Patient Communication – MailChimp For Dentists
Covid-19 Communication Strategies Continued
If you aren’t already sending regular newsletters to your patients to keep them updated during the Covid-19 crisis, now is a good time to start. In makes really good sense for businesses to stay in-touch with their clients during this difficult period, so that when services resume, the business concerned is still “top of mind” and trading begins again apace. Dentists are no different and we are helping numerous clients with various mechanisms to achieve this, ranging from e-newsletters through to video consultation services.
In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at e-newsletters and the cost-effective mechanisms you can use to get your campaigns up and running quickly. But before we jump into the mechanisms, let’s recap on what ‘e-news’ actually is and why it’s particularly useful in this context.
E-newsletters for dentists
The title is fairly explanatory here. An e-newsletter is simply a document, typically fairly short and to the point, sent by a business to a client to keep them updated about various aspects of their services, current news etc. In the dental context, the vast majority of e-newsletters are sent by dentists to their patients, however we also have a fair number of specialist dentist clients who use e-news very effectively to stay in touch with and nurture their referring GDPs.
Let’s take a look at a simple and very cost-effective system you can use to get your dental e-news up-and-running and then we’ll take a quick look at the type of information you will be sending.
By far the most popular system used by our clients is MailChimp. This is a secure online system where you set-up an account, configure it and then import your email list. Once the basic set-up is done, you then choose an email template, make it bespoke using your branding and add your content. You can then test your email before scheduling a time to send it. It sounds pretty easy and actually it is once you’ve practised.
The hardest part from a technical perspective is making sure that your email template not only looks good but also displays correctly on the many different email browsers your patients will use. These could be on desk-top, tablet or all types of mobile ‘phones. You really do need to be sure that your emails will display correctly; if not you will not only have wasted your time but you will also appear unprofessional. Whilst MailChimp provides a couple of free, simple templates, you may wish your designer to build you something a little bit better – the team here at Dental Media can help you with this.
It is also very important to make sure that you are complying with data control regulations e.g. GDPR and broader ICO requirements. You must have permission to use people’s email addresses if you propose to contact them with marketing information i.e. they must have opted in. The specifics of this are covered elsewhere in this blog but the bottom line is that you can’t simply just upload all of your contact emails and then start firing out e-newsletters; you have to do it in a compliant fashion or risk the wrath not only of your users, but potentially the regulators too.
You can also add a subscription form to your website and blog to gather new email addresses, so building your email list progressively.
Why can’t I use my normal e-mail system?
This is something that we’ve seen a number of our clients try, only to be thwarted very quickly. This is simply because commercial systems are not designed to send hundreds of mass emails at the same time and hence they kick them out as spam. MailChimp is designed for this purpose and does not suffer from this issue.
Building your e-newsletter
The type of information you include in your newsletter will obviously vary, but one golden rule to be followed is to avoid over selling. No-one wants to receive emails which just thrust services; this has to be done subtly. Indeed in the current crisis, selling is best avoided completely. For example, it’s much better to provide guidance to help your patients navigate the crisis without compromising their oral health. So the newsletters we are helping dentists compile at the moment range from basic oral health care tips, right through to specifics about how to care for braces in the absence of regular checks at the surgery.
We are also combining this type of useful information with personal interest stories, for example spotlights on team members, how the practice is helping in the community with regard to the crisis and more. The key is to think how your readers will receive your emails and the perception it ultimately creates about your business.
As time moves on and we (hopefully) start to see an easing of lockdown restrictions and a return to work, then we can start to re-introduce more commercial aspects into the email, for example treatment offers etc. It will still be important to judge this very carefully of course and to keep the “selling” relatively low key.
Using images and links to external resources
It is important to incorporate a few suitable images within your content as this is proven to make e-newsletters much more engaging. So if you are describing how to look after braces for example or maybe how to perform inter-dental cleaning effectively, then try to use illustrations to help. Of course these types of images must be licenced for use and this is where we can really play a part by calling on our huge library of dental related content. If you need help with this, please get in touch.
Where appropriate, you should also link out to suitable third-party information, e.g. educational videos on YouTube.
How often should I send e-news to patients?
There is no definite answer to this but in “normal” circumstances, every couple of months is usually sufficient. For sure you don’t want to be seen as sending spam, so don’t churn out loads of information all the time simply because you can. This won’t endear you to you user base. We’ve all had the experience when we’ve purchased something online only then to have the store send e-newsletters incessantly, causing us to hit the unsubscribe button.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, you should consider a more regular interaction, for example our dentistry clients sent several updates relatively early on in the crisis to ensure that important information was made available, but have now relaxed the sending schedule slightly, perhaps every 2 or 3 weeks. The other key guidance here is to make sure that what you send is worthwhile as even loyal patients will soon become disenchanted if you simply send junk.
Whilst we always encourage the use of techniques such as e-newsletters to stay in touch with patients, the current Covid-19 crisis and practice closures makes it even more important. You need to let you patients know you are still there and that you have their best interests at heart and the e-news mechanism is a great way to achieve this.
If you need help getting set up and configuring those all-important email templates, please let us know. We can also help configure your regular e-newsletter updates if you need ongoing help. Our team is on hand to advise on 01332 672548.
Next time we’ll take a look at preparing your paid advertising campaigns in readiness for coming out of lockdown. Please check back to the Dental Media Blog soon.Google+