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A dentist’s guide to segmentation-based email marketing

Email is one of the top effective communication tools on the planet, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Yet, it is grossly underutilized by most dental practices. According to b2bemailmarketing.com, email is used far more than Facebook and Twitter combined.
What’s that you say? You want some numbers to prove it? Here they are:

  • Facebook is updated 60 million times per day
  • Twitter sees about 140 million tweets per day
  • Email? 188 BILLION messages per day

If used wisely, email can be an excellent medium to keep patients engaged and encourage them to come back to your practice.

Most generic advice on email marketing goes like this:

  • Build your list of contacts
  • Send newsletters
  • Repeat

This is far from effective. Sending random email newsletters seldom works these days. An ordinary person gets an avalanche of emails in their inbox every single day. Most emails get deleted even before they are opened. If an email gets opened at all, it does not translate into action.

Result? Your email marketing becomes one more overhead that fetches little return.

You need segmentation-based email marketing.

In simple terms, segmentation-based email marketing is about sending relevant emails to your patients depending on their level of engagement with you. It not only increases the open rate of your emails but also has a far-reaching impact on the overall experience patients have with your practice.

Before going further, let’s try to understand what “segments” are.

Understanding segments

A segment is a set of similar patients in your email list, grouped together based on their interests, demographic segment, or level of involvement. Segments are commonly based on:

  1. Patient stage (new, regular, visited only once and more)
  2. Treatment type (teeth whitening, regular care, dental braces and more)
  3. Demographic (age, gender, location, and interest)
  4. Insurance plan or dental plan

There can be many more segments, depending on how and when you want to interact with your patients. MailChimp has an interesting article that talks about segments in more detail.

Sending relevant communication to each segment

After identifying the patient segments (note that one patient could belong to multiple segments), you need to craft personalized messages.

Here is an example:

Segment: New patients who visited your practice for the first time

Your Message:
Thank you for visiting our dentistry. We hope you enjoyed the experience under the care of our qualified and friendly staff. Let us know about your experience with us by replying to this email. We are committed to offering you the best dental care.
Based on our conversation, here are a few options we would recommend to safeguard your oral health:

  1. Suggested treatment program 1
  2. Suggested treatment program 2
  3. Suggested treatment program 3

Have questions or suggestions? Simply give us a call at xxx xxx xxx or reply to this email. We’ll do our best to ensure you have shiny clean teeth and a great smile.

Once you craft an email template like the one shown above, it’s easy to customize it and send it to new patients based on their diagnosis.

Likewise, you can identify more segments and craft a personalized message for each of them. Here are some ideas to inspire your segmentation-based email marketing initiative:

  1. Treatment completed successfully: Once a specific treatment is completed successfully, send a personalized message congratulating the patient and sending them instructions regarding post-treatment care.
  2. Referral coupons for loyal patients: Send special referral coupons to your loyal patients, asking them to share the coupons with their loved ones so that they can receive great discounts on treatments plans.
  3. Patients who have stopped visiting your practice: Ask patients why they haven’t visited your practice and send them attractive offers to encourage them to come back.
  4. Patients who did not return for a recommended treatment plan: Send a reminder with the details of the treatment plan and talk about consequences of not following through with the plan. Also, ask why they did not return and inform them of available financing options.

What’s the impact?

When you send personalized messaging to a patient, it increases their connection to your practice and helps them to remember you over long periods of time. Regular, personalized communication with your patient builds a relationship and makes them more inclined to visit your practice again.