Like many other industry sectors involved in email marketing, dentists and orthodontists can identify the current state of their campaigns as being in one of five essential phases. Understanding exactly where your email marketing strategy is currently situated as well as analyzing the steps required to advance to the next critical stage will have a definite impact on the success rate and return on investment of your entire campaign.

1. The Dilettante Phase

The percentage of dentists and orthodontists that start off their email marketing experience in this manner has been mercifully declining of late, but there are still some businesses that launch with an amateurish and woefully ineffective Spray & Pray process. Simply firing off a generic newsletter and hoping for your clinic’s appointment book to fill up is a very low percentage play. Without the benefit of email segmentation or testing, and limited integration with secondary and social marketing strategies, the results of these types of email campaigns are proportionate with the sophistication of the methods applied: meager and discouraging.

2. The Managed Phase

The core of this phase is the progress towards improving relevance in your email marketing. At this stage dentists and orthodontists begin to both grow and segment their lists in conjunction with the first steps towards A/B testing of subject lines and offers. The email campaign is integrated with the other marketing strategies that your clinic is involved in, and a basic contact policy begins taking shape. At this point markedly more encouraging email metrics are seen, but there is still much room for improvement.

3. The Defined Phase

The primary advance in this phase is the marked relevance to your segments. Dentists and orthodontists at this stage of their email marketing evolution concentrate on obtaining marketing outcomes that are beyond the simple click-through, but are focused on the development of the overall bilateral conversation with your individual customers. This is the time that the essential substance of your approach begins to truly bear fruit. At this point the process of email marketing becomes an integral part of an overall social media methodology and testing advances to the fine tuning of more extensive email elements such as calls to action, image placement and textual content approaches. The Defined Phase marks the turning point between an email marketing campaign that is “good enough” to one that is an overachiever in every sense of the word.

4. The Quantitative Phase

This phase is noted by the shifting of the strategy to contextual relevance where the engagement of the subscriber becomes paramount. With this form of individualized contact strategy, segmentation metamorphosizes into an analysis of RFV (Recency, Frequency & Value) as your email governance and integration becomes based on web behavior auto-triggers. This is the stage when many dentists and orthodontists adopt multivariate testing also known under the name of its developer, Dr. Taguchi. Conducting an email campaign of this sophistication and complexity requires finely honed skills or the reliance on a supremely experienced and capable email service provider.

5. The Optimizing Phase

This final and consummate stage of email marketing development is where the highly refined levels of relevance that have been achieved by dentists and orthodontists in the previous phase are optimized and fully integrated into multichannel online and offline strategies. Content insertion becomes both dynamic and multi-layered, while testing takes on a real-time immediacy. Although many dentists and orthodontists do not ever reach this elite phase, which is often only achieved by the major multi-national dental supply and equipment corporations, it is definitely a goal to shoot for, with the understanding that reaching either the Quantitative or even just the Defined Phase will allow for email marketing efficiencies and impact that most dentists and orthodontists will never experience.

Developing a thoroughly effective email marketing strategy takes time and effort, but the results of impressive metrics are certainly more than worth it!