The value of patient retention
Many dental practices make the mistake of focusing only on gaining new patients. They fail to effectively address the need to retain those they already have. We recommend that practices consider email newsletters as part of their marketing strategy.
Did you know that the most valuable asset that a practice has is its existing patient base? Every practice wants and needs new patients, but your surest and most predictable source of new revenue is right under your nose. It comes from the loyal patients who already know your practice.
It’s also far easier (about 50%) to sell to existing patients than to new prospects. Acquiring new patients is expensive (five to ten times the cost of retaining an existing one), but the average spend of a repeat patient is a whopping 67% more.
There are further staggering statistics on the value of existing patient reactivation versus new patient acquisition:
- The probability of selling to an existing patient is 60 to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 to 20%.
- A 2% increase in patient retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%.
- Attracting new patients will cost your company five times more than keeping an existing
- A 5% reduction in the patient defection rate can increase profits by 5 to 95%.
Do you know why your patients are leaving you?
Did you know that the average dental practice loses between 15 to 20% of their patient base per annum? Yet only 7 to 8% will move out of your area each year.
Therefore, the rest of your patients are leaving for other reasons. If you are not tracking your numbers, this steady erosion of your patients can go unnoticed for years. When you do notice, it may well be too late.
It is critical to start monitoring, stop this steady loss of business, and turn your existing patients into loyal ones.
One main reason for patients leaving a practice is that the practice does not stay in touch.
If you don’t stay in touch with your patients, they will think that you don’t care, they won’t know what other services you are offering that may be of interest to them and their network of family and friends, and they won’t be educated in understanding why they need to come in for regular check-ups or to complete their treatment plan.
Regular communication with your existing patients is critical and email newsletters are one of the most cost-effective marketing methods you can implement.
Why you need to send email newsletters
A growing number of professionals use dental email newsletter marketing to build their practices. Email newsletters are ideally suited and highly effective for the unique marketing needs of professional practices. Unlike traditional advertising, newsletters are not viewed as self- serving, because each issue provides valuable information.
Email marketing campaigns give you the opportunity to distribute information to a wide audience of patients at a relatively competitive rate. Research shows that email marketing has one of the best return on investment ratios.
Email newsletters benefits
The benefits of email newsletters include the following:
- They enhance your practice’s
- They increase the lifetime value of your
- They leverage your other marketing
- They provide instantaneous, easily-tracked
- There is an opportunity for your patients to easily and immediately interact with
- You can promote dialogue with
- They provide a higher response rate because they are being sent to a more receptive
- They are more cost-efficient than a printed newsletter because of the significant savings in time, printing, and mailing
A patient email newsletter demonstrates your concern for the people your practice serves and aims to strengthen that relationship. It is a convenient and impressive way to keep in touch on a regular basis, especially with patients you may not see often.
Case Study 1 – An Established Practice In A Reginal Centre
Background: Greg Normoyle has been practising in Casino for 25 years. He moved into a brand new architecturally designed surgery in 2010.
The unique challenge
“There are advantages and challenges working in a regional centre as opposed to a capital city. Things like radio and television advertising would be more effective here than they would be in a city.
“However, the challenges lie around people’s perception of value versus expense. If you’re throwing all this glossy stuff at them, they assume you must be really expensive. So with our marketing, we’re trying to make sure we’re marketing in a way that is not sounding like you’re coming to the Taj Mahal.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re blocking any holes in terms of the patients we’re leaking. Every practice leaks patients. One of the ways of minimising that is making sure that you’re engaging with your patients more.”
“I’ve been working on a whole marketing plan with Carolyn S. Dean of My Dental Marketing, who also wrote the book “Fully Booked- Dental marketing secrets to a full appointment book”. Dentistry is like anything else in the current marketplace. As much as we’re going really well at the moment, you can’t expect things to cruise along. You could do that twenty years ago.
“As a marketing expert, I make a great dentist! That’s why I rely on help from My Dental Marketing who know what they’re doing.”
The email newsletter
“As one part of our marketing plan, we have been commissioning 12 email newsletters a year. We do one interview, once a year, and the My Dental Marketing turn that into twelve email newsletters posts.
“The opportunity of having regular email newsletters is not just about educating patients about dentistry. It’s also about trying to cement those relationships you have with your existing patients and, potentially, attracting new patients because of what they’re seeing online.
“You need to put a face to the people and the practice as well, because it’s all about establishing relationships. If you’re going to do that, your patient needs to have some understanding of who you are.
“With the email newsletter content we have so far, we’ve posted links from our Facebook with the plan to channel people to the website via Facebook. If they click on the Facebook post, then that takes them to the website and then they can have a bit of a look around the website.”
The results + the future
“In the past, my marketing has been fairly passive, so my current plan is to hit it with everything, then pare back on the strategies that don’t work. I didn’t want to go at it piecemeal and then think, “What if I had done that? What if I had done that?” I’d rather put it all out there and, because the folk at My Dental Marketing are going to be measuring it all for me as well, then I’ll be able to get a much better idea of what’s actually working.”
Case Study 2 – A Prctice In A Busy Business District
Background: Dr Joanne Davies opened Macquarie Dentists in the busy business district near Macquarie University, in Sydney’s North Ryde, six years ago. Her goal was to offer general, preventive and cosmetic dentistry in a friendly, gentle environment.
The unique challenge
“I’m in a business district, and I found it quite challenging knowing what marketing to do. I actually struggled to find marketing people that I felt were giving me any good information on best ways to get to the business district. If you’re based in a primarily residential suburb back then, you might do a letterbox drop, or go in the local paper. I struggled for a couple of years and really did very little marketing and just relied on word of mouth.
“I went looking for a marketing team that would give me a broad view of where I was and how I might best approach my marketplace. I spoke to Carolyn S. Dean and her team at My Dental Marketing, and we did a whole marketing analysis, and an ongoing plan for what I could do and the various tools I could use.
“I chose to go ahead with doing blog content and email newsletters. It’s a continual contact with my existing patient base. That seemed really important to me, rather than just constantly chasing new patients.”
The email newsletter
“Working with My Dental Marketing, I did an interview with a journalist who specialised in dentistry and received twelve posts from that which we have used on the website and in our email newsletters.
“It’s been quite interesting. Some people say, ‘Oh, I loved that article,’ but I’ve also had people not liking it. “You’ve got to be a bit careful with it. It can work, but it can alienate people a little bit as well if they’re not receptive to it.
“I’ve been talking to the head of sales and marketing from the Australian Radio Network about maybe advertising on radio. He said, “I think your monthly newsletters are fantastic.” He said it related back really well back to the website, it links into a good website with good functionality. It’s giving the impression of a good operation. So it has an effect beyond just the content.
“To do email newsletters well, you want to use somebody who really understands both marketing and dentistry and can put your messages into layman’s terms.”
Find Out More
Contact My Dental Marketing on 02 9410 1507 and www.mydentalmarketing.com.au to learn more about using email newsletters as part of your dental marketing and to talk through any other specific marketing questions that you have about your practice.
Carolyn Dean is the author of ‘Fully booked – Dental marketing secrets for a full appointment book’ and is the managing director at My Dental Marketing. Carolyn is a widely known seminar speaker and dental marketing consultant working with over twenty-five years’ experience in sales and marketing, working with some of the largest global IT organisations.