As a dental marketing executive, your ultimate goal is pretty simple: get more patients into your office. So you turn to your marketing strategy. But you don’t just want customers. You want loyal ones. You need to take care of them on their terms. But with so many marketing channels available these days, where do you begin? (Hint: we’re going to tell you!)


There’s one tried-and-true marketing method that produces exceptional results. Direct mail. This thriving, $44-billion industry receives impressive open rates (80-90%), outstanding ROI (about 30%), and heck, even millennials love direct mail. Luckily, with direct mail, you can take something good and make it even better by using automation. So we created this quick rundown of the process. Here’s how automation helps direct mail marketing for your dental business.


Automated Direct Mail Helps Cure Dentophobia


dentophobiaBefore we look into automated direct mail marketing for your dental business, let’s get something out of the way. Generally speaking, people are afraid of dentists. Almost 75% of adults in the U.S. experience some kind of fear of going to the dentist. And roughly 5-10% of them have what’s known as “dentophobia.” So you’ve got that working against your marketing efforts from the get-go. But if you can reassure would-be patients that your practice is gentle, painless, and affordable, you can provide dental visits that are—fun. Really.


OK, let’s dig into the process so you can overcome dentophobia with automated direct mail.


What’s Direct Mail Automation?


If you want to achieve more from your direct mail efforts, automation is the answer. Direct mail campaigns receive 5x more engagement when they’re triggered by a recipient’s own actions. That means, when a patient does one thing (like miss an appointment), it triggers a direct mail piece to help solve that problem. Automation is one of the proven direct mail marketing tools.


Marketing execs from all industries are using automated direct mail. And according to research, it’s expected to continue growing. Marketing automation software helps with many different types of repetitive marketing behaviors. This includes email campaigns, social media posts, and other website actions. Marketing automation allows these digital tasks to happen automatically, according to a planned schedule. But automation also applies to direct mail. Let’s look at some of the ways you can add automation to your direct mail marketing campaigns.


Say ‘Hello’ to (Potential) New Patients


dental marketingWhether you have a brand-new dental practice or you just want to let people know you’re welcoming new patients, direct mail is a great way to reach them. A new patient special encourages business in a specified area. You could target a ZIP code and reach everyone in that region. You could target people who have recently moved into your neighborhood, a specific age group or income level, or any other group of potential patients. Include information about your practice and invite them to make an appointment. The target market determines the focus.


You can market your dental business for:


  • A routine checkup and cleaning for a general audience.
  • Cosmetic services for higher-income patients.
  • A membership plan for uninsured patients. (Not-so-fun fact: Almost 60% of people don’t go to the dentist because of cost.)


These are just a few of the many possibilities. Pick your target audience and give them the information they need to help solve their dental dilemmas.


Customer Reactivation Brings Back Business


We touched on this earlier. Let’s say you have a patient that missed an appointment or hasn’t kept their appointments for a while. Automation dictates that after a specified amount of time has passed, you can send them a direct mail postcard or letter. This direct mail piece is triggered by the specified amount of time. Maybe it’s the day after their missed appointment, maybe it’s a month or two after. That’s up to you. Their inactivity is what triggers the direct mail piece when you determine it’s appropriate.


Try sending personalized direct mail using variable data printing (VDP). You could include a friendly greeting reminding them how important it is to keep their appointments. But you should also make it personal. Approximately 85% of consumers are more likely to open a piece of personalized mail over one that’s not personalized. Use the patient’s name and include a map with directions to the office that’s closest to them.


Digital Nonresponders: Take Another Approach


digital nonrespondersIf you’ve been sending emails to your patients without any response, maybe it’s time to change your strategy. This type of direct mail marketing for your dental business is triggered by a specific period of time without a response. If your emails aren’t opened or you don’t receive a response after a determined number of mailings, it triggers a direct mailing.


If patients aren’t responding to your emails, it could be because you’re using the wrong marketing channel for that particular patient. Decide in advance how much time you want to pass without a response to your emails before you trigger a direct mail piece. Then, to track your results, give each customer their own unique PURL or promo code so you can easily record their behavior.


FYI, a promo code will work, but not quite as well as a PURL. The Association of National Advertisers (formerly the DMA) says that PURLs produce about a 60% response rate while coupon codes provide just over 40%.


Say ‘We Appreciate You’ with Thank-You Notes


There’s never a bad time to thank your patients for their business, but the best time is after their first visit. This gives you an opportunity to welcome them to your business and thank them for trusting you with their dental care. A handwritten thank-you note is a great way to create a personal connection with your new patients. It’s more personal than sending them a text message or email—not that there’s anything wrong with that. When you create a human connection with a handwritten message, you could also create a customer for life.


Send Scheduled Reminders for Appointments


direct mail reminderWhen you want to remind your patients about their upcoming appointment, you can schedule automated direct mail based on certain dates. Select a specified amount of time before their appointment. Then schedule a direct mail piece that reminds them when to arrive. This will prevent missed appointments, plus you can remind them to bring their insurance card (if necessary) and/or suggest products or treatments. Appointment reminders are the best way to reduce your number of no-shows.


Educate Your Patients with Helpful Information


Staying in touch with your patients between appointments increases brand loyalty. Blogging on your website is a great idea, but consider sending a quarterly newsletter to teach them about a variety of dental health topics. This will help establish trust in your practice. You can also use the opportunity to spotlight staff, highlight new equipment, and detail upcoming events. The more you increase trust and loyalty in your dental practice, the better chance you have of keeping patients and attracting new patients.


Automation Helps Direct Mail Marketing for Your Dental Business


When you eliminate repetitive marketing actions, you’ll stand out from your competition. Marketing automation is the answer for customer reactivation, digital nonresponders, handwritten thank-you notes, scheduled reminders, and more. You might even cure dentophobia. MSP is a longstanding leader in direct mail management. To discover how our industry knowledge, expertise, and technology can help your dental practice succeed, contact an MSP representative today to get started.

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