Use and Misuse of Email Marketing

With a new year looming ahead many readers are asking for tips on how best to communicate with patients, as well as ideas on how to market their aesthetic practice. This article on Use and Misuse of Email Marketing by Jen Park is a must read!

EMAIL’S GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
Once a web site visitor, caller or patient shares their email address with you for email marketing, you’ve just been handed a golden opportunity.  How else can you influence patients and potential patients as easily and as often as through what is essentially a private invitation into their email inbox? This is truly an opportunity to build a profitable long-term relationship – but not one without some existing obstacles.

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OBSTACLE #1 THE SKEPTICAL PATIENT/CONSUMER
The integrity of the aesthetic field has been compromised and consumers know it – so do you. They’ve been over-promised to by countless media outlets, beauty magazines and sadly, even by some of the “professional” websites run by doctors and vendors alike.  An overabundance of hype has created a sense of distrust – both in the promised outcomes and the providers who offer the latest and greatest cosmetic “miracle”.

 OBSTCLE #2  GAINING AND RETAINING TRUST
This skepticism puts you in the challenging position of proving you are trustworthy and not just in it for the fast buck. How will your target customer come to trust you to offer them fairly priced, honestly effective and appropriately selected treatments? How will your existing patients be encouraged to remain loyal? What’s going to convince someone to decide YOU are the one they’ll trust with their face, body, skin and money?  And how do you reach people with that message?

THE EMAIL FACTOR
For the large majority, handing over their email address feels like a big risk. It often is!  We’ve all been duped into signing up for newsletters that turned out to be rubbish.  Make sue your email marketing is never seen as rubbish. Respond immediately – an easy task with automation. Be gracious and set expectations that make subscribers anticipate your communications. Tell them in their welcoming email that you’ll honor the privilege they’ve given. Tell them what they can expect and how often. And then stick to that promise.  Credibility starts immediately – or ends just as fast.

WHAT SHOULD YOUR EMAILS INCLUDE?
Rule#1: Don’t Sell! Don’t Sell! Don’t Sell! Does that mean you can’t offer access to special offers? Of course you can, but remember the long-term goal. And that goal is to build trust and build a long-term relationship.  If closing the deal is your primary goal, then the potential of your email marketing will be seriously diluted. Uncommon knowledge, helpful imagery, real patient outcomes and educational videos make for very powerful material. The most effective email content is content that empowers. Give your reader the opportunity to get to know you as a teacher and professional. Be the dignified medical practitioner whose goal is to improve the lives of your patients.  Be real. Add a touch of humor when appropriate. Above all, tell the truth. If you mistakenly bought into technology that doesn’t work, don’t expect your customers to bail you out by encouraging them to spend their money on something that’s subpar. It’s amazingly effective to educate your subscribers about technology that doesn’t work. Help them not buy into media hype. When your mission is to make readers wiser and more capable consumers, trust builds.  And trust will build your practice day after day. Earn their respect and you’ll earn their business.

The FLIPSIDE: MISUSE
If you’re doing any of these below, now’s a good time to stop. Delivering a first email to a new subscriber that is a SALES message purely intended to “close the deal”.  Including the urgent “act now!”  when urgency does not in fact exist. Forgetting who’s important and making your emails valuable to you only.  Disregarding design or presentation. Ignoring the fact that over 50% of email is read on a phone. Sending the same email over and over if you didn’t get the response you’d expected.

BOTTOM LINE If you’re not using email marketing as part of you marketing mix, you should be. It can make an impressive difference in both new patient acquisition and patient retention. Plus, smarter patients make your work much easier! If you are using email marketing but not seeing the kind of return you’d hoped for, take the time to reevaluate both the message and the presentation. Done right, it’s a win-win for both you and your subscribers.

Jen Park is owner of Dermatologist News and can be reached at www.DermatologistNews.com. JenPark.