Keep patients engaged between appointments with text message marketing

1 April 2024

Strong patient relationships are the foundation of any successful aesthetics practice.

That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with patients even after their appointments end.

Maintaining touchpoints between appointments strengthens the relationship and encourages patients to keep coming back.

One of the best ways to communicate with your patients and stay top-of-mind between appointments is through text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing.

A 2021 survey of more than 1,000 US-based consumers found that 80% of patients prefer that healthcare providers and brands connect with them digitally via channels like text message, as opposed to more traditional means like phone calls or letters. 

Similarly, a 2016 study of 6,000 consumers across three continents found that 9 out of 10 people surveyed prefer to interact with brands via text. 

The data says it all: SMS marketing works.

SMS marketing is easy, inexpensive, engaging, and, most importantly, effective.

Marketers consistently rank it as a top-performing marketing channel.

In a 2021 study, the majority of marketers surveyed said SMS performed better or much better than any other channel. 91% of marketers in a 2023 survey said they saw higher conversion rates with campaigns that included SMS.

And people don’t just open text messages; they act on them. One study showed that more than half of consumers made a purchase in the last three months in response to SMS marketing.

Here’s how to use SMS effectively to keep patients coming back to your practice.

If you’re new to SMS, choose a software platform. 

If you’re already using SMS and are just looking to take your skills to the next level, you can skip this section. 

For those who are new, you’ll need to choose a tool and ask your patients to opt in to texting proactively. You should also consider whether the platform you select meets your practice’s privacy requirements (such as HIPAA)

If you’re already using spa management or marketing software, check to see if it has a texting feature, as many do.

If not, here are a few popular SMS marketing platforms:

  • SimpleTexting: Easy to use and popular for its intuitive interface. Great for small businesses, offers a free trial, and is billed monthly.

  • EZ Texting: Intuitive interface, easy integration, offers excellent onboarding and help documentation. Offers a free plan with limited features, and is billed monthly.

  • Twilio: Flexible and customizable for any use case. Easy integration but more effort to set up than similar platforms, has pay-as-you-go pricing.

  • Attentive: Easy to use, provides great engagement data, and has variable pricing tailored to each customer.

  • TextMagic: Intuitive and easy to use, great for small businesses, offers a free trial, and has pay-as-you-go pricing.

If you prefer to do your own research, software comparison sites like Capterra or G2 are great places to look.

Build every SMS campaign around a clear goal.

Any good marketing effort requires some planning. Start by developing a single campaign around a specific objective by asking yourself these four questions:

  • What is your goal? For example, do you want to use SMS to boost customer engagement, increase treatment sales, or advertise a new service? Once you have a goal in mind, it will be easier to craft your message, reach the right audience, and measure your success.

  • Who are you sending to? You don’t want to blast your entire patient base at once. To boost customer engagement, you may want to reach out to patients 2 or 3 days after their first appointment. To advertise a new service, you may want to reach out to all patients who have done a complementary treatment in the past. Understanding your target audience will help you create a compelling message that resonates with them.

  • What are you offering? For example, are you offering a discount on their next treatment if they book now? Tips on maintaining their look? A free hydrafacial to the first 10 patients who respond? It’s also important to set a deadline for the offer to create a sense of urgency and motivate action.

  • Did you achieve your goal? At the end of the campaign, reflect on whether or not you accomplished the goal you originally set. For example, if your goal was to increase treatment sales, did you find that sales increased after running the campaign? Depending on your results, you can adjust your approach for the next marketing effort. 

If you can answer these questions, you’re one step closer to activating this highly effective channel.

Make sure you’re in compliance. 

When your practice calls and texts patients, you must comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This law requires that you:

  • Obtain written consent to call and text patients; add this step to your new patient forms if you haven’t already. 

  • Avoid sending messages in the late evening or early morning. 

  • Include your business name, clear terms and conditions, and an opt-out option in every message.

Adhering to TCPA protects consumer privacy and fosters a positive consumer experience. If you’d like to learn more about TCPA, this document from the FCC is a great resource.

Text Message Marketing Cheat Sheet: Always Include...

  1. Practice name
  2. Patient name
  3. Offer
  4. How to claim the offer
  5. Call-to-action
  6. Opt-out

Keep messages short and sweet.

Short, punchy text messages work best to grab the reader’s attention without overloading them with information.

Stay within the 160-character limit and make your point upfront. A good rule of thumb for writing compelling, TCPA-compliant messages every time is to include the following items:

  1. Practice name

  2. Patient name

  3. Enticing offer

  4. How to claim the offer

  5. A strong call-to-action

  6. An opt-out option

Using this formula, you might write, “Hi Grace, get 30% off your next treatment at Fresh Med Spa with code NEWYOU. Ends Sunday. Book now: https://freshface.com/newyou. Reply STOP to opt-out.”

When you send clear and concise messages, patients are more likely to process and act on them quickly. They are also more likely to book appointments, leading to higher revenue for your practice.

Send messages at the right time and frequency.

Recipients are more likely to read and act on text messages when you send them at certain times and the right frequency.

Data from several studies found that the worst day to send SMS messages is Monday, whereas most other days of the week work well.  

When it comes to the time of day, a study analyzing over ten billion SMS campaign messages concluded that the best time to send texts is between 1-5 pm. Other studies found that the best times were 12 pm and 2 pm. 

During these times, recipients are most likely to be active and engaged. The increased engagement equates to higher click-through rates and higher revenue per send than during other times of day. 

As far as frequency, several sources recommend sending at most 1-2 SMS messages per week.

These findings are a great reference point when you’re first getting started. Over time, you can use your own data to determine the best timing for your practice.

Try out these SMS templates.

To get started with SMS, you can use the templates below as your guide.

To offer a promotion:

Message 1: “Hi [Name], get 25% off any [Practice Name] service booked by April 15. Use code GET25. Book here: [booking URL]. Reply STOP to opt-out.”

Message 2 (follow-up): “Hi [Name], last day to save 25% on any [Practice Name] treatment. Use code GET25. Schedule now: [booking URL]. Reply STOP to opt-out.”

To provide education:

“[Name] – [Practice Name] ‘s Tip of the Week: To make tox last, limit UV exposure & wear SPF 30+ daily. Visit [Your Website] for more tips! Reply STOP to opt-out.”

SMS is a powerful tool for nurturing patient relationships between appointments. By sending clear, concise, and compliant messages at optimal times, you keep patients engaged, informed, and eager to return to your practice.

About the Author

Author

Sarah Eberle

RepeatMD Med Spa Marketing Expert

Sarah Eberle is a healthcare marketing expert with specialized knowledge in aesthetics, wellness, neuroscience, and cardiology.