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Angus Pryor is founder and CEO of Dental Profit System, a full-service marketing agency in New South Wales, Australia. He is also an international speaker, author and host of "Marketing Monday."
Delivering good marketing messages can give your patients valuable information – and bring your practice more business.
While marketing methods like video and social media marketing are getting a lot of attention, there is a ‘quieter’ marketing technique that’s potentially just as efficient and costs next to nothing: email marketing.
We’re living in the digital age where everyone owns at least one or two email addresses. And in an increasingly competitive world, every dental practice tries to make its business stand out and get its message across. Research has shown that an average consumer may be exposed to as many as 10,000 marketing messages a day.
So, how do you deliver a captivating message through your email campaigns?
Email is not dead
First and foremost, it’s important to note that email is not dead. Just because we live in a world of 280-character tweets and 5-second videos, it doesn’t mean long-form writing is dead. Email is still as alive as ever and remains an effective, affordable communication tool for everyone.
Hence, it is important to capture email addresses from your existing patients and from visitors to your website. To do the former is simply a matter of asking for them. To do the latter, you’re going to need a specific offer on your website and a call to action. It can be a giveaway, a free training video, a special report, etc. The key is to produce something that speaks to your audience and their needs, rather than something that is too dentistry-focused.
To speed up the process of figuring out which offers are most attractive to prospective clients, you can ‘split test’ the offers. There is software that allows you to have two versions of your website running simultaneously where the only difference between the two versions (in this case) is your two different offers. Once the testing is done, keep going with the winning offer.
The money is in the list
In direct marketing circles, there is an expression, “the money is in the list.” Basically, what this alludes to is that while you may be able to sell a client once on the ‘front end,’ the client’s email address allows you to sell to them again and again and again (on the ‘back end’).
With that in mind, it just becomes a numbers game. The more email addresses you have, the more sales you make. Some direct marketers know to a fraction of a percent what kind of return they can expect from sending out an email.
For example, if a business has 10,000 people on a mailing list, they will know that usually 1 percent (100 people) will take the first offer, 0.25 percent (25 people) will take the second, higher offer and 0.1 percent (10 people) will take the highest offer, etc. In this scenario, the bigger the list, the higher the number of sales.
Of course, these principles are all well and good for direct marketers, but how does this translate to dentistry? I’m yet to meet a dentist with a mailing list of tens of thousands of people, but there’s no reason why dentists shouldn’t have mailing lists of at least 1,000 people.
Ideally, run two separate mailing lists (this is pretty easy to do with auto-responders such as MailChimp) – one for existing clients and one for prospective clients. The messages you want to send to these two groups should be quite different.
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Engage, engage, engage
Now that you have a list of emails, what is the next step? You need to use it well and engage with your audience. First of all, your email will need a strong headline to captivate people’s attention and get them to open it.
This point can’t be overstated. Spend at least as much time thinking about your headline as the content of the email. In this regard, be aware that not everyone is going to open the bulk email you send out. These so-called ‘open rates’ can vary enormously.
As a case in point, with the emails we do for our clients, the best headlines have experienced ‘open rates’ of more than double those of the worst headlines! Headlines that have hard numbers (i.e., ‘5 ways to…’, ‘The top 10…’ etc.) tend to have better open rates.
Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that the content of your email must be about your patients, not your business. Don’t write and brag about how many qualifications you’ve earned or how successful your dental practice is.
Instead, think about what value you can bring to your patients. What solutions are you bringing to their problems? What is the result they will get from your services? Your audience -- your patients -- need to be at the center of your marketing messages.
And if anything is topical, use it. For example, find a way to link your message to a current public health issue or a time of year (e.g., ‘How to eat as much chocolate as you want over the holiday season without damaging your smile’).
Have an easy opt-out
You’re engaging with your audience, and that’s great, but don’t be a spammer and send them emails every other day. If written with your patients in mind, an email once or twice a month is more than enough to get your message across.
For those who do not want to continue receiving your emails, they can always choose to opt-out. Make sure the opt-out process is just as easy as when people opt-in.
You can also try to find out the reasons for their unsubscribing by doing a short survey at the end of the opt-out page. This way, you can improve your email campaigns and deliver better quality content.
Email marketing is just like any other kind of marketing, which means it takes time, effort and some serious brainstorming to get a good result. Delivering a good marketing message that stands out among thousands of others is never easy. However, once done right, it will not only add values to your patients’ lives but also bring in more business to your practice.