Most dental practices focus on scheduling appointments with patients face-to-face in the office. Getting their next appointment on the books before they ever leave the office is the simplest and most effective approach to scheduling – but what do you do when a patient no-shows or cancels? How do you ensure they come in to receive the care they need in a timely manner when you can’t ask them to schedule in person?
You could call them, but this is time consuming (unless you're using voicemail drops) and you probably have too much on your plate to be chasing down unengaged patients.
Email is another popular avenue to efficiently contact numerous patients at once. But how can you be sure these patients are seeing, opening, and acting on your email messages? Not only do patients need to interact with your email messages, but the ultimate goal is to encourage patients to schedule appointments.
That’s where a concerted strategy for patient re-engagement email comes into play. Think about the email marketing you receive. What provokes you to open a message? With the right tweaks to your messaging and delivery strategies, you can rely on email first to touch huge swaths of your patient list that are overdue for services all at once. When patients are engaging with these emails, there’s a better chance they will visit your office again for future dental services.
Here are ten tips highlighting the best practices to create engaging email content:
A personalized message makes the patient feel like you are talking to them directly. Integrate customization features from your email marketing tool to insert their name and other personal details. The date of last visit, birthdays, appointment date/time, and more are all individual details you can store in systems like Modento that allow you to leverage personalized email messaging. More than just details you can pull from your systems, it’s important to write the email message as if you are talking to a friend, and include calls to action to invite them to engage. For example, invite the patient to schedule a cleaning and exam if they are overdue for their appointment.
Create a sense of exclusivity by offering discounts only available to email subscribers. Advertising a promotional deal is also a great way to let people know that you offer elective services like botox or whitening. Everyone wants to save money, so these discounts increase the likelihood that people will open the email and schedule an appointment.
*Restrictions on discounts for dental services, particularly for practices that accept insurance, vary from state to state. It is the responsibility of each practice to know and understand the limitations of being able to offer promotions/discounts on their services.
What motivates your patients to act immediately? Help people overcome procrastination by building in a sense of urgency, such as using their benefits before the end of the year or limited time offers. When there is a precise expiration date, patients will respond promptly because they don’t want to miss out. This urgency encourages each patient to prioritize scheduling a dental appointment within the specific timeframe.
Dry email copy is boring. Look for ways to infuse these messages with emotion. Adding a bit of humor, fun, or other sentiments helps to make your business memorable. These emotional elements increase the likelihood that people will read your messages because of the entertainment factor.
If you can’t even get through proofreading your email without getting distracted, how can you expect your audience to remain engaged with what you have to say? Your already unengaged patients are not going to engage with a highly valued call-to-action like “Book an appointment” if they’re bored. Capture their attention by making them feel something from the email subject line through body content, and results will follow.
One of the best ways to add value to your email messages is by sharing interesting and helpful information with your readers. Create education opportunities, such as messages about avoiding periodontal disease or why it’s essential to visit the dentist twice a year. Educate and then invite patients to schedule an appointment. Modento makes it easy to include a call to action in each email with integration features to your online scheduling tool.
There’s a reason why TL;DR (Too long; Didn’t read) pervades social media. People are conditioned to read short snippets of text. Big blocks of text in your email messages entices readers to skim or skip the section entirely.
Subscribers today have been conditioned to expect the most important information presented to be highlighted in one way or another. Instead, break these paragraphs, run-on sentences, and more marketing no-no’s into smaller, bite-sized pieces that are easier to digest.
Clear messaging and a direct invitation is a surefire way to turn an opened email into a scheduled appointment.
“Quality over quantity” is a wise rule to follow with email marketing. You don’t want to be “the boy who cried wolf” in a patient’s inbox. When your patients receive so much marketing messaging from the same source, they become desensitized to it, even if they are offered something otherwise enticing. Be deliberate in maintaining essential communication through email marketing, and make sure every email offers value to your patients.
Segment your email list to send targeted messages to the correct recipients. For example, don’t send a “schedule hygiene appointment” reminder email to patients already on the calendar. Consider each audience and cater the messages to their needs specifically.
What is the next step you want each patient to take? Since the primary purpose of email marketing is to encourage patients to come back to your office again, be deliberate about inviting people to take action.
A clear, actionable CTA is essential for successful email marketing. Rather than the traditional “Call our office to schedule your next cleaning,” try including a “Schedule Now” button that links directly to your Online Scheduling portal where patients can book an appointment in real time.
You don’t want to encourage people to unsubscribe, but it’s also essential to give people the option if they no longer wish to receive your messages. Allowing people to unsubscribe will improve your deliverability rates, ensure that your emails are getting in front of people who are actually interested, and keep you from getting flagged as spam. Modento automatically includes an Unsubscribe button on all marketing emails, but if you have a patient base that is less tech-savvy, consider adding a short snippet to the end of your email body that tells them exactly how to opt out:
“Don’t want to receive our emails anymore? No worries! Just click the Unsubscribe button at the bottom of this message.”
You know that email is vital for maintaining communication with your patients about appointments, but if you're not utilizing this channel to help fill your chairs, you're leaving opportunity on the table.
These patient re-engagement tips might seem simple, but the small efforts add up to boost the overall experience for each patient and convert those opened emails into scheduled appointments.
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