Marketing is always changing and the changes we saw in 2020 have been profound, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve all had to adjust our work and home lives as a result.
With more people working from home and budgetary concerns at the forefront for most consumers, you might be thinking that SMS marketing isn’t as important as it used to be. (SMS marketing is also called mobile marketing: SMS stands for Short Message Service — essentially texting.) After all, people aren’t spending as much time out and a lot of the advantages of mobile marketing don’t apply in the same way.
But guess what? I’m here to tell you that mobile marketing is more important than it ever has been – and you need to make room for SMS marketing in your budget right now. Here’s why.
SMS Marketing Statistics
You might not be convinced that SMS marketing is worthwhile, so let’s look at some statistics to give you an idea of just how popular, effective, and expected it is for dental practices to reach out to their patients via text.
- 75% of all consumers say they are comfortable receiving SMS messages from companies (with permission, of course).
- 75% of consumers also say that they like to receive special offers via text.
- 67% of consumers would rather text to schedule or confirm appointments than do it via the telephone.
- Text messages have a 98% open rate (compared to about 20% for emails).
- 83% of millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of getting them.
- SMS messages have an average click-through rate of 36% compared to only 2% for emails.
- 50% of consumers make a purchase after receiving a text message with a coupon or discount code.
These numbers speak for themselves. Text messages are popular and effective. They also happen to be an affordable way to connect directly with your patients wherever they are.
How To Get Patients To Opt In For SMS Messages
While SMS messages are popular, you still need to get your patients’ permission to send promotional information via text message. There are two easy ways to do this.
- Send a text to the people whose mobile numbers you have and ask them to opt in. You can easily set up a text with a Y for Yes, N for No, responses. People who respond with a Yes can be added to a regular SMS list.
- If you haven’t already done so, start requesting mobile numbers from new patients. You can then set up an automated SMS asking them to opt in for promotional offers and appointment scheduling/confirmation.
Once patients have opted in, you can connect with them wherever they are.
How Expensive Is SMS Marketing?
One of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing is that it is very affordable when you consider the high open and click-through rates. The return on investment on SMS marketing is extremely high when compared to email and other forms of marketing.
Business News Daily did an evaluation of the top SMS messaging services. SimpleTexting was one of their top picks. Their least expensive plan costs $25 per month and allows businesses to send 500 SMS messages. That comes out to a cost of $.05 per text.
By asking patients to opt in for text messaging, you can be certain that you are only paying to send text messages to people who want them. Given the high ROI of SMS marketing, it’s likely that you will quickly recoup the money you spend.
Tips For Using SMS Marketing
Now, let’s talk about some creative ways you can incorporate SMS messages into your marketing mix.
- Put your call to action up front. While most text messages are only 160 characters or so, only the first 30 or 40 characters will appear in the preview screen on a subscriber’s phone. Since that preview may be the first impression they have of your message, it’s a good idea to put your call to action at the top of your message. A patient who sees “Limited Time Offer” in a preview window is more likely to open your message than one who sees “Hi, it’s Joe from Dental Clinic.”
- Send special deals and offers. As I noted above, 75% of consumers want to receive special deals via text. You’ll increase your leads and build brand loyalty by giving people what they want. You can offer deals or discounts, run a ‘buy one, get one’ promotion, or advertise special service prices, all in a text message.
- Use triggers to send texts. A lot of companies use text messages based on triggers. For example, you can send a text message to notify a patient that they are due for their bi-annual check-up, or to confirm their appointment time the next day, or to inform your patients of a new technology you’ve invested in for your clinic. These are all triggers that you can use to justify connecting with your patients via text.
- Personalize your texts. The more data you collect from your patients, the better able you will be to personalize the texts you send them. I’ve talked a lot about segmenting your email list, but I’d argue that segmentation is a must for text messaging. It’s a great way to make your patients feel seen and appreciated.
- Learn about your patients. Sending a short survey in an SMS message is an affordable way to conduct audience research that you can then use to improve your marketing. Just make sure that the survey works on mobile!
- Identify your influencers. How do you know which patients will recommend you to their friends and family? You ask them! Sending your subscribers a text message with a survey or even a simple yes or no question can help you identify potential influencers and brand ambassadors. When a patient tells you that they would recommend your dental practice, you can follow up and offer a special deal if they’ll mention you on social media.
What I hope you can see is that SMS marketing is here to stay – and even with people staying close to home, it’s a good investment for your dental practice. For expert help on implementing an SMS marketing campaign for your practice, contact our team at Dental Marketing Heroes – we’re here for you!