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Benefits of e-mail

Article

An effective e-mail program gives your practice a high-tech image, says author Ralph Laurie.

Editors' note: We're kicking off Bob Levoy's column this year with a new twist. He'll be providing you with the best management thinking from outside the industry, but customized for veterinarians. Enjoy!

An effective e-mail program gives your practice a high-tech image, says Ralph Laurie, author of Winning the Interaction Game (Patterson, 2004). Think of the possibilities that e-mail opens up: appointment reminders, welcome letters, birthday greetings, client-education presentations, and client newsletters. "E-mail is a personal method of communication that can strengthen the doctor-client relationship," Laurie says.

Bob Levoy

Action steps

Use what's called "permission marketing," a term coined by Seth Godin in his book of the same name. It involves obtaining clients' consent before sending them e-mail—and by definition makes them more receptive to your messages.

"Begin gathering your clients' e-mail addresses during the check-in process," Laurie says. "It may take several months, but you'll soon have a comprehensive e-mail list you can use to begin communicating with clients quickly and cost-effectively."

Keith Borglum, a consultant in Santa Rosa, Calif., recommends posting your e-newsletter on your practice's Web site, then e-mailing a link to clients. This approach:

  • allows for a smaller-sized e-mail, which is easier to access.

  • lets you use photos or graphics in your newsletter.

  • allows clients who prefer to get text-only e-mails to still view HTML-formatted content.

  • helps you build a newsletter archive on your Web site.

  • attracts more traffic to the rest of your Web site through links in the newsletter.

"In any e-mail newsletter you send," says Dr. Chris Kammer from Madison, Wis., "include a link that'll send people directly to your Web site so they can learn more about your practice." Always give recipients a chance to unsubscribe so you can avoid legal issues related to unwanted e-mails.

Reality check

Don't have high expectations for your e-newsletter right off the bat. Newsletters are a labor of faith. The effects will be gradual and cumulative.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y., who focuses on profitability and practice growth strategies across healthcare professions. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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