Should you add a newsletter to your marketing plan?
Your marketing dollars need to be put to best use, which translates to A) getting new patients and B) patient retention. Years ago, I read an article that claimed a new patient costs a practice approximately $200. Now, a decade later, the cost is surely higher. Retention is imperative! Of course, there will be attrition, so new patient numbers are also vital to the health of a dental office.
Newsletters can help on both fronts. Every time someone sees your logo or practice name, he or she thinks about your brand (the ideas your office brings to mind). One sighting is called an impression. When multiple impressions are made between six-month checkups and cleanings, existing patients become more likely to return to your office, instead of getting sidetracked. Likewise, brand impressions on potential patients (everyone in your target market who isn’t a current patient) increase their likelihood of making an appointment with your office.
For these reasons alone, newsletters are a wise investment. Now let’s examine print and e-newsletters.
Print Dental Newsletters
With any mailer, you will need to budget for design, printing, and delivery. These costs can add up fast, especially if you purchase distribution lists. However, a 4+ page, full-color newsletter chock full of useful information, local news, and a special offer or two, looks extremely nice. It will create a sensational first impression, for those that take time to open and read it – a number you cannot track.
Known as e-newsletters, electronic newsletters are very popular in marketing. Why? Using email as the delivery system eliminates postage costs. In addition, you won’t incur printing costs with an e-newsletter. Your budget should include design and a paid delivery service, like MailChimp, My Emma, or Constant Contact. Some practice management software (PMSs) and patient communication tools include an e-newsletter option, in which case you may not need to pay for an additional delivery service.
E-news can be tracked by the sender, so you’ll have access to data like who opened your mail and what links they followed. Some of my clients like to include a survey or form in their newsletters, to collect more information about their patients and/or potential patients. This kind of marketing data is hard to come by, but it’s extremely beneficial for planning more targeted campaigns in the future. Recipients can automatically unsubscribe or share the newsletter across social media. Embedded links will lead readers to your website, as well.
Archive newsletters on your website for SEO benefits. Just keep in mind, the content should be original to be visible in searches.
Getting Started with E-newsletters
You’ll need to collect emails from your current clients. This can be done upon registration for new patients, then by phone for established patients. In your registration form, include a statement that patients should check a box to opt NOT to be included in emailed general correspondence from the practice. Filter out the opt-outs from your main .xls file of patient emails.
Also, add an email capture box to your website on the homepage and contact page. Paid email delivery services usually offer auto-generated email capture forms that you can plug into your website. When a potential patient fills out the form, his or her data will go directly into your delivery list.
Next, either create your e-newsletter from a template or hire a graphic designer to customize the newsletter for you. To make sure your newsletter gets noticed by recipients, change the design seasonally or quarterly. Keep it fresh!
Tips for Dental E-newsletters
- I suggest that dental offices distribute e-newsletters monthly or quarterly.
- Include a few visually interesting images in your publication, but not so many that it bogs down the speed of opening.
- Include one or more internal links to your website’s various pages, where appropriate throughout text.
- To repurpose web content, use the first few sentences of a blog post as an article, and link to the full article’s URL.
- Include a BRIEF introduction from the doctor or hygienist, along with a special offer.
- Ask recipients to share the e-newsletter via email and social media.
- Segment your email lists by interests. For instance, patients over 45 may be more inclined to read about implant dentistry, root canals, and high-end cosmetic procedures, whereas parents with kids might be more inclined to read about pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and healthy eating for busy families. Then, you can send more targeted e-newsletters to groups of patients, based on their interests. This should improve your open and click-through rates.
The design of your newsletter, whether print or electronic, is perhaps the most important part of the piece. People read and respond based on appearance, in most cases. A stimulating design can trigger more opens, more readers, and ultimately, more patients.
Whether you’re interested in patient retention, new patient numbers, or both, Identiwrite Creative can create a newsletter that yields excellent results. Our graphic designers, technicians, and copywriters are experienced in dental marketing. You’ll provide some initial information, and our team will do the rest!
Call Shauna Duty at 940-395-5115 or email [email protected] for more information about dental marketing.