An ongoing, properly designed email marketing campaign
has been consistently proven to ameliorate a dentistry’s bottom line. However, this is an endeavor that requires a significant investment of resources, manpower, and time. When you are ready to launch a specifically targeted email marketing and promotional campaign, it is of paramount importance to ensure that these factors are thoughtfully considered.
Email marketing differs significantly from the conventional placement of a Yellow Pages listing or a local newspaper display ad. In traditional media advertising, the liability that is created if the ad is noncompliant with a series of legal restrictions is fairly negligible. Traditional advertising such as print and broadcast requires that the claims contained in the ad are factually verifiable. If that prerequisite is satisfied, then the advertiser need not be concerned with any legal entanglements. When email marketing is considered, it is evident that there are two disparate levels of legislation that must be adhered to: federal and state laws, as well as the particular industry's standards for self-regulation. If all of the specific conditions necessitated by both levels of these standards are not fully satisfied, the resulting email marketing campaign can be a source of potential legal trouble for your dental business.
Many dental & orthodontic business owners and managers are under the misconception that if a patient provides a contact form or business card, sufficient permission has been granted to enter that client's personal data into an email subscription list. They may argue that the act of the patient providing personal information is sufficient verification that they wish to receive email newsletters, even though at no time were they notified that they were granting permission for that activity. Any information on any client that is entered into an email subscription list without clear and distinct permission to receive emails is a violation of both governmental legislation and dental industry self-regulatory standards. Federal law calls for direct approval to be obtained from the patient or prospect and that approval has to be both logged and available for future review. Dentistry owners and managers who believe that they are not subject to this legislation must keep in mind that the penalties for violation are severe, with fines of thousands of dollars per occurrence, plus the possibility of incarceration.
CAN-SPAM Must Be Respected
United States Federal CAN-SPAM
legislation is extremely strict in what comprises the proper and accepted approval by a client for inclusion on your subscription list. In precise legal terms CAN-SPAM is a legislation based on the concept of opting-out: A determination of the right of any subscriber to be taken off your email list at their request. Email marketing best practice standards avoid any possible violation of CAN-SPAM by confirming that specific and clear permission is obtained from all your prospects before placing any of their information on your subscription list. Violating CAN-SPAM legislation is an extremely severe charge that a dental professional must avoid at all costs.
Any unsubscription request by a customer on your list must be fulfilled. The emphasis is on you to ensure that this procedure is easily locatable, simple to use, and unanimously effective. Each request to no longer receive your newsletter or to be taken off the subscription list must be fully carried out in a very short period of time, as federal legislation is quite strict about the penalties that can be imposed against violators who make their unsubscription procedure difficult or outright impossible.
Bouncing Email Management
Emails that cannot be properly delivered are returned or “bounced” by a function known as a Mailer Daemon. The two ways that emails are returned are termed as either soft or hard bounces and both types require some form of action on your part. Soft bounces can generally be resent but attention must be paid to how many times they are returned, as that can indicate a problem on your prospect’s side. The act of resending emails to an address that has already been identified as a hard bouncer can very quickly trigger a situation where your ongoing email sends may be treated by many of the leading ISPs (internet service providers) as if they had been sent by a spamming organization on a blacklist
. This identification of your business as a spammer can swiftly damage or destroy your online reputation outright as well as make the sending of future emails next to impossible.
Properly Segment the List
Segmentation is the activity of categorizing your email list due to the various identifying characteristics of your subscriber base as well as the forms of products and services that they are most likely to be requiring. Segmentation can be applied to a broad range of information about your patients and prospects including lifestyle, public, commercial, demographic, psychographic
, life cycle, and behavior data. By scrutinizing your subscription list and crafting specific content for each strata, you will be able to meticulously appeal to the subscriber’s preferences and requirements.
Keep Testing the Content
Many dental business owners and managers may have a pre-existing belief as to what "should" be appealing to each segment of an email list. These hunches are not necessarily correct or sufficient unless they are validated and verified by a sequence of A/B tests. These A/B tests are implemented by drafting content that is developed to appeal to each specific section of your subscription list and then testing multiple partial samples in order to determine the types of responses that are received. These A/B tests provide valuable insights that can help you hone and focus your marketing strategy. Continuous A/B testing will improve response rates over time and lead to additional patients seeking more dental services.
Obtain the Prospect's Data
It is imperative that you assure your prospects that their information will be kept in a completely secure form and that it will never be bartered, sold, or in any way shared with third parties. As you grow your email subscription database, your segmentation activities can deliver results that become more and more accurate over time. The more information you can glean, the more you can apply it to serve your patients' needs to a greater degree.
Analyze the Prospect's Behavior Patterns
An analysis of the open and click-through metrics will shed considerable light on your prospects' behavior patterns when they receive your email newsletters. A number of subscribers do not open your emails at all, therefore the act of continuing to send to these individuals is pointless. These people should be eliminated from your subscription list. Other subscribers do open and read your email newsletters but your metrics may show that they do not follow up with the click-through, which is action you want to provoke. The reality that these subscribers are reading your emails is significant, therefore they should not be jettisoned from the list. These are the kinds of prospects who are most likely to visit your business when they require dental services even though they are not necessarily motivated enough at this time to engage with you online.
The most important individuals on your subscription list are the patients who both appreciate reading your emails and clicking through to your online landing pages
. These prospects are the most desirable type as they are both open to your message and responsive. Facilitating these prospects by providing informative and entertaining content as well as promptly and thoroughly addressing their queries can prove to be a considerable boost to your business.
Good Email Practices
A broad range of dental best practices should be included into your email marketing campaigns. Subject lines
should be carefully drafted to ensure that the reader is provided with ample incentives to both open and read the email newsletter. For maximal results, your segmentation and A/B testing efforts can be tied in to multiple landing pages that contain specifically targeted content to fulfill the requirements of the type of testing you are currently involved with.
Statistics in this report demonstrate that almost nine out of ten dental business owners and managers were not aware of their actual click-through rate, and over four out of five were also unaware of their critical open rates. This failure to keep track of these key email metrics
when engaging in email campaigns is a serious shortcoming, denying the dental business manager or owner the capability to scrutinize the specific factors contributing to the performance of their online marketing.