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Posts Tagged ‘marketing email’

Infrastructure Requirements for Marketing and Transactional Email

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

To design an appropriate email infrastructure, organizations must understand the types of emails they plan to send. Outside of regular business communications between colleagues, marketing and transactional emails are used to communicate externally with clients and customers. Although they are often lumped together, transactional and marketing emails serve different purposes and require different hardware configurations to successfully send emails with good deliverability.

marketing and transactional email

What are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails primarily contain content intended for a commercial purpose, like advertisements, promotions, or other marketing messages. Marketing emails are sent to groups of contacts that are prospects or customers to influence them to make a purchase or take a commercial action.

Some examples of marketing emails include:

  • Customer newsletters
  • Promotional offers
  • Event invitations
  • Other types of sales communications

One significant difference between marketing and transactional emails is that recipients must explicitly opt-in to receive marketing emails. It is against CAN-SPAM rules to send unsolicited marketing emails to people who have not consented to receive them. The penalties for non-compliance can be quite severe. Always allow individuals to opt out of marketing emails to stay compliant.

What are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are messages that relate to previous interactions or commercial relationships with a company. Users trigger email sending by taking specific actions, and the emails contain only information that is critical and relevant to the recipient.

Examples of transactional emails include:

  • Transaction receipts
  • Order updates and shipping notifications
  • Password resets and security notifications
  • Appointment reminders
  • Review requests

Transactional emails facilitate an already agreed-upon transaction or update a customer about an ongoing transaction. Transactional messages are exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, and recipients do not have to opt in to receive emails. For example, when someone orders a pair of sneakers online, the company does not need permission to email them when the order ships out.

How do I know if an email is a transactional or marketing message?

The email content determines whether a message is transactional or marketing. Some emails can contain both messages. We recommend asking three questions to ensure compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act:

  1. What is the primary purpose of the message?
  2. Whom is the message sent to?
  3. Is the content misleading or deceptive?

First, what is the primary reason for sending the message? If the purpose is to remind a client of their upcoming appointment, that should be evident. Organizations can include a marketing message (perhaps offering them a coupon to use on additional services at their appointment). Still, the subject line and main message should emphasize the upcoming appointment.

Secondly, is there an existing relationship between the organization and the recipient? Did the recipient willingly join a mailing list? Or purchase a product from the company? The answer, in combination with the purpose of the email, will identify what type of mailing this is.

Finally, do not try and launder marketing messages as transactional emails. Sending an email with a misleading subject line like “Your Order Status” containing little to no information about a recent order is not permitted by CAN-SPAM.

Infrastructure Requirements

Most organizations need to send both types of email. The email sending requirements for sending bulk marketing emails differ from transactional emails. Marketing emails are one message sent in bulk to a large list of recipients. For example, a list of previous customers is sent an email promotion announcing a sale on sandals. Sending one email to thousands of recipients at the same time requires different memory and CPU than messages sent on a one-to-one basis. It typically does not matter if the sandal promotion reaches the recipient’s inbox at 10:00 am or 10:15 am. The message contents are not seriously time-sensitive. In the case of a marketing email, sending volume is more important than sending speed.

On the contrary, transactional emails are sent on a one-to-one basis and can be highly time-sensitive. Emails like password resets and order confirmations must arrive in the recipient’s inbox immediately after submission. This requires a different server configuration from marketing emails because speed is more important than sending volume. Designing different server configurations for marketing and transactional email is highly recommended to achieve sending goals.

At LuxSci, we design custom server configurations to meet the volume and throughput requirements for organizations of any size.

HIPAA Requirements

Both marketing and transactional emails could fall under HIPAA regulations. Any communications that imply a relationship between a healthcare provider and a patient should be encrypted and follow HIPAA requirements. LuxSci provides both a Secure Email Marketing platform and Secure High Volume Email services to support the emailing requirements for HIPAA covered entities and their associates.

Contact LuxSci today to learn more about configuring an email infrastructure to support high volumes of marketing and transactional emails.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Email Automation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you work in a busy healthcare practice, administrative tasks can create additional costs and barriers to care. Common communications like appointment reminders, billing statements, and other external messages take a lot of time to create and send. By automating these emails, it’s possible to increase operational efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

email automation

What is Email Automation?

Email automation allows organizations to automatically send emails based on pre-determined triggers or behaviors. Receipts, shipping notifications, password resets are all common types of automated transactional emails. The main message content is created in advance. Then, variables are used to insert custom information into the template automatically. Most importantly, the email is sent when a certain action is taken. Many people are familiar with automated emails in the form of receipts. For example, you make an online purchase and a receipt is automatically emailed to you with the exact details of your purchase. Next, we explore some examples for how email automation can increase operational efficiency in the healthcare system.

How Email Automation Works

There are many ways to utilize email automation to streamline patient communications. One example is appointment reminders. This is a good message to automate because:

  1. The message is generally the same for every recipient
  2. Variables can be used to customize the content: the patient’s name and the date/time of their appointment.
  3. There is a clear event to trigger the email (the date of the upcoming appointment).

Let’s look at an example of an appointment reminder email:

An administrator creates a template with the message content and layout. It may read something like: “Hi [patient name], This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on [X date] at [X time]. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Next, connect the email program to a patient database, like an EHR or CRM. If properly integrated, it is possible to pull in the correct information to replace the variables (in brackets above) for the email recipient. For example, the if the email was sent to a patient named Jane Doe, the email program would pull in the correct details from her record to read: “Hi Jane Doe, This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on May 2, 2022 at 1pm. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Finally, set up a trigger point to instruct the email program under what conditions to send the email. For an appointment reminder, the administrator may choose to send the email one week before the appointment, so the recipient has ample time to respond.

Once the template, variables, and trigger are set up, ongoing attention from office staff is not required. Each day appointment reminder emails will be sent out when the conditions of the trigger are met.

The Benefits of Email Automation

By automating common administrative email communications, it frees up staff time to focus on patients. Many healthcare providers still have staff members call patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. By automating this task, it streamlines operations and frees up staff time to focus on other tasks more directly tied to improving patient health outcomes. Using email (and/or text message) reminders can also help decrease no-show rates and reduce the costs of rescheduling.

Email automation is just one tool that can help streamline administrative workflows, provide cost savings, and improve the health outcomes of patients.

Don’t Forget HIPAA

Automated emails like appointment reminders, billing messages, and test results all contain ePHI and must be protected under HIPAA guidelines. Review our HIPAA guidelines for email and take steps to secure systems before starting to automate and send transactional emails containing ePHI.

Get Started with Email Automation

To get started, there are a few internal questions that need to be answered.

First, identify the data source- do you have a database or EHR that contains the information needed to trigger and personalize email messages? Next, how will these emails be sent? Do you have an email marketing platform with automation capabilities? Finally, how will these messages be secured?

Once these questions are answered, LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service can help securely scale your operations. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about automating email workflows for your healthcare practice.

Why You Should Separate Your Business and Your Marketing Email Sending

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

A typical organization sends at least two distinct classes of email messages: business emails and marketing emails.

Business email consists of all of the individual, personal messages sent by sales, support, billing and other departments to specific people. These messages are generally more time sensitive and it is very important that the recipients actually receive them. These messages should not be delayed by any kind of spam filtering software, if possible.

Marketing emails are messages sent in bulk to many people at once. Examples of marketing messages include company newsletters, notifications of blog updates, promotions and ads, status notices, etc.

Separating your business and marketing emails can help ensure they are reliably delivered. Using different email servers and maybe even a unique domain name can improve your email deliverability. Here we will look at why.

Read the rest of this post »

Is Constant Contact HIPAA-Compliant?

Monday, January 6th, 2020

In a perfect world, using Constant Contact would make it easy for your business to perfect its email marketing strategy, while still staying within the narrow lanes of HIPAA regulations.

Back on earth, it may be possible to use the software and remain HIPAA-compliant, but things aren’t so straightforward.

Constant Contact HIPAA compliant

Constant Contact is renowned for its package of services, including:

  • Email templates that make it easy to design professional newsletters and other marketing materials
  • Email marketing automation
  • Marketing tools for ecommerce
  • Contact management
  • Analytic tools for tracking results

Constant Contact has a lot to offer, but is it a good choice for organizations that want to send electronic protected health information (ePHI)? Can Constant Contact be a HIPAA-compliant marketing email solution?

Is Constant Contact HIPAA-Compliant?

A cursory search of the website seems to imply that Constant Contact is HIPAA-compliant. The company even has a page dedicated to business associate agreements (BAAs), which are a critical part of compliance whenever an organization may be sharing ePHI with another entity.

BAAs are formal agreements that set out how the two parties will share the data, what protection measures need to be in place, and who is responsible for what.

The BAA page states that Constant Contact will only sign their own BAA and won’t make changes to it “under any circumstances.” This isn’t necessarily unusual for a service provider, but it could make HIPAA compliance impossible for any organization that requires alterations to the agreement. To check if the BAA is right for your company, you will need to email the legal department listed in the above-linked page for a copy.

If you think you may have found the HIPAA-compliant email marketing service you were looking for, reading on may crush your dreams. It states that you:

Should not use our systems for transmitting highly sensitive PHI (for example: mental health, substance abuse, or HIV information). Our application was not built for electronic medical records (EMR). If you have such information to send, please do not use Constant Contact.

This section is a little confusing, because HIPAA makes no mention of “highly sensitive PHI.” The law doesn’t generally differentiate between HIV results and eczema diagnoses, treating all breaches of PHI equally. This is the first red flag that Constant Contact may not be a good option for HIPAA compliance.

The BAA says that you should avoid using the service if you “have such information to send.” While the whole paragraph isn’t exactly straightforward, the only safe assumption is that Constant Contact is not HIPAA-compliant for sending PHI in email. Although the company will sign a BAA, it acknowledges that its services are not designed to secure PHI, and using them could put the data at risk.

A final major factor in this consideration is that Constant Contact does not have the ability to encrypt emails containing PHI. HIPAA requires, among many other things, that all ePHI be encrypted during transmission. This is probably why Constant Contact recommends against using their bulk emailing service for the actual sending of HIPAA-compliant emails.

Constant Contact HIPAA-Compliant Alternatives

If you are looking for a HIPAA-compliant email marketing service that is suitable for the health sector, you don’t have to despair. LuxSci provides HIPAA-compliant solutions that are built with the regulations in focus.

From our email marketing service to our secure forms, we offer solutions that can bring your company results without violating HIPAA regulations. We also keep our BAA process as straightforward as we can, to avoid the confusion that comes with some other providers.