Being aggressive in your database cleanup and medical email list management is a vital piece of your communications program. This is one area where a halfhearted effort is more harmful than helpful. List "scrubbing" should be treated as equally important as the initial list build. In this fast-paced computer and smart phone dominated universe, mistakes happen all the time.
Person A receives an inquiry from your website, Person B receives an inquiry via a contest entry form from a trade show and both input your personal information into their database not always checking for typos or even duplicates. This often means your database and email lists most likely contain errors and duplicate entries.
How is this relevant to your medical practice reputation management? Sometimes too much of something, whether good or bad, can be a negative to your practice’s bottom line. Personally, I receive three to five emails every week (sometimes several times a week) from the same company; each email comes with my name spelled differently or part of my contact information written incorrectly. The bigger issue I’m concerned with is the fact that I was the one who initially subscribed to one of their newsletters, email blasts, or product update blogs, but somewhere along the way an internal employee entered my information in their system incorrectly, thus initiating redundant emails.
Does this weaken my opinion of their company? It depends a lot on the service they offer, if accuracy is at the top of my list and my personal data is inaccurate, then yes my view of their firm is severely damaged. Is this unfair? Maybe a little bit, but as a consumer how a company conducts themselves, starting with how they connect with me is the only indicator I have to go on.
How does a small medical office or even solo practice make sure their databases are clean, accurate and current? It only takes a few hours at the start of your database and/or list management building to develop a strong action plan. Determine how your database will be designed, decide on the accepted name and address formatting and the way data will be inputted in the future. A little communication at the front end will ward off a major clean-up or sadly an expensive rebuild down the road.
There are services and software out there that will clean up your database for you and will even maintain it, but if you are a small or solo practice, fiscally this option isn’t a smart purchase. It is wiser to begin with a clean list managed internally than it is to outsource. Keeping your lists and databases in-house also has a side benefit; your employees will become more familiar and engaged with your patients, which in turn will give your entire practice a warmer, more genuine reputation.
As a professional with many years of list management and database production experience, the most useful advice I can give to physicians is employ the most detail-oriented, computer literate marketing manager you can find and treat them well. It's worth it in the end.