three days later, Email 3 at the seven day mark, and then once per week for the rest of the sequence.

This worked well back in 2010 when our inboxes and our phones were not as flooded with notifications. In recent years, I've compressed the timeline and send follow up emails every other day. This works better than sending daily emails, and way better than waiting 3, 4, 5 days, or longer.

2. How many emails should be sent in total?

It's better to err on the side of too many emails, than too few.

I have been using a 6-email sequence for years as the follow up before the first milestone. Then, a 3-email sequence to follow up after they've spoken to someone in my team. In the last section of this deep-dive, I break down what each email covers and why I think 6 emails is a good number of touch points before letting them know you're not going to follow up further.

However, if you're currently not sending any follow ups, start with 2 or 3. It's better than none!

This is how I set up my automated email sequence in Ontraport but you can use the same structure in your marketing platform. If you can't, get Ontraport!

Writing your follow up emails

My 6-email sequence works really well when your sales process requires them to schedule a call or consultation before being able to sign up.

Before we had a follow up sequence, we used to see a huge drop off between requesting information and booking a consultation. Less than 2 in 10 booked a consult. And if you're buying ads, you're paying for all 10 of those visitors!

In this case, the emails have one goal and one goal only, get them to take the next step in the process.

Remember: You are not trying to sell your services at this point.

Email 1

Use this email to introduce yourself and your practice.

Keep it short and to the point. Nobody has time to read a 1000 word email. Share a little bit about you, your practice and what the next steps are. Resist the urge to give them too many options (schedule a call, follow me on Instagram, subscribe to my podcast, sign up to my newsletter…).

One call to action, clearly articulated.

Email 2

I refer to this email as the "friendly reminder".

In fact, I often use those exact same words in the opening of this email. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge you know how life can get busy so you wanted to remind them about their original inquiry.

Make this a short email, with the same clear call to action.

Email 3

This used to be an email summarizing some positive outcomes from previous patients.

And, while that worked really well (likely still does), a few years back I began instead using this email to show social proof. Case studies, testimonials (especially video testimonials), and endorsements are ideal. If you have them, this is the email to put them in.

Remember, the goal is not to sell them on your services, but to position yourself as an expert so they'll take the next step in the process.

Email 4

This is another email that has evolved in my funnels.

Originally, it was a short and sweet one with a transitional call to action. Instead of asking potential patients to schedule a call, we invited them to join our Facebook community and follow us on social media.

Recently though, after analyzing literally thousands of people who have gone through my and my clients' funnels, we noticed something else.

This email is often sent about a week after their initial inquiry. They've also received three other emails so far. By that time, if they have not taken the next step in the process, it means there's something actively holding them back.

The most likely reason? Not knowing the price. At least some ballpark figures. Followed closely by not knowing the risks, potential side effects and success rate.

So for the last 18 months or so, we have used this email to share the FAQs and it's been working really well.

Email 5

You know that lenghty email, full of references, painstakingly describing every step of your process you used to send to anyone who asked about working with you?

Well, this is where you get to send it in this sequence. It's been at least 10 days since their original inquiry and they're still not taking the next step. Which means they're either not interested or still lacking information.

In case it's the latter, here is where you give them everything.

While this email often prompts a reply from them with more questions, it rarely translates into a consultation so consider whether you want to send it or not.

Email 6

We're breaking up.

In this email, you let them know you will no longer follow up with them and any further contact is up to them.

Surprisingly, this is the most replied to email in the entire sequence so don't be afraid of sending it.


That's it.

This is the entire structure of the email sequence responsible for tripling my consultations from website visitors. All you need to do now is sit down to write each of the emails in the sequence with the right information to match your practice and schedule it in your ESP.

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If you don't have one, sign up for Ontraport and thank me later. Seriously, do it. If you do, send me a message and I'll send you a link with this exact automation, complete with landing page so you just need to copy and paste your emails.

Oh, and if you want to see the exact emails I sent out for my Age Management practice, use the link below to add them to your Google Drive.

6-Email Nurture Sequence for Medical Practices | Dr Ernesto MD
Get the exact email sequence I used to triple my consultations from website visitors.
Add immediately to your Google Drive

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