Picture this: someone who lives within walking distance of your dental practice receives your high-quality, visually-appealing flyer in the mail...and tosses it directly into a recycle bin. Now imagine a website visitor downloads your Ebook “How to Get Cleaner Teeth”... only to unsubscribe from all your email lists after receiving a promotional message for your family dental services.
Although sending blanket emails and mass postcards to your entire patient database beats not communicating at all, you can drastically improve results by implementing one simple tool: segmentation. What is segmentation? Segmenting communications means you tailor messages for specific audiences based on their demographics, location, or behavior. For example, sending postcards to patients you haven’t seen in 6 months who live in a certain zip code inviting them back for a cleaning is more effective than sending it to everyone in your contact list.
So how can segmentation improve or significantly improve the marketing of your dental practice?
Retain (and Engage) Your Hard-Earned Patients
Sending mass emails often results in unopened or ignored messages--or worse, numerous unsubscribes--because the content isn’t relevant. Recipients of pertinent information, on the other hand, are far more engaged. They’re more likely to open and click on emails you send, and unsubscribe less often. One MailChimp report, in fact, showcases specific percentage difference of segmented campaigns compared to mass emails as:
14% higher open rates
54.8% higher clicks
7.2% lower unsubscribes
Save on Postage and Printing
Direct mail is still extremely effective, however, but mass mailings that go straight into recycle bins is a waste of your leads’ time and your resources. By segmenting your contact list, you can ensure that the right message is getting to the right person. Would you send someone who hasn't been to your office in a year the same direct mail piece that you would send to an avid patient? If you run a multi-location practice, segmentation lets you skip sending direct mail about your newest practice’s open house to patients in a town 45 minutes away .
Show Patients You Care...With the Click of a Button!
Segmentation allows you to personalize content you send based on people’s expressed interests, demographics, geographic location, and other specific qualities. For instance, imagine someone who downloaded your PDF on “How to Get Cleaner Teeth.” Sure, you could email them information about your family dental services--but that’s something they’ve showed no interest in, and they’re likely to ignore it. Now imagine that instead, they receive an automated series of informative emails about the benefits of teeth whitening. This is useful, relevant information that will engage and nurture your contact, and when they reach your call-to-action, they’ll likely want to engage further with your practice.
Another way practices can show patients concern for their well-being is by creating segmented lists based on the results of comfort surveys¹; for example, sending unique messages to people who noted in their responses that they fear pain. This small tweak communicates to your patient that you know and care for them
Prioritize Your Target Audience
Many practices identify their target audience--their ideal client-- but then never take the next step and start actually marketing to them. Segmentation combined with automation enables you to send messages that are relevant your target audience. One application example: your target audience is patients desiring family services who live within a 40-minute drive from of your practice. When a website visitor expresses interest in your family services, you could set up a series of emails talking about those specific services. You could also create referral request emails designed with this person in mind. As new patients become regulars, you would add them to this list as well. If your target audience includes patients using specific insurance types such as Delta Dental, you could create segmented lists to provide them with relevant updates about their coverage.
Respond to Needs Quickly
Segmented messages that get triggered automatically enable leads and current patients to feel that their needs get addressed swiftly. Patients who request an appointment online will immediately receive messages regarding their request. Leads who click on a PDF guide about a specific types of service, such as Invisalign®, will have their email address instantly added to an email series detailing additional information about the process.
Other ways practices can implement automated messages to segmented audiences via text and email without the dental team doing anything, include:
Emailing review requests after each patient appointment
Sending appointment reminders that notify patients who are scheduled for upcoming visits
Alerting patients with recall reminders when they are due for check-ups or cleanings
Ways to Use Segmentation at Your Practice
Aside from automated messages, dental practices might send uniquely-crafted messages to segmented audiences for a variety of purposes, including²:
Following up with cancelled accounts from the last 30 days
Messaging all active patients about a new speciality service
Informing patients with upcoming appointments for the next 2 weeks to enter through a side door due to a minor remodel
Sending patients who had appointments in the past week a thank-you for their understanding while an office was experiencing transition, such as a change in software
Welcoming new patients from the previous month
Notifying patients on an ASAP wait list that an appointment slot has become available
Re-engaging patients who’ve been inactive, need a recall, and missed or cancelled appointments in the previous month
Emailing referred patients a follow-up special
Thanking patients who referred friends, with the option of sending a gift
Creating custom groups³ with synced automation that begins a series of messages as soon as someone gets added to group, with subsequent messages at specific times
Overuse of segmentation can sometimes backfire, causing your audience to feel as if their privacy has been violated. Always adhere to HIPAA and provide your leads and patients with opportunities to control what messages they would like to receive. Include checkboxes in your online forms and links in your messaging emails that let your audience choose the updates they want, or unsubscribe entirely.
Segmentation is a powerful marketing tool that can show your patients you care while saving your practice valuable time and resources. You can send the right people the right messages, growing your leads and fueling your practice growth.
¹ For current Legwork PRM customers, see our training video “Patient Tab Message Blasting and Individual contact” for steps on how to create segmented lists https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miSQVYPELRQ
² Legwork PRM customers, see training video “Patient Based Reports” to learn how to implement these ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXZmSNuopac
³ Current Legwork customers, see training video “Pat Tab Creating and Using Custom Groups” to learn how to create custom groups https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK4hRtjg5Uk