How do you communicate with your clients?
Facebook, Twitter and other social media play an essential role in our communication with clients, but these platforms change their policies and algorithms almost weekly. With them, we can never be 100% sure that our promotions, news and achievements are reaching the people we want to reach.
With newsletters, we control the mailing list and never have to wonder if our message has been received. Most people read their emails daily and research shows 85% actually enjoy receiving newsletters from businesses to which they feel loyal.
In veterinary rehabilitation, customer retention is critical. We need to connect and communicate with our clients regularly in order to stay uppermost in their minds. An interesting email newsletter is likely to be forwarded by clients to their friends and family, thus spreading your message to potential new clients.
Out of sight, out of mind
Receiving regular emails from their veterinary rehab practitioner reminds clients about your services and keeps your practice alive and sparkling in their minds. Every practice should consciously maintain contact with their clients, and email is ideally suited to the specialised service we offer.
A great newsletter can do all this:
It increases awareness of your services.
Your monthly newsletter informs clients about what you offer; as you expand your services, clients stay updated.
It positions you and your brand as the expert.
Your newsletter gives an overall impression of your business. You can use it to highlight involvement in continual professional development, showing that you’re serious about keeping up to date in your field.
It ensures repeat business from clients.
A newsletter reminds clients of how your services helped their pets in the past. When any new pet-related need crops up, they’re more likely to think of you and call for an appointment.
Use your newsletter to share knowledge. Interesting, relevant tidbits of knowledge will be appreciated and shared with others. Most people value ideas that will improve their pets’ quality of life; build up a pool of interesting facts and tips to share, whether in the form of longer articles or bite-sized facts.
It increases word-of-mouth referrals.
We all like to help our friends and families. Something in your newsletter might be just what a client’s friend or family member needs to know, and they will forward the email – gaining you a potential new client.
What should you put in your newsletter?
The best advice I can give is, “Keep it real”. Showcase the real people and personalities involved in your practice by sharing birthdays, births, weddings, news on staff members’ pets, etc. This keeps things personal and friendly, and helps foster a sense of community.
Showcase your successes. Case studies are always popular, with pictures and captions explaining progress.
What about featuring a “hero of the month”, which could be a brave, caring or determined client and their pet? This takes the focus off you and your practice and shows you care about and appreciate your clients and patients.
Feature new treatments, discuss controversial or misunderstood ideas, include a section on nutrition, show before and after pics of patients, give tips on massage, animal communication, info on breeds … the list is endless. As long as you research and write succinctly, keeping the information accurate and attractive to read, you’ll gain a following. Don’t forget that pictures say a thousand words.
Ask your clients for feedback, inviting them to suggest topics they’d like to see discussed.
Put it out there
Keep copies of your latest newsletter visible in your waiting room for clients to read, together with sign-up forms where they may leave their names and email addresses, so that they receive the newsletter by email.
Always establish that you have a person’s permission to send an email newsletter before you send. Nobody enjoys being bombarded with unwanted mail, and if you send without permission, you may be blacklisted for sending spam.
There are a few ways you can ask for permission to send a newsletter:
Client consent form
Add a tick box to the bottom of your client consent form asking for permission to send a newsletter (which sounds better than “marketing material”). Send only if the box is ticked. You can email through your own server or you can use online email platforms such as www.mailchimp.com or www.aweber.com. There are paid and free versions, depending on the number of email subscribers you have.
Add a sign-up form to your Facebook page and include the link to sign up on your twitter and Instagram handles.
Include a sign-up form on your website.
Have a “sign up for our interesting newsletter” notice on a board in your waiting room.
These days it’s all about feeling and being connected. A clientele that feels connected is more likely to remain loyal and to refer you to others.
We’re in a unique position to build relationships with our clients because our work relieves suffering in much-loved pets – and it does so not instantly, but over time. Your newsletter simply reinforces these good relationships. Keep it interesting, varied, real and “human” – and you will add value to the work you do, and gain a loyal following.