Dental patient emails are often ignored as a marketing strategy because most dental office managers see email as just another point of contact with patients. They create a template, set it, and forget it.
Running a successful dental practice is all about creating strong relationships with your patients. From your website to your waiting room, there are endless ways to connect. Still, though, plenty of practices run into the problem of patient retention.
One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to keep patients coming back is likely already going right into their inbox.
Practices can stand out by approaching email marketing for what it actually is — an incredible strategy for retaining and attracting new patients.
While email is nothing new, the ways in which people treat it have changed dramatically over the years. Email is the first thing most people check in the morning. In fact, mobile email opens have increased by an impressive 180 percent in the past three years.
Email has become our online home base — a haven away from never-ending social media feeds. It has also become a competitive marketing arena for businesses and brands.
In all this noise, dental practices have a unique opportunity to stand out. You provide practical value like appointment reminders and access to online dental records. You can also deliver creative content, like monthly newsletters and special offers, that keeps your practice top of mind.
Regardless of your marketing goals, improving patient emails is easier that you might think.
These easy-to-implement tips will get you back to sending emails that patients actually want to open.
Choose a winning subject line
No matter how much time and effort you put into your emails, the subject line often determines whether or not a patient opens them.
According to one survey, 47 percent of people immediately judge an email according to its subject line alone.
Quite simply, word choice matters.
A good subject line makes a reader want to know more, sparks curiosity, and/or creates a sense of urgency.
Always be clear and concise about the contents of the email. Never mislead your readers.
Spam filters do a great job of weeding out any promotional language, so the more personal you can make it, the better.
For example, if a patient is a no show, consider a subject line like, “We missed you, Tom!”
Similarly, appointment reminders can be a great opportunity to customize your subject line and use leading language to pique interest.
Add strategic preheader text
Preheader text is the line of words that appears in the inbox directly after the subject line. This text gives patients a better idea about the email’s content.
Think about your main idea and your call-to-action when pairing a subject line with a preheader text.
Remember, you want to create that sense of urgency. You also want to make clear what action patients should take.
Again, watch out for overly promotional language (things like “free,” “one time only,” or “guaranteed”) that will most likely send your email to the spam folder.
Use minimal copy with a clear call-to-action
After you have gotten a patient to open your email, get to the point quickly!
On average, you only have about 11 seconds of their attention, so keep paragraphs short and easy to skim.
Your call-to-action (CTA) should also be immediately clear, like:
- Don’t forget your appointment next week
- Reschedule your cleaning
- Use this promotional offer
- Follow us on social media
- Try our new whitening service
Regardless of the CTA, fill your copy with as much personality as you like. Just keep the voice focused on the main point. And again, never make a patient read more than they have to.
Use engaging images
High-quality photos, videos, or graphs break up text and add visual interest to your emails.
You can even get creative with countdown timers until their next appointment.
Include animated gifs or images of smiling patients.
Photos of your staff are also a great personal touch (just no gaping-mouth pictures, please).
Whether you are sending an email to an individual patient or a list of a thousand followers, it is always important to create emails that are compliant with HIPAA laws.
This means completely protecting your patients’ private health information.
HIPAA requires secure encryption to protect any ePHI while being sent via email.
This is only one element of HIPAA compliance, but it guarantees that if an email is intercepted the contents of it will be secure.
With hackers targeting healthcare and HIPAA violations tripling over the past 10 years, it is worth taking every step to know the privacy laws to keep your patients information protected.
Segment your audiences to run A/B tests
In order to improve patient emails, you must invest time in testing what works.
Segment your patients into different audiences to ensure that you are sending the right message to the right people.
You can separate by age, demographics, location, etc. Ideally, every email for each group would then be customized with copy, images, and CTAs.
For example, a subject line that works for 75-year-old will look very different from one that works for a college student.
The real fun starts when you run A/B tests within each group. These show how different elements of the email impact open rates, click rates, and conversions.
Optimize for mobile
If patients have to squint or zoom in on long paragraphs of text, odds are the email will quickly be trashed — if it wasn’t flagged as spam in the first place.
Most email servers automatically adapt for mobile phones, but don’t be complacent. Take it a step further to think about how patients read and behave on their phones.
Again, keep copy short and images bright to enhance the email for a mobile experience.
In the end, the difference between just sending emails and using email as a marketing strategy can be the difference between retaining a lifelong patient and losing one.
With these easy and actionable tips, your email marketing campaigns will have the edge they need to stay out of spam and keep your patients clicking.
Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.