According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has an average ROI of £40 for every £1 spent. So why aren't more veterinary practices using this exceptional marketing tool? Read on for information and advice that will hopefully show you why to start and where to begin.
The following statistics from Blue Kangaroo (follow this link for the report) show what an impact email marketing can make:
- 42% of consumers opened and read most of the marketing emails in their inbox
- 30% didn’t open most of them but carefully read most of the subject lines
- 35% had used a coupon or discount from an email in the last week
- 33% had used a coupon or discount from an email in the last month
Considering these figures, we continue to be baffled by how few of the veterinary practices we speak to use email campaigns as part of their marketing strategy. There appear to be three main reasons for practices not implementing email marketing:
- A lack of client email addresses.
- A lack of time to write the content for the email.
- Confusion over what to include in the content.
Our research suggests that it's the first of the above that is the biggest barrier to practices. So how can you build up a list of client emails?
How to build up a database of client email addresses
Before we go into building your list, first note that the main barrier to you collecting emails probably isn't your clients lack of willing to provide them. Many veterinary staff that we've spoken to still have a concern that requesting an email address will make their clients uncomfortable. But providing this personal detail is an incredibly normal part of day-to-day life now and one that your clients are more than likely happy to provide. So our first suggestion on building your list is simply to:
1. Ask for clients email addresses when they are at reception. "While you're here could I just add you email address to your contact details please?"
2. Sign up to emails on your Facebook page. Follow this link to see our Facebook sign up form.
To make email sign ups easier, you should have a way of allowing clients to enter their email addresses online. This can be done using free programs such as MailChimp (details below). Adding the MailChimp form into a Facebook tab (such as we've done) is something that we can help you with, please contact us for further details.
3. Use an incentive (this can be combined with all the other suggestions).
Unless you are directly asking clients for their email (such as with suggestion 1 above), it is more difficult to get people to bother providing their details without giving them something in return. We suggest including an incentive such as 20% OFF a service of your choice / pet food / toys etc. Or a sweepstake (Win £100 to spend in your practice for example).
4. Add your sign up form to your website. Without an incentive this may not get a huge amount of sign ups but it's worth having on there!
5. Have an in-practice competition.
Print off forms with fields for name and email. Tell clients that entering qualifies them for your draw / money off their next visit. Make sure they understand that winners will be informed / offers will be sent via email to ensure the address they provide is their most regularly checked one.
6. Ask for emails at your puppy parties.
Have a sign up form at your party. Ask people to add their details so you can email their certificate / send them money off puppy food etc. This is a good opportunity to ask them for permission to use photos of their puppy on your Facebook page too!
7. Have a well-used tab on Facebook.
One of the most popular tabs we create for practices we work with is our Pet Gallery tab. This tab allows clients to upload photos of their pets to a gallery within the practice's Facebook page - when they upload their photos we also ask for their email address - simple!
8. Throw an event.
Something like a coffee morning or an open day is a great opportunity to ask for email addresses. Have a form at reception and ask people to RSVP to your event by entering their details.
There are hundreds more ways to build up your database - get creative! Now that you've got all these valuable addresses, what are you going to send them...
What to write
It is important that your emails aren't only full of your promotions and services. If you're not providing valuable information from the get go, clients will soon stop opening your emails and they may even unsubscribe form your list (disaster!).
When we write emails on behalf of our clients we always try to create topical content. For example we may send out an email in November with warnings for all the foods pets shouldn't be consuming over Christmas! As well as providing this important and helpful information, you can include an offer on pet treats (so pets can enjoy Christmas safely) or suggest practice vouchers for Christmas presents.
In February you might send an email with information about Pet Heart Health (using Valentine's Day as your inspiration) and that can include a reminder about having a check up and the importance of a healthy heart.
Summary: Create content that your clients will appreciate and add your promotions and other news in addition to that.
Now that you have your database and your excellent content, how do you go about putting the two together and creating your email campaign...
How to create and send professional emails
We recommend using a program such as MailChimp (free is you've less than 2000 addresses in your database). This allows you to keep a list of addresses, create sign up forms and quite easily design professional looking emails.
If you'd like us to do the work, we can! We can either use your own content or we can write it all for you (including any promotions / offers / web links / images you wish). We will also send you a report a week later so you can see how many people opened the email / followed the links etc. Please call or email Ellie on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We are currently putting together a new product to offer: Email Starter Pack! Which will include some of the above to get you off to a flying start! Watch this space (and sign up to our emails to be the first to hear about it...go on, you know you want to...!)