Patient newsletters work. In fact, sending a monthly newsletter to your patient email list is one of the most effective ways to engage your patients and stay top-of-mind. It’s also a great way to encourage visits to your practice website.
Do you currently send patient newsletters to your dental patients? If so, you know how hard it can be to write interesting articles that will capture their attention. If not, you should be.
We’re going to outline the most vital components of an effective dental practice newsletter based on our years of experience creating newsletters for clients.
Great Dental Websites Need Great Dental Newsletters
Next to having a great dental website, a great patient newsletter is one of the best tools for marketing your practice.
Here are the 8 essentials of a great dental practice newsletter:
1. Compelling Subject Line
Email fatigue is a reality in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Everyone’s inbox is bombarded with an abundance of email communications, all of which are competing for the recipient’s time and attention.
To filter out irrelevant (or unnecessary) messages, most people spend a fraction of a second viewing email subject lines. If the subject line doesn’t immediately capture their attention, they click over to the next email – even though the copy within the email may contain information that is valuable to them.
In other words, a patient newsletter won’t do you any good if your patients don’t open it. Thus, creating a compelling subject line is imperative to the newsletter’s success. Just remember, your email is competing with the countless emails next to it in your recipient’s inbox.
2. Short Articles
We live an attention-deficit digital age, as people scroll through social media feeds and hop from one website to the next. With so much information just a quick click away, attention spans are shorter than ever – especially when it comes to sifting through an email inbox.
Short, bite-sized articles will be more appealing to your patients and keep them from clicking away from your newsletter to find something more exciting. We aim for articles of about 150 words. With short attention spans, you can’t afford any fluff!
Readability, a concept we recently explored in this blog post, means considering your target audience and writing content that is accessible to them. Pay attention to sentence length, paragraph length, and word choice. Our writing teams try to keep it simple, but not simplistic, usually coming in at the highly readable 8th grade reading level.
A newsletter can easily feel cluttered because of its nature. There's a strategy to make your newsletter look uncluttered, and it revolves around a few key factors: Concise copy, beautiful imagery, and, yes, enough white space.
4. Includes Eye-Catching Photos
Including a great photo with each article grabs the reader’s attention and helps you better communicate your message. There are a variety of free and paid stock photo services you can use to find good photos.
For example, pixabay.com has a wide selection of free images you can download and thinkstockphotos.com is a great resource for stock photos you can purchase.
Caution: you cannot use someone else’s copyrighted material. This means you either need to use your own original photo, download a free stock photo, or purchase a stock photo. If you copy a photo from a Google Image search, you could encounter legal ramifications and hefty fines.
5. Published on Your Website
Integrating your patient newsletter with your dental website allows you to direct more traffic to your site and it adds interesting content that prospective patients will enjoy. Remember- sending qualified traffic to your practice website signals to the search engines that your website is one of authority, which will ultimately help your rankings.
Note: This is something included in Smile Marketing's Premium plan. We'll write your practice newsletter, automate an email to your patient database, and publish the newsletter on your website.
Be sure to share your newsletter on your social media accounts and make the emails easy to forward so your patients can pass along their favorites to friends. This is how your newsletter will stimulate referrals.
Obviously, a newsletter will only be effective if it's seen by patients. Sharing a link to your newsletter (which, as we noted, should be posted to your website) will get more eyes on the content. Social media is a simple way to distribute your newsletter.
It’s a good idea to print copies to keep at the front desk so your patients can peruse while they wait. Also, send them via snail mail to patients for whom you do not have an email address.
Newsletters can be used both online and off-line (like the good old days). Ideally, your database includes email addresses for each of your patients. Sending your newsletter via email is the easiest and most affordable form of distribution. But to ensure that all your patients have access, it doesn't hurt to send a hard copy.
Make newsletters a part of your dental practice marketing routine. Just like brushing and flossing regularly, the cumulative effect is more significant. Many dentists make the mistake of only sending a newsletter when their numbers are down, but this ends up contributing to a stressful “roller coaster” practice. Sending a patient newsletter consistently every month will yield the best results.
If it helps, build out a quarterly (or, ideally, annual) calendar that documents dates and content ideas to include in your newsletter.
If you find you don’t have the time to research, write, and promote a newsletter each month, seek the help of a trusted member of your office staff or consider hiring a dental marketing company that can take care of newsletters for you.
Ready to step up your practice newsletters? Download our free list of 101 Dental Newsletter Topic Ideas to help you get started!