The Client Database – Leveraging Your Most Valuable Marketing Tool

Before spending your marketing budget on expensive communications, campaigns, printing and giveaways, look no further than your own practice management system. Your client database contains the most valuable marketing tool of all – your email list.

Why Should I Send Emails To My Clients?

Email is the fastest, most cost-effective and easily administered way of communicating with your clients. I’m not suggesting that you relentlessly spam your clients with marketing messages, but if you strike the right balance between educational, informative and promotional emails you can engage directly with the people most likely to use your services – your existing clients.

Pet owners who are already loyal to your practice are also the most likely to share your messages with friends and family. Word of mouth and personal recommendations carry so much more weight than a Google ad or a newspaper advertisement (although these channels definitely have their place).

By targeting your clients directly and adding a simple Call To Action, your conversion rates for email opens, clicks and bookings will be much higher. 

What Do My Clients Want To Read?

Quarterly newsletters with interesting and useful content will keep you in touch with your clients without overwhelming their inbox or having your message relegated to the Junk folder. Your promotional message doesn’t have to be intrusive. It may be as simple as adding a banner at the bottom of your newsletter to feature a particular service or special offer, or hosting a competition or give-away. 

Limiting your newsletters to a quarterly frequency reduces the risk of important announcements being overlooked when you need to communicate a message quickly to your clients. e.g. COVID lockdowns and restrictions.

Get your team involved in the planning of your newsletter. They’ll develop an interest in looking for potential case studies, FAQs and pet care topics. (This is also a great way to generate social media content!). Budding writers will welcome the opportunity to showcase their expertise. By the time your newsletter is due to be published, you’ll have a long list of topics to choose from. 

Generally speaking I try to plan my clients’ newsletters with a general outline as follows:

  • Patient Case Study – include before and after photos, xrays, photos of foreign bodies etc. And of course you want a story with a happy ending! Don’t forget to ask the patient’s family for permission before publishing.

  • Dog Health Article – include seasonal topics such as arthritis care in winter and allergies in Spring. Other topics may include behaviour and puppy care. (Don’t forget to mention that you run Puppy Pre-School classes!)

  • Cat Health Article – cover common FAQs and feline specific topics such as vaccination protocols for indoor cats, cat fight abscesses and stress minimisation. If you offer a safe, cat-friendly environment for patients at your clinic, let your readers know. 

  • Local News Story – do any of your team members do volunteer work with animals? Perhaps your practice is holding a fund-raiser for a local rescue, or hosting an open day for clients. This is also a good place to introduce new team members with a photo and brief bio.

  • Promotional Banner – add an eye-catching message at the bottom of your email with an enticing Call To Action. e.g. ‘Click Here To Win’ 

Short articles can be embedded into your newsletter or you can link long form articles to your online blog, driving more visitor traffic to your website.

What Do I Need To Do?

There are a number of online email marketing services available including Mailchimp, Constant Contact and SendInBlue. Subscription rates roughly vary from $0 – $80 per month depending on the number of contacts you have and the need for extra features such as marketing automation, SMS marketing and Chat.

Some practice management systems e.g. EzyVet have their own built in email communications capability, however in my experience I’ve found that these don’t have the professional presentation of the above services and are more suitable for simple messages such as reminders and overdue accounts. 

Proactively capture and update client email addresses by checking their details at reception and on the phone. Make it a habit for your reception staff to ask for an email address if none is listed in the client’s record. You could even host a competition or giveaway that requires entrants to submit their email address. 

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