Email and Social Media – Marketing Answer or Just a Fad?
More and more patients expect it, yet I continue to be surprised by the number of offices that don't communicate via email. There are exceptions to the rule - but the vast majority of patients would happily receive information on practice services, an occasional electronic newsletter, and definitely appointment confirmations through email.
Consider the numbers. According to b2bemailmarketing.com, email is used far more than Facebook and Twitter combined. How much more? Daily activity for Facebook is pegged at 60 million updates. Twitter sees about 140 million tweets per day. Email? 188 billion messages. Clearly, email has become a primary mode of communication in this electronic age.
Used wisely and as one component of a multipronged and clearly defined practice marketing strategy, email can be an excellent and efficient means of staying in contact with patients in between appointments. It's not the only way or the single best way to communicate with them, but, if done well, email can help you to effectively market your services, your team, and your practice.
Getting the process in place won’t happen overnight, and while it does take time and some professional guidance, it begins with asking your patients one simple question: “May I have your email address so that we can send you appointment reminders and other practice information?” The vast majority of your patients will be more than willing to share their email addresses with the office. They may want some assurances that their information will be kept confidential and not sold to any other third party vendor. And there are specific laws and regulations that must be followed when sending email, so seek the guidance of a professional dental marketing service. But done right and as part of an overall marketing plan, email marketing can be yet another excellent tool in an ongoing and effective practice promotion strategy.
Once you have collected 500 or more email addresses, you can begin developing a plan to communicate with patients via email. Most practice management software programs allow you to automatically remind patients of upcoming appointments via email. An occasional email newsletter can be ideal for informing patients about new services provided in the practice. If you are active in your community or engaged in volunteer work or mission trips, an email newsletter is an excellent cost-effective tool for communicating to patients what's happening with the practice, the doctor, and the team.
The type of information that you would include in the newsletter would be reflective of your practice brand. It would be geared toward the target audience that you and your professional dental marketing company have identified. One of the best aspects of email is that it can be used to not only improve communication with patients, but also to improve practice efficiency.
An email and text appointment reminder is a service that all offices should offer. Certainly, not all patients will be interested and it is important to ask them first. But more and more people prefer email and/or text message reminders over telephone reminders. That being said, some individuals with particularly frenetic and busy lives will want all three - phone, email, and text. This is a simple step to help ensure that patients are in the chair at the appointed time, which keeps production on track and overhead under control.
Effective use of email raises the logical question: what about social media? Practices without a clearly developed marketing plan and strategy will oftentimes look to social media as the quick and easy answer. They think if they create a Facebook page, new patients will come flocking. In actuality, Facebook alone does virtually nothing for a practice. It can be incorporated into an overall marketing strategy as a means of keeping patients that have “friended” the practice informed about new services, team activities in the community, and the like. But be wary of those who claim that all you need to market your practice is email and social media. Truth be told, these are relatively small pieces of a total practice marketing plan. They are not free and they are not the “silver bullet” that will drive droves of patients to your door. Marketing is an ongoing practice system that requires a budget, a plan, and careful monitoring. Don’t be fooled otherwise.
McKenzie Management's Marketing Division can help you. Visit our web-site here.Or call us at 877-777-6151.
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Being Prepared May Make All The Difference
The hygienist races into her room and sets up for her first patient. She walks out to the reception area, gets her patient and starts her day. All she has looked at so far is what is scheduled in the appointment on the computer. She reviews the health history, vitals, and oral cancer exam. She then goes through the chart hurriedly, and decides what needs to be done, or worse yet, goes by the schedule and doesn't even consider that everything needed has not been put into the computer. Does this scenario sound familiar to you and the way your hygiene department practices?
In order to be prepared and make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible, it is recommended thehygienist go through her patient records the day before, or come in early and go through them. If she onlyworks one day a week, the records can be reviewed a week in advance and gone through by the hygienist.
Having the hygiene department go through the patient records the day or night before will help prevent no-shows, last minute cancellations, patients forgetting pre-med, and scheduling problems. In addition, it will maximize the production for the day and the patient will receive the quality of care they depend on from their dental health team.
There are many things that the hygienist should look for when reviewing patient records.
Once the doctor and hygienist have gone over what treatment is needed at the appointment, the hygienist and the front office will want to make sure that enough time is allotted and that all treatment can be completed in a timely manner. If for some reason there is not enough time in the hygienist's schedule, this is the time to see how the entire team may be able to make the appointment work, whether it is the assistant doing the x-rays, or probings being done in the doctor's chair. Reducing the amount of concerns the day before will help to make the next day go even smoother.
When the morning business meeting is held, a majority of the concerns should already be handled. This is the time to review the plan and remind each other of how the day is going to work as a team. This is the one time during the day the entire team can look at the schedule together and make it work best for the patient and entire staff.
The more prepared the hygienist and the entire team are before they start the day, the smoother the day will go. Not only for the staff, but also for the patients, the opinions they form of the dental practice, and the care they receive while they are there. If the team is running around like mad people, the patients will notice, and may choose to go elsewhere in the future.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our One-Day Hygiene Training Program.
Your Emotions are Contagious
We're all familiar with the warnings - don't shake hands with people who have a cold or the flu. Through science we know that germs are contagious. But did you know that feelings can be transmitted even faster?
The growing field of neurobiology has found that emotions - both positive and negative - are quickly transferred from person to person, often without either party realizing it. Emotional contagion happens in a matter of seconds. Brain science research has shown that mirror neurons are responsible. And because we are social animals whose survival depends on understanding the actions and emotions of others, these mirror neurons help us to anticipate and respond. Mirror neurons are special circuitry in our brains that help us. We humans are really good at reading faces and judging moods. This allows us to connect, sometimes very deeply, when we watch other people.
It turns out this phenomenon depends on a basic, even primal, instinct. During conversation, humans unconsciously tend to mimic and synchronize the other person's facial expressions, posture, body language and speech rhythms. Think about it. We get so worked up when our football team loses. We cry at movies. We feel joyful when our children succeed.
In the past it's been called empathy, one of our finer human characteristics; the ability to understand and respond to the needs and feelings of others. Now science has an explanation for why this occurs. Mirror neurons. Brain cells found on either side of the head with surprising power.
The discovery of this scientific fact was quite accidental in Parma, Italy in the 1990's. Thin wires were implanted into the movement region of a monkey's brain. Every time the monkey moved an object, some cells in that brain region would fire, and a monitor would register a sound. A graduate student entered the lab with an ice cream cone in his hand. When the student raised the cone to his lips, the monitor recorded the same sound, even though the monkey had not moved. Neurons fired in the monkey's brain when it simply observed the student grasping the cone and moving it to his mouth.
This monkey-see-monkey-do phenomenon, it turns out, is ever more fascinating in humans. Our mirror neurons are far smarter, more flexible and more highly evolved than any of those found in monkeys, a fact that scientists say reflects the evolution of humans' sophisticated social abilities. Add to that the fact that our brains are ‘meaning machines’ - we constantly try to predict the future based on past experience.
Empathy - mirror neurons - might just be the most important factor for negotiating our social environments. When we attend to the people around us, we become better at anticipating how they will respond…and how we can influence them more effectively. In the business world, this is the critical factor for success. Followers mirror their leaders, literally.
You may be reading this and thinking, “That makes sense.” The challenge is how will you use this knowledge to improve your leadership? Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others, not through conceptual reasoning but by feeling. So what do you feel when you walk through the door of your office? Your mood is reflected in the mood of your team…and if you don’t like what you see in the “mirror,” try the ACE approach to change it.
So what will you do in the next 24 hours to recognize and change the effect you have on your dental team? If you have the courage, email me at email@example.com.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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