New patients are great. There’s something undeniably exciting about attracting someone to your clinic who might not have found it otherwise. That’s the reason that new patient marketing gets all the attention. It’s the glitziest way to grow a dental clinic.
But guess what? It’s not a very cost-effective way to grow a clinic, which is why it never ceases to amaze me that local clinics ignore patient retention as a growth strategy.
If you’re wondering the best way to increase your patient retention, look no further. Email is the answer.
Onboard New Patients And Subscribers
Your plan to retain patients should kick off at the beginning of your relationship. A lot of clinics make the mistake of ignoring patient retention until people are at the point of leaving. We’ll talk about that later, but for now, let’s talk about what you can do after someone schedules an appointment with your clinic for the first time or subscribes to your list.
The first email you send should be a welcome email, but it can be more. After you’ve welcomed a new patient you should consider getting them to engage with your clinic brand in another way. Here are some examples.
- Encourage them to schedule a follow-up appointment.
- Ask them to respond to questions, so you can segment your list and send emails that feel personalized.
- Ask them to write a review.
If a subscriber doesn’t open or engage with your welcome email, you can consider nudging them with a follow-up email. Keep your tone light and friendly so your new patient doesn’t feel pressured.
Send Emails Based On Patients’ Behavior
The question of when to email patients is one that looms large for dental clinic owners. I think one of the best methods is to use a patient’s behavior as a trigger for an email.
For example, say a patient has just booked an appointment for one of your dental services. You may want to consider sending a confirmation email that suggests up-sell or cross-sell services to them. If you choose your service recommendations wisely, you might end up with a bigger sale as well as a patient who’s more committed to your brand than they were before you emailed them.
Here are some other examples of behaviorally-triggered emails:
- When a patient reaches a given point in their journey with you, send them a survey to ask for their opinion so far.
- Ask them to review your dental clinic.
- Send an email reminding them that they are due for their next cleaning and check-up.
- Send an email suggesting dental services based on their previous needs.
Emails like these can benefit your clinic in several ways. First, they offer an affordable way to acknowledge a patient’s activity and let them know that you care about their loyalty. Second, they can help you gather valuable information about what kinds of emails your patients want to get. And finally, each time you “touch” a patient via email, you’re solidifying their opinion of your brand and – hopefully – increasing their loyalty to you.
Segment Your Emails To Increase Their Appeal
If you send out a survey or behaviorally-triggered email, you can use the information you collect to segment your list. Then, when you reach out to subscribers, you can do it in a way that’s designed to appeal to their individual needs and wants.
Let’s look at an example. Say you own a sporting goods store. If you collect information about which sports and equipment customers are interested in, you can use that data to send emails that will appeal to your customers’ personal interests. A customer who is interested in winter sports might get emails when you have a sale on ski gear or introduce skate sharpening to your store.
You may even market one service in three different ways focusing on different benefits and uses for it. The specifics are up to you, but the main point is that segmentation can help you provide relevant email content to your subscribers.
Send Re-Engagement Emails
What happens when a patient is at risk of abandoning your clinic? You can get depressed about it or you can look at it the way I do – as an opportunity.
Patients don’t always abandon dental clinics because they’re dissatisfied. They might be cutting back on their spending or they might think they’ve seen everything you have to offer.
Here are some suggestions for bringing them back into the fold.
- Offer them an upgrade. Sometimes, injecting a little bit of excitement into the relationship is the way to go. A patient who’s visiting your clinic for a basic service may appreciate the added features of an upgrade and reengage with your clinic and staff.
- Solicit feedback. A dissatisfied patient may need to know that you care about keeping their business, and the feedback you collect can help you improve your services.
- Offer value. Sometimes, a long-term patient might need a reminder of why they came to you in the first place. Let them know about updated technology and services your clinic provides, or give them some tips for making the most of the services they’ve booked with you in the past.
If you can take a patient on the verge of leaving and re-engage them, you can give your clinic a boost and improve your retention rate at the same time.
Send Exit Emails
What happens when you know that a patient is leaving? There’s nothing you can do to stop them but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing.
What I suggest is sending an exit email. It may be useful to:
- Collect information about why the patient is leaving
- Keep the door open for a future relationship
- Leave things on a positive note
The last thing you want to do is make patients happy that they’ve left. Be gracious and express gratitude for the opportunity to serve them and let them know that you’ll be there if they decide they want to re-engage with you.
I hope you see the benefit of using email to increase patient retention. Retention may be less glamorous than new patient acquisition, but it’s also less expensive – and it’s also the best growth strategy I know. For more in-depth help marketing your dental clinic, book a discovery call with me today.