Email marketing from 10 experts


Staying connected with loyal patients when you’re so busy taking care of the patient right in front of you!

Most therapists have helped thousands of people and have written meticulous notes in clinical records. But therapists typically do a poor job of staying connected with satisfied clients and managing our networks.

Future referrals and incomes are lost because we don’t maintain strong connections with our most precious resource–our loyal clients.

It’s not like we’re just plain stupid but we’ve never really had to really worry that much about it before. Physicians and networks normally fed us all the referrals we ever needed, sometimes too many. Well times have changed and now therapists must compete like crazy for good quality referrals.

And the truth is most therapists don’t know how!


I’ve collected the advice of 10 expert therapists on the email strategies they use to build strong connections with their patients and referral sources. Most therapists already have fantastic relationships with our patients. We just need a few tips and tools to turn them into word of mouth referrals.

My goal with the Expert Roundup Email Marketing Guide is to help you set up a simple system to send effective emails to your clients and referral sources. I want to help you send the right message to the right person at the right time to grow your practice. That process begins with having the right strategy.

The Expert Roundup Email Marketing Guide is a part of a six-part blog series I created on How To Increase Word of Mouth Referrals. In it you’ll find additional free guides and resources to help you set up a simple email marketing system for your practice.

In case you missed any of the earlier posts you can access them by clicking on one of the links below:

Intro: Word of Mouth Referrals Vs. Traditional Referrals
Step 1: Why a CRM is THE Secret Weapon for Getting Referrals
Step 2: How To Organize And Segment Your Connections Lists
Step 3: How To Automatically Send Group Emails
Step 4: How To Write Great Emails That Get Referrals
Round Up Post By Experts in Email Marketing

Email Marketing Strategies From 10 Experts



Scott Harmon

Scott Harmon-

Word of mouth referrals are the best type of marketing. From a psychological perspective, someone who receives a word of mouth referral to choose your service has been influenced and persuaded by their friends or family. Be sure to read the book Influence and Pre-Suasian by Robert Cialdini for more on this subject.
If you are giving great service and over delivering, people will naturally tell their friends and family about you. But guess what? People forget. They need to be reminded. This is where your email list comes in handy.

You can send out weekly or bi-weekly updates about your services. Remember, we are in the service business so figure out how you can be of service to those who you are emailing. Give them something…anything…of value. It doesn’t necessarily have to be directly therapy related but it does need to be helpful.

In those emails, always remind them to spread the word about your practice. Think of unique ways to ask them to spread the word. Ask them a question. “Do you have an uncle who has lower back pain? Then forward this email to them right now and tell them to click on this link for my special offer on back pain that I am running until the end of the month? All your friend has to do is mention your name to get the deal” Always have a deadline.

From the very specific question create a specific page on your practice website that corresponds to that situation. On that page focus on that condition. Tell what the benefits of receiving therapy from you are. Answer any objections they may have.  Create multiple specific pages that speak to your potential clients.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you are giving great service, people will naturally tell their friends and family about you.” quote=”If you are giving great service and over delivering, people will naturally tell their friends and family about you.- Scott Harmon”]


Joe Simon-

My best tip for email marketing for any practice is to have an email autoresponder series setup ahead of time. Once a new patient comes into your clinic, their email address is entered into the email autoresponder patient list.

I have a specific series of six emails that go out to all new patients. The new patient emails that are sent out over a period of six months with the first four emails going out in the first two months.

They are specifically timed to send three emails the first two weeks when we assume that they are coming in a couple of times per week. We explain ahead of time to patients that they will be following up with them to make sure everything meeting their expectations via emails.

The initial emails are very short with description headlines that help us ask them how they are feeling, if they have any questions or if there is anything we can do better.

Then we position the other emails to be spaced out over time to keep top of mind with patients. The last email 6 months later is the most important and asks three simple questions to renew a conversation and get back into that patient’s life again.

  1. How are you feeling?
  2. Are you still doing your routine?
  3. What else do we need to help you get better?


Email Markeint Cheatsheet



Nitin Chhoda-

The best way on using emails to increase referrals is to use what I call a push-pull approach. You “pull” the patient towards you by asking an open ended question that invites dialogue and “push” them towards taking an action that benefits your clinic. Keep it short and simple.

Here’s an example:

Hi Suzie just checking in. Can we help you in any way? By the way we are never too busy for your referrals. Do you know of a friend or family member who we can help?

If so just reply with their information and we will reach out to them to say hello”

In this case the pull is the “can we help you in any way?”. The push is the ask for the referral. Again, keep it short and simple for best results.

David Straight-

 Because of the excessive demands on a practice owner’s time, the efficiencies and affordability of email marketing should be attractive to and part of a practice’s marketing mix.

 Email marketing can be an effective way to keep in touch with past patients.  Write a provocative subject line…the objective here is to get the email opened.  Then, the goal of the email message itself, in most cases, is to get a click on a link over to your website or landing page where the information or offer is present.

Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective means to generate business. 

 We recommend sending a combination of branded messages to provide value and improve awareness of service offerings, as well as direct response messages to make offers to past patients.

 Consider communicating offers about free screenings, messages about patient appreciation events, requests to refer friends and family, and offers around wellness services like fitness or massage.


[clickToTweet tweet=”Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective means to generate business. David Straight” quote=”Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective means to generate business.– David Straight”]

Karen Litzy-

 My clientele are not interested in weekly newsletters or mass emails. They are incredibly busy, receive 100s of emails a day and often times they are not even the ones taking a first pass at their inbox.

Because of this a traditional email marketing plan will not work. But, I still want my past patients to keep me in mind to refer me to friends and family. So how can I do this without being overwhelming?

The way I use emails is:

* I send an email 2 weeks after to discharge to check in and see if they need anything or need clarification on any part of their exercise programs.

* I then send an email in a month or two as a “checking in” email.
* I also send a personalized email for birthdays
* I will also send an email if I see something that reminds me of that patients or something that we might have spoken about during our time together. This might be a research article, a video, a magazine article, etc.

The main take away here is that every email is 100% personal and meant for only that patient. I do realize it is not an automated function, which would certainly take less of my time, but I want the patients to feel that the email is only to them and completely personal.

Jarod Carter-

 Consistency is key … if you’re going to utilize email marketing, set a consistent frequency and stick to it. For example, you might email your client list once a month at the beginning of the month. Some would say that’s not frequent enough and I would tend to agree, though you don’t want to email too often either.

I think an ideal frequency (as long as you are sending out useful and relevant content) is one email every 1-2 weeks.

 Secondly, make sure your emails are not simply about the most recent special you are running, or constantly asking for referrals. Rather than asking former clients to tell someone else to come pay for my services without having experienced them before, after providing a synopsis recent blog posts and other useful info, the bottom of all my emails have the following:

Is Pain or Injury keeping you from being as active and healthy as you want?

As a valued member of the Carter Physiotherapy community, we would like to offer you a FREE “Discovery Session.” In just 20-30 minutes, we can identify the underlying causes of your pain, create a plan for getting rid of it, and start getting you back to the things you need, want, and love to do .. without limitations! If you have a colleague or loved one dealing with pain or injury, forward them this email so they can take advantage of this offer as well. Click here and find a time that works for you.



Ryan Klepps-

In working with over 750 physical therapy clinics, we have tested many ways to use email to increase referrals. I’ve found that the most effective method is to utilize your past patients to drive new evaluations.  Research shows that 50% of adults develop a significant musculoskeletal issue every year.  
Meaning, half of your past patients will benefit from PT again within 12 months of discharge.

It’s all relatively simple to set this up: all patients should be enrolled in an automated reactivation drip campaign on their date of discharge.  In this drip, you should reach out to patients every 3 months after their last visit for the first year after discharge (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months after last visit).  You should also reach out semi-annually in years 2 and 3 after discharge.

The copy of each email could and should be simple. You’re checking in to make sure they’re still pain free, and if they aren’t, make it clear that you provide complimentary consultations for all past patients.  Each email’s call to action should be a link to a landing page allowing patients to sign up for a complimentary consultation (also include your phone number if they want to call directly- just tell them to reference the email for tracking purposes).  

Once a patient completes the form, your front desk staff should call to schedule them for a 20 minute consultation.  Your job on that consultation is to identify if someone would benefit for a full course of care, and if they need PT, get them scheduled for a formal initial evaluation.

We’ve found that using a complimentary consultation as a ‘hook’ is far more effective than asking people to sign up for a new evaluation directly (it’s unsurprising that people prefer a free, no-commitment offer).  But, the people who are signing up for consults are almost always in some sort of pain, and would benefit from a full course-of-care.

On average, a single clinic location using our reactivation campaigns converts 6-8 new evaluations per quarter with this method-that’s 24-32 new evaluations per year (about $28,000 in revenue) just by setting up a single email drip.  You can use a number of email marketing softwares to implement these drips, but if you’d like the software to integrate directly with your EMR (so that it’s fully automated) check out StriveHub!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Research shows half of past patients will benefit from PT again within 12 months of discharge.” quote=”Research shows that 50% of adults develop a significant musculoskeletal issue every year. Meaning, half of your past patients will benefit from PT again within 12 months of discharge.”]


Email Markeint Cheatsheet

Aaron LeBauer

Aaron LeBauer-

My best tip for using email to increase referrals in your own business is to use an autoresponder. The email service provider I use is Active Campaign. I have a series of emails that automatically go out to all my patients. I also have a series of emails that go out to my potential patients.

Each new patient gets a specific set of emails on day 0, day 1, day 4, day 20 and so forth. The get an email when they book an appointment and after become a patient. I use emails to educate patients on the services we offer and self-treatment techniques.

 We also use emails to ask for referrals. One of the types of emails we send is like “ Help Me Help Your Friends” or something like that. In it, I’ll explain our services and the free online resources we have specifically the back pain ebook we offer. I’ll them they can help their friends by sharing the free ebook.

Another tip that I’ve found to be extremely useful is to use the P.S. of the emails to suggest that the best way that they can help friends or family is to tell them about how we have helped you. I tell them that we are a small business and it’s people like them sharing how we’ve helped them really makes the difference in our practice.



 chad madden

Chad Madden-

Basically, if you’re looking at the medium of email, you want to stay in the format of a typical email that people would open from their friends. When all of go through our email inbox there are certain emails we open and others we see as junk.

 Some of those we trash it right away, others stay unopened forever. Having said that we want to write emails that are personal and interesting so they get opened and acted upon.

 So let’s talk about one thing I seen therapists do that really hurts their open rates. It’s not just PTs but we often make this mistake. We often format it with all sorts of images, logos, and other business branding that detracts from it being a personal email to the reader.

 I think it’s great to keep it simple and personal because that’s the type of email that gets responded to by busy people. For email marketing, we use three lines and a video to deliver something useful.

 Someone can tell very quickly if it’s something they’re interested in and can click on the video to get more information. That way we don’t overload the reader with lots of words to read.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Keep email simple and personal because that’s what gets read and responded to by busy people.” quote=”Keep email simple and personal because that’s what gets read and responded to by busy people.-Chad Madden”]

Jesse McFarland-

Email is just the START of a two-way conversation with your patients.

There are a lot of key factors that go into developing an effective email campaign. We assume that most PT practice owners are aware that quality and consistent content is the first step in an email and any other content marketing effort.

But when it comes to email, the effort doesn’t begin and end with each campaign. Think of emails not as a source for one-way communication, but rather the start of a conversation.

What we mean by this is that an email serves as the beginning – not the beginning and the end – of a campaign. Your engaging and interesting content should be sprinkled with calls to action (CTAs) that link to a page on your website, whether it be a blog, a service/program page, or a specialized landing page.

These links should be dummy proof (easy to find, buttons, linked images, etc.) to appropriate pages – not just to your homepage. Specialized landing pages take a little bit more work. But if done correctly, they can provide the user a much better experience where they can find the exact information they need, and even offer additional steps that move leads closer to contacting you and, eventually, visiting your clinic.

So before you distribute any email campaign, ask yourself, “What do I want the reader to do next, and what do I want his/her user experience to be like?” Be sure you’ve built a strategy around your answer before you hit “send.”

Neil Trickett

Bonus Interview–  Neil Trickett-

When using emails for increasing referrals in your practice, it is important to keep in mind the objectives you want to accomplish. Get them to stop and open the email, get them to click on a link in the email to a more detailed page back on your website, where you can foster the referral.

Many people fail with poor open rates on their emails because they don’t spend the time on crafting a compelling, short subject line that compels the person to first open the email. 80% of the time should be spent crafting the subject line!

Make your emails look personal, even if you are mass sending. If the person thinks it is coming directly from you as a one on one email, they are more likely to act. You have to make it easy for a current patient to refer a friend, and let’s face it, no matter how much they love you, they don’t really want to SELL your services.

When you ask for a referral, you are basically doing just that, making a person sell your services. Make it easy on them to share info with their friends, and lessen the burden on them to share. If they can easily forward an email to a friend and say “hey, you should check out this free info from my PT”, then they are more likely to share that email or social post.

Ideally in your email you should have a link to a page on your website as a free report with an email capture form. You can have name, email and person that referred you to this page as a simple email capture.

In your referral email out to the patient, let them know you “loved helping them and live for helping others, please kindly share these tips I put together for friends of our patients.”

You can then let them know that if a friend comes your way, that you will personally thank the person for their referral. Use emails to boost your referrals and create a process of how you want your patient to refer a friend to you. It can be quite easy to grow your practice this way.

[clickToTweet tweet=”80% of the time should be spent crafting the subject line when writing a great email!” quote=”80% of the time should be spent crafting the subject line when writing a great email!- Neil Trickett”]


Email Marketing Strategies

These therapists have been successfully using these email marketing strategies to encourage word of mouth referrals. These email marketing strategies are all battle tested. Don’t let them sit on a shelf, take them down and put them to use in your practice.
Emailing your patients will not only strengthen positive relationships it will create a steady flow of new referrals. Get the conversation started today. If you would like to talk about email marketing in your practice contact me at and I’ll get right back to you. 

Email Marketing Guide


Paul Potter PTPaul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice. 

He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at