Note: All of your marketing emails must be CAN-SPAM compliant. Before implementing any of the ideas presented in this piece below, be sure to learn more about these important regulations, and follow the guidelines.
According to Campaign Monitor®, email marketing drives more online conversions than any other digital marketing channel, including search and social. A recent study by McKinsey & Company® also found that people spend on average, 13 working hours in their email inbox per week. Email marketing is a channel your clinic cannot afford to ignore.
How to Use Email Marketing for Veterinary Professionals
Before we dive into email marketing, it is important to understand the two types of emails you are most used to seeing:
- Marketing message e-mails
- Lead nurturing emails
Marketing message emails usually aim to distribute helpful, informational messages to your email subscribers. They are intended for engagement and can come in the form of e-newsletters or company announcements.
Lead nurturing e-mails, on the other hand, are often strategic, timed messages that are designed to get your subscribers to do something. The focus of this article will be on email marketing, as that is the first step to engaging your audience digitally through email.
Starting to use email marketing is much easier than one may think. To get started, all you need is to define your goal, generate your email list, and gather content to fill your email with.
- Email marketing goals:
- Do you want to use email to obtain new business?
- Do you want current clients to book appointments?
- Are you looking to spread brand awareness?
- Email list: What data do you have from your current clients? Use that information to form a strong email database.
- Content: The best emails contain relevant, compelling content that will help your audience to view your vet clinic as a trusted resource.
What Content Should You Share in Your Marketing Emails?
Once you have settled on your goals and built your email list, think about what type of content you want to share. The content that you share can come from your website and/or your blog, or you can share content from elsewhere on the web that would provide value to pet owners or animal lovers.
Here are some ideas for what to include in your email:
- Newsletters: a weekly or monthly email that highlights recent content and/or clinic updates.
- Seasonal offerings and news: content that is timely and relevant.
- Holiday pet wish list
- Information about spring volunteer events benefiting animals
- Any holiday hours or events that your clinic is hosting
- Summer news, like outdoor pet-friendly play areas
- Weather warnings for animals, etc.
- Curated Content: a compilation of interesting content that you have written, content produced by others which you have given your own summary or “take” on, and/or content that others have written and you have obtained permission to use those materials. Curated content can be many different types of content, and should come from a variety of sources, including your blog:
- List of resources for emergency vet needs
- Compilation of local animal-related charities
- Blog Post Summaries: quick, easy-to-digest recaps of blog posts.
- Recap of the month’s blog posts or a short discussion of the month’s theme
- Summary of one blog post that has performed well
- A graphic that depicts a blog post visually
- News and Data: Any official news (could be employee related)
- New findings and resources that are relevant to your audience
- Community news
- Clinic culture shares
- New hires and any internal news
- Visual data representation of new findings relevant to your audience
- Statistics or data that would motivate your audience
Choosing an Email Marketing Platform
There are many email marketing platforms that do a great job at making email marketing simple, cost-effective, and easy to execute. Our favorite ones are the following:
- MailChimp®: If you have 2,000 or less subscribers, you can use MailChimp for free to send up to 12,000 emails a month. MailChimp uses a drag-and-drop design tool that makes designing custom emails very easy. The platform also boasts actionable, user-friendly content resources and how-to guides, to get you started using Mailchimp.
- GetResponse® is another email marketing platform that is cost-effective and has a drag-and-drop editor, like MailChimp, making it user-friendly. GetResponse has a web page design feature, allowing you to create custom landing pages (pages that your audience can “land on” after clicking on a link in your email).
Crafting Your Emails
The elements that make up your email are almost as important as the content you choose to share in it. While there are a lot of pieces that constitute an effective email, the best thing you can do to be successful in email marketing is tapping into your potential client’s needs and aiming to meet those through your marketing communications.
Here is HubSpot’s anatomy of a perfect email:
- A Clear, Attention-Grabbing Email Subject Line: Research shows that the subject lines that perform best are under 50 characters, so keep it short!
- Actual Person as the Sender: When writing your email, you will be able to choose the sender. Rather than having your email come from Info@VetClinic.com, have it come from Whiskers@VetClinic.com and sign it from your clinic’s well-known furry mascot, or have your email come from DrSam@VetClinic.com and sign it as such. This adds a personalized touch and will ensure more people open your e-mail (also known as “open rate”).
- Company Branding: Include your unique company branding, so that your current and potential client’s make the association between the great content they are reading and your office.
- Personalized Content: Each email marketing platform will allow for a different level of personalization, but most include the ability to put your contact’s first (and/or last) name in the subject line or body of the email. Others will allow you to include everything from their pet’s name, to the date of their last visit.
- Call-to-Action: What action do you want your audience to take? Include a large call-to-action button at least once in your email message — especially at the bottom of your email — that motivates people to take the desired action. For example, “Is your dog up-to-date on his or her heartworm preventive medication? Click here to schedule your appointment.”
- Relevant Image: Create an image using a tool like Canva that is relevant to your audience.
- Social Sharing: Your email platform will allow you to link to your social media accounts. Do so, and they will be accessible via your email.
- Unsubscribe: When people unsubscribe to your e-newsletter, don’t stress. This is actually a crucial part of developing a strong email list. You would rather have 30 loyal readers than 60 who do not take an action. Your email platform will automatically place an unsubscribe feature in your email, but customize it with your address and contact information.
Crafting the perfect email that drives visits to your website and eventually, appointments, is a learning process. Your unique veterinary clinic audience may be looking for something different than your competitors.
Figuring out these differences and appealing to your audience by highlighting them is essential. But, you don’t have to do it on your own. All email marketing platforms provide data post-send that illustrate what worked and what didn’t.
Look at the report below from MailChimp that highlights opens and clicks, including time of email open.
After your first few email sends, you will be able to look at your performance report and draw conclusions as to what works for your audience.
For sending times and day, studies have found that Tuesdays are the best day to send email, followed by Thursday and then Wednesday.
The same study found that the best time to send an email is 10 a.m., followed by 8 p.m.-midnight, 2 p.m. and 6 a.m. While the late evening and early morning email results may surprise you, 50% of people begin and end their day by viewing their email on their smartphone.
Checklist for Crafting an Email
- CAN-SPAM compliance
- Defined goal
- Established type of email
- Gathered content for email
- A clear, attention-grabbing Email subject line
- Actual person as the sender
- Company branding
- Personalized content
- Relevant image(s)
- Social sharing
- Unsubscribe option
Learn more about online marketing for veterinary practices: NexGardClinic.com
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