How to Put Together an Effective E-mail Marketing Plan
E-mail marketing remains one of the most useful tools in small businesses’ marketing toolsets. According to a report from e-commerce software firm Monetate, e-mail marketing is still driving more overall sales than social media, partly because e-mail is easy to track, analyze and personalize.
If e-mail marketing is so effective at bringing in new business, then it only makes sense to use it. But chances are, you can’t find the time. Your dental practice is busy meeting existing patients’ needs, so even though you know an e-mail marketing program can grow your practice, it keeps getting pushed to the back burner.
Besides, it can be overwhelming. What exactly are you going to write about? Even if you already have a few topics in mind, you’re not sure what to tackle first. Would your readers even be interested in those topics? If so, how would you know? How often are you going to e-mail them? With so many factors to consider with each e-mail, it’s no wonder it takes so long (or never) for small businesses to get an e-mail marketing program off the ground.
The good news is you don’t have to think about all these factors every time you send an e-mail. With proper planning, you’ll only have to consider most of them once every six to 12 months. You can do this by treating your e-mail marketing plan like a publication—more specifically, like a magazine.
- Identify your audience. FamilyFun caters to parents with children ages 3 through 12, while Brides caters to women who are planning a wedding. Start by identifying your target audience. If you’re a pediatric dental practice, it’s likely to be parents of small children—or referring pediatricians. If you’re an endodontist, it’s likely to be referring dentists, and so on. Then, decide what you want your audience to do after reading your e-mails (e.g., call for an appointment, refer their patients to you, etc.). This will be your overarching goal, the reason why you’re using e-mail marketing in the first place. Use it to guide every e-mail you write.
- Follow a consistent publication schedule. Decide how often you want to send out e-mails. Don’t overreach, and be consistent; it’s better to send an e-mail consistently once a month than to send an e-mail every week for a month, then lapse into a sporadic schedule after realizing that you don’t have the resources or time.
- Have an editorial calendar planned out months in advance. Magazine editors know in January what the theme is going to be for July. Pick the dates when you’ll send your e-mails in the next six to 12 months. It could be the first of each month or the third Thursday of each month. Put those dates down on paper, then match them to factors that could impact your practice, such as annual events and scheduled promotions, holidays, and dental concerns that tend to crop up at certain times of the year (kids sure eat a lot of candy during Halloween, don’t they?). That way, you’ll have themes to guide each e-mail you write.
Of course, it’s possible that even with a magazine-type editorial calendar, you’ll find that implementing your e-mail marketing plan still takes up too much of your time. In that case, consider outsourcing to a company that specializes in e-mail marketing. That way, you can grow your practice while pouring all your energy into what you do best: caring for patients.
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