An In-Depth Look at Email Marketing for Dentists
*This blog post was originally published Oct. 17, 2014, and extensively updated Dec. 20, 2016.
Most dental patients only visit the clinic once in six months. For most patients, it’s not even a priority. This makes it difficult to build trust, secure new patients, and get repeat appointments. Dental email marketing can go a long way to help you achieve this.
You have to take advantage of dental marketing tools to remind patients about their oral health and the best way to take care of their teeth. The best way to do this is to initiate communication via email to share specific information related to their health.
In this in-depth look into email marketing for dentists, we will go over types of email marketing, industry statistics, metrics, tips to build subscriber lists and kick start at your email marketing campaigns.
1. Start by Building a Subscriber List
Before you can start engaging in email marketing, you first need someone to send them to. So start by building a subscriber list.
Your existing patients will be an obvious first place to start, but you can also find subscribers in other locations.
One way to get more subscribers to your email list is to create a web form that’ll allow people to sign up to receive your email updates or newsletter. Post this email list signup form:
- On your Facebook page
- On your website
- On your blog
- On Twitter
It’s always a good idea to give people an incentive to sign up to your email list — for example, let them know they will receive updates on new blog posts, discounts, promotions, news, etc.
2. Types of Email Marketing for Dentists
Now let’s focus on the main types of marketing emails dentists send, including the advantages and disadvantages of each.
a. Email Newsletter/Digest
Sending your patients and prospects email newsletters is a great way to share news related to your practice. Further, you can link to any recent posts (such as blog posts) on your website and even conduct promotions. The typical email newsletter is sent one a month.
Another option is a “digest” which is very similar to a newsletter, but this is more of a compilation of links with short descriptions. This is a great communication channel as it’s a lot shorter and easier to consume than traditional newsletters.
- Build brand awareness
- Leverage your content to get clicks to your website
- Include diverse types of content
- Diluted call-to-action
- Takes longer to design
Generating a quality newsletter requires auto email responder software to send it out. Sometimes your practice management system will allow you to do this; if not, you’ll want to consider the following options:
b. Appointment Reminder
This is an email sent to patients to remind them of an upcoming appointment. You can send one of these emails a week before the scheduled appointment and one on the day before the appointment. Alternatively, you can just send one email a couple of days before the appointment.
This type of dentist email typically doesn’t have much information other than the date and time of the appointment. But it’s a good idea to add a link to allow patients to confirm their appointment.
As with all your marketing emails, your can also include your social sharing buttons and a link to your website.
Hopefully, you’re already using this method to remind your patients (or via text message). If your practice management system doesn't have this feature, then be sure to check out our post, The Best Dental Practice Management Software Reviewed.
- High click through rate, or CTR
- Limited marketing value
c. Dedicated Email
This is a promotional email that highlights a single offer. These emails generally present an attractive offer (such as free teeth whitening) with a call to action or CTA. The CTA leads back to a landing page on your website where they can redeem the offer — for example, by scheduling an appointment.
- Easy to create
- Focused call-to-action
- Easy to track progress
- Some people might mistake the email for spam
- Can only use on a sporadic basis
d. Lead Nurturing
These are a lot like dedicated emails; the only difference is that they’re typically sent to leads or prospects rather than existing patients.
Another key difference is that these aren’t sent as a single email blast. Rather, they are sent as a closely timed series of emails with a coherent purpose.
These are highly targeted, so follow-up emails will only be sent to those who have already demonstrated some interest in a particular service.
Some ideas of offers you could present in a set of lead nurturing emails include:
- Free initial consultation
- Free X-rays
- Coupons/discount vouchers
- Free eBook
Lead nurturing emails should link to a signup form which patients can fill out to redeem an offer.
- Increase the timeliness of your email campaigns
- You can set up automated emails for this purpose
- Targeted email campaigns = higher CTR
- Smaller audience means less of a buzz is generated
- Businesses tend to “set and forget” automated emails, so they’re not as closely tracked
e. Sponsorship Email
When you’re engaging in dental practice marketing, at some point, you’ll have to pay to have an email distributed to a particular email database.
A sponsorship email can take many forms. It maybe a section in an email newsletter, or it could be its own dedicated email.
It could also be in the form of a traditional ad with your logo, or it could take the form of content marketing.
- Reach out to a new set of highly targeted leads
- Calculate your exact ROI
- May be cost-prohibitive
Next, let’s take a look at important industry facts and statistics that you should know.
3. General Email Marketing Statistics
The following stats show the latest trends in email marketing. This will give you an idea as to what you can expect from your dentist email marketing campaign.
When you look at these statistics, you’ll see that email marketing is a lucrative and necessary practice for any businesses, dentists included.
a. Business and Marketer Trends
- 56% of businesses say they will use email marketing in the next year.
- 59% of marketers planned to increase their email marketing budgets in 2015.
- Only 24% of email marketers rarely or never use responsive design in their emails.
- 82% of people open emails they receive from businesses.
- 33% of email recipients decide whether to open a marketing email based only on the subject line.
- 44% of marketing email recipients have made a purchase in the last year as a result of a promotional email.
- 69.7% of U.S. internet users prefer to communicate with businesses via email (vs. other methods of communication).
- 44% of marketing email recipients have made a purchase in the last year as a result of a promotional email.
44% of marketing email recipients have made a purchase in the last year as a result of a promotional email.
b. CTR and ROI Statistics
- Only about half the people on your email list will open/click on your marketing emails (learn about the difference between open rate and CTR here).
- Emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.
- For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25.
- Monday emails generate the most revenue per email.
- Emails with social sharing buttons have a 158% higher click-through-rate.
c. Statistics on Email Marketing for Dentists & Orthodontists
The following data from this Benchmark Email report demonstrates that dentistry as an industry has a long way to go when it comes to getting the most out of email marketing:
- Only 20% of North American dental and orthodontic businesses surveyed are actively engaged in email marketing campaigns (37% realize the need to do this in the near future).
- 55% of dental and orthodontic practices who engage in email marketing send out missives on a monthly basis.
- Only 7% of dental and orthodontic businesses who do email marketing send emails less frequently than once a month.
- 7 out of every 10 emails sent by dental and orthodontic practices blend information with promotions/discounts.
- Most dentists obtain email subscribers from their patient list — dentists tend to have a much larger percentage of patients on their email lists (68%) compared to other industries.
- More than half (53%) of all dental and orthodontic practices who do email marketing have fewer than 500 subscribers on their email list.
- 76% of dentists do not segment their email lists and therefore send identical content to every subscriber on their list.
- Only 19% of dental clinic owners/managers track the email open rates for their email marketing campaigns. Those who do know this metric report an open rate of 13%, which is lower than most other industries.
- Only 13% of dental and orthodontic managers know their CTR (click through rate); the average CTR for dental email marketing based on this small sample is 2.9% — lower than most other industries.
So it’s important to make email a part of your dental office marketing strategies. But how do you go about building email marketing campaigns that kick butt?
To begin, you can start by using your virtual mailing list to send out regular newsletters, updating current and prospective patients alike on industry advances, new technology, and happenings within your practice.
But don’t stop there, this is also an excellent avenue for launching email marketing campaigns to coincide with other efforts related to online marketing for dentists.
4. Dental Marketing Ideas for Email Campaigns
a. Focus on Your Subject Line
The subject line of your email will be your first point of contact. So if you want to get the best results, it should meet several criteria.
First of all, the title should sum up what’s in the email. If you use the word “sale,” your email must feature some information about a sale.
Keep it short and simple; there's no need to outline the entire email in the title - all you need is the most basic topic.
Also note that using ALL CAPS and unnecessary punctuation constitutes shouting at recipients, and they're not likely to appreciate it.
Simple, strong language that aptly expresses the intent and content of the email is bound to deliver the best results. But try out a variety of titles to see what ultimately works.
b. Temper Your Mailings
Try to make it a habit of practicing the rule of less is more.
When you send out multiple emails each day, you're ostensibly abusing the trust your current and prospective clients have placed with you by providing their email addresses for your list.
Try to limit the number of emails you send in connection with any given campaign. Typically, you won't want to be sending one a day.
I mean, come on, who wants an email from their dentists every day? At the most, about 1-2 emails per month would be sufficient.
c. Concentrate Your Content
But email marketing is different and requires a level of finesse to carry out successfully. If you want to maximize your efforts, you must strike the right chord with the content of your emails.
The most important thing to remember is that you have little time to inform readers and explain what you want them to do.
Most people perusing their email are in a hurry and they don't want to waste their valuable time on an extensive sales pitch.
Hone your message carefully, whittling it down to the bare essentials before you launch your email marketing campaign.
d. State Your Case
Make sure that the messages you deliver are relevant. Don't waste time being wishy-washy.
Instead of saying that many of your patients have benefited from a new treatment that you've recently started offering, be specific; say "over 100 satisfied patients" rather than "many satisfied patients."
Alternatively, you can include a snippet of a real-life testimonial from a patient who raved about the results of the treatment.
If at all possible, you want to make the content of your emails engaging, compelling, and relatable.
e. Make CTAs Clear and Concise
In terms of your email marketing campaign, you need to provide a clear and concise CTA. If you want patients to visit your dental website for more information, tell them more information is available and provide a link for them to click.
If you want reviews or other feedback, add a button that takes email recipients to whatever survey service you use.
If you want readers to take advantage of a discounted service, ask them to call or click for an appointment.
Patients are much more likely to comply with your directives when you are precise with what you ask them to do.
f. Provide Content that’s Valuable and Sharable
Just as there are many goals associated with websites for dentists and dental SEO, there are also several potential objectives inherent to email marketing campaigns.
To increase your reach, one of your goals may be to encourage your recipients to share your content to potentially your prospective clientele. If that’s the case, you need to think about ways to provide content via email that viewers find valuable enough to share.
You may include interesting or entertaining factoids, news tidbits, or discounts for referrals. Or you could send infographics, before-and-after photos, or videos, just as an example. All may entice viewers to share their experience with family and friends.
g. Tie in Social Media
Perhaps you already know that social media is a great opportunity for dentists to get in front of more of their patients, allowing them to build better brand recognition, and be seen by more potential patients than ever before. And you can use it to your advantage with your dental email marketing campaign as well.
If, for example, you're trying to garner comments or reviews, you could link to your Facebook page for followers to post or for readers to become followers.
That said, you often need to offer an incentive for them to do so.
5. Some Important Metrics to Consider
Once you’re knee deep in your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to consider the following metrics.
a. Bounce Rate
This is the percentage of emails you send out that “bounce” (cannot be delivered).
Use this metric to uncover problems in your email list.
Soft bounces result from a temporary issue with a valid email address, such as a problem with the recipient’s server.
A hard bounce, on the other hand, is when the email address itself is invalid.
Bottom Line: Bounces can also result from a problem with the email sender. When reviewing different email service providers, make sure that they follow deliverability best practices and follow any guidelines they provide on how to reduce your bounce rate. Ideally, it should be less than 5 percent.
b. List Growth Rate
How fast is your email list growing?
Calculate by subtracting unsubscribers and hard bounces from the number of new email subscribers gained that month. Then, divide this figure by the original number of subscribers.
Bottom Line: Email list “churn” or attrition averages at about 25 percent per year. This means that if you start out with 1,000 subscribers on your email list, this
Click-through-rate or percentage of recipients who click on a given URL in your email. It is the number of unique clicks divided by the number of emails that were delivered.
This data is a more reliable metric than your open rate.
Bottom Line: Use this metric to determine how relevant people find your email. Note that different types of email naturally have different CTRs — an email reminder asking the patient to click to confirm their appointment will have a much higher CTR than a promotional email, while an email newsletter will be somewhere in the middle.
C onversion Rate
This is the percentage of subscribers who follow the call-to-action in an email, such as filling out a form or calling to make an appointment.
Bottom Line: This is the most important measure of an email campaign’s success. If the CTA is to click a link leading to a landing page, you can track conversions using unique tracking URLs for your email links that identify the clicks as coming from your email campaign.
Note that the conversion rate is dependent on measures beyond the email message itself — it will also include the quality of the landing page it directs them to, for example.
Depending on your email service and web analytics provider, you can also track metrics like your email share rate, clicks-per-open rate, and even your revenue per email. For more information on email marketing metrics and definitions, read Email Marketing Glossary: 44 Terms to Know.
To be successful with you email marketing campaigns, it’s important to maintain a regular presence online.
Once you’ve established a routine, you’ll be able to start seeing results that you can measure and track. Further, you’ll build brand loyalty that will reflect in business growth. These will all add to your bottom line.
When preparing any marketing materials, you may want a simple checklist to ensure it is accurate and ready.
Click Here to get access to our free Marketing Compliance Checklist or click the image below.