Dental Recall Strategies: How to Run a Recall Campaign (That Actually Works)

These tips for rethinking your dental recall campaigns and the five types you should be implementing will help boost recall and make that list more manageable.

Running a successful dental practice means learning how to master the art of patient recall. It is the heartbeat of your office that helps patients keep appointments and helps you keep patients for life.

But let’s face it, every practice has that list — the intimidating, too-long list of patients who have gotten lost in the shuffle.

It’s easy to push this aside or rely on old dental recall methods, but with innovative new ways to connect, there are more opportunities than ever to strategically keep your chairs full.

Know Your Audience

Recall campaigns are never one-size-fits-all. As technology continues to widen the age gap, the ways people communicate are changing.

Take a step back. Think like your patients, and then segment them into different recall groups. This will save you time and resources in the long run.

For example, a flyer sent to a 27-year-old you haven't seen in six years is almost guaranteed to get lost in the mail. Likewise, a text sent to an elderly patient might be confusing or bothersome.

To bypass any chance of these occurrences, collect contact preferences info during patient intake. Give patients the ability to rank their options or opt-out for certain services.

This is the best way to effectively reach your patients in the way they like to be contacted.

This is also a good opportunity to do a little pre-marketing!

Make sure they know exactly what they will be getting and why it is a great idea (save paper, schedule appointments right on your phone!).

Get Your Timing Right

Timing is everything when it comes to getting a patient's attention.

Whether you are trying to reactivate a lost patient or send a dental appointment reminder, the day of the week and time of day can often determine whether or not your message gets through.

For phone calls, shoot for Wednesday or Thursday afternoons. Studies show this is sweet spot when people are less focused on work but not yet focused on the weekend. For that reason, they're more likely to take your call.

Emails are best to send around 10 a.m. midweek.

Text messages should be sent during the day in between rush hours.

When setting up appointment reminder recall campaigns, send your message on the day and time of week during the weeks leading up to the appointment. This is a subtle way to help patients remember the specific time of day for their upcoming visit.

Timing such as this is best crafted with an automatic recall system, which can help do the work for you!

Repeat the Message without Sounding Repetitive

Studies have proven again and again that repetition is key to getting patients back in the chair. Anywhere from 7 to 10 touches (i.e. points of communication) are standard for getting your message across.

This might sound like a lot, but you will have several opportunities, both before and after a patient makes an appointment, to send your message.

Be sure to vary your messaging and scatter your communication through different mediums — those are strategies all the dental pros use.

And as you increase your messaging, consider these five dental recall campaigns. These strategies are a great place to start with any extensive recall campaign.

5 Successful Dental Recall Campaigns

1. Snail Mail

As we have officially settled into the digital age, most marketers have moved away from traditional paper mail.

However, snail mail still has its uses, particularly for dental practices catering to the 40+ age crowd.

What to send

  • Paper newsletters
  • Postcard appointment reminders
  • “Welcome to the Neighborhood” brochures

When to send it

Mailings often represent long-range marketing initiatives. Sending something in the mail shows you are investing in that patient and helps build a long-term relationship.

General recall mailers should only be sent every three months or so.

Postcard appointment reminders should be sent around three weeks before an appointment.

2. Email

Email marketing is an excellent dental recall strategy because it comes at a low cost to your practice and is a less invasive medium for patients.

People typically check their email first thing every morning and keep it close by all day. With the right design and strategy, email can make for an incredibly effective recall campaign.

What to send

  • Monthly newsletters
  • Personalized special offers
  • Appointment reminders

When to send it

Monthly email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with patients. You should also consider sending a personalized recall message every six months to keep patients coming back.

If a patient has already made an appointment, sending multiple email reminders is a good idea; however make sure they are spread out over several days.

For example, send one email a week before an appointment. Your next email should then be a follow-up 24 hours beforehand. This gives patients enough space to remember without getting email fatigue.

3. Text Messages

Every year, SMS marketing gains popularity as a key component to most dental recall campaigns.

One survey revealed that 9 out of 10 consumers would like to be able to communicate with companies through text.

That being said, text is great, but only in small doses.

What to send

  • Appointment reminders
  • Last-minute appointment openings
  • Limited-time special offers

When to send it

Every text you send patients should provide immediate value with a very clear call-to-action.

Send appointment reminder texts 24 hours before the appointment. And then, depending on the feedback, send another a few hours before.

Texts with special offers should be sent sparingly — shoot for one every couple months, to avoid sounding spammy.

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4. Social Media

Social media is also a great way to keep your practice top-of-mind without directly communicating with a patient.

For example, posting a blog about the top 5 reasons to get your teeth cleaned gives your followers a nice little subliminal message to make an appointment.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn can give your practice incredible opportunities to strategically boost recall while building patient trust.

What to post

  • Patient testimonials
  • Reminders to get your teeth cleaned
  • Special offers or new services
  • Articles about the benefits of dental hygiene
  • Photos of happy patients
  • Targeted paid ads with recall messaging

When to send it

The best part about social media is that it functions as a 24-hour marketing machine for your practice.

Every post should bring value to your patients, so focus on building your brand while dedicating around 20% of your posts to explicit recall marketing.

5. In Person

Odds are, you probably aren’t thinking about recall marketing when face-to-face with a patient. However, the most powerful opportunity to connect with patients is before they leave the office.

Develop a marketing mindset by training your employees to always end an appointment with a reason for patients to come back.

Remind patients to make an appointment on the way out, ask them to follow your practice on social media, provide appointment cards in the office, tell them about your referral program — all are great ways to improve patient recall.

Finally, consider getting out in the community to connect with current or potential patients. Summer festivals, community days, and farmers markets are just a few places you can meet real patients in person.

In the end, that is what patient recall is all about — creating more genuine and lasting connections. With these best practices and the five key recall campaigns, you will be able to reach every patient effectively and keep them coming back.

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