By Bob Fabbio

You’ve built your reputation on relationships. Two-way conversation is standard practice for your in-office patient interactions. But when it comes to your marketing communications, does the conversation stop?

If your marketing campaigns rely exclusively on one-way channels like email, you’re missing opportunities to better engage your patients and grow your practice’s revenue.

Most traditional marketing channels flow in one direction. If you only send emails, mail postcards, or buy online or print ads, you’re doing all the talking and learning very little. One-way communication wouldn’t work in a patient consultation, and it isn’t effective marketing.

Conversational marketing is an increasingly important channel that uses personalized, two-way communication to identify and remember patients’ interests and deliver the information and special offers most relevant to—and desired by—them. When you know what your patients want, you can offer discounts, special events, and information in your marketing campaigns that resonate, are more likely to convert into appointment requests, and ultimately generate more business.

Fortunately, conversational marketing is a channel perfectly suited for a plastic surgery practice because it leverages the trusted doctor-patient relationship. It’s about listening—not just talking— to secure lasting connections.

An App for That

Conversational apps, or ChatBots, effectively bring the latest two-way communication channel to patient marketing. They create interactions that feel like personal, uninterrupted, real conversations.

The apps can identify patients’ interests in products and services—even glean their hobbies and personal interests to deepen connections—and engage them on topics of their choice, with appropriate responses throughout the conversation. These automated conversations can progressively become more personalized, and they remember and cue interests or other information from prior interactions.

The patient data collected can be used to enhance other interactions or to segment communications though other channels.

Conversations Deliver Conversions

Leads from conversational channels tend to convert at higher rates than other digital marketing because it is the truest permission-based marketing. Patients are choosing to engage in bi-directional interaction. These interactions build long-term value and stronger, longer, more loyal patient relationships.

The personalized information collected through conversations also allows you to remain above the consumer marketing noise. When fighting for patient mindshare, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. A key to breaking through the clutter is by delivering personalized and relevant communications. In fact, 90% of marketers see individualization as the future of marketing—moving beyond segmentation to true one-to-one personalization in a real-time context (Teradata).

Drs Jeffry and Selena Rocker own and run Skinology, an Orlando-area medical spa. Earlier this year, the Rockers began leveraging data collected from a conversational smart phone app to generate more business from patients during office appointments. In less than 100 days after using the app as part of a multi-channel marketing approach, the practice grew revenue by 15%.

“If we see (from the app) that they wanted to know more about Latisse, for example, we can use the time we have with them during a Botox appointment to answer their questions about Latisse,” Rocker says. “We’ve seen this result in more business.”

A Multi-Channel Approach Is Still Necessary

The addition of a conversational channel should be part of a fully integrated marketing program, not stand alone. No single channel can reach everyone in this online and offline world. Consumers expect choices and want to communicate on their terms.

Conversational marketing through smart phone apps effectively supplements and reinforces other digital marketing efforts, including email, web and social. The beauty of conversational marketing is that it fits well into a multi-channel approach while delivering benefits other channels cannot.

Bob Fabbio is the CEO and co-founder of Austin, Texas-based eRelevance Corp., a technology-enabled marketing automation service providing small- to medium-sized aesthetic practices with affordable internal marketing that reduces workload and generates more business ( Bob can be reached at [email protected].