Text message marketing for small business practices serve as a reminder about appointments and integrate with the rest of your digital marketing plan
Are you thinking about how to update your business plan? If so, you may want to consider revamping your digital marketing approach to better reflect changes in technology and consumer preferences, utilizing text message marketing for small business practices.
However, before you rush out to buy the top-of-the-line software package, you may first want to take a few minutes to think about how you engage with digital marketing as a consumer. If you put yourself in your patients’ shoes and consider how you prefer companies to market themselves to you, particularly in this digital age, it may well open your eyes to new marketing avenues, such as SMS (text) marketing.
How effective is text message marketing for small business practices?
Given the blitz of spam robo-calls you likely receive, it’s a good bet that your patients won’t be interested in telemarketing calls from you.
Although emails can work to a certain degree, such as newsletters, a deluge of marketing emails will quickly lead to them being sent directly to the trashcan. In fact, a recent survey by the digital marketing firm Constant Contact showed that only approximately 17% of emails in the health care industry (including chiropractic) were ever opened.
In comparison, various marketing research firms have shown that text message marketing for small business practices have an open rate as high as 98%.
What is your standard procedure for setting future appointments with patients? If your office is like many others, the patient will make the appointment at the front desk. The front desk staff will enter the appointment date into the scheduling system on the computer and then write the date and time on a card for the patient.
Although this seems pretty straightforward, this procedure can break down if the patient misplaces the card or forgets to enter it on their calendar. However, if your procedure includes sending the patient a text within 20 minutes of their departure, it can serve as a reminder for them to make note of the appointment on their calendar.
Again, think about this from your perspective as a patient. How likely are you to remember the dental appointment for three months later if you can’t find the reminder card? Wouldn’t a text reminder waiting for you when you get home be a better prompt to mark it in your calendar?
A similar principle applies for appointment reminders. If the appointment was made some time previously, and the patient forgot about it, it is likely that they may have scheduled something else at the same time. When your staff calls to remind them (a big time-spend for your employees), it may then turn into having to reschedule yet again, which then runs yet another risk of being forgotten.
Conversely, sending text reminders can serve as a reminder for the patient to check their schedule to make certain they are not double-booked for that day and time. Some text programs have features that allow you to ask for a Y/N reply or receive a receipt letting you know if the text was opened and read, which can help you track engagement. You may also want to consider scheduling one reminder a week before the appointment and another the day before to give patients enough lead time.
SMS marketing need not be limited to just appointment scheduling and reminders. You can also use it in some of the same ways as email. You may consider sending your patients links to content on your website.
The advantage to doing this is that it keeps your name in your patients’ minds, which may lead to both good reviews and recommendations to friends and family members. It also provides an integrated marketing plan with your web presence. Of course, you should follow the same opt-in guidelines here as you would for any of your email marketing material.
Regardless of how you design your text/SMS marketing plan, you should always think in terms of how your patients will respond to it. A good plan for text message marketing for small business practices will serve as a reminder about appointments and integrate with the rest of your digital marketing plan, yet not be overly intrusive.