We get it— it’s only natural that healthcare marketers often stay hyper-focused on new patient acquisition. Unfortunately, this stance means that too many groups leave money on the table by ignoring a much warmer audience— the existing patient.
It is much easier to reactivate an existing customer than find a new one. It can be more cost effective, too. As Paul Gruensfelder, Vice President of Marketing at Select Dental Management, put it in our recent webinar, Healthcare Marketing Trends: How to Drive Growth In 2023,
“It costs about 10 times more to acquire a new patient than it does to reactivate an existing patient.” Especially in a recessive economy, healthcare marketers should look at their existing patient base as a viable and essential source of revenue.”
How can you reactivate your existing customers to drive revenue at your healthcare practice? This article explores a few best practices that will help you do just that.
1. Dig Into Your Data
One of the easiest places to start? Right in your own data. The insights provided by your in-house data can give you some important clues as to which of your patients need attention and reactivation. To that end, healthcare groups that don’t have integrations with their EHR, CRM, and Marketing Automation platforms will struggle to gain insights, so it’s imperative that you have a strong, integrated digital foundation to get this done.
What are you looking for? Look for patients who:
- have missed appointments
- are receiving annual and routine care reminders
- have family members who are also eligible for care.
With this important data in hand, you can move onto your next step: determining your reactivation goals.
2. Determine Your Reactivation Goals & Segments
You have access to your data and you know which patients are primed for reactivation. Where will you set your focus? Determine who you’re going to reactivate and what your goals are in reactivation. Are you looking for no-shows? Those with annual appointments? Patients who are overdue for appointments?
Once you’ve identified the segment that you believe offers the most potential, you can design your reactivation campaign strategy around that segment. Something to keep in mind? You’ll have greater success with more recently engaged patients.
Shape the messaging, offer and content based on the needs of your selected patient segment. For some patients, it might make sense to offer a financial incentive or discount. For others, they’ll be more motivated if they understand the health risks of missing an appointment. Outreach to these patients might explore issues related to just that, e.g., “How Neglecting Your Dental Care Impacts Overall Health / Heart” or “Annual Dermatology Scan/Review – Key to Preventing Melanomas.”
Get creative, and keep your patient the focus in all your efforts.
3. Leverage Email Marketing & Marketing Automation
One of the best ways to reactivate patients? Using email marketing and marketing automation. Why is this route so effective?
For one, your patients have already opted in to email communication with you, meaning they are primed to receive your message. They’re familiar with your brand and trust communications from you. Email marketing also allows you to target, personalize, and automate to ensure the right pace. Finally, email marketing allows you to engage in a narrative. Remember, many of your patients will want to come back because of the healthcare risks of missing appointments. You could engage in an email campaign to that end, sharing a series of emails that expound on these risks and how you can help.
What are some best practices to employ in your healthcare email marketing efforts? Try out these tips when using email marketing:
- Segment and group your subscribers. This will allow you to target the key patient segments you’ve already identified as prime for reactivation.
- Automate, automate, automate. Email marketing works best when it’s consistent. You can also use automation to engage patients once they’ve failed to make an appointment or schedule an annual appointment.
- Use a well-designed newsletter format to keep things visually interesting and engaging. Newsletters can include healthy tips, local news, and other content that engages your patients on a personal level.
In economically complex times like we’re in now, discounts can also be great motivators, providing the small push patients need to recommit to care. One thing we’ve found in our own healthcare marketing experience? Offering a certain percentage off the total bill is more enticing for patients than things like BOGO offers or “free cleanings.” If a discount isn’t the right fit for your practice, you can offer loyalty programs or free consultations as alternatives.
4. Send Texts via SMS
You can also leverage SMS messages as an effective way to engage and reactivate patients. Statistics show that SMS in healthcare is not only highly relevant but also works:
- 90% of customers prefer receiving texts to phone calls
- 80% of smartphone users want to receive healthcare alerts via SMS
What are the best ways to engage patients via SMS? Consider following some of these best practices for SMS:
- Never include personal health data in any SMS message.
- Keep your messages simple and limited to less than 160 characters.
- Give your patients agency by allowing them to opt in to SMS (or out via unsubscribe.)
- Don’t send texts too often and always have a relevant context for sending an SMS.
- Use automation technology to schedule SMS around patient triggers, such as missed appointments.
You want to get the timing right, too. Some times of the month or even the year are better than others, as Diane Vaccaro, Chief Marketing Officer at 42 North Dental, highlighted during one of our recent webinars.
“January’s generally a good month and so is March. Benefits reset this month, a lot of FSAs ran out in December and also run out in March depending on the employer. Those are really good months to be in front of our patients with that message. You’ve been putting off treatment or you’ve been putting off doing Invisalign or whatever, that’s the big opportunity at this first half of the year.”
5. Make Scheduling an Appointment Easy
Finally, don’t sabotage your reactivation campaigns by making your patients beg for an appointment. Ensure that your patients can always make or rebook an appointment quickly and easily across multiple channels. Include strong CTAs for the action you want patients to take across all your campaigns. Ads, SMS, and email campaigns should all direct customers to easy to use landing pages. Again, give them options and remove all barriers to conversion such as limiting them to phone calls, for example.
Some pro tips to consider? Make sure that you:
- Make landing pages skimmable
- Include clear CTAs
- Provide patients with all information they need to book with confidence, including
- available appointment times
- available doctors
- practice hours
Yes, those new patients are always enticing, but don’t let them distract you from your assets already on hand! Reactivating dormant patients opens up a wealth of new possibilities for a practice. With these simple tips, you can access new revenue streams and engage customers that are ready and waiting for your outreach.