If you’re considering direct mail to promote your dental business, now’s the time to take action. Research on dental marketing strategies shows that direct mail produces outstanding response rates and ROI. If you’re serious about creating a campaign, we’ve assembled the steps involved so you can see exactly how direct mail works—and why it’s the smart choice for savvy, modern-day dental marketers.
Whether you’re promoting a group of dental practices or you’re marketing a national chain of dental offices, you can benefit from our 65+ years of experience. Here’s how to create a direct mail campaign from scratch for your dental business.
How to Develop a Mailing List
Before you create your campaign, you need an audience—aka a target market. Maybe you already have a solid “house list” and you know what you want to say to them. But for the sake of learning how to create a direct mail campaign from scratch, let’s look at building a mailing list from a beginner’s perspective—as if you just opened an office in a new market.
What to Do If You Don’t Have a Mailing List
Logically, you’d want to let the people in your neighborhood know that you’re there and open for business. Since everybody needs to see the dentist at one time or another, you’d likely forget the demographics and target zip codes within a defined mile radius from your office. Of course, it’s another story if you’re promoting a specific procedure or targeting a definitive age group (e.g. you’re a children’s dentist), but let’s stick with the basics for now.
One popular method of obtaining a targeted mailing list is to buy or rent from a company (broker, compiler, manager, etc.) that specializes in providing these addresses. You could request a list based on residential customers within certain nearby zip codes, counties, or a specified distance from your practice. Naturally, prices will vary from one service to the next depending on the type of list and whether you’re going to rent or buy it.
Note: Here are some tips for finding a reputable list broker and ensuring their data hygiene and list management practices are top-notch.
Once you’re established in an area, you can always develop new campaigns targeting people who’ve recently moved into your neighborhood. You could also create appointment reminders, patient birthday mailings, and much more. For example, cosmetic dentistry is typically something you’d market to higher-income individuals. Thus, you could target this market with your direct mail piece based on their income.
MSP has an in-house mailing center with experts in postal regulations and logistics. We’ll be happy to help you determine your best options for creating a mailing list—and then getting your campaign out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible. Contact us for a free consultation on developing your mailing list and more.
How to Create a Direct Mail Piece
Now that you know who you’ll be sending your direct mail piece to, it’s time to decide what it’s going to look like and what you’re going to say. Your marketing budget will largely determine the makeup of your campaign. One of the more popular options among direct mail dental marketing strategies is a postcard campaign.
When you’re trying to establish yourself as a new business, postcards are one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways to introduce yourself to your new neighbors. It can be a straightforward, to-the-point, eye-catching piece. Plus, postcards have an average response rate of 5.7%, according to the ANA/DMA’s response rate report, and they come in a variety of sizes that will stand out in any mailbox.
Offer Patients an Incentive to Visit Your Office
According to many direct-mail experts, 40% of a direct mail campaign’s impact comes from selecting the proper audience to receive it. But an additional 40% comes from the value of the offer. (the writing and design account for the remaining 20%.) What do you want your recipients to get out of it? That’s where the call to action (CTA) comes in. Direct mail is primarily about soliciting a reaction. You want your recipients to do something, so be sure to make it clear what you want them to do.
If you’re trying to get new patients into your office, offer them an incentive for visiting. You can incorporate this into your direct mail piece. It could be anything from a free first visit or checkup to a coupon that gives them a discount on one of your services. The idea is to get them in the door with your best customer experience strategy, then give them your best service so they want to return.
Here are a few of the many possibilities for a postcard campaign:
- Grand opening welcome event
- Appointment reminders
- Birthday messages
- Specific service offerings like teeth whitening, braces, etc.
- New Year’s resolutions
- Children’s dental care
- Dental benefits expiration notice
- Membership plan information
- Introducing a new dentist to your practice
Postcards are only one way for you to deliver your message, though. If you want to invest a bit more money into your campaign, you can get creative with your look. There are many different types of direct mail. You could try a direct mail letter in an envelope, or you could put your message and a promotional item inside a padded envelope or box. Dimensional mail has an almost 100% open rate because people can’t resist finding out what might be inside.
If you’d like to discuss the many varieties of direct mail available and see what would work best for your practice, an MSP representative would be happy to help you create a campaign to fit any sized budget. Contact us today and let’s talk about the possibilities.
Personalize Direct Mail for the Best Response
When you personalize a campaign, you have a 29% greater chance of having your message read. Here’s an example of personalization. When you put your recipient’s name boldly on your direct mail piece or tailor the offer to suit their needs, you’re personalizing the message. As a result, you’re going to get a better response. This is one of the dental marketing strategies that will work best for your practice. You can also personalize other data, like your location. In this instance, you could provide a map that shows how new patients can get to your nearest office.
One way to achieve personalization on a large scale is via variable data printing. This allows for mass customization of your direct mail campaigns. For example, if you’re sending a postcard announcing your grand opening and you want to include every recipient’s first name on the front to really grab their attention, you can do that without slowing down the printing process. Sure, you could send 2,000 identical postcards, but we know from the statistics that you’ll get a better response if you personalize the mailing.
Direct Mail Automation Saves Time and Money
All these different types of direct mail dental marketing strategies sound great, but you very likely don’t have the time to create a piece of mail for every situation. For example, your appointments will be all over the calendar so you’ll have reminders going out regularly. How do you keep track of all of them? Marketing automation is the answer. Direct mail marketing dental campaigns, on average, receive 5x more engagement when they’re triggered by a recipient’s own actions. That means, when a patient does one thing (like schedule an appointment), automation triggers a direct mail piece to remind them to show up. This is a proven direct mail marketing technique.
Should You Try AB Testing?
AB testing is pretty common in direct mail marketing circles. In its most basic form, the idea is to create two different pieces of direct mail for one campaign to see which performs the best. You can include one difference, such as the offer, then split your mailing list in half so one group gets one version and the other group receives the second version. Then watch as the results come in to see which group performed better. Be sure to use a unique identifier on each mail piece like a coupon or promo code so you can easily distinguish one group from the other. Keep this testing process going using the more successful option with yet another variable, then try to top that with your next mailing. Over time, you’ll see improved response rates as you gain a better understanding of what works best for your target markets.
How to Send a Direct Mail Piece
Once your direct mail campaign is complete, it’s ready to ship. But this step requires more than merely putting stamps on envelopes or postcards and getting them out the door. Let’s talk about speed and cost. You want the fastest delivery for the least amount of money. And everything you’ve done to this point—all the prep work you’ve put in prior to this step—will determine how quickly your campaigns are delivered and how cost-effective they are. That’s why each step is important.
Direct mail optimization allows you to take advantage of postal service discounts. As you learn how to optimize your direct mail letter, you should pay particular attention to the following mail methods.
- Presorting. When you sort your campaign via zip codes, you’ll get cheaper rates on postage.
- Commingled Mail. When you combine your direct mail campaign with other company’s campaigns, you’ll get USPS discounts.
- Co-Palletization. Sharing full trays of mail on a pallet with other businesses equals a discount.
Both commingled mail and co-palletization reduce the amount of time the post office has to work with your mail. This means a faster shipment of your campaigns and deeper discounts. Don’t worry if these terms confuse you. You’re not alone. That’s where MSP comes in with yet another direct mail solution. We run a postage and freight feasibility report on every job so your practice can get campaigns delivered quickly at the lowest possible rate.
Are You Ready for Responses?
This may seem like an unusual question, but don’t dismiss it so quickly with “Of course!” The last thing you want is to get flooded with responses for appointments and not be able to handle them all. Then you’re turning away patients or attempting to reschedule them at times that aren’t convenient for either of you. It may seem that an overabundance of patients would be a good problem to have, but it isn’t if you and your staff can’t handle the workload. Remember, you don’t need to send a campaign to everyone on your mailing list. It’s OK to start out with a smaller mailing—maybe one that’s very targeted—to check the responses and make sure you can handle more when the time comes.
How to Analyze Direct Mail Results
At the end of the day, you want your results to match your expectations—or exceed them. That’s why feedback is so important as one of your direct mail dental marketing strategies. You need to analyze your direct mail results to determine if you handled your campaign correctly. As the results come in, you may find that there are similar characteristics among the customers that responded. You not only want to get patients into your office, but you also want to get a better understanding of the people you serve. As you analyze what worked and what didn’t, you’ll be able to adjust and make a better direct mail campaign next time.
Direct Mail Panorama: The Future of Direct Mail Management
MSP created Direct Mail Panorama as a software solution to help you streamline and manage your high-volume direct mail campaigns. When you have a “panoramic” view of your direct mail metrics, you can more easily improve upon each campaign with reduced management time, improved speed to market, and higher engagement rates. Direct Mail Panorama provides complete transparency into your campaign’s performance and allows you to track and analyze every aspect of the mailing process.
Dental Marketing Strategies: Here’s How to Create a Direct Mail Campaign for Your Dental Practice
You could try to build a direct mail campaign from scratch by yourself, or you could enlist the services of an expert partner who’s well established in the direct mail industry. MSP knows direct mail inside and out and we’ve guided some of the biggest brands to successful campaigns time and again. We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about your marketing goals and see how we can help improve your dental marketing strategies with direct mail. Contact us today to get the conversation started.
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