By: Sandy Stark
5 min read, Marketing

Email marketing is as much a fundamental tool for engaging your customers and driving sales as it has ever been. According to Campaign Monitor, email volumes among their clients alone grew 7% in 2020 over 2.5% growth in 2019, amounting to an increase of 13% in open rates over the same period. That’s more than 1 billion additional emails sent by their clients per month, easily securing email marketing as one of the most effective, low cost channels available to businesses of all sizes from any industry, including your optometry practice.

Given the sheer volume of emails flooding inboxes these days, it is critical your emails are well executed if you want to be heard above the noise. If your primary job function is not marketing, which is the case for the majority of our Sightly subscribers who are tasked with sending out these communications, and you want to up your email game, the amount of information on this subject can be daunting. Here, we’ve done the reading for you and pulled together 5 best practices in email marketing that will elevate your campaigns, promote your brand, build trust with your patients and increase sales.

  1. Segment Your Lists: Hubspot curated a number of statistics from various sources that prove just how powerful email marketing continues to be. Among the highlights they note a 760% increase in revenues is reported by marketers who use segmented campaigns. Segmenting your email list into smaller subsets allows for more personalized content that is relevant to your patients, increasing the click through rate on your calls to action.

    Apply This: There are dozens of ways you can break down your email list to target relevant content to specific patients. Here are 12 examples:

    • welcome / new patients
    • demographics
    • in-office vs. online buyers
    • specific eye health conditions
    • past purchases
    • email preferences
    • patients who buy products in cycles – i.e., contact lenses, seasonal
    • patients who have sent or received referrals
    • patients who have achieved loyalty program benchmarks
    • patients you have not seen or heard from in awhile
    • patients who have abandoned their shopping carts
    • patients who take their prescription ‘to go’
  2. Respect Subscriber Preferences: Incessant daily emails can lead to a swift unsubscribe request, leaving you with one less channel to engage your patients. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is not giving their email subscribers the ability to set their preferences. Really Good Emails compiled some great examples of this in action.

    Apply This: As you add to your email campaigns, give your patients the option to select the type of emails they wish to receive. Some examples:

    • newsletter
    • educational series
    • promotional offers
    • discounts and rebates
    • new products
    • product recommendations
    • select all
    • opt-out / no thank you

  3. Visit The 7 Wonders - of a Strong Email: When it comes to creating a persuasive email, do not forget you are competing with dozens of other marketers vying for your patients' attention. Although most of us write emails every day, how much time do we spend considering each component of this critical form of communication?

    Apply This:  The likelihood is, even if your email lands in the inbox, your intended recipient will suss out whether or not it's worth a read in a matter of seconds. Up your odds by adhering to these principles.

    • Trusted ‘From’ Address: Increase your open rate and avoid landing in the junk folder using a recognized sender address, preferably from a person not a generic company address.
    • Powerful Subject Line: Keep your subject clear and concise. Personalize it when possible and when it is appropriate, such as an anniversary or birthday. Avoid tired, trendy or vague hooks, otherwise known as clickbait, which can be misleading and frustrating to your patient.
    • Enticing Preview Text: If your subject line is the lead singer, the preview text is the backup dancers. This is the small caption of text found under or next to the subject line in most mail applications, though the number of characters permitted varies. We could write an entire blog on just this subject alone (and perhaps we will) but for now we will focus on a few key takeaways. Typically the preview text is taken from the first line of the body of your email. Aim to make this text compliment your subject line, not continue it. In other words both should be separate and complete statements, both equally engaging. If your mail application allows customization of your preview text, this can be valuable real estate to further engage your patient, enticing them to open your email.
    • Preview Text
    • Friendly First Name Basis: Create a personal greeting that is both personable and professional. Using a first name in the greeting also eliminates the need to guess the appropriate prefix.
    • Killer Body: Meet the expectations you set in your subject line by establishing relevancy early in your email text. Use friendly and informal tone while remaining professional. Once again, get personal using pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’. If your purpose for sending the message is a promotional sales or discount offer, focus on the benefits of your offer rather than the features. Finally, keep it BRIEF.
    • Captivating Visuals: A picture says a 1000 words. Most people scan their emails quickly so be sure to include visuals that stand out and reinforce your message, better still if your graphic contains some kind of text or caption that summarizes a key takeaway.
    • Covering Legalities: Not the fun stuff but necessary. Don't forget to include your confidentiality clauses and the required unsubscribe link.
  4. Create a Compelling Call to Action (CTA): While technically an element of the body of your email, so important is your CTA that it deserves to be 'called out' separately. (see what we did there?) Simply stated, the call to action is a button within your email that makes it easy for your patients to take the action that motivated you to send the email in the first place.  Click through rates are exponentially higher when you include a compelling CTA so it makes sense to be intentional about it.

    Apply This: Once again we have another behemoth when it comes to online content about this subject. We have narrowed down the information here to a few key takeaways. Following these basic guidelines will dramatically improve your email campaign results.

    • Commanding, Actionable Language: Keep it short and punchy but avoid stale commands such as 'Click Here' and 'Shop'. Instead, opt for language that compels action and emphasizes a benefit such as, 'Start My Free Trial! or 'Save Now!'. Try using that exclamation point for added urgency. It works!
    • CTA Examples: Costco and Indigo
    • First Person: Statistics show click through rates are significantly improved when your CTA is written in the first person. For example, instead of 'Book Now' try
      'Reserve My Spot!' or instead of 'Click To Save' try 'Get My Discount!'.
    • Time is of the Essence: Now, Today, Limited Time - these are all phrases that create a sense of urgency. Test them out to encourage swift action. 
    • Tempted By Design: Create an attention grabbing CTA button that stands out from the rest of your email. In comparison to the other elements of your email, your CTA button should be larger and brighter. Use contrasting colours and bold fonts. Also surround your CTA with plenty of white space, away from distractions. 
    • Location. Location. Location: Think about the natural progression of your email and position the CTA in an intuitive location that is easy to find. What you do not want to do is force your patients to have to scroll or back track to find it.
    • Take It For a Test Drive: How embarrassing - you send your email to dozens or hundreds of patients and the CTA button does not work. Don't let this happen to you. Test it out before you send it out.

  5. Communicate Your Brand: There shouldn't be any question as to whom is sending your email. Nondescript email messages lack professionalism and leave your patients with a feeling of insecurity. Lacking identifiable branding, you may also run the risk of looking like a spam or phishing attempt.  

    Apply This: In addition to using your logo, create and consistently use an email template with recognizable brand elements including: 

    • brand colours
    • recognizable slogans
    • a familiar name from your practice
    • social media links
    • shapes or graphics
    • images
    • fonts
  6. Below, a Hudson's Bay email using branding elements, leaving no doubt where the email came from.

    Hudson's Bay

As an optometry practice, you may build your email campaigns around a number of theme possibilities and, when applied, any of these practices will trigger powerful results in response rates and sales. Ultimately, however, the number one principle to follow when creating any campaign is to first strive to deliver value to your patients in the form of your unique expertise. When your motivation is genuine and relationship driven, the trust you earn is invaluable to the success and longevity of your business.

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