Think about how you react when you see your phone light up with a text notification. Chances are you immediately glance at your phone screen to see who it’s from. If so, then it is not too difficult to recognize why SMS marketing (or text marketing) is changing the way businesses approach their marketing strategies.
Text marketing is quickly becoming the new e-mail marketing. It is yet another avenue where you can connect with your patients and customers. And while adding texting to your marketing repertoire may feel like overkill, text marketing gives you much more access because in this day and age, we check our texts more than our emails. In fact, Americans check their phones for new notifications every 12 minutes, while they tend to check their emails every 60 minutes. Texts marketing open rates sit at around 98% while email open rates typically trend at about 20%. While we may not have seen this coming, this is where we are now. That means if you haven’t already, it’s time to revise your marketing strategy to incorporate SMS (text) marketing for 2021.
Here’s Why SMS Marketing is Popular
For starters, texting has become the preferred method of communication for many. It feels more convenient to be able to check messages after important meetings, when you’re in a quiet zone, if you’re on the go or even while having coffee with a friend. Texting has become popular simply because it’s more convenient than having to pick up your phone every single time someone needs to share information with you. Businesses can use SMS marketing in a whole host of useful ways. Of course, like with any marketing channel, there are good ways to use it as well as bad ways. We want to help you use SMS marketing in a positive and beneficial way, so your patients don’t feel inundated, and you avoid tarnishing your brand.
Here are some of the best/most effective ways to use SMS marketing for your Optical practice:
- To increase brand awareness
- To schedule, change or cancel appointments
- To provide appointment information/reminders — This is a great first step in terms of reaching out to your audience via text. Appointment reminders add value by giving patients important information. We doubt anyone could see this as a negative. Of course, please get permission to text patients before sending messages to them.
- To pass along important pre-exam information
- To build trust — Texting can feel more personal if used correctly. Think through how to make your message come off in a way that feels more human-like as opposed to using a brand tone that feels cold and straight-forward. Your goal when messaging patients/customers is to make sure they don’t feel it’s weird to be receiving a message from you.
- To showcase new products (sparingly of course)
- To open your business up to answer questions your patients may have — Because the optical industry is so saturated, we are always looking for ways to stand apart from the competition. Becoming more widely available to patients will not only build loyalty, but it will also help patients feel like they made the right choice by choosing you as their provider.
Helpful Tips to Integrating SMS Marketing into your business:
- Make sure there is someone manning the phone at all times. Allowing users to text you is a responsibility that goes beyond e-mail and phone. With e-mail, users assume that they will get responses during business hours; however, this is not so with texting. In fact, of 100 users that were interviewed regarding SMS patient management, 77 expected text responses after-hours. You don’t need to be up at 4 AM to answer a text, but you should consider assuming the responsibility until late evening or even into the night. Our recommended time to remain available via SMS is 9 PM.
- Do NOT message patients/customers at inappropriate times. Avoid pushing out messages on holidays or in the middle of the night unless absolutely necessary. It is inconsiderate and annoying for patients to be disrupted by marketing messages after-hours.
- Avoid slang, abbreviations, shop-talk etc. Assume your patients are unaware of any terminology. Approach them as if you are speaking to your grandparents.
- Don’t be a stranger! Be sure to introduce yourself/your business every time you message patients.
- Avoid the heavy sales pitches. No one wants to feel like they’re just a walking ATM.
- Do not over-communicate. Send texts only when it feels important.
- Do NOT forget a call-to-action (CTA) for every text you send out. A Call-to-Action means defining what action(s) you want your text recipient to take. If there is no CTA, your message is purposeless.
We hope these tips help you understand why SMS marketing is the next-big-thing in the industry — Happy Texting!
Be sure to check back in soon for our next post How ECPs Can Increase Patient Satisfaction Even After Their Visit.