It happens all the time. A patient migrates from one e-mail account to another. He or she starts using the new account, checking the old account with less and less frequency. Sometimes, especially when people graduate or change jobs, an e-mail account gets shut down altogether. When any of the above happens, your practice won’t know about it unless they have an action plan.
At any cosmetic dermatology, cosmetic dentistry, plastic surgery, or health and wellness practice, physicians and staff need to act proactively to defend the e-mail database. Specifically, your practice needs to embrace and perform FOUR basic tasks:
1) Ask for an e-mail address at every office visit: It’s pretty common practice for physicians to ask about changes in health status or insurance coverage before every visit. In fact, the front-office staff is likely already accustomed to noting these changes and inputting them into your existing system.
So why not add one more question to your intake form: Has you primary e-mail address changed since your last visit? If yes, or if you think we don’t have your e-mail address, please share it here so we can keep you posted about practice changes, innovations and special offers. Simple but effective, this technique will help keep your e-mail data-base up to date for current patients.
2) Use forms on your website: Do you have a contact form on your website? If you don’t you’re missing a tremendous opportunityto hear from potential patients about their interest in a specific product or procedure – and getting their contact information in the process.
It’s imperative that you have a simple form on every page so that interested parties who land on your website can contact your practice quickly and painlessly – all while providing you with current contact information, including their e-mail address.
3) Ask for names and addresses before and after presentations: Many plastic surgeons, cosmetic dermatologists and health and wellness professionals will regularly guest speak at community events on topics ranging from Botox to eyelid lifts. Clearly, these events are great ways to get exposure for your practice and increase public understanding of specific procedures.
Events like these ALSO present a unique opportunity for you to amplify that exposure by having an e-mail sign-up
sheet available. If you use a Power Point, for example, let audience members know you’d be happy to share it (as well as other information on products and services) if they provide their e-mail address. This is a great way to share information and to build your e-mail data base with people who are already seriously interested in what your cosmetic practice has to offer.
4) Scrub and replace after every send: When you send out an e-newsletter or other informational link, see which e-mail addresses bounce. If you see an undeliverable message, you know the address is flawed or outdated and should be removed (scrubbed) from your e-mail data base.
However, before you remove an address, try to have your staff track the correct e-mail address down the old-fashioned way: By phone. The e-mail may have bounced due to a change in e-mail, a typo or even just a full inbox. Whatever the case, have your staff do their best to contact the patient and get a viable address.
These four simple steps, implemented across the practice, are sure to keep your e-mail database reasonably up to date – and the majority of your patients in regular touch.