Dental practice teams certainly understand how to send out patient appointment reminders, post-visit notes, and other dental email communications to keep patients engaged and dental chairs full.
Yet when emails go unread, or when patients miss important information, busy dental teams typically don’t have time to sift through email best practices to find out why emails aren’t working as they should.
So, here they are—common dental email marketing best practices that are sure to help you reach more patients:
1. Write Clear & Strong Subject Lines
Your email subject line is the first thing that patients see, and it typically lands among many emails competing for a patient’s attention. The average person receives roughly 100 work-related emails per day.
To manage the flood, people generally first decide which emails to delete without reading them. So, if your subject line is unclear or confusing, the chances of it heading straight to the trash, or worse, getting marked as SPAM, are high.
To avoid this:
- Keep ‘em short. Subject lines work best when you keep it under 50 characters
- Use clear, simple subject lines. Something like “Dental appointment reminder” accurately describes what the email will be about
- Personalized subject lines. Studies show readers are 26% more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines. While you can opt to use the generic pronoun your, you’re going to get much better results by adding the name of the patient or their family member or other personal details. Example: “David, your dental appointment reminder,” or “3 tips to keep Susie’s teeth healthy.”
- Stay out of SPAM. Avoid words like “FREE” so you aren’t marked as SPAM. See HubSpot’s list of almost 400 words that could trigger spam filters.
Bonus: Use a tool like CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester to quickly check your proposed email subject line against several of these points and more before hitting send.
2. Optimize your Preheader Text
In most email applications right after the subject line you’ll see a preview of the email, this is called the preheader text. Leaving this field blank in your email sending program will cause email clients to show just the first text in the email.
So, to make sure you show your dental email recipients exactly what you want, always add a preheader.
Constant Contact recommends thinking of the preheader text as an opportunity to share your main the call to action with your patients.
Combining a clear subject line that states the purpose of the email with a short (50-90 characters) preheader call to action is a great way to drive higher email open rates.
3. Keep the Email Content Short
When your patients open an email from you and glance at lengthy content, many decide they don’t have time to read it, they’ll read it later (but don’t), or skim it quickly and miss important information.
Avoid the long content glaze by following the steps below:
- Keep dental email content short (ideally 100 words or less)
- Use short sentences to make reading easy
- Keep content focused on one topic (e.g., appointment reminder information). If you also want to send patients additional information like general oral healthcare tips, send the content in a separate email.
- Link out to other important information if it will make your email more readable, but make sure you include a reason to click or you’re not likely to get anyone doing so. You can link out to articles (mentioning the juicy bits in the email), account information, or your scheduling software.
4. Make it Personal (Meaningful)
Few people have ever developed a sense of personal connection with a business based on form letters, which are written for anyone.
People want to know they’re recognized as people. So, whether you’re manually sending out dental emails or using an automated patient communication platform to save time and improve practice efficiency, make sure to personalize the content.
Example: Use a patient’s first name in a salutation. Examples: “Dear John,” or “Hi, Mary.”
Sending an email on a birthday is another fun way to personalize your dental communications & let your patients know that you’re thinking about them.
Email postscript example: “Overdue for a checkup? Use our new online forms to conveniently schedule your next appointment, or call our receptionist, Jennifer, and she’ll get you into the office as soon as possible.”
Personalization works both ways. When you make your dental practice more personal, you strengthen connections with patients.
Pictures of staff and email signatures from you or a staff member (not just From, Platinum Dental) can go a long way to letting them know they’re dealing with real people.
5. Time your Email Right
As mentioned earlier, patients receive many emails each day. Yet the email flow doesn’t happen at a constant rate. Many marketers, for example, tend to send people emails early in the morning.
To avoid the possibility of missed or deleted emails amidst the glut, some practices opt to send dental emails during the afternoon or weekends.
Also, try sending your emails on different days and at various times. You can track open rates (and click-throughs as well if your email includes a call to action) to see which combination gets the best response & engagement rates.
To save time sending emails outside of regular hours, more practices are now taking advantage of automated patient communications.
6. Double Check Spelling and Grammar
Even simple spelling mistakes can be costly and damage your practice reputation. Recent findings, for example, show U.S. businesses with spelling mistakes on their websites lose roughly double the number of potential customers than those with typo-free websites. So, thoroughly review emails before clicking Send.
7. Add Practice Contact Information
People enjoy easy. If they didn’t, Staples wouldn’t have invented the Easy Button. So, always include your practice contact information so patients don’t have to go looking for it.
This particularly applies to general oral healthcare emails. Patients certainly aren’t in the habit of sharing things like appointment reminders with family and friends.
Yet they may be inclined to share general healthcare info, and if a recipient is looking for a new dentist, your full contact information in an email (including your website address) makes it simple for a prospective patient to contact you.
8. Include Opt-Out Links to Avoid Spam Folders
Apart from email opt-outs being required by law, they allow patients to respectfully decline your email, rather than reporting your emails as spam. Inversely, if you’re sending practice emails to people who didn’t choose to join your practice email list, you’re spamming people
When your emails are reported as spam, future emails get sent to a recipient’s Spam Folder, which obviously isn’t the best place for your dental practice emails to land.
Connected to this, make sure your patient list is up to date, including the most current patient email addresses.
Someone who was once a patient but still on your list may mark your emails as spam if they’re no longer interested in receiving them, and emails marked as spam hurt your overall email deliverability.
9. Always Send a Plain Text Email with HTML Ones
Yes, emails rich with images and other design elements can engage patients. Yet the jury remains out on whether they’re more effective than plain text emails, based on numerous factors, including:
- HTML emails are not universally supported and problematic for people in areas with slow internet connections
- Plain text emails are more accessible
- Email services generally filter HTML emails away from a recipient’s inbox more than plain text
Having said this, HTML emails have advantages, including design distinction, visual versatility, and the ability for in-depth analytics.
If you’re committed to HTML emails (ideally optimized for mobile devices), providing a text-only option serves all patients best, and adds to your overall email objectives to reach more patients, keep them engaged, and keep your production schedule full.
10. Have One Clear Call to Action
Outside of general information emails like oral healthcare tips, dental practices naturally want or need patients to do something: confirm an appointment, complete a form, etc. So, make it as plain and easy for patients to do that something: Examples:
- Make clickable buttons noticeable
- Set hyperlinked text in bold type.
- Tell patients what to do (e.g., “Click here to [perform this action]”)
In tandem with the above, have one clear call to action per email. Asking patients to do several things in the same email causes confusion, and actions go unnoticed and undone.
This point reinforces another key advantage of automated patient communications.
Many dental practice emails must happen in the right sequence. When you set and automate email sequences, you ensure the right communications reach the right patients at the right time. You save time, increase overall efficiency, and ultimately realize more practice revenue.
11. Use Images Sparingly; and Make Sure They’re Appropriate
Sometimes HTML emails can be mistaken as “junk” or “marketing” emails. Make sure your practice’s emails have high-quality stock photos, where it makes sense.
If you overwhelm the reader with too many photos it may not be a good viewing experience and lower your response rates.
To tie it all together, here’s an example of what a great dental appointment reminder email could look like:
Congratulations! If you’ve read this far, you now know more than many other dental practices about common dental email mistakes, how to avoid them, and how to reach more patients.
Improve patient loyalty and satisfaction with this user-friendly, step-by-step workbook that walks you through the process!