Email marketing 101: 4 easy tips to get more veterinary clients to click

August 23, 2018
Sarah J. Wooten, DVM
Sarah J. Wooten, DVM

Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten divides her professional time between small animal practice in Greeley, Colorado, public speaking on associate issues, leadership, and client communication, and writing. She enjoys camping with her family, skiing, SCUBA, and participating in triathlons.

Is your veterinary clinic's email newsletter falling flat? Use metrics to hit your numbers.

Soooo many emails. Will yours be seen? (Shutterstock.com)It's no secret that email marketing can provide a great return on investment (ROI). Email marketing has the potential to outperform most other digital marketing alternatives, if you can get your veterinary clients to click. And that's a BIG IF.

Knowing that there's potential for a good return and actually seeing the results of your own campaigns are two very different things. Just because the average campaign gets a good return, doesn't mean that you can automatically assume your efforts will be effective. To be a successful email marketing ninja, you have to track the important metrics, clean your subscriber list by verifying the email addresses, and develop a model for measuring them against the money you invest. Rae Steinbach from Taktical Digital, a performance marketing digital company, shares four tips to improve the effectiveness of all your email campaigns, from the monthly newsletter, to marketing blasts, to disease warnings and pro tips.

Not sure where to get started? Here are the four basics of email marketing metrics, presented in such a way as to not overwhelm or sedate. Consider it Fear Free email marketing metrics for vets.

Tip 1: Know your open rate

The open rate tells you the percentage of people who are taking the time to open the email that you crafted. The average open rate is about 25 percent. If your campaign is seeing significantly lower numbers, then Houston, you've got a problem.

Here are a few best practices for increasing the open rate:

  • Write compelling subject lines. Ask a question, start the subject line with “How to…”, or use the scarcity factor (“Limited time offer!”; “Only 3 appointments left!”; “Get free shipping if you order in the next hour,” etc.)

  • Optimize subject lines for length (50-70 characters)

  • Test different delivery times

  • Clean your subscriber list

Tip 2: Know your bounce rate

The bounce rate tells you the percentage of emails that went undelivered. A high number shows that many of your emails are not even landing in inboxes. According to numbers from Constant Contact, the average bounce rate for email marketing is 9.6 percent.

Strategies to reduce bounce rates:

  • Send confirmation emails to new subscribers

  • Clean your email subscriber list

  • Make it easy for subscribers to update information

Tip 3: Know your click-through rate

When a recipient clicks on the link in an email, it indicates they're interested in the content and the email was successful at getting people to take action. Numbers from Smart Insights show an average industry click-through rate of just over 4 percent. Ways to achieve a higher click-through rate include:

  • Personalize emails

  • Segment your list

  • Test different calls to action

  • Test different delivery times

  • Try different layouts and formatting

  • Include links to videos-people love watching videos!

Tip 4: Know your unsubscribe rate

A high unsubscribe rate tells you a significant percentage of subscribers no longer wish to receive your marketing emails. If you have a high unsubscribe rate, you need to figure out why subscribers are no longer interested in receiving your emails and then consider how to retain your current audience and boost their interest. Try:

  • Surveying your subscribers for feedback

  • Asking for feedback when people unsubscribe

  • Only sending emails that have a clear goal

  • Segmenting your list and send people the content that is most relevant to them

Tracking these metrics will help you measure the overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. If you want to go a step further and measure your ROI, there are several online calculators that you can access for free. Here is a particularly good one. Now go ... win the internet!

Fetch dvm360 educator Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten divides her professional time between small animal practice in Greeley, Colorado, public speaking on associate issues, leadership and client communication, and writing. She enjoys camping with her family, skiing, SCUBA and participating in triathlons.