Your cheat sheet to sending better emails

Email marketing continues to be an important aspect of patient communications, especially in regards to patient recall and retention. In a recent survey, 77% of respondents said they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Further, all age groups named email as their preferred source for communication. If you’re a dental or medical practice that wants to improve the way you communicate with your patients, read this cheat sheet to sending better emails.

Spend time on strategy

Top performing emails – ones that get opened and drive visits – are ones that have had some strategy applied to them. Out of all the steps that go into creating, developing, and sending an email (this includes: the creative, segmentation & targeting, strategy, email layout and processing, and reporting), strategy has the greatest effect on whether your email is ultimately successful. So even if you’re sending automated emails for things like appointment reminders and birthdays, put some thought into creating your next promotion or recall campaign.

Test and track results

Unless you’re incredibly lucky or a natural marketing genius, the first email you send won’t be the best one you could send. With each communication you send to patients, you can learn valuable insights about what your patients want, and how you can tailor your practice and communications to better engage with them. So what should you test in your emails?

  • The subject line
  • The message
  • The layout and images
  • The CTA (Call-to-Action)
  • The day you send
  • The time of day you send
  • The landing page
  • Your audience
  • The sender
  • Mobile layout and images

Design for mobile

In the modern, digital age, the last bullet is quite possibly one of the most important, so we wanted to split it into its own section. One of the keys to sending better emails is to design for mobile. Whatever email platform or system you choose, make sure they have considered how to optimize their emails for mobile viewing. Did you know that 75% of smartphone owners say they are highly likely to delete emails that they can’t read on their phones?

Mobile viewing isn’t a rising trend; it’s the new normal. By the end of 2013, the number of commercial emails opened on mobile devices had already surpassed the number opened on desktops. Yet there are still practices out there who aren’t using mobile-friendly layouts. Stand out from the crowd by designing and considering where and how your patients will read your emails. You can even go further with a marketing platform like Demandforce, and offer text reminders and two-way text to your patients as well, making it even easier for them to confirm and communicate with your practice.

For more information on all this and more, visit demandforce.com, or call us at (888) 272-7821.

Managing client expectations with improved client communications

In any small business or practice, managing expectations is crucial to building and maintaining a successful relationship with your clients. However, if you don’t manage client expectations early, you could find yourself in some tense situations later on down the road, or experiencing low retention of your clientele.

One way to manage client expectations is to communicate early on how you’ll send out notifications, updates, or important information that your clients might need/want to know.

Send a Welcome Email

For example, if you are a salon who has recently seen several new clients, we recommend sending out a targeted Welcome email, thanking them for their first visit, and providing more detailed information on your services and history.

If you use a marketing and communications platform like Demandforce to send these messages, you can track open rates and specify specific people to receive the email, all based on data synched directly from your salon management system. And Welcome messages sent via Demandforce have an average open rate of 50 percent! (Based on 2016 Demandforce data).

Find Out Your Client’s Preferred Method of Communication

Another way to manage client expectations is to take time to chat with your client during their first visit, and ask them for their preferred method of communication. You can even ask for their consent to send text message updates, or special offers you might be running, and you can confirm that the data you have in your system is up-to-date and complete. This allows you to make sure that when you send a message, via email, voice call, or text, it’s not unwelcome, and your client knows that you might be contacting them.

Continue to Reach Out

One common mistake businesses make that can affect client expectations is to stop communicating with them after the first few months. If your salon or small business emphasizes a personal touch, and friendly family atmosphere, you need to make good on your promise. Set up custom email campaigns to send automatically to specific clients, promoting specials, loyalty rewards, or discounts. Celebrate important milestones with them by sending birthday and anniversary greetings. And make sure that your clients never miss an upcoming appointment by setting up automatic appointment reminders and recall campaigns to send out based on data collected in your management system.

If you continue to nurture the relationship you have with your client past the first visit and beyond, you’ll turn a new client into a loyal client—and you’ll always exceed your clients’ expectations.

For more information on how you can use the marketing tools and communications solutions provided by Demandforce to manage your client expectations, visit demandforce.com/salon-and-spa.

Establish an effective patient recall strategy at your dental practice

In order to grow your dental practice, you need to focus not only on new patient acquisition, but also patient recall. What is recall? It’s your ability to keep your patients coming back after their first office visit. In order to maintain a healthy dental practice—regardless of location, size, or specialty—you need to have an effective recall system in place for your patients.

Why patient recall is so important to dentists

It can take time to establish a relationship with a patient, and build upon that trust. However, helping your patients understand the value of regular dental cleanings and encouraging them to return to you can be rewarding not only for your patients’ overall oral health, but for your practice as well.

Once a patient has been entered once into your system, you want to make sure that their information doesn’t get lost in the general communications chain. If you start seeing declines in your hygiene department, soon you might see declines in the operative and restorative side of your practice as well.

So how can you take action to prevent such a decline?

How Demandforce helps you get more from your practice management system

Ask yourself this: how does your current recall system operate? Are you sending one notice and then waiting for patients to call you? According to one study from Dental Economics, only 20% of patients call the practice after they receive a notice. And even if you have your staff call patients, this system is not that much more effective, and also takes 20-40 hours a month to do for many dental practices.

If you’re looking for a more effective, efficient way to recall patients to your practice, consider Demandforce. Demandforce is a patient communications and marketing platform that reconnects with and reactivates lost patients by leveraging the data in your current PMS.

77% of Demandforce dental practices actively use the recall reminder feature – and it works!

For patients who booked appointments after receiving a reminder, 80% scheduled their appointment after only one reminder was sent (Demandforce survey, 2015).

Demandforce not only provides workflow automation tools that can have an immediate effect on the number of patients who rebook appointments with you, it also offers a high level of customization and targeting so that you make sure you’re sending the right message to the right patient, at the right time.

Demandforce’s custom recall reminders can be adjusted based on how busy your practice is, and how far out your schedule is booked. You can also rewrite any emails before you send, to create specific offers relevant to your patients.

Here are a few other features of Demandforce that help you reconnect with patients and bring them back in to your practice:

  • Automated appointment reminders
  • Patient surveys
  • Ready-made newsletters
  • Custom recall messages sent via email, text, or voice call
  • Personalized emails celebrating life milestones like: birthdays, we miss you campaigns, and special offer emails

To find out more about Demandforce’s patient communications solutions, visit demandforce.com or call (888) 272-7821.

Why You Should Consider Customizing All Your Client Communications

If you’re a current Demandforce customer, or a small business owner who is looking to improve your current client communications, sending email campaigns is always a good choice. The world has changed; and nowadays, consumers make purchasing decisions based more on the relationship they have with a company or brand than any other factor (sometimes even more than the product/service itself!).

That’s why establishing and nurturing current client relationships is so important, and can lead to increased revenue, a stronger online reputation, and more referrals. Additionally, according to a 2015 Marketing Metrics survey of businesses, the probability of engaging with an existing client via email marketing is 60-70%, whereas the probability of engaging a new prospect is 5-20%.

So let’s say you’ve decided to send email marketing to your current client database. If you’re a Demandforce customer, this process is incredibly simple. You can, through our easy-to-use online platform that syncs with your current client management system, set up messages to automatically send to certain segmented groups of clients, based on a variety of factors. Here are some examples of the email campaigns you can send through Demandforce:

  • Special promotions for products or deals
  • Newsletters
  • Appointment reminders and confirmations
  • Recommended services
  • Referral campaigns
  • Review requests
  • Social media connection requests
  • Thank you emails and client surveys

If you’re planning on sending out email campaigns, we recommend customizing them to better fit your business, and personalizing them for your clients.

Demandforce Training has the below great short video for current Demandforce customers that takes you on a visual step-by-step to this process. Or for a detailed article on the subject, head to the Demandforce Help Center here.

Customize Email Communications from Demandforce Training on Vimeo.

For more information on Demandforce, visit our website at www.demandforce.com, or call us today at (800) 220-1136 for a free, short demo.

What to Consider Before Sending Emails to Customers Over the Holidays

It’s almost Halloween, and after that – Thanksgiving and beyond! So as a small business, a question that you might ask yourself is: should you send emails to your customers over the holidays? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

When deciding whether or not to send an email over the holidays, there are several factors to consider:

  • What type of email are you planning to send?
  • What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?
  • Do you have the time and resources to split test?
  • Who are the people on your distribution list?

Let’s examine these one at a time.

What type of email are you planning to send?

If you are a small business or retailer, you might want to consider not sending an email during the holidays, because tons of discount and “holiday deal” emails are sent during the holidays, and recipients tend to mark any as SPAM. Or worse, sometimes you’ll get unsubscribes just from sending an email on a certain date. A study by Inc. and Delphi showed that holiday greetings can have a five times higher chance of unsubscribe as opposed to other messages.

However, if you’re sending an email to keep top-of-mind, and wish your clients a happy holiday, these might not get unsubscribes, but they also might get a lower open rate.

What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?

Because many holidays fall on or around the weekend, it’s important to consider the difference between weekday and weekend email sends as you consider whether to send a holiday email.

According to a 2014 ExactTarget mobile behavior report, emails sent on Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and clickthrough rates. (17.8% for both days – the highest percentage of the week). What this means is that although the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened weekend emails were much more likely to engage and clickthrough.

Data from Harland Clarke corroborates this, as on Saturday, only 5.5% of total emails tracked were sent, yet they were viewed at 32.5%. So if the recipient chooses to open the email on the weekend, you have a higher ROI – but overall, open rates tend to be lower than weekdays.

This is a good argument for trying to send on a holiday, as you might be able to cut out some of your competition and engage with quality prospects – a good strategy, especially for start-ups or smaller businesses that might not have as many regular email marketing resources as larger businesses.

Do you have the time and resources to split test?

If you have the ability and resources to split test emails, you might want to consider doing this for the upcoming holiday. Try to test an unconventional time and holiday with a more traditional time, and see what results you get.

Who are the people on your distribution list?

During the holidays, many people might not be checking their emails, especially if you’re sending to an office or office manager’s work account. When they return, they’ll be inundated with emails, and those with a marketing or spam look to them will be deleted without a glance. Therefore, if you’re sending to work emails and offices, you might want to avoid sending emails during summer holiday season, around Christmas, or New Year’s. 

To help improve holiday email engagement rates, GoDaddy recommends brands avoid sending emails on Thanksgiving Day altogether. “On Thanksgiving Day, open rates hit their lowest rate for the entire month of November,” says GoDaddy.

So the general consensus seems to be: avoid sending email marketing over holidays, as the potential for unsubscribes outweighs the goodwill and recognition you might experience by sending out a Happy Holidays message. But then again, if you’re looking for an unconventional way to get an edge on your competitors, holiday emails might be a good test for your business.

Why Knowing Your Customers’ Emails is More Important Than Ever

Email marketing is still an incredibly effective and powerful tool for small businesses to reach out and stay connected with their customers, without spending a lot of money. But as you might be finding out, people don’t give their email addresses out to just anyone – even their dentists, doctors, and service providers.

But knowing your customers’ emails is more important than ever in an age where email marketing still brings back a 3800% (that’s no typo!) ROI and $38 for every $1 spent.

You are still six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet, and more importantly – if you have your customer emails in your management system database, you can send them automated email reminders of their upcoming appointments, recommended services, and important updates to their accounts or your business.

So how do you collect customer emails?

So you know that emails are important to have, so how do you go about collecting them?

Here are some tips:

Ask all new customers for their email. Integrate a request for email into your signup process, and add a space for your customers to leave their emails next to the phone number and address. Many customers, especially the younger generation, might give you their email as readily as they would their address.

Make it easy and obvious as to why you need it. Post a signup form for your newsletter or blog on your website and/or Facebook page, and consider placing a sign at your front desk stating your reasons for wanting an email. Your reasons may include: so you can send appointment reminders, connect easily with a doctor/dentist/vet, or send offers.

Remember to emphasis why it helps them. Don’t focus on why having their email helps you, but focus instead on the benefits they’ll get from providing you with updated information and easy ways of contacting them. According to a Pew Research poll, 92% of online adults use email, and 61% use it on an average day.

A powerful tool to help you connect with your customers: Email Finder

Email Finder is a tool that Demandforce offers its customers to help you fill in missing emails within your database. The Email Finder can find email addresses for anyone that currently has none listed in their record. It uses national opt-in databases to match email addressed based on a client’s name and physical address.

Is Email Finder legal?

Yes! Once an email is gathered, an opt-out request is sent to that individual, letting them know your business is offering a new communication service that allows them to request appointments, confirm appointments, refer friends & family easily online, and receive special offers. Clients who don’t opt out have their emails automatically added to your database.

How Much Does Email Finder Cost?

Email Finder is an additional service Demandforce offers its customers, and you can choose what emails to integrate into your database, and pay per email. For full information on this, check out the Demandforce Help Center.