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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