How Do I Build Awareness for My Dental Practice?
Have limited time to spend on marketing awareness campaigns? We hear you. Newsletters and e-blasts are a great way to get the word out with minimal fuss.
A busy practice is every dentist’s dream. And the path to get there begins with building brand awareness among patients until they are ready to make that first (or next) appointment. However, it can take time; 20% of customers can take more than 12 months to buy a product.
It’s no wonder, then, that dental practices can get overwhelmed with the thought of planning, creating, and executing awareness campaigns. The front office already has plenty of other items that demand attention, including managing collections and general administrative tasks. But all practices—even those with packed schedules—need a plan to generate and maintain awareness with existing and potential patients. It’s all too easy for patients to let scheduling their next dental appointment fall to the bottom of their to-do lists.
So, where to start? We are big advocates of nurture campaigns—email-based campaigns that consistently provide relevant, personalized, and timely content to your target audience. And two of the most effective—and relatively inexpensive—mediums to nurture leads are newsletters and e-blasts. According to a 2020 survey of B2C content marketers from the Content Marketing Institute, email newsletters and marketing are the highest performing content types for nurturing leads and securing leads. And research shows that email marketing can provide a return on investment of $38 for every $1 you spend—not bad!
To make the most of your nurture campaigns—and your limited time—here are three top tips.
Newsletter, E-blast, Potato Potahto?
You’ve probably heard about newsletters and e-blasts, but if you’re like most people, they may seem interchangeable. Not quite. A newsletter is generally sent out monthly and includes updates such as new operating hours, helpful tips and tricks to take care of gums, introduce patients to a new doctor, or discuss new protocols. You can also A/B test newsletters and send different versions to different target audiences.
In contrast, the e-blast is more marketing-centric and, as the name suggests, is an email sent out to a mass of people. The cadence is also less frequent than a newsletter.
Pro-tip: Whether you’re sending a newsletter or e-blast, make sure your content is mobile optimized. Try and avoid lengthy text and be sure to test images on mobile before sending.
Be consistent with your communications.
This principle is simple but critical. It takes time for potential patients to bite and make a dental appointment. However, the rewards are worth it: Constant Contact found that not only do nurtured leads more frequently turn into sales, but this group also makes 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Sounds good to us!
For inactive patients, we suggest sending e-blasts every three months until an appointment is on the books. It’s also best to vary the messaging each time to avoid people tuning you out. Businesses should aim to send newsletters out monthly at least; some practices may be able to send a newsletter biweekly, but only do this if you have enough valuable content to share.
Use interest lists to reach your target audience.
Unfortunately, e-blasts and newsletters can sometimes get labeled as “spam” because businesses likely send the same communications to everyone on their distribution lists, whether the messaging applies to them or not. Avoid this marketing pitfall by creating interest lists (a defined target audience) using your patient management software.
Depending on which PMS you use, there are different categories or filters that you can apply to generate your list, such as whether patients are inactive or by their birthday month. Once you have your list, you can import it into a software system, such as YAPI, to create the actual email campaign, and you can even pick from hundreds of predesigned e-templates, saving you time and energy! And, of course, your practice should only send newsletters and e-blasts to people who have opted in.
Interest lists can also help you create awareness around services that might appeal to a specific segment of your patients. For instance, your dental practice may send an e-blast to promote a product as Invisalign only to patients that expressed an interest in straightening their teeth.
Reach your audience at the right time with the right information
By now, you know that consistency is vital—and so is timing. Keeping the lines of communications open enables you to remind patients of your services at certain times of the year when they are most likely to want them. For example, you might send an e-blast toward the end of the year, reminding patients that their dental insurance benefits are expiring and they should “use them or lose them.” Or you could send an e-blast out to all your patients with June birthdays (using the interest lists tool), letting them know they’ll get 10% off a tooth cleaning if they book an appointment during their birthday month.
For patients ready to book an appointment, make it easy by including a link to your schedule in every newsletter and e-blast. YAPI, for instance, offers a Smart Scheduling product that syncs directly with your PMS and creates a scheduling link that you can embed in emails.
Creating an effective nurturing campaign to build awareness for your practice is no small feat. But by implementing these few practices, you can give yourself a leg up on the competition and fill your appointment books!