What Is Dental Direct Mail Marketing And How to Use It Effectively

What Is Dental Direct Mail Marketing And How to Use It Effectively
12 October, 2023 • ... • 226 views
Sara Kurczyńska
by Sara Kurczyńska

Reaching potential patients as a dentist might seem difficult. If you feel that way, look into dental direct mail marketing. It’s an effective strategy for a dental practice when it comes to connecting with potential patients.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced dentist or just starting out. With proper planning, dental direct mail marketing should help you reach many people in no time! If you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. In the following article, we will explain what dental direct mail marketing is and how to use it effectively.

What is dental direct mail marketing?

Dental direct mail marketing is a popular marketing strategy. Small businesses and big corporations use it alike: dental practices send promotional materials in the form of brochures and postcards directly to potential patients through the mail.

By targeting specific demographics and locations, dental direct mail marketing aims to attract new patients and build brand awareness for dental practices. It’s a tangible and personalized way for dentistry experts to connect with individuals.

Why use dental direct mail marketing

There are a number of reasons to use dental direct mail marketing. Among other things, this strategy has a high response rate and can help dentistry professionals increase customer trust and retention. Let us elaborate.

Has a high response rate and ROI

According to a report published by the Association of National Advertisers, the average direct mail marketing response rate is rather high. It’s around 9% if you’re sending mail to current customers. If you’re sending mail to prospects, the response rate is about 5%. It’s also worth noting that direct mail has a return on investment (ROI) of up to 43%.  This all makes direct mail marketing a worthy investment.

Increases customer trust

Similar to account-based marketing (ABM), door-to-door direct mail marketing can increase customer trust.

The truth is, sending high-quality flyers and booklets makes a business look legitimate. People assume that you wouldn’t be able to afford it if you haven’t already got many clients. Having many clients, in turn, shows that you are a skilled dentist.

Helps build reputation

Dentists might have trouble standing out from the crowd of other dentistry experts in the area. If you’d like to do something about it, create a marketing strategy based on dental direct mail. When done right, it should help you with positioning in the local market.

To give you an example, if you are specializing in dental implants, create a brochure with educational content. Explain what goes into implant treatment, how to prepare for different procedures, and how to take care of implants afterward. You could also share recent customer reviews from platforms like Google Maps. It can help you build a positive reputation among both potential and existing patients.

A brochure for patients: a brief introduction to dental implants and an image showing the structure of an implant compared to a natural tooth.
Pages from a brochure for patients. Source: Neodent

Improves customer retention

Direct mail marketing helps dentists improve customer retention. Once you gather existing clients’ addresses, you just send them postcards or flyers now and then. With such an approach, you are bound to stay on top of their minds. Next time their teeth hurt, or they think about scheduling their first dental check-up and cleaning in a while, you’ll likely be the first dentist who comes to mind, and they’ll turn to you.

Helps establish a multichannel approach to advertising

Many marketing specialists say that a multichannel marketing strategy is a fantastic investment. It should come as no surprise, though. The more platforms you advertise on, the more people you will reach, and the more people you reach, the more customers you will gain. As for direct mail marketing, in particular, it can help you make the most of offline marketing channels.

For instance, it might help you grab the attention of the elderly. It’s a challenging demographic to target, if you rely only on technology and digital marketing channels like social media and search engines.

Makes customers feel valued

Did you know that direct mail marketing can make customers feel more valued? It’s just a matter of doing it right. For example, you can send patients personalized birthday cards in mail. Add a flier with a discount for the next cleaning or a coupon for oral care products if you are affiliated with any brands. By doing this, you can achieve two goals: your patients will feel appreciated, and you will stay at the top of their minds.

A screenshot from Etsy showcasing the results that come up when searching for a dental birthday card.
You don't have to design birthday cards yourself. You can simply purchase them in bulk from Etsy or a similar online marketplace. Source: Etsy

Aids in overcoming dental anxiety

Finally, dental direct mail marketing could help patients overcome dental anxiety. From time to time, send educational materials focusing on dental care, dentists, and dentistry. For instance, you could explain what wisdom teeth extraction is about. Go over the procedure and how to prepare for it. Treat it as an opportunity to talk about what you’re doing to help patients feel more comfortable during each procedure.

A brochure page about preparing for wisdom teeth removal. It shows pictures of short-sleeved T-shirts to wear on surgery day and a man meeting a female family member to take home after the surgery.
Source: Krames Patient Education Materials

It’s likely that some of the people you will be sending mail to haven’t booked an appointment with a dentist in a while. They might’ve had a run-in with a callous dentist or with an outdated approach to a certain procedure. Naturally, bad past experiences will make them feel apprehensive about booking a dental appointment. So, it’s in your best interest to clear things up and explain how it should be done. Who knows, such a focus on education might end up attracting many new patients!

How to create a direct mail marketing campaign for dentists

To benefit from direct mail marketing, dentists should make some necessary preparations ahead of time. In the following section, we will explain how to plan a direct mail marketing campaign from start to finish.

  1. Define your goal

First, figure out what the goal of the entire marketing campaign is. Do you want to attract new patients? Do you want to increase customer retention? Or maybe you’re selling dental products and would like your patients to buy them more often? Either way, the goal should be specific, time-bound, and measurable. Just saying that you want to gain new customers is not enough. Instead, come up with a specific number and deadline. For example, you could say that you want to attract one hundred new patients in three months.

  1. Start gathering customer information

You won’t be able to launch a dental direct mail marketing campaign if you don’t have anyone to send mailing materials to. So, you will need to start gathering customer information. While you might be tempted to turn to people who sell personal information online, don’t do it. You don’t know whether that information was obtained consensually or through the use of malicious technology. Instead, opt for gathering people’s addresses by handing out sign-up forms at your clinic. That way, you can be sure that this personal information was obtained in an ethical way.

Every Door Direct Mail

If you live in the United States, you should look into the Every Door Direct Mail program. Launched by the United States Postal Service, it provides dentists with access to thousands of mailing lists. What’s more, they’re based on standard mailing routes that’re closest to your dental practice. Just pick a mailing list, upload your mailing designs, and pay for the service. The local post office will then deliver dental direct mail to your potential customers on your behalf.

  1. Get to know your target audience

Now, it’s time to get to know the people you’re trying to reach. You could hire a target audience research company or invest in audience research technology, such as Google Trends or Answer the Public. As a result, you will learn what your target audience might be interested in, from topics they find compelling to specific questions they would like you to answer.

However, looking up what your most profitable competitors are doing is probably the cheapest option. It’s a great way to gain some valuable insights. That’s particularly the case if you have little to no prior experience with dental marketing.

  1. Choose a campaign type

Next, you should plan things out. That might include coming up with a budget and deciding on the kind of campaign that you want to launch.

Postcards

If you want to save money, the entire marketing campaign could take the form of a postcard campaign. Since postcards don’t require envelopes to send, you can cut the costs quite a bit.

Front and back of a dental postcard displaying the dental office’s website and phone number and featuring special offers for patients
Example of a typical postcard from a dental office. Source: Pinterest

Promotional self-mailers

A promotional self-mailer is a standalone piece of promotional content that, similarly to postcards, doesn’t require an envelope or additional packaging. It is designed to be folded, sealed, and mailed as is, typically with a mailing label and postage placed on the outside.

An eight-panel self-mailer promoting a family-owned dental practice features popular services, images of the reception area, and the practice's exact location on the map
Example of a self-mailer sent by a dental office. Source: Practice Cafe

New mover package

As the name suggests, a new mover package is what you send to someone who’s just moved to your area. They’re probably going to be looking for a dental practice nearby. All you need to do is to point them in the right direction. Start with introducing yourself. Then, assure them of your experience and the high quality of your customer service. For increased effectiveness, include a discount voucher for dental products or dentistry services. It’s a strategy that’s likely to make them seriously consider visiting your dental practice.

A new mover postcard from a dental office saying “Welcome to the neighborhood” and offering $75 of credit for dental services to new customers for a limited time
A typical new mover postcard from a dental office. Source: New Mover Mailings

Targeted mailing lists

In case you’ve already gathered the addresses of numerous clients, send them personalized materials. These could take the form of discount vouchers with clients’ names on them or appointment reminders. You can also invest in targeted marketing materials. They’re best used to promote dentistry services, products, or insurance policies that clients might be interested in.

  1. Design direct mail materials

Different people like different things. The elderly tend to favor toned-down colors and a professional tone of voice. Younger people, on the other hand, might prefer bright colors and more informal communications.

To grab people’s attention, you need to design high-quality marketing materials. If you’re going for a postcard campaign, make the postcards unique. Consider commissioning a digital artist who has plenty of experience in commercial design. Just ask them to draw a colorful dentistry-related image for you. 

You could also hire a professional graphic designer to make sure the direct mail design you end up with is just right.

Sure, you could try to do designs yourself or order generic postcards from Amazon. Still, hiring a professional will make the entire process much smoother and add some points to the image of your dental practice.

There are many places online where one can find graphic design professionals for hire. The most popular options are freelancer websites, such as Upwork or Fiverr. You could also check out Behance. It’s a website where graphic design professionals showcase their best work. Just create an account and find someone who has already worked with dentists!

  1. Choose a mailing solution

If you decide not to join the Every Door Direct Mail program and don’t want to get involved with the local post office, start looking for a reliable alternative. In other words, figure out what company will be responsible for delivering marketing mail for you. Ideally, it should be a reliable mailing service with multiple positive reviews. You can find the closest to you on Google Maps, but if possible, ask other business owners in the area for recommendations. It’s likely that they’ve already had a positive experience with a particular company.

  1. Start tracking results

After you send all the mail, start tracking the campaign’s results. There are a few ways to do that. For one, you could put a QR code leading to an appointment scheduling application on each postcard. That will allow you to track how many people accessed that application through the QR code. 

Here’s another example. If you’re affiliated with any companies that sell dental products online, you could include a unique promo code on every postcard. By monitoring activated codes, you can get a general idea of how effective your marketing strategy is.

If you don’t have much experience with promo and QR codes or simply don’t want to use them, don’t worry! You can always opt for a more traditional approach: just ask new patients where they read or heard about your practice.

Best practices for dental direct mail

Many dentists already use direct mail marketing. Do you want to stand out and achieve the best results possible? If so, read on for a list of best practices for dental direct mail. 

Make an offer that people can’t resist

Dental services can be pricey, and sometimes, people can’t afford to pay for the whole thing in one installment, so they avoid going to the dentist altogether. With that in mind, consider sending out a discount voucher. Better yet, do it several times in a row. It might be that final push that people need to schedule a dental appointment.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a discount voucher. It can be a special offer on dental insurance or a payment plan. Both are great options for patients who might not have the funds to pay for a certain procedure in full at once but would be able to do so in smaller installments. 

Include a clear CTA

Marketing materials should encourage their recipients to do specific things aligned with the goal of the marketing campaign.

If the marketer wants to drive traffic to their website, they will ask their customers to check out their website. If the marketer wants them to purchase a product, they will include a call-to-action like buy it now.

Think about the goal of your campaign and come up with a short call-to-action. To give an example, if you want more people to schedule an appointment, your call-to-action could be Book an appointment today.

Stay relevant

When sending out marketing materials, make sure they are relevant for your patients. Imagine that you’re interested in dental technology. Sure, it might be an interesting topic for fellow dentists. Unfortunately, it probably won’t catch the attention of potential patients. Unless you spin it the right way. If you use such technology at your dental practice, showcase it to make your patients perceive you as a practitioner up-to-date on the latest developments.

In other words, when you’re brainstorming topics for marketing materials, think about them from the perspective of a potential patient. Is it something relevant to their lives? Will it show them you care about their customer experience? If not, come up with something else.

Keep in touch with old patients

Keep in touch with old patients. It makes them feel valued and increases their likelihood of visiting your practice again. One of the best ways to remind them about your practice is to keep sending them direct mail materials. Send them annual check-up reminders, birthday wishes, and occasional loyalty discounts. It’s a great way to show them your appreciation and keep them on your patient list for years to come.

Educate patients on oral health and other topics

As we have already mentioned, educating patients on oral health and dentistry in general can help you position yourself as an expert. There are many different topics you could talk about, ranging from picking the right dental insurance policy to choosing the best dental products for oral health.

What matters here is that you focus on something you have plenty of experience in. Imagine that the recipients of your direct mail marketing materials come to you for advice in person. You should be able to answer any questions they might have.

Thank your patients with postcards

Receiving a thank-you postcard can leave a lasting positive impression on patients. It’s likely to be associated with warmth, friendliness, and appreciation. If you have a lot of competition in your area, such personalized thank-you postcards can set you apart. Patients may not receive any from other providers. That’s why even a simple card will make you more memorable.

Final thoughts

Adopting dental direct mail marketing has many benefits for dentists. The most important ones are a high response rate and increased customer retention and trust. However, if you want it to work, you will need to keep a few important points in mind:

  • Include a clear call to action and make a good offer. If you provide potential customers with value and tell them exactly what you want them to do, they are more likely to check out your practice.
  • Talk about the right things with the right audience. Sending mail to people who live too far away from your office might not be practical, same as talking to them about things they might find useless or boring.
  • Keep in touch with loyal patients and thank them. They will feel valued and appreciated and then come back to your practice.

Now that you read our article, you have all the necessary knowledge to launch a solid direct mail campaign. While you might feel out of your depth at first, getting the hang of it is just a matter of time. Good luck!

Article by
Sara Kurczyńska
Sara Kurczyńska is an experienced content writer from Poznań, Poland. She enjoys writing about digital marketing, as well as playing video games and petting her fancy rats. In her spare time, you can find her birdwatching and taking long walks around the local parks and forests.
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