By Nancy Rausman, Managing Editor, EyeCarePro
As a busy OD, there is a lot to balance and when it comes to marketing, you want to focus your time, energy and resources on the most cost effective and impactful way to reach your target audience.
With all of the marketing and digital media options available these days, you may be surprised to know that email marketing is still one of the best options around. Email offers the highest return on investment (ROI) of all digital marketing solutions because it is the most direct route to patients and potential customers and is proven to increase engagement and revenue. A recent Direct Marketing Association study found email marketing has an ROI of $57.25 for every dollar spent, over 150 percent greater than the ROI for non-email online marketing.
Unlike other marketing channels such as online advertising, social media or even newspaper ads, email puts you in direct conversation with a target population that cares about what you have to say. After all, they gave you their email address, right?
Email marketing can work wonders for your practice to drive up revenue, increase your customer base and create recognition and loyalty. Here are a few more reasons it is such an effective marketing strategy:
- Instant connectivity with target audience. Most people use email on a daily basis, which makes email marketing virtually instantaneous.
- Directly reach potential customers. Unlike your website or an ad, the recipients don’t have to take any action to get to you -you reach out and contact them. Further, because you are working from a list of contacts you have obtained directly, you are focusing your resources on a target audience that is meaningful. Plus, since it goes right to their inbox, there is a much greater chance that the audience will see your communication than with any other medium.
- Increase patient loyalty and retention. Since you are sharing information, a special deal or something of value with a select, directed group of individuals, you are engaging in a more personal interaction than indirect advertising. Particularly if you are sending personalized emails, this keeps you at the forefront of your patients’ minds and maintains a connection that leads to trust and loyalty.
- It’s cheap and effective. Email marketing costs are usually minimal. Even if you use an Automated Email Marketing Tool (such as DemandForce, Websystem3 or even Mailchimp or Constant Contact) to automate your efforts, email marketing is relatively inexpensive.
Best Practices In Email Marketing
Create an email database and collection procedure.
If you aren’t already collecting email addresses of current, past and potential customers, make sure a reliable system is put in place. Set up a procedure for your administrative staff and add sign-up forms on your website. Set up your mailing list in an excel spreadsheet, database or automated email marketing tool. From there you can begin to reach out and connect with this audience providing practice news, valuable information, personal greetings or even entertainment.
Keep email out of the spam folder.
Having your email sent straight to the spam folder is the quickest way to waste a lot of time and effort. Make sure the sender account is a professional, yet personal sounding address and that you don’t use strong “salesy” language in your subject line, excessive punctuation or symbols, all caps or abbreviations. You may want to set up a separate email account to send and receive marketing emails.
Get your audience to open the email.
This is largely dependent upon an engaging subject line that gets across the message, makes the recipient curious to read more and promises value. Again, you want to stay away from a commercial tone and try to make it personal.
Lastly, you need to provide value so the recipient will want to keep receiving your emails and won’t unsubscribe. Here are a few ideas for the type of content your customers might find valuable and interesting.
- Direct promotional emails: Announce a new product, sale or event. Provide a special coupon or offer that can only be taken advantage of through the email.
- Emails to new or existing customers: Keep in touch with your patients through appointment reminders, product notifications, birthday greetings and more.
- Customer loyalty offers: Create a special offer for existing customers as a thank you and a reason for them to come in for a visit.
- Newsletters: A practice newsletter is great for patient retention. While you should keep it short and to the point, a brief update on what is going on in your practice, along with some educational or entertaining content will provide value to the reader and maintain a connection.
When creating your email don’t forget the following:
- Make sure you include a call to action whether that is a phone number, a link to your website or a sign-up form.
- Track your data to see what works and adapt your strategy accordingly. See how many people opened the email, chose to unsubscribe, forwarded to others or listed you as spam.
- Personalize when possible. A recent study by Experian claimed personalized promotional mailings had 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates.
- Include a privacy statement and an unsubscribe form so readers know you are using their email address with integrity and that they are welcome to unsubscribe if they want.
- Keep emails short and to the point. This also goes for subject lines, especially for mobile device users, try to keep subject lines to fewer than 50 characters.
- Always send a couple of test emails to different staff members before you deploy the campaign to make sure it looks the way you want it to in email form.
- Update your opt-out and bounced emails on a regular basis.
- Think mobile. Reading email is the most popular activity on Smartphones with 91% of consumers regularly checking their email by mobile device. Make sure that you consider this when creating a campaign.
Getting your email marketing up and running might take some time, but once you have a system in place, you can easily create an easy to manage marketing schedule that will have a meaningful impact on your practice revenue.
Photo: Copyright: roywylam / 123RF Stock Photo
Nancy Rausman is Managing Editor of EyeCarePro. EyeCarePro is a leader in digital innovations for Optometry employing a global team of Web Development, SEO, Marketing and Sales experts who are dedicated to helping Optometric Practices achieve growth by attracting new patients and building engaging relationships with existing patients. EyeCarePRo offers value through results-driven marketing programs and employs proven, powerful and effective online marketing strategies in social media, search engine optimization, traditional offline marketing and sales growth initiative. To date, EyeCarepro has built over 1200 optometric websites.