SMS Marketing for Dental Practices
Depending which sources you refer to, the dental industry is currently estimated to be worth anything from £6 billion to £9 billion and has seen an average annual growth of 14% in recent years. But just like any other sector, innovation is key to survival and long term prosperity. SMS Marketing is a versatile tool that has a wide range of applications in the dental sector – and can be used for much more than just appointment reminders. In this article, we look at some of the different ways SMS Marketing can be used by dental practices to improve customer satisfaction and increase turnover.
Why Choose SMS Marketing?
Before we explore the different ways that SMS Marketing can be used to benefit your dental practice, it makes sense to first make sure that we understand just why it is so effective. Firstly, almost every adult in the UK now owns or has access to a mobile phone, and most carry it with them all the time. On average, almost 100% of text messages are believed to be opened within approximately three minutes of being received – far higher than any comparable channel such as email marketing.
Current studies indicate that the majority of UK web searches are now performed on mobile devices, i.e smartphones. The chances are very high that if somebody is looking for their nearest dentist, they may well be looking online with their mobile. With people now so accustomed to working with the information that they have access to in the palm of their hands, SMS is a natural choice.
How to Use SMS Marketing
1. Appointment reminders
One obvious and well-tested application of SMS Marketing for the dental sector is appointment reminders. Whilst few people would say that they see going to the dentist as something to look forward to, nobody likes to miss an appointment. Research indicates that the most common reason for not turning up is simply forgetting. A simple SMS message a week in advance and the day prior can help to eliminate the problem. As well as providing a service to the patient, you can also increase profits by reducing the cost of no-shows.
Offering the patient the chance to rebook if required also allows you to provide spaces to other patients should they become available.
An example message might read:
“Dear Mrs Jones, You have an appointment at DREAMDENTISTS on Monday, September 4th at 10:00. We look forward to seeing you then. Should you need to reschedule, please call us on 01902 332445. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages in the future.”
It is worth noting that there are some compliance aspects that you should always consider. Firstly, always ensure that the patient has given their express permission to receive SMS Marketing communications. Simply using a mobile number that you have on record is not acceptable and can lead to problems. A properly worded tick box on your patient application form is sufficient. It is also a requirement to offer an opt-out in every message you send, although evidence indicates that very few customers ever use this option provided the text messages they send are relevant and do not cause any form of nuisance.
With this in mind, do consider the time at which you send messages – dentistry can be a sensitive issue and few would like to be reminded of tomorrow’s dental appointment by an SMS at 11 pm. Sticking to the working day is advisable.
2. How’s your smile?
The key to successfully using SMS Marketing is to introduce it to your customers at the earliest opportunity so that they come to expect messages from you – and even look forward to them. A great way to get interactive with a new patient is to send them an SMS-based smile survey. The simple concept is often used on registration forms, but converting the typical questions into an SMS survey is fairly straightforward.
Not only does this demonstrate a proactive approach to your patients, it also offers you a great opportunity to soft sell services such as teeth whitening or straightening in a manner that is sensitive and discreet.
3. Text Message Challenges
If you run a family dental practice, text message challenges can be a great way to engage families and promote good dental hygiene and habits to children and parents alike. You might want to consider linking up a challenge to well-publicised campaigns such as the annual National Smile Month campaign run by the Oral Health Foundation.
An example of a simple message that lends itself well to such an approach is encouraging children to make sure they brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. There are even some mobile apps that help to support this such as one that plays a child’s favourite song for two minutes, or the popular Disney app that is provided in partnership with Oral B. Why not use today’s technology to its fullest and link to one in the message?
4. Satisfaction Survey
Under the best practice guidelines set out by the Care Quality Commission, dentists should be proactive in providing their patients with the opportunity to leave feedback. SMS messaging is a great way to make this as simple and convenient as possible. Understandably, many patients won’t want to hang around after their treatment to fill in a survey card – but they are likely to respond to some simple questions over a coffee later on. Use a simple number scoring system to keep things as easy as possible for the patient, and be sure to inform them that their time is valuable.
Following the basic etiquette that one would expect in any form of communication is the best way to ensure that your SMS Marketing messages always get the right response.
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If you’d like more information about how our business bulk SMS messaging solutions can benefit your business, give our expert customer services team a call now on 0800 954 5305 and we will be happy to connect you with a specialist in your sector.
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