On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, I walked up to the mailbox and pulled out the usual pile of bills, letters,and other correspondence. When I got back to the house, I proceeded to thumb through the mail. Most went into the recycle bin, but one piece caught my eye. After reading the attractive offer, I took out my phone and gave them a call.
But there was no answer. I hung up, decided not to bother, and tossed the direct mail in the recycle bin.
This scenario is more common than you think. It represents the failure of any back-end support system for a business’s direct marketing campaign. As a business owner, you’ll be tempted to direct most of your marketing focus on creating an amazing marketing piece and shipping it out to all the right people on your mailing list. But without solid training and resources devoted to converting those prospects into customers or patients, a lot of that effort on direct mail will go to waste.
A lot can be done to improve the way your staff — or other team members — receive incoming phone calls from prospects. The very first thing to do is make sure they all thoroughly know your company’s mission, available services, credentials, awards, and other fundamental information. From a marketing standpoint, they should also know why your business stands out among the competition.
Next, give them a phone script. Even a basic script will get better results than playing it by ear with every new call. You want them to have an enthusiastic greeting, strong verbal skills, and the end goal of getting and keeping appointments.
Here’s an example. Imagine a staff member answering the phone like this with no smile: “Hello?” Then, when asked about insurance coverage, they say the patient isn’t covered and doesn’t offer any additional advice or guidance.
On the other hand, consider how it comes across if the staff member smiles and says: “Hi, thank you for calling Smith Family Dental. This is Janelle. What can I do for you?” Then, upon being asked the same question about insurance, they provide a well-rehearsed answer about what they can do instead.
The difference in tone matters. One feels dismissive, while the other feels welcoming. You want a positive first impression for a potential customer who calls. Then, after that initial greeting, you want your staff to be trained on how to convert those prospects into new customers.
You can do this by encouraging them to end each call with a request to schedule an appointment — not just for the individual on the line, but for every member of their family — and by teaching your staff what to say when they have to field questions about insurance, technical dental procedures, and other information they may not readily know.
One more tip about phone calls: Whoever’s best at closing sales in your office should be scheduled to answer calls during the lunch hour. Many busy professionals will call during their own lunch hour between noon and one, and you want someone excellent to field those calls.
You could even make it more enticing by offering to buy this person lunch or paying them overtime, encouraging everyone on staff to up their phone game. But the cardinal rule is to always have someone answering the phone — anything is better than letting all those valuable calls go to voicemail!
Track and measure results
If step one is sending out direct mail and step two is training your staff to answer the phone, step three is to track and analyze the results you’re getting.
If you’re not using a call tracking number when sending to prospects, you’re missing out on some valuable data. A call tracking number is a unique phone number for your campaign that will keep track of how many calls your campaign generates. You can change the tracking number for each campaign to make it easy to compare. Just be prepared for the fact that some people will look up your phone number online after seeing the direct mail offer, so the tracking number won’t be 100 percent accurate. However, it’s still a great tool to get a sense of the ROI on your campaign.
There are other ways to measure results besides a tracking number, like a unique code that you include in the direct mail piece offer. For example, you might say, “Mention the code ‘DEC23’ when you call in, for a 10 percent discount.” That’s a simple way to keep track of which calls are coming from your campaign. You can also just ask directly, “How did you hear about us?” or “Who can we thank for referring you to us?”
This is much more effective if you go a step further in asking follow-up questions. “Oh, you found us online? Was that just from an online search, or did you hear about us another way?” It’s important to not make the patient feel like they’re getting grilled, but even one or two additional questions can give you a huge amount of insight into how the marketing is working and make your tracking much more valuable.
The other key metric to track is conversions. While a response rate of 1 percent or so is good from direct mail, you want to convert between 30 and 50 percent of the resulting leads who call your office. That means roughly one in two customers who call the tracking number should at least come in for an initial consultation. Simply record the customer, where they came from, the date, and the result of the call in a spreadsheet or a CRM software program like InfusionSoft for a convenient way to see how many phone calls result in new customers.
Focusing on making a successful direct mail campaign is logical, but it’s not enough to get the results you need. Phone scripts, training, and tracking on the back end will give your campaigns the support they require in order to soar. Do you have all of these in place for your marketing? Start now by determining one simple tweak and making it happen. That will get you moving in the right direction for marketing that converts!