Does email marketing really work? The short answer is yes!
Hundreds of billions of emails are sent every day, some of which are probably in your inbox right now. Even though it’s one of the oldest forms of electronic communication, it’s still widely used – 90% of internet users in the US send at least 1 email a month.
Email is a very attractive method of marketing because it’s completely free. Why spend hundreds of dollars trying to acquire new patients through advertising when a reminder email to your database can fill up your schedule at no cost? Don’t get me wrong; advertising is still important. My point is that advertising makes the most strategic sense when you already have an effective no-cost email strategy in place.
I’ve put this blog together to highlight the best practices you can use to influence your database to not only open your emails, but to read and find value from them. This whole article could be summarized with one question: Am I providing value to my patients with this email?
So with that in mind, here are 8 email marketing best practices your dental clinic should follow.
1. Be Professional
Nothing kills your brand credibility like a poorly-formatted email. Trust in a brand is one of the most important elements when it comes to retaining patients’ business.
A few ducks to always have in a row:
- Make sure the colours match your brand
- Use a few images that reflect your brand – avoid looking spammy
- Make sure the text is readable
- Make sure all images load properly
- Keep everything aligned and tidy
Before your email goes out to patients, send a test email and check it on multiple devices. Most emails are opened on mobile devices nowadays so don’t you dare forget to check it on mobile before sending a large blast.
2. Stay Classy, Subject Line
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR NEW INVISALIGN SERVICES!!!!! PLUS CLAIM YOUR FREEEEEE GIFT!!!!!
While the example subject line above may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, the principle is the same; your subject line cannot be unprofessional. If you use an exclamation point in the subject line, the email content had better be exciting enough to merit it. And even then, there is never any circumstance that requires more than one exclamation point.
Misleading your email readers with clickbait or dishonest subject lines will have your patients annoyed, and annoyed patients aren’t loyal patients. And let’s be honest; dishonesty is not a trait people look for in a medical professional.
Here are some subject lines I love:
- [First name], it’s been a year since your last checkup
- 5 Tips to Improve Oral Health
- Are veneers right for you?
In case you were wondering, the jury is still out on whether or not you should capitalize each word of the subject line. As a rule of thumb, capitalizing gives a professional feel whereas sentence case gives a personal feel. Choose whichever one fits your brand and content tone.
3. Too Many Calls-to-Action Will Overwhelm Your Reader
Look, I know that your practice is awesome. If I got your email linking me to bios on your amazing dentists, your botox services, your kid zone, which insurance companies you work with, and your daughter’s straight-A report card, I would gladly read them all with intense admiration.
Unfortunately, not everyone in this short-attention-span world can handle so many calls-to-action or CTAs. A CTA is a directive or instruction your content issues to the reader. For example: Call today. Buy now. Visit our north location. Find us on Facebook. Et cetera.
To keep your CTAs from overwhelming your reader, you’ll probably need to simplify your intentions for the email. Keep your emails focused on one or two goals. This will drastically improve your interaction rates. What would be even better is repeat the same CTA multiple times. This layout is an awesome example of how that might work:
Content: Explanation of something that adds value to the reader’s life
CTA: Learn More Now (link to a webpage that offers more information)
Content: Another benefit of the thing that gives value to the reader
CTA: Continue Reading….(link to that webpage again)
Content: Even another benefit of the thing that gives value to the reader
CTA: Click To Discover How This Benefit Can Help You (link to that same webpage)
You get the idea.
4. All Images & No Text Makes Email a Dull Boy
Maybe you have a talented graphic designer on your team. They craft these beautiful image assets that come together to form a veritable Sistine Chapel of emails.
This looks gorgeous to humans, but to the bots that scan all emails to determine whether or not it’s spam, all they see is an email of images. In most cases, bots consider emails that only contain images to be spam.
Images are still fine to use. But make sure you actually type out any text. If you have to use only images, you can add ALT text to the image for the sake of the email bots.
We can follow best practices, but every dentist’s database is different. As such, it’s worthwhile to find out what messaging resonates with your patients and create your own best practices. The best way to do this is to experiment.
Most email software has A/B testing functionality built in. This lets you create two versions of an email; sending one to half of your database and the other to the remaining half.
One test we’ve run is having a question mark vs. an exclamation mark in the subject line:
Version 1: Check out our Kids Zone!
Version 2: Have you checked out our Kids Zone?
When testing subject lines, the main metric to look for is open rate, or how many recipients opened the email. Whichever version has the higher open rate is the winner.
It’s also important to keep a record of your learnings to be used later. Call it “My Dental Email Marketing Guide,” and have entries like “Questions as subject lines tend to be opened more than statements with exclamations” if and when you have enough data to support that claim.
6. Pick the Right Email Service
Which email provider is the best? I tend to prefer ones that are integrated with whatever CRM I’m using. For example, if you use SolutionReach, you may find value in using their newsletter service as it is already connected with your patient database.
If you don’t like what your CRM has to offer, MailChimp is always a safe choice.
7. Respect the Law
Did you know the email police exist? They monitor all domains that send emails and flag them if they seem suspicious. Oh, and they don’t eat donuts…they eat cookies (cue whomp-whomp horn).
If your emails have a high bounce rate (sent to faulty email address), don’t get clicked on, or get flagged as spam often, your emails will start finding their way into junk folders instead of actual inboxes. In extreme cases, you can be completely blocked from sending emails. The internet police (ISPs) use bots to determine these things and they don’t miss much.
If you want to prevent being blocked, you’ll need to follow the laws of emailing:
- Only contact those who have given you consent to do so. This includes existing patients and anyone who has opted in to receive communications from you. A “contact us” form on your website would be sufficient for this
- Make sure you give the option to unsubscribe within the email
- Never buy email addresses – only obtain them legitimately
- Don’t send too many emails too often
- Provide value within the emails you are sending
Which leads perfectly into our last rule…
8. PROVIDE VALUE
The all-encompassing and immutable law of email marketing: provide value. Really get into the mind of your reader, because what’s interesting to you certainly isn’t interesting to them.
So many emails are about the business or medical side. Check out my product. Look at my services. Look at this award I won.
They don’t care!
Make sure the content of the email is interesting and useful to your reader. Look at how this product can change your life. Why you should be interested in these services. Thank you to patients like you for voting for us to win this award – you mean the world to us.
You can talk about the same topics, but you need to make it about the reader in order to get their buy-in.
What are some email ideas that would be valuable to your patients? Here a few you can steal:
- Highlight a community event or cause you are supporting that your patients can relate to
- Announce any promotions or deals you’re running
- Showcase an oral transformation (especially if it was a pro bono one)
- Ask for online reviews but offer an incentive like a chance to win free teeth whitening (note that the regulatory body in your region may not allow this. Double check before choosing this one.)
- Educational information regarding oral health
- New improvements to your office, offerings, technology, etc. (Again, some regulatory bodies won’t allow you to talk about the technology you’re using, so be cautious.)
- Recall reminders (if you aren’t doing this through RecallMax, you’re doing it wrong).
To Sum It All Up
Email has been around forever (by which I mean since 1972), and it’s here to stay. It’s like that ageless uncle that always shows up and you can’t get rid of him, for better or worse.
Hate it or love it, it is undeniably a tool that you should be using in your marketing and recall efforts. Follow the best practices, provide value to your readers, and you’ll generate a steady stream of revenue at virtually no cost.
That’s something worth writing emailing home about.