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Inside Dental Technology
June/July 2020
Volume 11, Issue 6

Marketing in the Age of COVID-19

The key to successful email campaigns

Terry Fine

The dental industry seems to move further into the digital realm with every passing week. Beyond intraoral scanners and the incorporation of 3D printers into laboratory workflows, dental laboratories have also begun embracing digital marketing channels like email. This became no more apparent than with the rapid social distancing and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States' last great pandemic, the Spanish Flu, forced industries to change drastically during its time, and it is becoming clear that COVID-19 is also changing the way modern businesses operate—both during containment periods and after.

Email as Part of the Whole

As email takes on an even larger role in marketing, knowing how to run a successful email campaign that delivers high return upon investment is vital. The key to a successful email campaign goes beyond eye-catching graphics, interesting body copy, or an enticing call to action. Rather, running an email campaign that yields high interest from your chosen audience depends on having a thorough strategy in place before beginning content creation. A successful strategy is made of several components, including a clear goal, a chosen audience, a qualified list of prospects, and a well-thought-out schedule.

A strong goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. There are a variety of base goals for a dental laboratory's email campaign. Some examples include converting prospective clients into current customers, reengaging at-risk clinicians who have stopped sending in cases, and cross-selling or promoting new products. No two email campaigns are the same; the goal will always vary based on your dental laboratory's current needs. If you want to grow your client base, then your email campaign should be based on your overall conversion goals. Utilized in conjunction with other marketing channels, an email campaign can be a great method to gain new clients. If your main priority is growing your average caseload, the best idea would be to target your current clients. Studies have shown that it costs five times more to gain a new client than to maintain an existing customer.

Qualifying and Categorizing Lists

For a dental laboratory, dentist clients can be placed into one of five groups: prospect, new customer, current customer, at-risk, and lost. Every dentist will fit into one of those five main groups. By choosing an audience, you are narrowing down your email campaign and the content therein. While it is possible to market to all five categories with one email, a successful campaign will customize the email content to be the most enticing to each chosen audience.

Ideally, an email list will already be qualified, meaning you have vetted the leads to ensure they are the right audience for the communication you will be sending. It is also important to gain contact information from clinicians who have consented to receive communication from your laboratory. This is especially important for prospective clients. Current and at-risk customers are less likely to mark your marketing email as spam since they have a professional relationship with your laboratory. A "cold" prospective client may have never heard of your laboratory before, and unwanted marketing communication, no matter the quality, is always at risk of being marked as unwanted email. A "warm" lead will have heard of your laboratory and know beforehand that they may receive communications, thereby greatly reducing the chance of your email being considered spam.

There are multiple reasons why a list may be considered unqualified, such as for being old, improperly formatted, or purchased from a third-party lead provider. To qualify this list, it is best to send out emails through an automated marketing platform that is specifically geared towards cold emails. The emails sent will be more personalized and appear to be one-to-one communication between you and the lead. Once a lead moves from cold to warm, meaning the recipient is actively opening the emails, then they can be moved to the list that will be used for the main email campaign.

The Customer's Journey

It is important to remember that an isolated email campaign is never the ideal way to market your dental laboratory. Instead, your emails should be utilized in combination with other channels, such as phone calls, print pieces like postcards or case stuffers, or even face-to-face communication at practices when they are open. A campaign schedule will include all relevant aspects of this marketing push. It will detail when emails go out, when leads will be contacted by you or a salesperson, and when print pieces will be mailed or placed in case boxes. A campaign schedule is important as it will keep you and your team on track, as consistency is a large portion of what makes marketing successful.

Understanding how to successfully communicate through an email campaign should be a top priority for any dental laboratory owner wanting to keep marketing in-house, especially during this difficult time. In addition to the steady advancement of dental technology towards a more digitally based industry, the world has shown that conducting business online is perfectly viable. At first glance, an email seems to be comprised solely of copy and graphics, but that is just the tip of the marketing iceberg. Email campaigns require forethought, a clear understanding of your laboratory's needs, and knowledge of the audiences you wish to reach.

About the Author

Terry Fine
President of AMG Creative
Fort Collins, CO

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