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Dental Practice Newsletter Shortcuts & Hacks In 2021

March 2021
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In today’s article, we’ll share what we’ve learned from helping dental practices around the country with their newsletters and dental marketing efforts. Whether you’re thinking about starting a newsletter of your own or are looking for ways to get more out of your newsletter, you’ll learn best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and much more.

Getting started

“Is it worth sending a newsletter?”

In our experience, you can begin to see real returns from your newsletter if you have over 500 contacts on your mailing list. Any fewer and your investment is unlikely to pay off. You just won’t be reaching enough people to make it likely that a significant number will be opening, reading, and taking action on your email.

Here’s the biggest mistake you can make:

Never send emails to people who haven’t given explicit permission to be contacted by you. Only email those who have opted-in to receiving your emails.

When you send emails to people who don’t want them, you’ll get reported as spam. Any reputable newsletter service will quickly close your account — no questions asked.

How many spam reports are too many? For every 1000 emails you send, you want fewer than 1 spam complaint.

If someone doesn’t want to receive your emails, why would you even want to email them?

Choose a HIPAA-compliant email service provider

“What should I use to send my dental practice newsletter?”

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Not all email marketing services are created equal. As a dentist, the most important part of choosing a service is to make sure it’s HIPAA compliant.

Here’s are a few other things to consider:

  • Cost — Most services charge by the size of your list.
  • Usability — Look for a platform that matches your skill level.
  • Deliverability — Mail providers like Yahoo, Google, and Hotmail are aggressive in their fight against spam. Make sure the service is reputable and will help your emails make it to your recipients’ inboxes (and not flagged as spam).

Did I get your attention?

The subject line — what you see in your inbox — is your chance to grab readers and make them want to open your newsletter. For best results:

  • Be bold, funny, and specific
  • Don’t give away too much
  • Keep your subject line between 50 and 100 characters
  • Emojis can make your subject line more eye-catching

The 3 C’s of dental practice newsletters

“How often should I send a newsletter? How long should it be? What else am I forgetting?”

Remember what we call the 3 C’s of newsletters:

  • Consistency — Don’t give up on your newsletter. Too many dental practice newsletters start strong and then fizzle out quickly. Don’t give up! Our recommendation is to commit to sending a monthly newsletter for a year. If you can do this, the results will be worth it.
  • Conciseness — It’s a newsletter, not a novel! Keep your dental practice newsletter short. 250 words is about the limit for most people’s attention spans. Use original photography to catch your readers’ eyes and then get your message across quickly.
  • Call-to-Action — Give your readers something to do! Read your most recent blog post, schedule an appointment, come to your patient appreciation party, join your practice at a community event. Don’t ask for too much, though. Multiple calls-to-action can overwhelm readers and lead to inaction.

Can’t-miss newsletter topics

“What should I write about? What do people want to know?”

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Why do dentists give up on their newsletters? It’s most often because they feel they don’t have anything worth sharing. Nothing could be further from the truth! We recommend planning your newsletters for the next 3 months. Any longer and the planning process can become overwhelming. Any shorter and you’ll find yourself scrambling and planning every month.

Start by creating a template for your newsletters that you can reuse each month. Remember that you don’t want to overload readers with too much information. Focus on 2 points each month and keep your newsletter short. Dentists we work with often use their newsletter to highlight:

  • Blog posts — Your dental practice does have a blog, right? Promote your most recent blog post in each newsletter.
  • Announcements — Do you have new services? Did you add a new dentist or hygienist to your team? Sponsoring a local 5K or other event? Share the big news!
  • Reminders — Are you having a back-to-school special? Closing the office for a week? Planning a patient appreciation party? Your newsletter is the perfect place to remind patients about what you’re up to.

How to track and measure results

“Is this even working?”

Many dentists who start sending a newsletter expect instant results. But they’re often not even sure what results they should be looking for. You can expect your newsletter to maintain your connection with patients. When they need a dentist, they’ll be more likely to think of you. Patients will also be less likely to miss their check-ups and exams — a leading cause of patients leaving a practice.

Unfortunately, these results are harder to quantify and directly connect to your newsletter. In the short-term, however, turn to the analytics provided by your newsletter service. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

We like to keep things simple and usually refer back to 3 key metrics:

  • Open rate — 30% is a good goal for most dental practice newsletters. Keep an eye out if this number drops for 2-3 months in a row. You may need to rethink the subject line and content of your newsletters.
  • Clicks — Are people interacting with your newsletter and visiting your site/reading the blog posts you’re linking to?
  • Unsubscribes — Don’t stress out too much if a few people unsubscribe from your newsletter. It’s actually a good thing! If someone unsubscribes, they don’t want to get your newsletter. If they kept getting it, they might eventually mark it as spam which is MUCH worse. If you do notice more than 5% of your list unsubscribing every month you might need to reconsider your approach and look for ways to reengage your audience.

Pro Tip: Use Google’s UTM code generator to append tracking codes to links in your newsletter. It will make tracking results in Google Analytics much easier!

Most importantly: Ask your patients! This is the best way to get feedback about your newsletter. After an exam or at the front desk, just ask:

  1. Do you get our newsletter?
  2. What would you like us to write about?

Use the answers you get to guide and inform the content of future newsletters. Over time you’ll develop a sense for what patients want to read and putting your newsletter together every month will keep getting easier.

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