The dental field has undergone some major shifts in the last 10 years. Between changes in insurance regulations and an increased interest in cosmetic dentistry, those in the field are left constantly searching for the way to reach out to potential clients that will land them in the dental chair.
It is estimated that there are nearly 200,000 practicing dentists in the United States. This is a big number, but there still seems to be a void in the dental market. Just look at this graph of the percentage of people that sought an annual dental visit over a ten-year period.
Not even half of all adults go to the dentist regularly. What does this mean for you as a member of the dental industry?
It means that there is an incredible untapped market that you can appeal to with the right marketing strategy. Email is a great tool for making this happen.
Guide to Email Marketing for Dental Professionals
What is the one thing that must exist in a successful dentist/patient relationship? Trust. A feeling of trust is essential for connecting to your patients. But, did you know that building that trust starts before they ever sit in your chair?
An effective email campaign can build patient trust in several ways.
- It allows the patient to become familiar with you, even before they enter your office.
- It puts them at ease because they can learn about your experience, education, awards, etc.
- Builds your reputation as an expert
There is no question that email can be one of your best tools for building your practice. The only question is how to do it effectively. Here are the top tips, templates and tools for building a successful dental email campaign.
Build a Subscriber List Online
Before you can start an email marketing campaign, you need to have recipients to send your newsletter to. Your first resource for this list should be through digital sources.
Does your practice have an up to date site? If it doesn’t, then you need to build one now because this is going to be one of your top resources for building your subscriber list. Include a strong CTA that encourages visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. Consider offering a perk for signing up, such as a discount on dental services.
Your second source for building a subscriber list should come from social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a sign-up option on all your social media sites.
Increase Your Recipient List Offline
As a dentist, you have great opportunities to add people to your subscriber list right in your own office. When new patients come in for an appointment, you can ask them to provide their email address on their paperwork. If you don’t already have email addresses for your current clients, you can ask them to share theirs when they schedule their next office visit.
Look for other opportunities in the community to attract new subscribers. Community health events are a great medium for educating the public, establishing your expertise and inviting new visitors to subscribe to your email. Also, never underestimate the value of a free incentive. Those free toothbrushes you hand out at your office? Bring them along as an incentive for new subscribers.
Enter Information Accurately
This seems like common sense, but clerical errors can kill your email campaign.
If you are collecting email addresses offsite, make sure that each email you gather is clearly legible and ask for clarity if it is not. Better yet, enter email addresses digitally as you receive them. This will help to eliminate the chance of error in transmission.
Secondly, make sure that email addresses are confirmed as part of the check in process at your practice. Confirming email should be as second nature as confirming addresses and phone numbers for your office staff.
One way to prevent your messages from being mistaken as spam is to request that people opt-in to receiving your emails. All you have to do is ask new subscribers to click a link that confirms they want to receive newsletters from you. This is the equivalent of you being whitelisted.
Choose an Email Service Provider
Once you have built your subscriber list, the essential step is choosing an email service provider that can handle the volume of emails that you will be sending out.
A good email service makes sending out large batches of emails a snap. As a dentist, there is one more thing that you need to consider and that is security. Even if you aren’t communicating sensitive information in your bulk emails, you still owe it to your patients to take every measure possible to prevent your practice from any type of cyber-attack.
Stick with reputable email service providers like Mailchimp and AWeber. Other features to consider when considering an email service are featured services, fees, scalability, and customer service.
Select a Template
Depending on the email service provider you choose, you’ll have several email templates to choose from that range from pretty basic to themed templates that are more complex in features. If you’re new to email marketing, it’s generally a good idea to stick with a user-friendly template at least until you’re comfortable using your chosen email platform.
No matter what kind of template you choose, it needs to have certain elements. These things include a subject line, the name of your practice, your contact information, a call to action informing your readers what you want them to do and possibly a picture or two.
This is a great example of a clean looking, attractive email template that is also optimized for mobile users.
Another trend that we are seeing email marketing is the movement toward text only, personal looking emails. Here is a template of how a dental practice can format a more personal looking email.
Set Up Follow Ups
A follow up is a series of messages that you’ll send to new subscribers. These messages will familiarize new email recipients with your practice. You can also use follow ups to share some helpful hints about teeth whitening, preventing cavities or another subject your audience will find interesting.
Set a Newsletter Schedule
What is one of the most important tools for a successful dental practice? A schedule. You would be nowhere without one. Seems pretty basic, right? But, you would be surprised how many practices neglect the importance of a schedule when building their email marketing strategy.
Subscribers are going to expect some sort of regularity with your emails.
First, decide how often you are going to send out emails. Once or twice a month is a good place to start. This is frequently enough that it keeps subscribers engaged, but not so frequently that they become annoyed.
Time between email blasts also gives you the time you need to create quality content that is relevant to your audience.
Secondly, don’t miss a post. If you happen to skip a month here and there you are only sending the message that you are inconsistent, which doesn’t mesh well with the professional image you are aiming to achieve. Which brings us to…
Keep Your Word
If you told your subscribers that you were going to send a newsletter monthly, then that’s what you need to do to maintain trust. Remember, trust is critical to the relationships you have with your patients and prospects so it’s imperative that your subscribers receive emails from you when they expect them. If you fail to deliver when you promised you would, it may cast doubt on your practice.
Pick Your Content
As a dental professional you plenty of options for creating relevant content that will engage your readers. Your content needs to be current, engaging, and of value to your subscribers. Here are just a few ideas of great content ideas to get you started.
- Oral health tips
- Advice for parents to help teach their kids the importance of dental care
- Causes of oral health diseases
- Q&A of common dental questions
- Highlights on special services, especially cosmetic dentistry, including discounts or incentives for booking a service
- Information about new dental technologies
- Promotion of upcoming events
- A feature on office staff
While you’ll send your newsletter to your subscribers on a regular basis, you can also send broadcasts to your email recipients on occasion. A broadcast is a one-time announcement or promotion that occurs between your regularly scheduled emails.
You can tie a broadcast in with a seasonal event like a free cleaning after Halloween or you can use one to announce a deal you’re running through a coupon site like Groupon. When it comes to using broadcasts, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Promote Your Blog
If you already have an active blog that discusses many of the topics you’d include in a newsletter, you may want to skip the newsletter and send your subscribers regular blog broadcasts instead. A blog broadcast will convert your most recent blog post into an email and send it to your email recipients automatically.
If you don’t want to forgo a newsletter, you can use blog broadcasts as informative supplements so you won’t have to create a new newsletter as often.
Segment Your Subscribers
It’s highly unlikely that all your patients have the same oral health concerns. You can send even more targeted information to specific groups by segmenting your list of subscribers.
You wouldn’t necessarily want to send information about denture care to your 20 or 30-year-old patients, would you? By breaking your subscribers into defined groups, you can fine tune the information you’re sharing even more.
- Family Dentistry
- Cosmetic Dentistry
- Dental Surgery Patients
- Annual Visits
- Potential Customers
Just like you review financial statements to gauge how your practice is doing, you should review metrics related to your email marketing campaign to measure its success. Your email service provider should provide access to KPIs for free.
While there are many metrics to look over, the three you should pay the most attention to are your open rate, your click through rate and the number of people who’ve unsubscribed from your newsletter.
As you go through your analytics, you may see that some people simply refuse to open your emails despite having signed up to receive them. Because they expressed an interest in hearing from you at some point, these people are still a potentially valuable source for business.
You can try to reconnect with these individuals by sending them a special broadcast. You can include a survey in your broadcast to determine why they’re not opening your newsletters or a special offer to entice them to visit your office.
Sometimes, it’s simply not practical for dentists to run their own email marketing campaigns because they’re just too busy with patients. If that sounds like you, use UpCity to find a local digital marketing agency that has experience with dental email marketing. Find your local digital marketing partner now.