Without question, the Internet has changed both how companies do business and how consumers find and use information. Now instead of calling or thumbing through a phone directory, many people log on and browse a company’s Web site, read reviews or compare products. They’re doing all of these things quickly and when it’s most convenient for them.
The same can be said for e-mail. Most everyone today has an e-mail account, and most everyone is checking their e-mail account on a daily basis—oftentimes more than once. Some people, too, have PDAs that keep them in constant contact with their e-mail inboxes. In short: marketing to your clients and potential clients via e-mail can be very successful.
You need to be certain, however, that the online marketing you do is effective. We’ve got some helpful information to get you started.
First Things First
You can get a good basic e-mail list put together by asking any current and potential clients if they’d like to be on your mailing list. Sometimes, people are more receptive to receiving information about a company via e-mail, because then they decide when they’ll read, what they’ll read and when they can delete.
Additionally, potential clients who might be on the fence about the benefits of massage therapy can choose to receive e-mails so they can learn about your profession on their own time and without the pressure of a face to face meeting. Remember, however, that you always need a person’s permission.
Many companies have a sign-up sheet where people can write their name and include their e-mail address. You also need to always provide people a way of unsubscribing to your e-mails. Be sure you are on the mailing list, too, so you can ensure the messages you are sending are being delivered.
Newsletters are a good way to keep your clients involved and aware of what is going on in your practice. You can include a variety of information, such as the latest happenings in your practice, reminders of existing products and services, new techniques or modalities you offer, promotions you’re running and educational information about the benefits of massage therapy.
Keep in mind that the purpose of a newsletter is for your clients to remember you and keep you in mind. (Need help with a newsletter? AMTA can help with e-Touch, an electronic newsletter you can forward to clients.)
What you send to people should be timely and expected. How many e-mails or spam messages do you get in your inbox each day? Don’t be the one to keep adding to the clutter in everyone’s inboxes. If you constantly send emails to your clients, they may pay less attention, start to tune your messages out and will be more likely to delete than read. One thing is certain: You don’t want people to become annoyed or frustrated when they see you or your company’s name.
Make sure you carefully plan how you market yourself online. Perhaps start by creating a quarterly newsletter you send, and think in advance what topics you’d like to deal with in each. When readers feel like they’re gaining something for nothing they are more apt to take advantage of the services and products you offer. For example, can you include a health and wellness section where you provide a quick tip or easy stretch readers might use to maintain their well-being? Remember, your main goal is to develop a relationship with them and let them get to know you.
When you have promotions or discount offers, think about sending those separately, about once or twice a month if you can. Be creative. For example, does your practice offer a referral bonus? Can a client get a percentage off a massage on their birthday? You don’t have to give your services away for free, but whenever you can give a new client an incentive to come through your door or show a long-standing client you appreciate their business, you have an opportunity to build a deeper relationship. Value is more important than frequency, however. If you have nothing to announce or promote in a particular month, sending nothing is better than sending something your clients and potential clients aren’t interested in reading. Just wait until next time.
First, create a short subject line that matches the purpose of your e-mail. The subject line should be no longer than 30–35 characters, and you should refrain from using all capital letters, as many interpret that as shouting.
Be sure you personalize the e-mail, as well. Something that seems so simple can make a real difference to those on your e-mail list. Think of your own experience. Isn’t it so much nicer to open an e-mail that says “Dear Michelle” rather than the generic “Dear Client?” Most everyone likes to be called by their name—including your clients.
Your message should be clear and to the point, because you don’t have much time to get a client’s attention. For example, people spend about three seconds scanning an e-mail before they decide to keep or delete the message. You need to be sure you make those three seconds count.
Additionally, when writing the content, challenge yourself to think from the perspective of your audience. Ask yourself: “What would I want from a massage practice?” “How would this benefit me?” “What’s in it for me?” When sending a promotional e-mail, focus on just one offer at a time. The text length of your offer shouldn’t be more than two paragraphs. In e-mail, less is more.
When getting started, you need to remember that you might stumble and not always get everything perfect—and doing so is a natural part of the process. Don’t be afraid to try new things, experiment with what your clients respond to and like.
You can get a feel for how successful your messages are by gauging client behavior after sending out an email. Do you see a spike in the number of appointments scheduled after sending a promotion? Are clients rescheduling shortly after receiving an e-mail from your practice? Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, letting go any promotions or content that doesn’t seem to get your client’s attention. Furthermore, feel free to fiddle around with the subject line or offers. What works best may actually surprise you.
There are also technologies that allow you to monitor whether customers are receiving the e-mail, opening the e-mail, forwarding it on to a friend, as well as how long the reader is keeping the e-mail open. This is valuable information that tells you what your customers like to read and receive.
Things to Avoid
- If you’re thinking of sending your newsletter or promotional piece as an attachment, stop! Consumers are too afraid (rightfully so) of viruses to open attachments from people they don’t know and trust.
- Since you don’t know what kind of connection your reader is using, refrain from including too many graphics, as big files are going to take longer to download. Again, less is more. You also do not want to confuse your audience with too much information or too many images.
- You can’t put together a list and then never look at it again, assuming all is going well. People may move, change jobs and change e-mail addresses. For these reasons, you must continually update your e-mailing list to accommodate these changes. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to remove those who have decided to unsubscribe from your list! There is nothing wrong with sending e-mails to advertise yourself and your practice, but remember that legislation is in place to protect consumers (CAN-SPAM Act of 2003). Make sure that you’ve received permission from your clients, never send out false or misleading information, and include the option to unsubscribe. Violaters can be fined up to $11,000.