Can SMS Be Effectively Used In Your Audiology Marketing Strategy?
I have noted recently with interest the use of SMS in clinical situations. More and more medical professions are using SMS in particular for reminders for appointments. I remember talking about an NHS study some time ago that had shown a 40% increase in attendance rate with the use of SMS. In itself that was quite impressive, anything that increases appointment attendance rate particularly in the public health service, is to be celebrated. I considered at the time of writing the article whether the use of SMS might be effective as part of an audiology marketing strategy.
However that is as far as I got, I got distracted, as is unfortunately my want sometimes. My thoughts were brought back to the subject recently though. I have been reading of late that the open rate on SMS marketing is 95%. In comparison, email marketing may only deliver between 10 to 45% open rate dependent on the subject line. So in essence SMS delivers over twice the open rate on email. Now back up figures or studies, evidence of these claims are hard to come by. But it would seem on first sight that the open rate for SMS makes sense. If someone sends an SMS to my phone I tend to look at it, I would assume most people would.
So it would appear that SMS as a delivery tool would ensure that almost everyone you sent a marketing communication to would open it. What happens then would depend on the targeting and indeed the message or call to action. There may be many implications to introducing it to your Practice as part of your audiology marketing strategy. In particular, those implications are geographically linked, each country, in fact in the US each state may have differing laws pertaining to this type of marketing. You also need to consider exactly how you would deploy this type of audiology marketing strategy. By that I mean the physical deployment, how are you to manage the database and send the messages.
Some of the commercially available Practice management software systems for our profession have SMS modules or at least the ability to send SMS. I think that this functionality will in fact be introduced to more and more of the software systems. So depending on the system you are using right now, you may in fact have the ability to use SMS. But what will an SMS campaign look like, what would the text look like and what would it be designed to do. Like an other element in your audiology marketing strategy that is purely dependent on your goal. With modern multi media text messaging the opportunities are endless.
You can include images, html links and of course plain old text. So the design or thought process that goes into an SMS marketing drive would be similar to any element of your marketing strategy, it just adds extra dimensions to the message. For instance, the call to action could be in relation to a special offer that would be of interest to the target, it could include an image and a link that will bring the receiver to a fuller webpage that explains the offer in more detail. Or indeed at the end could be your Practice number to easily call the Practice. The design and deployed elements are related to the goal and indeed the call to action.
So it would seem that SMS marketing could be a strong element in your audiology marketing strategy. As always there are considerations that need to be assessed and the ability to undertake this marketing is dependent on the tools you have available. But I think it may well be a new and powerful tool that could bring real benefits. What do you think?
An alternative (or additional) manner of incorporating SMS into your practice is for communication with hearing impaired clients who have difficulties on the telephone. Our university clinic has a prepaid cell phone at the front desk and there are signs in the clinic with the number for clients to take down and can then use for making appointments via SMS. I suppose it could also be used for appt reminders/pick up of repair notification if the client indicated that was his/her preferred method. So not only is the ability to send SMS important, but I think the ability to receive is also.
Excellent point Caleb.
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With SMS marketing automation you can segment your mobile database to automate most of the tedious task. The only thing you need to do is setup a method for patients to subscribe to your mobile database. And you also need to clearly give them the option to opt out with every message that you send in order to stay compliant. Most SMS providers have an API that any practice management software systems can connect to it.
It is an excellent tool for Patient communication