Understanding Email Marketing for Dentists: The Ultimate Pocket Guide

Melanie Balke
December 4, 2023

Email marketing can be confusing.

You have so many variables — audience, personalization, timing, and so on — and so little time. Now, imagine being a dentist and juggling your daily practice needs with these concerns. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you don’t have to imagine that situation; you’re living it!

For all its benefits, email marketing remains a massive time investment.

It requires technical and strategic skills. And it’s not enough to deliver content at the right time. You must also have the right content! Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and money on a marketing strategy that never pays for itself.

Fortunately for everyone, I’m here to help! Keep scrolling to learn more about the ins and outs of email marketing for dentists. I’ll walk you through the basics of this lucrative digital marketing tactic and show you how to maximize its power. I’ll even give you a glimpse of some of the behind-the-scenes secrets professionals use to make email campaigns shine!

Why Your Dental Practice Needs an Email Marketing Strategy

“The Dentist,” a 1529 etching by Lucas van Leyden, showing a medieval man having a tooth pulled. Overlaid text reads, “The Perks: Why You Need Email Marketing.”

I’ll start with the basics.

Why should you care about email marketing?

You already have so much on your plate. You’re managing patients, scheduling procedures, and maintaining a spick-and-span practice. Already, you’re investing countless hours of work into your dental business. Why, then, should you add even more to your plate?

Well, obviously, there are plenty of perks to email marketing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this post!

Use Dental Email Marketing to Boost Patient Satisfaction

One of the most apparent reasons to invest in dental email marketing is its power as a customer management tool. Yes, it seems a bit cold to call your beloved patients “customers,” but they meet the term’s defined criteria! They’re paying individuals investing in a service. And as customers, they’re subject to the homogenized whims of modern society.

Summarily, modern consumers now expect and demand digital interactions. Where email was once a luxury, it has become a necessity. It’s a two-way communication tool that conveniently centralizes your most important correspondence.

In fact, 25% of consumers cite a lack of communication when asked why they unsubscribed from a mailing list.

And it works both ways.

That constant contact also gives your dental business a convenient way to gather patient feedback. Don’t limit that feedback to your services, either! You can also ask current patients about your marketing strategy. Use those surveys as fast-tracked A/B testing tools and consider questions such as…

  • Do you feel that you’re receiving too many emails? (Carefully consider how you ask this question. It’s often better to ask a simple yes/no question than to demand a detailed answer.)
  • What other services can we offer to make your visits more enjoyable?
  • What information do you want to see in future newsletters?
  • Would you recommend our dental practice to friends and family? (When asking this question, consider offering incentives to do so. Loyal patients should be rewarded for their continued patronage!)

Take Advantage of Technology

Of course, I’m not saying to ignore the obvious relationship-boosting perks of email marketing.

Patient loyalty is nice, but it can’t beat the one-two combo of convenience and efficiency. Today, integrated tools allow dental practices to schedule appointments and checkups with email addresses, ensuring every patient receives timely appointment reminder emails.

Perhaps more importantly, emails are a cost-effective way to remind customers of your existence. Again, I don’t mean to sound harsh! The bottom line is that most people only visit the dentist once a year. Few patients will make weekly visits to your office.

And that’s not a bad thing. Exemplary dental hygiene should be lauded. However, proper oral care often results in low brand recognition. (Yes, your dental practice is technically a brand.) This means your dentistry business may be the last one on their minds when it’s time for a yearly checkup.

Fortunately, regular educational content and reminder emails can help you avoid this woeful fate. This is the power of the customer service email, and it’s far from the only perk of this marketing channel.

Captivate Audiences With an Educational Email Marketing Campaign

A dentist working on a patient. “Email Education: Email marketing is a cost-effective way to keep patients engaged.”

Speaking of educational emails…

Email marketing’s versatility makes it a prime candidate for on-demand education. Much of this power is fueled by segmentation, the ability to send emails to specific groups or individuals.

If this sounds confusing, allow me to illustrate the concept.

Imagine that you have a new patient — we’ll name her Sally. Unfortunately for Sally, she has a bad case of periodontitis. When you inform Miss Sally of this, she’s startled. “I don’t even know what peridontitis is,” says Sally, “How can I treat it?”

This is where you pull out some email marketing for dentists.

You could give her a printed pamphlet. If you’re so determined, you may even send Sally some old-fashioned mail through the post office. However, a few clicks can cover all the information Sally needs. You can even add Sally’s name to create a series of informative, personalized emails addressing her periodontitis.

In doing so, you reap a variety of benefits, including:

  • Convenience: Free up some of that valuable office real estate by ridding yourself of those physical handouts. Email marketing for dentists requires little more than some storage space and a patient’s email address.
  • Eco-Friendly Outreach: All those old-fashioned paper pamphlets might be great for technology-adverse patients, but they’re a massive ecological problem. In 2018 alone, the United States burned a whopping 17.2 million tons of paper waste. Fortunately, digital pamphlets contribute little to the world’s ever-growing landfills.
  • Lower Patient Retention Costs: There are only so many ways for me to point out the financial viability of email marketing. However, educational email campaigns also reduce your outreach overhead. Think of all the ink and paper you’ll save by switching to digital delivery!
  • Patient Engagement: You’ll know when a patient opens a digital pamphlet by checking your open rates. You obviously can’t control your beloved patients’ lives, but you can certainly monitor their oral health journey!
  • Sharability: Take advantage of modern connectivity by distributing easy-to-share content. Consumers get valuable information that they can easily forward to friends and family. This may not be the immediate gratification you’re looking for, but word-of-mouth marketing remains a strong marketing strategy.

Leverage Your Information and Credibility

And I can’t overlook the credibility that you gain from email marketing.

Yes, you have your website. That hard-won SEO rank is great, but it’s more effective when spread across multiple platforms. Moreover, unlike SEO, your emails aren’t funded by paid ad space. Outside of the cost of your email marketing platform, you’re paying pennies for every email.

Thus, you can craft a unique target audience based on any criteria!

There are so many ways to tap into email marketing’s power. I don’t have time to list every possible campaign, but I can name a few! Think of the possibilities as you read through these ideas:

  • Delight parents by showcasing innovative and fun ways to encourage stubborn little ones to brush their teeth.
  • Flaunt recent developments in the dental industry and advertise your practice’s high-tech solutions to prospective patients.
  • Garner patient referrals by incentivizing recommendations.
  • Keep patients informed by delivering on-demand appointment reminders, billing information, and personalized oral hygiene tips.
  • Promote your presence on social media platforms by showcasing recent posts and comments. This is also a great time to show off online reviews.
  • Show your compassionate side by checking in after missed appointments or lengthy procedures.

What It Takes to Run Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

Overlapping leaves. “What It Takes: Building Your Email Marketing Strategy.”

However, these benefits are not without risk.

Poorly managed email marketing campaigns can destroy a business. While a retailer’s primary concern will be revenue loss, your dental practice has even higher stakes. Inappropriate or disingenuous dental marketing can cause a catastrophic failure, wiping away credibility and gobbling up your marketing investment.

Moreover, your targeted promotional emails need a place to go. You’re just wasting time if your dental clinic pushes out emails that never get opened. At the same time, you cannot abuse your subscribers. Your email marketing efforts must have value; otherwise, you’ll likely scare off potential patients.

And I haven’t even scratched the surface of outdated web design. You may think of yourself as “just a dentist,” but your online presence must match your professionalism. After all, you’re a healthcare provider!

Start With a Goal

Your first step is theoretical.

What do you want from your marketing strategy?

There’s a massive gulch between customer acquisition and educational campaigning.

Think about it for a moment. Imagine yourself as one of your prospective patients. You’d be very confused if you got an email thanking you for your loyalty. You’d be equally baffled to receive a marketing email reminding you of an appointment you’ve yet to make!

Summarily, you need a roadmap. Otherwise, you’re playing email marketing darts wearing a blindfold.

Countless goals exist, and your dental practice may have unique marketing needs. However, there are a handful of common bases from which to build your email marketing strategy, including:

  • Boosting Customer Acquisition: This is the most common goal for most email marketing strategies. For this, marketers often rely on informational email campaigns (such as dental hygiene tips) and flows for new customers.
  • Building Brand Reputation: Whether you’re introducing a new service or seeking more weight against other healthcare professionals, reputation-building depends on cross-channel marketing. You’ll probably be monitoring your click-through rates and mixing in some Google Ads work, too.
  • Maintaining Patient Satisfaction: This often overlaps with patient retention. You’ll usually focus on finding ways to reward loyal patients and boost the reputation of your dental clinic.
  • Social Media Awareness: Court the younger crowd by promoting your social media posts. Here, you’ll want to use every email campaign as a promotional opportunity. Plug your social media marketing presence and promote your other marketing strategies. This can reduce the need to acquire so much ad space on other platforms.

Make Those Emails Worthwhile

Much like traditional marketing, emails suffer from modern inattentiveness.

You must maintain the audience’s interest.

Fortunately, you can invest in valuable content to put your practice above other local dental clinics. Aside from boosting patient engagement and retention, worthwhile content guarantees a steady stream of new subscribers.

This boosts your email list, which ultimately amplifies your marketing emails. You’re building your lead generation capabilities, which will help you expand beyond your existing patients.

Be Creative

Finally, you need some email marketing ideas.

While I’m sure all dental professionals are thrilled by oral health, most people are less interested. Unfortunately, even a great email marketing platform can’t fix this social faux pas. People just aren’t as interested in teeth as you are, and you have to make the topic more relevant.

This is where things get tough.

How can you appeal to the masses? How can you make targeted emails that integrate educational content, appointment reminders, and business announcements? Moreover, how will these efforts tie in with your dental marketing strategies? Will you integrate with other social media platforms? Or, perhaps, do you need a more traditional approach for an older target audience?

These questions are just some of the essentials you’ll need to learn before starting your email marketing campaigns.

Let Us Help You Build a Dental Email Marketing Strategy

It’s a lot of work, but you can find help!

My team of professional marketers is always ready to please. We’ll tackle your email marketing needs with ease. Your current patients will love engaging with your new content. Your new patients will be amazed at your high-tech marketing emails. And you get to enjoy a coherent marketing strategy without all the work!

Schedule a free strategy session today and see how we can help your dental practice grow. I’ll show you how dental email marketing campaigns can nurture and expand your audience without breaking your budget. You can also find plenty of digital marketing tips and tricks on my blog, so be sure to browse my posts!