(This article is an 8-minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. The stats you should expect when doing email marketing correctly
2. The four steps to measure in email marketing
3. Why unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing
Practice owners and managers are often uncomfortable about marketing a veterinary practice with email. They don’t want to spam their clients. Fair enough. Plus they have a waiting room and surgery which lets them put up posters and flyers about products and procedures—and isn’t it easier to market to existing clients? And aren’t they right there in the waiting room?
Yes they are. And yes, it is easier to market to your existing clients. But there are a couple of misconceptions there. One is that people in your surgery are open to marketing messages. They are in there with a sick pet. While they’re in that waiting room, they aren’t ready to be sold to.
You’re also partly right about spamming your clients. When email marketing is done badly, it IS spam. And like all spam, it has low open rates and click rates.
But you can do email marketing without spamming people—in fact, you can do it without selling anything at all. And it seems counter-intuitive, but the less you sell, the more successful your email marketing will be.
How often is a client in your waiting room? Once a year? Twice a year? While they’re in there, they may flick through some of your magazines or brochures, or stare at the posters on the wall. But they’re not taking much in. They’re worried about their pet.
And a lot of the information in your waiting room is generic—it has to be. You just don’t have enough physical space in there to have a lot of detailed information on each type of pet. Cat owners don’t care about dog health. If you have a pet rabbit, you’re not going to care about information on birds. But the information in your waiting room has to be that broad to cater to everyone.
Email marketing solves that problem. It is easy to segment your customer database according to what type of pet they own. With modern email marketing software, it’s as easy to send a slightly different email to all of those different segments at the same time.
More importantly, you can send it regularly. I would recommend every month, but even if you sent it once a quarter, you’ll be talking to that client four times as often as you normally would.
You may have already tried this. You may have sent out your practice newsletter and only gotten a 3 per cent click-through. And half the people who clicked were just unsubscribing.
We all get too many emails, that’s true. And if the email is trying to sell us something—if it’s not addressed to us personally, and not about something we care about—we tend to find it annoying. That type of email marketing is spamming, and it’s an obnoxious thing to do.
But when you send people an email with useful information about how they can have happier, healthier pets, they will pay attention. According to our data (based on analysing 2.7 million emails across nearly 1000 campaigns), you will get up to 10 times to click-through rate on an article—for example, something linking to a blog post—as you will on an ad.
The whole idea of email marketing for veterinary practices, or any business, is to get attention and engagement first. If you bombard people with sales messages, you lose the attention of 98 per cent of them. If you try to trick them, you will annoy them.
If the email is offering information about something important to us, like our pet, we’re more likely to pay attention to it. If it’s specifically all about our pet—say, all about what my cat is doing when he disappears for a week, and the best type of cat food for him, and how to get rid of fleas on a cat—I’ll read every word.
There will still be people who will unsubscribe. But that’s fine. If they actively don’t want to hear from you, then you shouldn’t bother them. You only want to talk to those who DO want to hear from you anyway.
The final step in successfully marketing a veterinary practice with email is to measure it. DOn’t just measure the number of clients who come in. That is just measuring the last step in your marketing process.
You want to measure four steps in your marketing process. Measurement of all of them can be set up automatically. The four steps are:
* How many people are seeing your email
* What percentage of that group are clicking on links and reading articles
* What percentage of the second group are interested enough to seek more information from you
* What percentage of the third group are booking an appointment
That’s useful data that you can gather very easily, act on, and adjust your marketing to improve. For example, you may find that a small change to the way you communicate with people in step three might lead the a much larger number of clients.You can test that, watch it happen, and repeat it for predictable results.
That’s much more effective than doing nothing, or cluttering up your waiting room, or just advertising everywhere and hoping something will happen.
People don’t come in to your veterinary practice that often. The advantage of email marketing is you can communicate with patients when they’re not around and not thinking about you.
If you send emails with worthwhile content, rather than sales messages, you will not be spamming people. Even better if you can send content that is specific to their pet.
When you do that, you can reasonably expect a tenfold increase in attention. You can measure that attention using email marketing software to work out who you should be directing your marketing messages towards, and who isn’t worth worrying about.
None of that is spamming. It’s using technology to build relationships. And those relationships are not only good for your clients and their pets. They’re also good for your business.