Whilst you might be forgiven for assuming that social media has rendered dental practice email marketing redundant, quite the opposite is actually true. Remember that in order to sign up for an account with any of the major social media sites (including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) users need to use an active email address to verify their identity.
Social media and email don’t cancel each other out as many marketers might believe; they actually complement each other in many ways. This is especially true now that so many of us are using programs that consolidate all of our messages (email, social media, text messaging and otherwise) into one ‘app’.
Indeed, in a marketing landscape that has become more detached, with AI chatbots, mass social media messaging and automated phone calls, email marketing has the potential to cut through the noise and offer something a little more tailored and personal. This is particularly beneficial for the dental industry, which has managed to nurture a reputation as an industry with a more personal touch.
Here, we’ll explain not only why your dental practice should be using email marketing in 2019, but what you should be doing to maximise its potential.
Benefits of Email Marketing for Dentists
A dental email marketing strategy should be a cornerstone of your overall marketing plan. It’s a wonderful way to not only keep on track with existing patients, but draw in referrals for prospective patients too.
Email is a technology that has comfortably weathered the test of time. People also tend to hold on to their email addresses for years, which is why they are still such valuable assets for marketers. For a dental practice looking to expand its patient base, an email address can be used either as new customer outreach or to build relationships with new patients.
Top Tips for Dental Email Marketing
Gathering Email Addresses
Gathering the email addresses you’ll use as the cornerstone of your dental practice email marketing campaigns can be a laborious task, particularly considering the GDPR regulations we all now need to negotiate. With the right tools, however, it doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth (excuse the pun)!
Signing Up – The most simple and obvious route to a new email address is to make it a necessity when new patients are signing up to the practice. This is applicable whether you are asking for information online or with physical paperwork. Always remember, however, to include an option to opt-out of receiving emails in order to comply with privacy laws.
Current Patients – If your practice has been running for a number of years, you might have patients on your books that might not have had an email address when they first signed up to the practice. In this case, when a patient comes in for an appointment, ask them if they would like to leave their email address so you can remind them of upcoming appointments and offers.
Social Media – Promoting your regular newsletter on your practice’s social media channels might net you a few referrals. On a more old-fashioned note, meanwhile, make sure you have a number of well-branded business cards printed out that you can distribute around the local area or at local events.
GDPR – As a business collecting patient data, it’s important that you acquaint yourself with the General Data Protection Regulations that came into effect in 2018. It’s part of your job as a dental practice to collect data, but understanding what data you have the right to collect and what data you don’t is key. Always include an opt-in or opt-out option when collecting data and maintain a complete and thorough record of where you obtained your information.
Dentist Marketing Emails
The emails themselves will either take the form of newsletters, email marketing for your dental practice or reminders of appointments. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep the message clear, consistent and concise.
Branding – You’ve probably spent a lot of time and money developing the brand of your dental practice. As such, you’ll want to make sure your email marketing falls in line with your existing image. This means remembering to use your company logo and any existing colour schemes and/or fonts you might regularly use. Formatting your emails in an aesthetically pleasing manner and using photos and pictures where necessary is also recommended if you want to make an impact on those with shorter attention spans.
Language – The language should be consistent with your identity, of course, but try not to be too serious. Striking a balance between conversational and formal can be difficult, but it can be achieved with practice. The subject line is arguably the most important part of the email. Make sure this is compelling, as it will be competing with the hundreds of other emails your patients (and potential patients) receive on a weekly basis. Also, remember to keep the language consistent amongst all marketing platforms and lend it a little personality if possible. People don’t respond to clinical information alone. They need to know there’s a human being sitting behind the keyboard!
Consistency – Whilst we’re on the subject of consistency; if you’re sending out regular newsletters, make sure they are always sent on the same day and at the same time every week or month. Regularly scheduling your newsletters means that receivers will start to expect it. If it’s good enough, they might even start looking forward to it!
Content – Whilst you can spend all the time in the world making your email sparkle with elaborate graphics and crafty formatting, without any actual content, it’s just an empty shell. Content typically featured in email marketing for dentists includes any current or upcoming offers, hints and tips, practical dental advice for patients, before and after pictures of recent dental treatments, tips on how to maintain oral health at home, and more.
Competitions – Competitions are also a great way to entice new patients and keep existing ones keen. The information and competition terms should be clear, concise and focused.
Formatting and calls to action– Don’t intimidate readers with vast swathes of text. Use bullet points, short paragraphs and headings to break up copy. Finally, always remember to end your emails with a call to action to encourage recipients to, well, take action on whatever it is you want them to do!
Sharing, Testing & Avoiding Spam
Whilst it’s obviously important to get the words right, drafting the perfect email is only a small part of the puzzle. Your strategy should take a more holistic approach, making sure each part of the process is perfectly tailored to achieve optimum results.
Shareability – Make your newsletters easily shareable on social media to allow your existing patients to share the information with their friends. This could lead to a few new referrals!
Mobile Marketing – Mobile-first is a phrase that’s been ingrained into the consciousnesses of countless online marketers over the last few years and with good reason. Four out of five UK citizens currently own a smartphone and many use their phones to check their emails. As such, if your emails are not optimised for all types of mobile devices (including tablets), clickthrough rates are going to suffer.
Software – Tools such as MailChimp and GetResponse will not only automate emails and social ads for you, but will make sure your messages are reaching the inbox, not the spam folder. An invaluable tool for dentist email marketing that speeds up the process.
Understanding Spam – Dental email marketing best practice means adhering to guidelines that have been set out by the CAN-SPAM Act. Rules include steering clear of misleading header information and subject lines, making sure the message is identified as an ad (if it is one), telling recipients where you’re located and giving them the option to opt-out of future messages.
Testing – Test everything to make sure you’re getting the most out of your emails. This means testing not only different images, different content and different copy in your messages, but also testing which emails are performing best. What days and times are achieving the best conversion rates? Make notes of what works and when it works, and remember to send all following emails at peak times.
Following Up Your Emails
Reminding patients to use your service should be a fundamental aspect of any dentist email marketing strategy. Putting so much effort into gathering email addresses and putting together the perfect message is all well and good, but if you don’t follow up on those messages then it was all for nothing!
Make sure your practice is always front of mind without being pushy. Remember, a dental appointment is not something people make regularly, it’s often only two or three times a year that your services will be required. This means you want to remind them that you’re there when they need you, so you are their first port of call when they require some dental work or are due for a checkup. Your hard-earned mailing lists should also be properly managed and maintained. This is valuable data that should be treasured and treated with respect.
By following these tips, your dental practice should start to notice a significant boost in the patient/practice relationship. This should, in turn, increase their chances of staying and the likelihood they will pass your practice’s information on to their friends and family members. Because even in the 21st century, word of mouth is still a remarkably powerful thing.