Inside Dental Technology
E-Mail Marketing Essentials
The dos and don’ts of successful online communication.
How hard is it to send e-mails to a list of potential clients? Well, maybe not that hard, but it still requires some thought. Your mission is to reach as many clients and potential clients as possible, in a professional manner, for the purpose of maximizing the following aspects: 1.) their involvement with you; 2.) their positive feelings toward you; 3.) their awareness of the services you offer; 4.) the chance that they will continue to use, or try to use, your services. If the e-mail, or the content within the e-mail, does not seem to further your mission, it is more likely just busywork. This is all necessary in the hopes of growing your customer database by gaining and maintaining your clientele.
With that said, it is all too easy to make a first-timer’s error. Here are some of the most common:
Using poor etiquette for multiple recipients. There are several ways to include multiple recipients on one message, but the only acceptable one is the blind carbon copy (bcc). Otherwise, you risk annoying all the recipients for the privacy violation and jeopardize their view of you. This may lead them to think that you run an amateur operation. If there is one savvy marketer on your list, he or she can reach out to everyone else on your list with one click of the “reply all” button.
Using your own e-mail provider without regard to the risk. Your own provider (Yahoo, Outlook, Google, etc) can easily handle a small, controlled list, ie, your most active clients with whom you already communicate regularly via e-mail. But when the list grows (as you hope it will) to include recipients who may not remember you or your e-mail address—who are not yet clients or who do not deal with you on a daily basis—it is safer to use a service that sends on your behalf. Risks include sending limits, SPAM filters, lack of white lists, and more. Avoiding the risks maximizes the chance that your e-mail message will get to the intended inbox, allowing the recipient to choose to respond. Constant Contact® is the service you have most likely heard or seen advertised, but there are dozens if not hundreds from which to choose—many with free trials or permanently free status for limited benefit (search “e-mail marketing,” “e-mail newsletter service,” or a similar phrase).
Not paying attention to grammar, spelling, formatting, or linking. “Save u $4 svc” is not appropriate for business correspondence—a link that does not link defeats its purpose, and misspellings look unprofessional. Plenty of great businessmen and women do not know compliment from complement—even if you are not one of them, have someone proofread for you.
Choosing poor content. Your e-mail newsletter is a great opportunity to connect with clients and potential clients. Make sure that the content you are adding is relevant to them and not to you, compelling, timely, and interesting so they will want to keep connecting. Imagine that you are the recipient—if presented with the information you are about to write, would you respond “so what?” If so, replace that information with something else, or put a spin on it that is more appropriate. For example, your clients may not care that you have a new Facebook page, but they will care that you are posting a monthly contest in which the winner gets a crown at no charge. All recipients want to know WIIFM?—What’s In It for Me? It is your job to tell them.
Sending too often—or not often enough. There is a fine line between “annoyingly often” and “wait, who are you again?” You are more likely to find the right frequency if your content is relevant, compelling, timely, and interesting.
Forgetting your goal. Remember your mission? Your mission is to reach as many clients and potential clients as possible—in a professional manner—for the purpose of maximizing their involvement with you, gaining positive feelings toward you, raising their awareness of products and services you offer, and increasing the chance that they will continue to use, or try to use, your products and services..
Many of the potential errors discussed above are good reminders about business communication habits via all methods. If you think about e-mail marketing in a communicative context, it is easier to make clear and careful decisions about what to do, when to do it, and why.
Mona Zemsky is the principal of M.Source, a hands-on and practical marketing consultancy (with a specialty in the dental industry) focusing on marketing planning and execution.