For some time, systems like DemandForce and Solution Reach have enabled offices to communicate with patients via text message. Weave has taken this even further by allowing you to text from its app. Now Google wants to make it possible for prospective new customers to initiate communication with businesses in a text message.
From Casual to Professional: Text Messages in the Market Place
Millennials are obviously a huge driver in the demand to text rather than call or email, but they are undoubtedly influencing older generations as well. The trend toward being ever-connected to the Web via a mobile device is not going away anytime soon, and since businesses have been reaching out to consumers via text for a while now, it makes sense that communication should flow the other way.
For dental practices, this could pose a challenge, especially when juggling leads via phone and email can already seem daunting. Texting added to the mix will bring more challenges, but also some unique opportunities.
In terms of challenges, they will be similar to some of the challenges we see in email leads, where we have little-to-no information from the patient when they initially contact the office. The team will have to decide how to strike a balance between nurturing the communication and getting the necessary info to schedule the appointment. You’ll also have to figure out who should get these text messages.
On the plus side, text messages are tied to phone numbers, which means that your team should be able to more easily call to follow up on text message leads. It’s probably best not to call immediately after receiving a text lead and instead text back to earn the prospective patient’s trust, otherwise the patient may not answer the phone when you call. This will depend on what the patient sends as her initial message to the office. It will also be easier to communicate with patients after hours should you decide to try to capture after-hour conversions. Most of our campaigns we manage do not run when the office is closed since offices rarely have their lines forwarded to cell phones after business hours. Text messaging could be more manageable than fielding calls for team members when they are out of the office.
An Innovation in Adwords
Google continues to push innovations in Google Adwords trying to make it easier for clicks to turn into dollars for the businesses who use Google Adwords. For now, Google is introducing this into its Adwords program, but it’s possible that they will expand this function out to Google My Business listings.
Some offices have experienced the wrong number calls that can come through Adwords when you have top placement with Google Adwords ads. It’s hard to say whether or not texts would have the same issue. The good news is that these would be easily traceable leads back to Adwords dollars and experimenting with SMS messaging does not carry an extra cost. We will just have to see what kind of lead quality comes through text messages- if the convenience of the communication will mean that more will come in or if the fact they are keeping the office at arm’s length by text rather than calling means that they are less serious about coming.