Email Marketing for Dentists: How to Build a Powerful Strategy
Email marketing for dentists is a fantastic marketing channel to get to know your patients better – and get them to attend their appointments.
Despite the time spent on social media and other online outlets, email marketing still has the highest ROI of any marketing channel. For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can estimate a $32 return.
McKinsey & Co says emails are 40 times better than social media for acquiring new customers.
Therefore, it’s important to have a powerful email marketing strategy to help promote your dental practice and stay in touch with clients. That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know when conducting email marketing for dentists.
4 Reasons Why Email Marketing for Dentists Works
More than 280 billion emails are sent daily. And inboxes are crowded. On average, consumers receive over 80 emails a day. Many people complain of spam, too many ads, self-promotion, and an excess of content that all looks the same.
Think about what emails you open up on a regular basis. You probably open emails that have a benefit to you, solve a problem, or answer a question.
Many people may not enjoy going to the dentist, but they have to. By focusing on email content that addresses the particular pain points of your patients, you will get results.
1. Opportunities are ripe with email marketing for dentists.
Dentistry has a ways to go in the email marketing field. According to a recent Benchmark email report:
- Only 20% of North American dental practices engage in email marketing.
- 37% of dentists say they want to start email marketing.
- 53% of practices that use email marketing have fewer than 500 subscribers.
- 13% average open rates (lower than most industries)
- 2.9% average clickthrough rates (lower than most industries)
The numbers might sound bad, but the news is good for you: there is a tremendous opportunity for email marketing in your field.
2. Email helps you stay top-of-mind.
Email marketing can help you retain your current patients simplify by reminding them that you exist. Just the act of consistent communication can boost referrals and increase the chances of first-time patients coming in for a second visit.
3. Email positions you as an expert.
Use email marketing to build your reputation in the market - especially important if you’re just starting out. By sharing content showing your knowledge and expertise in the field, patients will see you as more trustworthy. This content can be from reputable sources or your own blog. Your own words will set you apart from your local competitors.
4. Email is the easiest way to keep your patients up-to-date.
Anytime something changes in your office - new employees, new products, new services - email marketing is the simplest way to get the word out. This can be shared in the form of a weekly, biweekly or monthly email.
If you’re consistent with the emails you put out, your patients will come to expect news from you when you have it. This, in turn, will increase your open rates.
5. Email gets you more web traffic on a consistent basis.
An email marketing strategy will drive more regular traffic to your website. The more traffic is driven to your site, the more this signals to search engines how reputable your website is. A good email strategy can help potential patients find you in Google - a huge plus!
Keep Your Patient In Mind When Doing Email Marketing for Dentists
As with any other marketing channel, if you want success, you need a strategy. And a good strategy starts with goals.
What are your goals with email marketing?
- Get more patients
- Get more repeat appointments
- Stay in better contact with your patients
A solid email strategy will get you toward accomplishing any of them. And it’s important to revisit this strategy since the world of email marketing is evolving every year. What worked 5 years ago definitely doesn’t work anymore.
Identify your target audience.
All marketing starts with the target audience: your patient. Answer these questions in your strategy:
- Who are my current best patients?
- What qualities do they have in common?
- Why did they come to me, and how?
- What problem does my patient have, and how do I solve it?
- What do I do that my competition doesn’t?
Think about your patient’s values, beliefs, and what really makes them tick. If you want to establish real relationships with your patients, you should know them inside and out.
If you aren’t making a regular habit of surveying your current patients on a regular basis, this is a good time to do so.
Decide what you will measure.
One of the most amazing aspects of email marketing (and all digital marketing!) is the sheer amount of data you can analyze with each campaign.
An incomplete list of data metrics you should track:
- Opens / open rate
- New subscribers
- Clicks / click-through rate
- Time spent viewing the email
Every campaign needs something measured. What do you want to achieve at the end of your campaign? Maybe you want to build a bigger list or increase your rates of engagement. What you want to achieve will determine what metrics you should keep your eye on.
This decision on what you measure is a key performance indicator (KPI).
Pick the right tool for your marketing needs.
You don’t have time to email each individual patient. You’ll need an email marketing service to help you build, send, organize, and track your emails.
There are dozens of major providers on the market - which one you choose depends on your budget, and what features and functionalities you absolutely need.
Some of the most popular email providers include MailChimp, Constant Contact, SendInBlue, AWeber, and ActiveCampaign.
Start by researching the best email providers for small businesses. This ensures you get the options you need while getting some advanced features tailored to you. Some offer a free trial.
Don’t forget to contact your network of marketers and ask what they recommend. Hiring a digital marketing agency will also give you access to counsel from experts.
Build a good list - organically.
You’ll need a solid contact list to grow your email marketing efforts. The more users you have, the wider your message spreads and the more segmentation options you’ll have.
Your website and social media channels will drive most of your online subscriptions.
- Update your blog, or create content your customers care about. Include a call-to-action that asks for their email address - plus any other data you’ll need.
- Have an opt-in form at the header and footer of your website.
- Use your social media accounts to awareness of your emails and drive subscriptions. Most email marketing services make it easy to share your emails on popular social media platforms.
- Add an email pop-up form using programs such as Sumo to your dental website to capture visitor information.
There are plenty of ways to get opt-ins offline, too:
- Every time a new patient fills out paperwork, ask for an email address.
- After each appointment, ask the patient if they’d like to stay updated via email.
- Create an email sign-up sheet. Bring it to every community event you attend.
- Set up an educational booth with free swag or big giveaway, in exchange for an email address.
Once you build a healthy email list, you’ve got to keep it clean. Make a note to check your lists at regular intervals. If your provider doesn’t do it automatically, be sure to get rid of any inactive or unsubscribed users on your list. You’ll see your overall engagement levels drop if you keep holding onto low-quality contacts.
When you’re starting out from 0 subscribers, it might be tempting to purchase an email list.
Don’t do it!
A lot of contacts in purchased email lists are fake and won’t give you any value. And if you send too many emails to contacts who send your emails straight to their Spam folder, your domain will have a bad reputation among email providers.
Today, we have enough data and information on users that we have the ability to reach the right person at the right time.
Segmenting will make your email marketing more effective. According to an internal Mailchimp study, segmented campaigns have:
- 14% higher open rates on average
- 101% more clicks on average
- 9% lower unsubscribe rates on average
You can start by segmenting your customers based on:
- Their location: If you have multiple locations, this is an absolute must.
- Their behavior on your website: (e.g. filling out a contact form, visiting a certain page)
- How long they’ve been on your email list: This is a good way to separate more engaged users from less engaged users.
- Their dental insurance provider: This will enable you to deliver separate messages to users of a particular provider.
You can even expand your segmentation to include users who just want a certain type of email or frequency of email updates. It all comes down to what your patient wants.
Your segments will help you determine the types of emails you want to send.
Decide on the types of emails you want to send.
Some popular email formats:
- New patient survey. Learn more about survey questions you can ask.
- Dental tips pulled from your blog.
- Special one-off announcements or promotions.
- Monthly newsletter with updates about the practice and/or new content to share.
Most jump into email marketing for dentists with a newsletter.
The newsletter is a very popular format for email marketing. Subscribers receive the newsletter at regular intervals, keeping your dental practice top-of-mind for all of your subscribers.
If you feature regular content updates on your website, a newsletter is a great format to let people know about it. Successful newsletters are about 90% information, 10% promotion.
Try to stick to a single theme or idea to keep your newsletter content focused.
A more advanced type of email campaign is the drip campaign.
A drip campaign is a series of emails sent to users on a schedule in order to move them down the marketing funnel. Since you want these emails to reach each individual user at a particular time, your email marketing service will need automation capabilities.
Here’s a simple example: your goal is to get a user to return for an appointment because they haven’t visited the dentist in a year. You could send out a series of 3 emails, separated by two weeks:
- Personalized message to your patient, like “we miss you.”
- A link to some useful informational material, i.e. “why you should see your dentist every 6 months.”
- An email with contact information and an invitation to fill out an appointment form on the website.
More advanced drip campaigns can involve emails triggered by specific actions users take in your email or on your website.
Determine your send frequency.
If you send your emails during the most strategic days and times, you’ll see better open rates and engagement.
The best send dates and times depend on your subscriber list. So the only way you’ll truly know is to test various times.
But most email marketers can agree on these rules of thumb:
- Late mornings. 10 am is the most popular time to send emails.
- Early mornings. 6 am is a good time to hit users who begin the day emailing in bed.
- Mid-afternoon. 2 pm is when people hit a wall at work and start looking for distractions.
- Mid-late evening. 8 pm could be a good time to attract users checking their email before bed.
As for days of the week, studies show Tuesday as the strongest day for email engagement, followed by Wednesday and Thursday. Avoid the weekend if your goal is user engagements.
Certain email marketing platforms like MailChimp offer to calculate the best time to send out an email for you based on data and algorithms. This is called send time optimization.
Send as many emails as you need to send, depending on your goals and how frequently you post content. However, be sure to not bombard your users with multiple messages a day. Space out your emails throughout the week.
Plan how to deliver quality content in your emails.
Content is at the core of your email strategy. Even a dental practice with limited budget and resources can have a monthly blog. Not only do blogs help your website perform in search engines, but your blogs can also be repurposed in your monthly newsletters. Now your newsletters can help you drive the web traffic that will improve your practice’s standing in search engines - bringing more brand new potential patients to your site.
Content that resonates with your patients will most likely answer a question they have, or solve a problem.
Make sure your content has that personal touch. Write like you are writing a personal message to your patient (you are). Don’t be afraid to tell a meaningful story.
Be mindful of your reputation.
You’ll need a good sender reputation to keep your emails from landing in the Spam folder and your domain from the blacklist.
There are hundreds of variables taken into account when an email is categorized as Spam. But you can follow these steps to avoid it:
- Don’t blast out all your emails to the entire list
- Choose an email provider with a good reputation.
- Send emails with content relevant to your subscribers.
- Use a double opt-in to avoid adding fake emails or typos. A double opt-in will send a confirmation email to the subscriber confirming they actually want to sign up.
Email Marketing for Dentists: Elements of a Great Email
A good way to learn good email marketing is to analyze the marketing emails you receive. Look for these features in the best marketing emails:
Research shows personalized emails get an average of 14% improvement in clickthrough-rate and a 10% jump in conversions.
You should already be using your subscriber’s name in your email - the to: field, the body, even the subject line.
Address your subscriber. Talk directly to them, instead of just talking about yourself.
Advanced email automation can give you a lot of personalization options, allowing you to mention previous activity they’ve taken in your practice or items they were looking at on your site.
Subject lines that stick.
Don’t discount the utmost importance of the subject line!
Emails with personalized subject lines receive 26% more opens.
It’s the first thing your subscriber sees and ultimately determines whether the email will get opened or not.
There’s no magic formula to create a winning subject line. Many factors are involved, like the content of your message, what you want your customer to do, and to what segment your message is being sent.
- Keep subject lines short - preferably 50 characters or less. As more emails are being read on a mobile device, you have less real estate.
- Ask a question or call to a conversation with the reader.
- Stay away from sounding very sales-like and using spammy words like “FREE” or anything related to money.
- Don’t mention dates or days of the week.
A good looking design.
Beautiful emails drive action. It can be easy to focus on the messaging of our content and pay less attention to the look and feel of the email itself.
But you are promoting your brand with every email. Create a visual environment like your dental office - fun, relaxed, and family-friendly. Try and match the look of your website and other channels.
Follow these key principles of good design:
- Use a good amount of white space to make your text and graphics easier to read.
- Feature good photography, such as photos of your office. If you’re talking about particular products or procedures, use before/after shots.
- Use colors that catch the eye
- Stay on-brand
While your content inside the email can differ, it’s wise to use a consistent base template for all your emails. Include:
- Your name, or your practice’s name. Your logo.
- All of your contact information, easily available in the head or footer.
- A call-to-action.
Elements you can easily A/B test.
A/B testing is your friend. It can help you optimize the specific goals you have for your email marketing, or it can a failing strategy back on track.
With each email you create, think of elements you can swap out to see which variations perform the best:
- The subject line. Test different messages to see which one gets the most opens.
- Call-to-action. See which ones drive the best click-through rate.
- Font-size / color. Test these to optimize the time spent reading your emails.
- Images. Which kinds of graphics drive clicks?
- Headlines. A good headline can affect whether or not a user reads to the end.
- Amount of content. Determine the type of emails your subscribers prefer reading.
Give your campaign a week to build up user data, then analyze the metrics. Your email provider will separate out the results for each variation in its reporting.
Any decent email provider will give you a variety of A/B testing options.
A layout optimized for mobile readers.
It’s healthy to assume your email will be read on a mobile device. 72% of online adults send and receive emails on their mobile devices. It makes sense -- most people read emails when they have leisure time, or when they’re on the go.
Make sure you optimize your content and design for mobile readers.
- Use a responsive email template to ensure your email will fit most screens.
- Stick to a single-column template.
- Break up your text with short sentences and paragraphs.
- Use appropriately sized CTA buttons.
- Increase link size.
- Don’t stack links.
An email that follows the rules and makes it easy to unsubscribe.
Nobody likes it when a user unsubscribes, but it happens. Make unsubscribing easy, and you’ll lower the risk of being flagged for Spam.
Unsubscribes ultimately benefit you in the long run. Your clickthrough rate and open rates will improve overall. An unsubscribe can show you a part of your email strategy that needs some extra work.
Plus, who wants to keep uninterested people on their contact list, anyway?
An automated email that hits the right person at the right time.
To get the most out of your email marketing, consider adding automation to your marketing toolbox. Most major email marketing services have automation function built-in.
Automation is a no brainer for keeping dental patients updated:
- Send a welcome email to each new patient with your contact information and a friendly message.
- Send appointment reminder emails. Send one a month before, and another one a week before. Offer contact information so the patient can cancel or reschedule if necessary.
- Send a followup email after each appointment. Invite feedback via email, or promote social channels.
- Send a survey email within a year of signing up.
- Send a “happy birthday” email on each subscriber’s birthday. Offer a coupon or discount.
Need Help With Email Marketing for Dentists?
There is a big opportunity in email marketing for dentists. A good strategy can help you forge better relationships with your patients, keep them more informed, and help promote good health to all your subscribers.
Pacific54 is here to help your dental practice build its first email strategy and get you the results you need. Call or email today and let’s start the conversation!