More and more consumers say they want to get information via phone or tablet. Use texting to promote your practice to potential patients and to make frequent touch points with existing patients. As more of our patients rely on text messaging as their primary means of mobile communication, it may be time to consider this a viable communication channel with our patients.
Multiple texts can be sent at no additional cost, as opposed to just one postcard. The message stays on the recipient’s phone, not discarded in the trash like postcards. Your office could also send a text for other uses such as notifying a patient their order is ready to be picked up or a post-purchase thank you. While e-mail remains an effective communication channel for many businesses, its effectiveness is limited by low open rates. Texts have a 97% final open rate, compared to e-mails which have a final open rate around 20%. Many of us simply delete e-mails that we deem unimportant or spam, never reaching the intended recipient.
Motivate Patients to Sign Up for Texts
One of the most exciting business aspects of building a database of opt-in mobile contacts is the ability to integrate a concept known as mobile marketing. Offer patients something of value in exchange for permission to send them a text. This could be a simple coupon, discount or promotion attached to the text message. Mobile coupons have been shown to have a 10 times higher redemption rate than print coupons. This is sent right to their phones which is typically near them at all times. When combined with recall it’s being sent at exactly the time they are due for an exam and possibly needing new eyeglasses or contact lenses. Coupons should always provide a clear offer and expiration date. This creates a powerful call to action for patients to schedule an appointment with your office in a timely manner.
You could also implement an SMS text marketing campaign where people sign-up to receive texts in exchange for coupons or promotions. This could be advertised in print ads, on your web site, Facebook page or most other places you would typically market. People can opt-in by texting a keyword to a short-code (i.e. Text SIGHT to 95462 to receive 25 percent off all kids frames. Exp. 5/31/12), scanning a QR code to receive the offer, or filling out an online sign-up page on your web site or Facebook page. As you grow your database of contacts, you can send occasional coupons or promotional texts to the entire list. This is a targeted and cost-effective way to market your practice.
If you choose to add SMS text as a patient communication channel, you will need to use a third-party text messaging service to enable your office to send bulk texts. One company, iMobile Communications, offers this service, as do companies like eztexting.com and izigg.com. Most of these services are very affordable (subscriptions typically start in the $50/month range) and are easy to use with minimal training. Many current patient communication and recall systems have this capability built into the software. Due to the low costs of sending SMS texts, an effective mobile marketing strategy can potentially provide an impressive return on investment.
To recap, successful implementation of a mobile marketing strategy with SMS text requires patient permission (opt-in), contextually relevant messages (sent when the patient requires your services or products) and customer value (offer a financial incentive). This combination can be a powerful call to action improving patient acquisition, recall and retention.