Unless you’re elbows-deep in an NHS contract, keeping a steady flow of patients coming into your dental practice isn’t always easy.
There are many strategies available to principal dentists to attract new patients through the door and keep familiar faces coming back with the regularity needed to do your work well.
But not all strategies were born equal.
Advertising and marketing campaigns can be costly and labour-intensive to manage. But what if I told you that the most effective proven strategies could yield a £40 ROI on every £1 spent?
And—best of all—much of the legwork can be automated, so you boost patient numbers without intruding on valuable clinical time.
This article looks at the art of the dental marketing email and explores how some of the most effective campaigns can be adapted to create a patient acquisition and retention superweapon that deserves a prime place in every clinic’s playbook.
In the era of AdWords and social media, Dentists are often surprised to discover that marketers still regard email in such high esteem.
The 40:1 ROI ratio offers a clue why the medium is so popular. However, email is also a powerful tool for building brand loyalty. By appearing regularly in your patients’ inboxes, you have a much better chance of being first on their lists when they finally decide to hit buy on that big-ticket cosmetic treatment.
Email can also help you improve your clinic’s rep, with plentiful opportunities to build a showcase of glowing reviews and show off your best work.
Getting Started—List Building
To start, you’ll need a list—a collection of patient email addresses to whom you’ll be sending your finely-crafted marketing missives.
If you don’t already have a list, building one can be time time-consuming but well worth the effort.
Start by looking at your patient journey to identify points where you can request patients’ email addresses and opt them into receiving marketing. Pre-treatment questionnaires and new patient paperwork are ideal opportunities.
You should also consider having an email subscription form on your website where patients can sign up to receive exclusive offers and news—make the offer tempting!
To hook patients for big-ticket treatments like implants or smile makeovers, offering visitors an informative resource about the procedure is a tried and tested way of encourage potential leads to hand over their email addresses.
Marketers call these ‘lead magnets’, and they’re a proven list-building strategy. But be sure to offer a valuable resource, or prospective patients could feel cheated before even setting foot through your doors!
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to purchase a list. Using purchased lists is a surefire way to end up on a spam blacklist, making future campaigns impossible.
Choosing a Platform
There are tons of email platforms available—and several are aimed at dental and healthcare practices. Here’s where we should mention Leadflo—the dental lead management system developed by my team at The Fresh built to support teams in hooking new patients and keeping regular patients engaged (although that’s just scratching the surface!)
The crucial thing about Leadflo is that it automates complex email campaigns and sequences—your chosen platform should, too. And, since around half of all mail is opened on mobile devices, you should also choose a platform that offers responsive multi-device support so that emails look great on mobile, desktop and tablets. (Leadflo waves hello again.)
Your First Campaign—Five Ideas to Get Started
With an audience eagerly awaiting to hear from you, it’s time to begin campaigning.
Here are five campaigns I recommend starting with. They’re so effective we baked them into Leadflo complete with automation, so teams can keep campaigns rolling without lifting a finger.
The Welcome Email
Give a big warm welcome to new subscribers as you build your list. This needn’t take as much time as you’d think—most platforms (including Leadflo) let you automate the process, so all you need to do is compose your email. However, Leadflo also offers customisable welcome email templates.
While not strictly a campaign, sending a welcome email shows you’re on the ball and reassures patients that their sign-up hasn’t fallen into an admin black hole. It will also let them know what to expect and how to opt out.
Here’s an example:
Hi [FIRST NAME],
Thanks for subscribing to our mailing list!
As a subscriber, you’ll receive the latest news and updates from the practice and exclusive offers on treatments.
We promise to keep your inbox spam-free. If you change your mind, just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email—we can still be friends!
Nine Words to Reactivate Old Leads
You don’t have to be Dostoevski to use this stunningly effective marketing email hack to reactivate old leads—you can get your point across in just nine words!
The nine-word email is one of the best-kept secrets in all of marketing. To learn more about how it works, we’d suggest checking out my in-depth guide to the nine-word email.
To get started, all you have to do is ask a question in nine words or less.
This approach may appear crude, but you’d be surprised how effective the nine-word email is at re-engaging old prospects—even after two years or longer.
SUBJECT: [FIRST NAME]…
Dear [FIRST NAME]
Are you still interested in cosmetic bonding?
Unconverted Treatment Plans
We’ve all been there—you spend hours putting together a detailed treatment plan only to be ghosted like a bad Tinder match when it’s time to make a purchase decision.
The nine-word email works well in this scenario, too. You might want to ask a short and snappy question like, ‘are you still interested in veneers?’
But adding a little detail to your query would be fine too—as long as you keep things brief:
SUBJECT: Hey, [Name], we’re not done yet!
Dear [First Name],
We saw you a few weeks ago and provided a treatment plan for your smile makeover. Would you like to arrange a follow-up consultation?
Partially Completed Plans
In addition to those who don’t get started, most practices also will have an extensive list of patients who don’t complete their treatment plans.
The following template offers a brief yet personalised approach to re-engagement and getting patients back on track.
SUBJECT: We’re not done yet [name]!
Hi [FIRST NAME],
I came across your records recently and noticed you had treatment with us but didn’t go ahead with all of the procedures we planned.
Would you like to arrange a quick consultation with our team so we can get your treatment back on track?
Here’s a clever email campaign that’s so simple you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of it.
The idea is to contact patients who’ve recently had extractions to encourage them to consider implants or other restorative services.
Here’s how it goes:
Dear [FIRST NAME],
Our records show that you had one or more teeth extracted at our clinic.
Did you know that we can replace missing teeth with natural-looking dental implants designed to look and function like your own teeth?
Our implant surgeon can replace a single missing tooth or a full arch of missing teeth and even secure loose dentures.
He is offering free consultations (usually £95) to our existing loyal patients who want to learn how they can benefit from dental implants.
To book your free consultation, call us on 0161 123 4567 or reply to this email.
Itchy Fingers? Read This First!
Now you’ve developed a list, chosen a platform and got a little inspiration for your first campaign. But don’t hit send until you’ve explored our top tips for campaign success!
Make it Personal
You’ll notice fields in our email templates to add patients’ names to subject lines and email introductions. Emails that contain the recipient’s name have a much higher open rate, and using names in your email’s introduction makes your message feel more personal.
Keep it Brief
The nine-word email shows just how effective a short message can be. But you should be respectful of your patients’ time by keeping things brief and to the point, even if you’re not using the nine-word format.
Tell Them What to Do
Call-to-action phrases like Buy it Now, Arrange Your Consultation and Get in Touch tell patients what you expect them to do. Be explicit—without a clear call to action, your marketing email is nothing more than a friendly hello.
Brush Your Leads Twice a Day
Inactive and invalid email addresses can seriously harm your deliverability rates. Prune your list regularly to keep bounce rates low and stay on the right side of email service providers. Check out our guide to email deliverability for more tips on ensuring your emails hit their intended target.
Monitor and Tweak
Keeping an eye on metrics like click-through rates, unsubscribes, and open rates can give you an insight into how effective your campaigns are. For example, a low open rate could mean you should work on writing more enticing subject lines, while a low click-through rate is an indication that your call-to-action could be stronger. Use your insights to tweak and refine campaigns.
Segment and Target
Segmenting your list is an effective way of targeting your audience by specific interests and ensuring patients only ever receive relevant marketing. You could, for example, separate your list into general Vs cosmetic patients, with a separate list for implant recipients. Some marketers also segment by age, gender or other demographics.
Automate, Automate, Automate!
If your email platform is as sophisticated as Leadflo, it should offer plenty of opportunities to take the legwork out of email campaigns through automation. With leadflo, you can automate appointment reminders, consultation follow-ups, review requests and loads more.
Campaign with Leadflo and The Fresh
Email marketing is hands-down one of the easiest and most cost-effective patient acquisition and retention strategies around.
Leadflo brings dental clinics’ email alongside social, SMS and phone leads in a single, easy-to-use dashboard. With customisable templates, automated campaigns, and much more, the integrated lead management system is an email marketing platform and then some!
If you’d like to work together on an email campaign or discover how Leadflo can help turn your clinical and admin staff into a team of lead ninjas, arrange a quick discovery call to find out more.