Your hospital relies on email reminders as a highly effective and inexpensive tool to reach thousands of clients. Without a marketing strategy, your emails may be underperforming.
Email benchmarks for healthcare services show average open rates of 24 percent and click-to-open rates of 13 percent.1 The click-to-open rate indicates how effective the email message, design, and content performed, as well as whether the message caused the client to act.2 The click-to-open rate is the number of clicks out of the number of opens (instead of the number of delivered emails).
If 100 clients opened your email and 13 clicked through to book appointments, your click-to-open rate is 13 percent.
Email can be a powerful communication tool that ensures timely patient care and improves hospital revenue. Here are best practices to make your email reminders more successful:
1) Use a compelling subject line
With 62 percent of emails being opened on mobile devices, you need a short and captivating subject line.3 To fit the subject line on a mobile device, you have 30 to 40 characters. Emojis can save space and increase open rates by 56 percent.4 Find emojis on GetEmoji.com, CopyPasteCharacter.com, MegaEmoji.com, and fSymbols.com.
Use a data field to put the pet’s name in the subject line. Personalization will make your reminders stand out from other emails in clients’ inboxes.
Your call to action should tell clients what to do next. Give them a deadline to respond. This is not a skim and delete email.
As clients progress through your email series, increase the urgency of messages if they have not booked appointments. Here are email subject lines with the three strategies of personalization, emoji, and call to action:
Checkup reminder 1: <Pet name> needs a checkup by <date> 🐾 Book Now
Checkup reminder 2: Don’t miss <pet name>’s next checkup 🩺 Book Now
Checkup reminder 3: <Pet name> is overdue for a checkup ❤ Book Immediately
2) Keep email messages short
Email messages between 50 and 125 words have the best response rates of 50 percent or higher.5 People are skimming and scrolling, often not reading. Use bullets or numbered lists to improve readability. Include hyperlinks to your online booking webpage, download your app with scheduling tool, and phone number. Hyperlinks let clients click and act. Research shows 70 percent of consumers prefer to schedule appointments by text or app.6 You will reduce incoming phone calls, and clients can book 24/7. Most of the appointment and refill requests in the third-party mobile app are between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. with 5 a.m. as the busiest time.7
3) Use call-to-action buttons
A button will stand out to email skimmers who may overlook a text hyperlink. The button should be larger than the text to be eye-catching. Color will make the button stand out from text. A big button can be easier to click on a mobile device. Ask your practice-management software or third-party reminder service to create customized buttons that work across all devices.
4) Promote financial solutions
If you offer preventive care plans, include a brief description with a link that lets clients learn more such as: “View our preventive care plans with monthly payments <link>. We can answer questions during your pet’s exam, or you may enroll online now.”
Let clients know you can help with payment options for veterinary care.
More than half of pet owners would use a credit card dedicated to financing care for their pets.8 Dog owners can spend $534 to $1,285 annually on medications, parasite control, vaccinations, checkups, and dental care. Cat owners can spend $374 to $965 for yearly health expenses. If you offer third-party financing, include a one-liner such as: “Learn about financing options through <link to provider>.”
5) Use benefit statements
Many practices have full schedules weeks in advance. Traditionally, hospitals have sent checkup reminders 30 days ahead. If you are booking three weeks out and send reminders 30 days ahead, you only have one week of appointments available. With current appointment demands, send reminders 60 days ahead because you will have more openings. Your hospital may not have open appointments three weeks from today, but you will have openings eight weeks out. In May, send reminders for patients who will be due in July. (For an example of what these strategies might look like in the first checkup reminder message, see Figure 1.)
Sending effective reminders is the first step in getting clients to schedule. Continue your communication with a series of confirmations that set expectations and prevent no-shows.
Customize your series of scheduling and medication refill reminders to drive future business.
Monitor your response rates monthly and test the wording and design of messages to identify which strategies get the best results.
Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, has taught communication and client service skills for more than two decades. As founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, Myers teaches practical skills through online courses, onsite coaching, and conferences. She was a partner in a specialty and emergency practice. Visit YouTube.com/csvets and Csvets.com for more.
- Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2022: By Industry and Day. Campaign Monitor. Available at: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/email-marketing-benchmarks. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Email Marketing Terms. Campaign Monitor. Available at: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/glossary/click-to-open-rate-ctor. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Infographic: The Ultimate Mobile Email Open Statistics. EasySendy. Available at: https://easysendy.com/blog/mobile-email-open-statistics. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- The Real Scoop on Email Emoji in Subject Lines. Campaign Monitor. Available at: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/the-real-scoop-on-email-emoji-in-subject-lines. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Renahan M. The Ideal Length of a Sales Email, Based on 40 Million Emails. HubSpot. Available at: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/ideal-length-sales-email. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Park A. 70% of consumers prefer to schedule appointments via text: 5 tips for safe, effective patient texting. Available at: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/70-of-consumers-prefer-to-schedule-appointments-via-text-5-tips-for-safe-effective-patient-texting.html?oly_enc_id=3257D1848212C3H. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Olcott M. Postcard Reminders: 3 Reasons You’re Kidding Yourself. Available at: https://vitusvet.com/blog/postcard-reminders-3-reasons-youre-kidding-yourself. Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Pet Lifetime of Care Study, August 2021. Synchrony. Available at: http://petlifetimeofcare.com/#page=1. Accessed March 1, 2023.