Bridging the gap
Do you get frustrated by the time and resources it takes to run a successful marketing campaign? 7connections has hit on an elegant solution, Sophie Bracken reports.
Managers of forward-thinking dental practices are often given the daunting task of attracting new patients to the practice, whilst maintaining a good relationship with current patients. More often than not, you need a marketing strategy to successfully communicate to the wider community all of the wonderful services you offer.
But where do you start with marketing? You can go it alone, by sending out email campaigns or increasing your presence on social media. You could utilise the marketing tool in your practice management system, if there is one. Or you could employ the services of a marketing agency, and adopt their proprietary software.
These are all successful options to a degree, but it can be difficult for a busy practice to set up, implement and monitor marketing campaigns, and keep up with the administration of another system in addition to your existing practice management software. Standardising best practice across the team when it comes to marketing protocols can also be a challenge.
If you decide to employ the services of a marketing agency, your potential new marketing software will be completely independent from your practice management system. If these two software systems don’t communicate with one another, how does the practice know which marketing campaigns are providing the best return on investment (ROI)? How will you know if this extra time and money spent on marketing activities is worth the effort?
Dentistry.co.uk got talking to Tim Caudrelier – managing director of 7connections, which he founded with business coach Chris Barrow – about this conundrum. Tim agrees that running several software systems in the practice can potentially cause as many problems as it solves. So they’ve come up with a solution.
7connections provides a number of ‘done for you’ dentistry-specific marketing services that aim to drive new patients to your practice and ethically sell more treatment plans, and consistently engage and educate your patient base to increase elective treatments. All of this enables them to provide you with at least a 10-fold ROI. The software systems are powered by Infusionsoft, a renowned US-based software developer, of which 7connections is the only industry-specific global partner.
Tim explains: ‘About 18 months ago we started finding we had a problem with some of our products and services, because although we were offering all this cool marketing stuff, we had no automated way of transferring patient and prospect information from the existing practice management software to our marketing system.
‘We needed something to bridge the gap. So now we have the Bridge!’
The Bridge is software that seamlessly links Software of Excellence’s Exact or Carestream Dental’s R4 practice management system with 7connections’ Infusionsoft-powered marketing systems, allowing crucial data to be passed from the practice management system to Infusionsoft.
This is a big breakthrough in practice marketing; the Bridge allows you, for the first time, to automate every aspect of your marketing strategy using information from Exact or R4. Not only that, the software is able to provide a transparent analysis of your ROI, enabling a more thorough understanding of your marketing strategy’s success.
As an example of the Bridge in action, Dentistry.co.uk took a look at 7connections’ Reactivation service. The job of Reactivation is to reengage patients that ‘went cold’ after a treatment plan was offered to them, via a series of emails and text messages that demonstrate the benefits of that specific treatment. ‘Reactivation has somewhere between a 20 and 40% conversion rate. When you think the average treatment plan can range from £2,000 to £40,000, they’re very good numbers’, says Tim.
Without the Bridge, Reactivation requires input from a practice member to start, monitor and stop emails to the patient as needed. In Tim’s words, ‘It’s a bit clunky’.
The Bridge, however, allows Reactivation to automatically begin communication with the patient. Once the patient has booked an appointment to return to the practice, thanks to the information provided from the practice management system to the Bridge, Reactivation will then cease sending emails and text messages to that patient automatically.
Fundamentally, the benefit of this Bridge between R4 or Exact and Infusionsoft is that the practice can agree a marketing strategy, step back and watch the results. A live dashboard keeps you up to date with what’s going on in your marketing plan, and provides important data on the potential ROI from new patient consultations created as a result of the plan.
‘What we’re able to do in the majority of cases,’ says Tim, ‘is provide a true ROI, because we’re seeing from Exact and R4 the treatment numbers that are going ahead. It’s tangible, it’s real and it’s 100% traceable because you’re able to see all the stats in real time.’
This all sounds great, but how easy is the initial setup of the Bridge? And what about administering the system?
‘Installation takes about three minutes, followed by about 48 hours of configuration. Once you’ve installed the Bridge, you just continue to use your practice management system as you always have – there’s no more learning, no more work’, Tim explains.
‘At a management level, practice managers need to look at the reports that we send them and the live dashboard, and we’ll work with them to try and improve performance on a long-term basis. There is, however, no logging in, no more work to be done. The process is completely automated.’
‘We’ll be providing the Bridge for all of our clients moving forward. Anybody that currently hasn’t got the Bridge that is a Reactivation or Automated Intelligent Marketing (AIM) customer, will be offered an upgrade.’
New patient contact
The Reactivation product is specifically designed to encourage existing patients that have not progressed with a treatment plan, to proceed. But what about attracting new patients?
AIM, put simply, attracts new prospects to your practice who are looking for a specific treatment: ‘AIM is Reactivation on steroids’, as Tim explains it.
‘You get Reactivation as part of AIM, but in addition we also provide prospect data capture and nurturing – the goal of which is to convert someone from being a prospect, into a new patient consultation and eventually a new patient.’
A web form or pop-up on your practice website encourages prospective patients to enter their contact details (the first name and email address is all that’s needed) to receive engaging and educational information on a specific treatment. ‘That’s the initiator for a series of automated emails that explain more about that treatment; practice-specific testimonials on the benefits of the treatment; FAQs and so on’, says Tim.
‘We’re seeing improvements of between 10 and 50% in conversion rates from visitors to a practice’s website to new patient consultations, as a result of AIM. We were talking to a practice this morning that normally sees 16 new patient consultations per month. They’ve received 32 this month since they’ve implemented AIM.’
Again, the benefit of the Bridge in this process is that when a prospect is converted into a patient and an appointment is scheduled in the practice management system, the Bridge connects the patient data in the practice management system with the prospect data in Infusionsoft – a completely automated process that marries up both systems for a fully automated workflow and a true representation of how your business is performing.
The Bridge currently links 7connections’ Infusionsoft systems with Software of Excellence’s Exact, Carestream Dental’s R4 and a range of ortho-specific and other practice management systems.
And throughout May, 7connections is offering an exclusive promotion to Dentistry.co.uk readers. All new clients will receive a 25% discount on Reactivation with the Bridge, for the lifetime of their Reactivation subscription.
Also employing the Bridge software is 7connections’ Full Service Agency, a full bespoke service that provides paid website traffic management, Reactivation, AIM for up to 15 different treatment types, and a practice-specific monthly e-newsletter sent to your patient and prospect databases.
‘The newsletter component has been unbelievably successful’, says Tim. ‘I think this is because when you provide an educational hook, more people are willing to take that first step to find out more. We now offer the newsletter as a stand-alone service or as a bolt-on product to our other services.’
So while a practice can have success with traditional marketing techniques, it really does pay to integrate your marketing strategy within your business management systems. As the Bridge demonstrates, this doesn’t have to increase the admin burden on your team.
And with a 10-fold return on investment, it’s really worth bridging the gap.
7connections is kindly offering Dentistry.co.uk readers an exclusive 25% off Reactivation with the Bridge for the lifetime of their Reactivation subscription, bringing the price to £374+VAT per month. To take advantage of this offer, contact 7connections by visiting 7connections.com and quoting the offer code ‘Dentistry magazine’ in your correspondence.