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By Scott Harvey

It’s been said, and it’s pretty well-accepted, that e-mail is the “killer app” that turned the Internet from an interesting technology into the behemoth it has become.

There’s no question that email, and its offspring such as various messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, have become the most powerful of all online marketing techniques.

Think that’s too bold of a claim? Read on.

Yes, if you want to aggressively expand your practice, you should have a Facebook page, and you need to be doing Facebook advertising.  And SEO. And Pay-Per-Click advertising on Google (AdWords) and Bing. You should have some videos on YouTube and Vimeo. And I could go on.

What those things do, however, is expose you to people who might visit your website or give you a call.

Almost never are those people going to immediately make an appointment for a consult. You need to get those people to know, like and trust you. You need to “nurture” the relationship over time.

The way you do that? You get their email addresses, usually by offering something of value in exchange.



Here’s where the “Autoresponder” comes in.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the autoresponder, and you know that it’s software that sends out emails.

We’ve found, though, that very few clinicians understand the power, the flexibility or the simplicity of a well-designed autoresponder sequence.

So let’s dig in to that a little more.

First you need the software. There are dozens of providers, such as MailChimp, Get Response, AWeber, iContact and even a weak offering by Constant Contact. The cost is trivial — from about $30 a month for most practices.

Then you need a plan.  We’ll come back to that in a minute.

Then you need to sit down, or pay someone to sit down, and write a bunch of email messages.

The beauty of the autoresponder is that once the emails are written, and the plan is designed, the emails go out absolutely automatically. Staff has to spend no time on sending them out, and over time you build a relationship with your prospective patient who begins to know, like and trust you.

And because you’re in constant communication with her, you’re “top of mind” on that crucial day when she decides to actually do something about that varicose vein, or whatever else you’ve been talking about — and you’re the one she calls.



First, we’re not talking about a “blast” email that goes out once a month, or whenever you get around to it, where everyone on your list gets the same “GET YOUR VEIN ABLATION HERE!!!  TEN PERCENT OFF THIS MONTH!!!” message.

You can send, for example, a “thank you for subscribing” email immediately after someone opts in or subscribes to your blog, or otherwise gives you her email address. The next day, you send her some valuable content to “train” her to open and read your emails.

Then you wait a few days before sending another email with great content, and at the bottom tie it in to a product or procedure you offer – GENTLY.

Then a few more messages with pure good content, then another offer.  And so on.

How many messages? No limit. Seasoned users of sophisticated autoresponder sequences talk of conversions many months, even a couple of years down the road. (“Conversion” is marketing talk for “she did what you wanted her to do” — in this case probably a phone call and a consult.)

The genius of a good autoresponder sequence is that everybody doesn’t have to get the same message. The person who clicked to your website from your varicose vein ad on Facebook can get a different series of messages than the lady who read your blog post about spider veins.

The woman who shows up for her consult, but doesn’t schedule, gets a different series of messages from the one who does schedule, which is different from the messages received by the woman who no-showed.

When someone has a vein ablation, she gets one series. A laser procedure, a different series. When she buys compression stockings, a different series.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds. You and your marketing resource simply think through and flowchart out what you want to happen when something else happens (or when something hasn’t happened). You write the messages or have them written. You load them into MailChimp or whichever provider you decided on, with the appropriate settings and you’re done.

When you bite the bullet and sit down to write a bunch of emails, you’ll probably find that you really get into the “flow,” and it will go more quickly than you thought. And if you really hate to write, there are plenty of people you can find on the web who can clean up your thoughts and make your messages pretty and persuasive.

Think about it this way: Do you think that building a solid relationship with your prospects, automatically, would help just one more of them schedule a procedure in a month?  What’s your average lifetime customer value? Five Hundred dollars? A Thousand? Five Thousand? More?

Let’s say its “only” $500, and you only get one new patient a month.

Hmmm… Spend $30 and a little time to bring in $500 – sound like a good deal?

SeeWhy (a company that works with large eCommerce websites) did a study a few years back about how people arrived at a particular website’s shopping cart, and what the “conversion rate” was from those visitors. (Conversion rate simply means who bought from the website, versus those who “abandoned” their cart – they didn’t purchase.)

As with most, this study isn’t perfect because it can’t possibly track the entire process, and we don’t know every detail about the study. And sure, an eCommerce site isn’t a medical practice.

However, here are some of the numbers:

  • 56.8 percent of the people that made it to the shopping cart came from an email sent by the company.  56.8 percent!
  • 4.3 percent of the shopping cart traffic came from social media.
  • 67.4 percent of the conversions (completed sales) came from the email visitors.
  • 2.1 percent (yes, just 2.1 percent) of the completed sales came from website visitors referred from social media sites

Now before you start screaming that this is a completely unfair comparison, I agree with you!

There is a huge difference in somebody on a company’s email list (typically either customers or at least qualified prospects) compared to somebody who was looking at pictures of Justin Bieber or cat videos on their friend’s Facebook feed and then decided to click over to the company’s website.

And that’s my whole point!

Get people on your email list who are decent prospects, then nurture them the right way with an autoresponder series, and most likely they will eventually schedule.

So, when someone gets to your site, don’t immediately go for the sale.

Don’t even go for the sale with some amazing discount. The odds are against you, because you haven’t built up the trust.

Don’t offer her a free consultation.

Just get her on your email list and nurture the relationship until she can’t wait to schedule! VTN


For a valuable, free 16-email planning template that you can use to help jumpstart your autoresponder efforts – see http://CosmeticFunnels.coemplatem/16t .


Scott Harvey is the Co-Founder of Cosmetic Funnels LLC, a medical-only marketing agency, and author of “Plastic Surgeons: Are You Getting Your Share?”


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