Thursday, January 31, 2013

ODs: Effective Subject Lines for Patient Emails

The typical eye care patient's email inbox looks
like this: a cluttered mess of subject lines from businesses.
Your subject line needs simplicity that stands out, not more marketing jargon.
Professional marketers, especially copywriters, spend hours analyzing the success of their words. Email subject lines prevail as perhaps the most difficult to write—yet easiest to track—medium of precise wordsmithing.

Every optometrist wants to create the brilliant 5-word subject line that blows away recipients. Bad news: your clever, creative subject line won’t win a presidential nomination from any political party, nor will it get forwarded to Bill Gates for a trillion dollar reward.

As it turns out—and there’s plenty of statistical support for this—a subject line should be nothing more than a SUBJECT LINE: a summary of your email’s subject. The simple subject line wins the attention of your eye care patients. And that’s all you should aim for anyway.

When writing a subject line for your optometry newsletters and emails to eye care patients, remember these 5 Rules ...

Rule #1: KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid. 
Your optometry patient e-newsletter subject line shouldn’t tease or cryptically avoid the actual subject. Curiosity does not open emails. Your patients won’t sit on the edge of their seats to read what you teased. Statistical analysis from some of the world’s leading email marketing firms proves that direct summaries in subject lines lead to opened emails. Replace “What Your Optometrist Really Thinks of Santa” with a subject line like “Dr. _____’s December Newsletter – Holiday Greetings, Holiday Tips for Your Eyes, and Insurance Updates”. Simply tell your eye care patients/recipients what you sent them, especially highlighting the value of what you’ve sent (see Rule #3).

Rule #2: Avoid Using These Words: Free, Help, Percent Off, and Reminder.
Firstly, “Free” sets off spam filters, so your email to patients will go straight to some recipients’ junk folders. Secondly, more than one marketing firm found the words Help, Percent Off, and Reminder in the subject lines lead to extremely low open-rates.
I know what you’re thinking: “But what if I’m literally sending a REMINDER email to my patients about how I can HELP them get 20 PERCENT OFF their next visit for FREE?” Such a situation, though rare, is no pickle: See Rule #1. Keeping a subject line simple means to summarize and omit details. Instead, try “Save Money on Your Next Visit to Alpine Eye Care”. Not cryptic, simply direct, and aims at the interest of your optometry patients.

Rule #3: Value is Everything.
Avoid sounding like a used car salesman, but you must convey value in your subject line. Assume your patients pinch every penny jingling in their pockets. Chances are, in this economy, they really do. 
Consider this: Even with eye care insurance, to visit your optometry practice, your patients spend:

$20 on a co-pay (average)
$23 for an hour of missed work (U.S. median income is about $45,000, $23/hour)
$4 on gas to your office and back (a vehicle with 20 mpg driving 10 miles to your office, or a typical bus/public transportation ticket)

Optometry patients spend $47 out-of-pocket just to visit you WITH EYE CARE INSURANCE! 

If you’re going to retain optometry patients and get them back into your exam room with an email, you’d better offer some sort of money-saving opportunity or procedure they can’t turn down. And that offer must be carefully summarized in the subject line.

Rule #4: Do Not Replicate Your Inbox. 
Nobody opens the same email twice. Make sure you’re not duplicating an email subject line you received. If you’ve seen it before, they have too. Remember Rule #1: tell it like it is.

Rule #5: No Questions.
An email with a question as the subject line is like a car with a pig for an engine: you’ll get nowhere and you’ll stink doing it.

Here are a few email subject line suggestions ...
For a Newsletter:
Dr.———-‘s Monthly Newsletter: (Insert main topic here)
Newsletter from Your Optometrist: Which Eye Drops Work Best?
Eye Care Newsletter: (Insert 3 article titles here)

For an email offer:
Discount on (insert procedure)
Save on Your Eye Care Bill
Dr.———-‘s Tips to Save on Your Next Visit
Valuable Savings on Your Next Visit to Dr.————-
Come in for an Exam, Leave with a————
Save $20 on Your Next Visit to Dr.————-
Dr.———- is Happy to Shrink Your Bill
Bring in (insert patient name) for a Cheap Visit!
Details on Money-Saving Options with Dr.———-
Summer Sale: 2 for 1 on any procedure over $50
Dr. ______'s new website is live! Give your opinion ...
Only a few left: secure (brand name) glasses

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