Business

Email Marketing Checklist: What to Do Before You Hit Send (HIPAA)

Email marketing campaigns, when done right, can be quite rewarding. Not only do emails allow you to reach a range of people and garner more subscribers than you may have otherwise, they’re also low-budget and, in most cases, quite user-friendly.

Before you hit that send button, though, always double-check you have everything covered in your email to convert readers to clients or customers. The following checklists provide information for both marketers and healthcare practitioners on what exactly to cover before sending off emails.

Email Marketing Checklist

  • Capture your readers with a great subject line: A terrible or generic subject line can dissuade your readers from opening your message, which you clearly want to avoid. Take time and think about how to best capture the content of your email with a short and snappy subject line.
  • A great design and layout can go a long way: It’s important your message is viewable on all devices. There’s nothing more disheartening than spending lots of time to create an HTML design that mobile users cannot see. That fails the accessibility test, which essentially means it fails to reach a significant number of your subscribers.

Fortunately, there are many HTML mobile-responsive templates available to simplify the whole process for you. You don’t need to know how to code. Also, it’s important to note here that HTML is not an absolute requirement. Text messages work just as well, offering the added bonus of conveying a more personal message, since graphics and images sometimes convey a more promotional vibe.

  • Aim for the most interesting email: Writing an interesting email requires strategy. You should have a core subject matter in your message. Cramming your copy with various unrelated points only serves to confuse your readers. Of course, your sentences should pack a punch, which you can ensure by making every word count. Proofreading for spelling or grammatical errors is mandatory. Better yet, have someone check your draft. Remember that writing an email is not an opportunity to babble. Rather, look at it as your single most important interaction with your subscribers to convert them all to clients or customers.
  • Include a call to action (CTA): In every email, you should have a clear CTA. Your objective with your CTA is to convert your subscribers from readers to clients. Offer incentives such as deals or, better yet, free products or info sheets with your CTA. Your CTA should employ graphic elements such as buttons and arrows or other form of visuals that attract your readers.
  • Avoid over-personalized emails: The goal with your copy is to get your readers to identify with your email in one way or another. They can easily toss blanket emails aside as spam, which is a waste of your money and effort.

Yet, over-personalized emails can send the wrong message to its recipient. They can seem annoying and a bit creepy, to say the least. The trick is to find a middle ground.

  • Don’t forget to segment your list: Your subscribers all differ from each other, so take those differences into account! You can base list segmentation on a number of factors, such as demographics or your subscriber’s relationship to the company, for example. Segmentation allows you to personalize your emails. You wouldn’t offer your dedicated clients the same promotions you’d offer your new leads. That shows inattentiveness to the people who subscribe to your services.

HIPAA-compliance Checklist (ePHI)

For healthcare practitioners, complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is mandatory. Many healthcare practitioners are turning to electronic communication to disseminate information more quickly. With that in mind, organizations are required to implement safeguards to secure individuals’ electronic protected health information (ePHI).

The following list applies to almost everyone touching ePHI. If you need to remain HIPAA-compliant, this list will provide you with an overview of a few important points to check before engaging with clients over the ’net.

  • Risk analysis: Before you begin, conduct a risk analysis to determine well in advance all the ways you could potentially violate HIPAA. With this, you can set up a more secure and advanced system, including steps to mitigate an issue if one arises.
  • Response and reporting: Aim to have an immediate response time to security issues and an equally immediate response to reporting the issues in question. The longer you wait to address a problem, the worse it gets.
  • Protection against malware: Malware and viruses are the worst. Not only do they crash your system, but they also compromise your security. Set up precautions to detect, guard against, and report all malicious software.
  • Contingency plans: Implement an information backup system to avoid any loss of ePHI data. Also, ensure that the backed-up data is readily accessible.
  • User authentication/identification: Everyone with access to ePHI should have unique identification, including a username and a password. Implement procedures to authenticate everyone seeking access to protect materials.
  • Automatic logoff: In the same vein as restricting access to stored information, implement procedures that terminate access after a period of inactivity. This ensures that unauthorized users can’t access ePHI information if an account is left open.
  • Audit controls: Implement a mechanism that automatically documents all email activities: the users, time, date, type of encryption, and more. Audit these activities as frequently as you deem fit.

It’s important to note here that while the HIPAA-compliance checklist provides you with an overview of things to watch for, this is only a brief summary of major points. You should look at the legal documents, and if needed, consult a lawyer for further legal advice. There are also HIPAA-compliant email hosting companies dedicated to keeping your ePHI secure; that way you won’t even need a checklist.

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LuxSci founder Erik Kangas has an impressive mix of academic research and software architecture expertise, including: undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in physics and mathematics, PhD from MIT in computational biophysics, senior software engineer at Akamai Technologies, and visiting professor in physics at MIT. Chief architect and developer at LuxSci since 1999, Erik focuses on elegant, efficient, and robust solutions for scalable email and web hosting services, with a primary focus on Internet security. Lecturing nationally and internationally, Erik also serves as technical advisor to Mediprocity, which specializes in mobile-centric, secure HIPAA-compliant messaging. When he takes a break from LuxSci, Erik can be found gleefully pursuing endurance sports, having completed a full Ironman triathlon and numerous marathons and half Ironman triathlons.

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