Many dental and orthodontic professionals who engage their patients and prospects through email marketing are missing a critical pivot point of their entire online promotional strategy: the preference center. The lack of such an essential element necessary to every dental and orthodontic email campaign minimizes the efficiency of the overall outreach and fails to build relevance and bilateral communication with your prospects.
Your Patients Are Mobile and Few “Sit at a Desk & Read Email”
The spectrum of digital communication platforms and channels is increasing at a nearly logarithmic rate. New forms of mobile web enabled devices are premiering on an ongoing basis, with smartphones, tablets, netbooks and other types of on the go connectivity accessories transforming the online interaction paradigm. The day when all your dental or orthodontic patients would read your emails sitting bolt upright on a monitor that took up half of their desk has gone the way of the foot treadle dental engine. Today your patient is more likely to receive your email while at a coffee shop, watching the kids’ soccer game or even lounging at the beach. With this newly discovered mobility comes the fragmentation of the preferred vector of communication as well as a nearly infinite number of different combinations of frequency, format and variety.
Patients Can Customize Their Interaction through the Preference Center
Having a preference center available to your subscribers allows them to select a fully customized interaction experience with your dental or orthodontic clinic by allowing them to choose from these key variants:
- Frequency – Some of the larger dental firms have email newsletter frequencies that can exceed twice a week! Although this level of frequency has proven to be effective in many cases, some of your patients may prefer a little more breathing room between missives. A simple dropdown box in the preference center allows them to select their own preferred frequency, from twice a week to once a month and everything in between.
- Format – There are more than 2,000 different devices in widespread use today to read emails and each has an interface and default format that differs from the others to some degree. An email newsletter that displays perfectly on one might be a jumbled mess on another, so allowing your patients to choose their preferred format type can help you deliver the newsletter configuration that best suits them, from plain text to fully featured HTML and from the tiniest smartphone screen to the largest widescreen LCD monitor.
- Variety – If your dental or orthodontic clinic publishes multiple newsletters, allowing the subscribers to check boxes to indicate which ones are of greatest interest to them will help you provide the specific content that they are most interested in. Young families will surely be checking to receive your pediatric dentistry newsletters while seniors will be more interested in your dentures and implants content.
- Notification – Some of your patients are supremely well organized and always show up for their appointments on the dot while others can’t remember their own birthdays. Your preference center can allow your prospects to select how far in advance they want to be reminded and what type of appointment notification they wish to receive: email reminder; social network post; SMS text message; phone call; or even no reminder at all.
Link from Your Social Network Presences
Your preference center should be a prominently featured aspect of each email marketing message you send and is best placed in a standardized location such as in your primary navigation bar or in an administration area. Your preference center should also be linked to the full breadth of your social media presence right beside your email subscription opt-in links.
The advantages of a properly configured preference center extend to amplifying your email list segmentation efforts as well. During the process of informing you of their various preferences, your patients can also be asked to provide specific demographic, behavior and lifestyle information that represents invaluable segment data. Preference centers have been proven to increase campaign relevance and quell list churn, thus they deserve a prominent place in every dental and orthodontic online marketing strategy.