10 Ways to Optimize Your Eye Care Practice’s Email Marketing Strategy
By Practice Growth March 15, 2021
In an age when technologies often have a super-short lifecycle, moving from birth to peak to obsolescence in a matter of months, our decades-old friend email continues to be not just relevant, but actually thrive. The key to its continuing power and relevancy is users’ unwavering ability to find new ways to use its simple combination of subject line and body.
Eye care practices have long been familiar with email’s power to reach an established patient population with practice news, special offers, educational content, and the old standard – birthday wishes. While most practices have an established process for keeping in touch with patients through email, they may not be entirely happy with the results. Others may be happy with their results and want to take their process to the next level, but they aren’t quite sure what that is and how to get there.
Regardless of your level of email marketing expertise, here are ten ways to optimize your email marketing strategy:
1. Write emails that get opened.
If your patient doesn’t open your email, nothing else on this list (or any other) matters. The point of all of this is to get the patient to click on the email and read what’s inside. Emails that get opened are emails that have a short subject line. It should include your practice name and avoid language intended to remind, such as “remember” and “don’t forget.” Make a promise in the subject line that’s fulfilled when the email is opened. If you offer a discount in the subject line, base it on a percentage instead of a specific dollar amount. Research indicates that this boosts open rates significantly.
2. Deliver value.
Once your patient opens your email, he or she must find something interesting, useful, or appealing inside. If your content is bland, patients may feel like they’ve wasted their time, which means you have wasted their time and your own. Do that a couple times in a row and they’ll start deleting your emails unread. Valuable content can be answering a question that you are asked frequently, offering information that allows patients to take greater control over their own health, and addressing a community issue that has a connection to your specialty.
3. Get personal.
We don’t mean asking how much they weigh or how much they took home last year. We mean using their first name at the beginning of the email and tailoring the offer or information inside to their specific needs or areas of interest. There’s no point in offering a discounted AMD exam to a patient in their twenties. A special offer on a contact lens fitting, on the other hand, is much more likely to connect with a present need.
4. Don’t be cloying.
Once you get the hang of creating personalized emails that get opened and deliver value, you’ll be excited to send out another email campaign right away. Wait. There’s a fine line between keeping in contact with your patients and causing them to say, “I just got an email from Dr. ___ a few days ago. What now?” Like any healthy, mutually beneficial relationship, the two parties in the ECP-patient relationship need time apart.
5. Respect preferences.
Sometimes patients just aren’t interested in receiving emails with news, special offers, or useful information from your practice. The only time they want to hear from you is to be reminded of an upcoming appointment. An easy-to-find “unsubscribe” link in the email makes the process of getting the recipient off the email list easy for both parties and frees your marketing person to focus on email-receptive patients.
6. Offer to trade.
If you traded baseball cards, marbles, clothes, video games, or lunches when you were a child, you’ve already got the skills and experience necessary to turn a lead magnet into new addresses on your email list. A lead magnet is simply an item you give away in exchange for a potential patient’s contact information, most often their name and email address. Possible lead magnets include an eye health quiz, a free report on how to choose the best contact lens, a complimentary eye exam or consultation, and a special offer for an eye-related product or service. The most important thing is that it is tantalizing – something the target audience wants enough that they will share their email addresses in exchange for it.
7. Engage the eye.
Eye-catching elements are an important consideration in delivering emails that get opened and, if any business should have visually appealing emails, it should be an eye care practice, right? Simply adding a photo, graphic, or colorful border to your email content can transform a standard-looking message into something that catches the patient’s attention, holds it, and maybe even makes them smile.
8. Avoid the spam folder.
Making sure your emails aren’t mistaken for spam means knowing what NOT to do: Don’t use spam words and phrases (“medicine,” “no medical exams,” “reverses aging”). Don’t buy or rent an outside email list – build your own instead. Building a successful email list comes from clearing out unresponsive addresses periodically. Letting this maintenance slide will negatively affect your engagement rate, causing internet service providers to route your emails into recipients’ spam folders.
9. Mix it up.
It’s tempting to stick with one type of email campaign when it proves successful, but trying a variety of campaigns will allow you to build an entire arsenal of messages that yield equally impressive results. Plus it will keep your email communications from getting predictable and stale.
10. Speling and grahmer be important.
Just as the most carefully crafted email is worthless if it doesn’t get opened, that email will also fail you if the patient opens it, reads it, and finds spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It conveys the idea that you don’t care how you present your practice to the world, and it undermines your image of expertise and professionalism.
Optimizing your email marketing strategy is a matter of knowing how to harness the well-established power and appeal of email and use it to deliver messages that engage your patients as individuals, respect their time, provide something of value, and address the needs they have today. Do that and this veteran workhorse of Internet communication will continue to prove its value against the younger social media upstarts.