Dentist Direct Mail — Automation Drives Consistent Results

dentist direct mail via automated tools changes the outlook for dentist office marketing

New technology has suddenly made dentist direct mail a far more modern and effective marketing approach.

Most professionals in private practice successfully use direct mail to both get new clients and boost revenue from existing clients. But sending direct mail can be exceptionally lucrative for dental offices.

That’s because in most cases direct needs to be sent to a fairly specific target market. For example, CPAs might target small business owners. For landscape contractors, that audience would likely be homeowners.

But I can’t think of a specialty more universal than dentistry. Virtually everyone needs to see a dentist, preferably at least twice a year. Even better, patient relationships can last for years – even decades — so each new patient could generate thousands of dollars in the years ahead.

If your dental practice is not using direct mail to find new patients, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. If you’re already using direct mail, I have some tips to improve your results – suggestions you can really sink your teeth into.

Why dentist direct mail?

Dentist office work

Although direct mail may seem way too traditional in this increasingly digital era, it gains a lot more attention and trust. Consider these statistics:

So here are some ideas to chew on as you consider either starting a dentist direct mail campaign or making your direct mail work even better.

Consistency really pays off – today and well into the future

Calendar dates checked off

In some cases, I see dental offices send mailings out occasionally as kind of a “one-shot” solution to bring in new patients. And many evaluate results based on an initial patient visit when it’s really the long-term value of a patient relationship that matters most.

That’s why most dentists who are successful using direct mail view their program as an ongoing campaign. If you want a steady stream of new patients, you should be mailing on a regular basis – perhaps monthly or even weekly. Even if you only send a few mailings out at a time, that’s okay. Direct mail automation tools make it easy to “drip” out single mailers or to send out to small or large lists.

Until a few years ago, sending only a few mailings at a time was too expensive because printers and mailing companies had high minimum quantities. If just print and mailing set-up alone cost $1,000, it just didn’t make much sense to send a few dozen or a few hundred mailers.

That’s all changed thanks to Postalytics. Using our automated platform, you can send out direct mail with just few clicks of your mouse. You can design customized and personalized direct mail templates, easily change and adapt them to create specific versions, and even rent mailing lists right from our platform.

With modern direct mail automation, a dental practice can send one triggered mailer or a batch of 10,000 all at once using the exact same process.

And thanks to new imaging and mailing technology, high fixed costs are no longer an issue. You can send one or two mailers out for almost the same cost per piece as if you sent thousands all at once. That reduces your costs and makes it possible to create even more personalized mailings that boost your response rate.

And a consistent mailing schedule – even if only a few mailings at a time – makes more sense than ever. In some cases, you may need to send a mailer to someone several times before they actual book an initial appointment. Yes, sending mail to the same person over and over again may seem foolish, but it pays off in the long run because people do change dentists for reasons you can’t always know in advance.

Considering the revenue your practice could earn over the long term, even several mailings to one person can be cost effective.

Example of an ongoing dental direct mail campaign

Take a look at this example. Let’s say you have an ongoing dentist direct mail program and spend about 80 cents per mailer — or $800 to send 1,000. If your response rate is 2% (and I’m being conservative because many dentists get higher response rates), then you’ll get 20 new patient visits. Each visit by a new patient costs you $160 as you can see here:

Quantity mailed          1,000
Cost per mailer$0.80
Response rate2%
Cost per response$40

At first glance, that seems kind of high. Perhaps your rate is $150 per visit, so your first visit profit is $110 on each new patient. But in reality, it’s a great deal — if you’re a great dentist!

Let’s assume that overall, about 40% of your patients return to you twice a year for at least five years.  If that’s the case, then two of those patients will visit you again 10 more times. That’s 20 additional patient visits, so the revenue you’d earn would be well worth the cost of spending $160 for that initial visit:

Quantity mailed          1,000
Cost per mailer$0.80
Response rate2%
Cost per response$40
New patients who return 10 times8
Number of additional patient visits80
Revenue per visit$150
Total revenue$12,000

Now you can see that the original $40 you spent to get a new patient was well worth the cost.

And it shows that sending multiple mailings can make sense in the long term because spending even $500 for a new patient makes good business sense. And remember, this accounts for routine patient visits, not any specialized procedures a patient may need in the future. And this represents just one patient. You may indeed become the new dentist for an entire family that could earn you $10,000 over the course of a few years.

But your direct mail program can probably perform even better than this. Here’s how:

Test offers, lists, and messaging to boost your response rate

Always be testing

Just promoting your practice is a poor way to use direct mail.

Direct mail professionals know that merely talking about yourself doesn’t do much to encourage someone to take action. And action is what you need to get a response.

You need to make a good offer to create a compelling direct mail piece. Here some ideas for offers dentists have found generate more interest and more response:

  • Free initial consultation
  • Free phone after a first visit
  • $99 for a first checkup

You could even offer something that relates to dentistry – perhaps a Water Pic or even a Sonicare toothbrush. That adds to your costs, of course, but the higher response from a better offer can easily make up for that expense.

Let’s say you already have an offer that generates a 2% response rate, but that an offer that costs you $100 can double that rate to 4%. Here’s a comparison of those offers:

 Standard offerEnhanced offer
Quantity mailed          1,0001,000
Cost per mailer$0.80$0.80
Response rate2%4%
Additional cost for offer0$100 per patient
Total offer cost$0$4,000
Cost for mailing$800$800
Total cost$800$4,800
Cost per response$40$120

At first glance it seems as if you are spending more to get a new patient. That’s true — but giving a new patient an excellent value can generate plenty of goodwill that can easily improve your patient retention rate. Let’s say that instead of only 40% of patients returning for at least 10 visits, you can boost that to 50% as shown here:

 Standard offerEnhanced offer
Quantity mailed          1,0001,000
Cost per mailer$0.80$0.80
Response rate2%4%
Additional cost for offer0$100 per patient
Total offer cost$0$4,000
Cost for mailing$800$800
Total cost$800$4,800
Cost per response$40$120
New patients who return 10 times816
Number of additional patient visits80160
Revenue per visit$150$150
Total revenue$12,000$24,000

Yes, adding that offer increased your cost for that initial visit. But you could easily more than double your revenue over the next few years. You’ll be running a busier practice and earning more revenue.

That demonstrates the value of a great offer, and why you’ll need to test offers to find the one that works best for your practice and your market.

Testing sounds complex, but Postalytics makes it easy to create variations of your mailing in just minutes so you can directly test one campaign against another.

But I’m not done yet. Here’s another way to possibly earn even more revenue from your dentist direct mail campaign.

Mail to the right people. It’s important!

Mailing to the wrong list is a sure-fire way to get poor results – and that’s real kick in the teeth! After all, a home remodeling contractor wouldn’t want to be sending mailings to renters who would almost certainly not be likely prospects.

But as I mentioned, everyone needs dental care. One way to reach entire neighborhoods is to use “saturation mailings“. You can access services like this from mailing list providers – and select neighborhoods by using a map like the one shown below.

saturation mailing lists from within Postalytics

What’s more, you can even customize the headline on your mailer based on the neighborhood you’re mailing to – an easy way to make your mailings even more relevant and more responsive. Take a look at these examples:

use localization in direct mail - harwich
use localization in direct mail - plymouth

More targeted messaging can easily boost response by 20% or more. That will drive even more visits to your ever-growing practice. It’s easy and can even save on postage costs.

Target mailings based on age

Another way you might use lists is to be more precise in sending different offers and messaging to various audiences based on demographics. For example, you could use imagery and a headline that’s more appropriate for families and another version for a mailing that focuses on dental needs for an older population. Here are a few examples that demonstrate how you can vary your message based on audience:

Let’s say you generate a 4% response rate on average because you’ve already tested various offers and messaging. If that’s the case, at $800 per 1,000 pieces mailed, you’d get 40 responses that would cost you $20 each.

I’ve seen many examples of more specific messaging boosting results by 20% or more. That would result in a 4.8% response rate or 48 responses per 1,000 pieces mailed and lower the cost of bringing a new patient in to only $16.67 each. And I know I’m repeating myself, but once again, making mailings more specific is easy to do in Postalytics – and you pay about the same cost per mailer whether you mail only a few at a time or thousands all at once.

New neighbors: A rich source for dentist direct mail leads

One audience that can be exceptionally lucrative are new residents who move into your local area. Finding a dentist isn’t necessarily a first priority, but it’s a question that will come up sooner or later. So why not send a few mailings over the next few weeks or months after someone new moves into a neighborhood in your local market?

You can easily rent a new mover list and upload it into Postalytics, there are many sources of great new mover data available.

You can easily rent a new mover list and upload it into Postalytics, and there are many sources of great new mover data available. You then can adapt one of your successful mailings to “welcome” people into your area. Here’s an example that reflects a similar message as the previous postcard. A change like this can be edited and proofed in minutes using Postalytics.

Follow up! Don’t let “maybe” turn into “no”

So far, I’ve shown you the value of using basic direct mail best practices such as making the right offer, targeting specific messaging, and testing lists.

But in some cases, you may identify someone who already responded – perhaps by phone or most likely online – but never actually scheduled a first visit. Are those potential patients lost forever? Perhaps some, but certainly not all.

In fact, not only are those “almost” patients not a waste of your time and resources, they could actually be more responsive in the future. After all, you don’t know if that “almost” represented being only slightly interested or 90% convinced. It may be that booking an appointment just slipped their mind – and they need a reminder.

“Almost” patients are not a waste of time!

One principle of direct response marketing holds that those who almost respond are more likely to eventually respond if you continue to communicate with that group.

So plan a set of follow-up mailings, perhaps a letter or a postcard. Send them a few additional times over several weeks after someone received your initial mailing and expressed interest.

Think about it this way: Let’s say you spend another $40 sending five additional mailings (80 cents per mailing) to 10 people who expressed interest but didn’t book an appointment. If even one of those prospects does make an appointment, that $40 was well spent – especially when you consider that a new patient could be worth thousands of dollars in the years ahead.

Ongoing mailings to nurture new patient relationships

You can use direct mail for dentists to get new leads, but it’s also an excellent way to build a relationship with new patients and even those patients who have been with you for many years.

While it may be difficult to measure how many patients don’t return because they were dissatisfied or simply need an extra reminder, you should definitely leverage any patient relationship as much as you can.

For new patients, you can plan a series of follow-up mailings. For example, you could send a “thank you” card a few days after a first visit and perhaps another a few weeks later. The higher your patient retention rate, the more revenue you can earn and the more likely it is that you can lower your marketing costs on a cost-per-new patient basis.

Once you know more about a patient’s specific needs, you can send more specific follow-up mailings. Perhaps you can adapt one of your templates as a follow-up postcard for services such as teeth whitening, periodontic services, orthodontic referrals, and other needs.

And for any patient, you can send a variety of follow-up and reminder mailings. For example, why not send a birthday card each year? That’s easy to do and can be an effective way to communicate with your patients.

Finally, make sure you’re ready for leads

Although this tip really doesn’t have anything to do with direct mail itself, you’ll probably want to have a special landing page available on your website so prospective patients can redeem any offer you make using direct mail and learn more about your practice.

Make sure you have a landing page that prospects can use to enter an offer code. That way, you can track response and add those names to your database. Make sure you present your practice professionally and include some information about you and your team.

In many cases, ratings and reviews will be what prospects are interested in most, so be sure you have good reviews available.

Also don’t forget that about half of website visits now come from mobile devices, so make sure that your site has a responsive design that adapts to smaller screens.

Sink your teeth into direct mail.
More patients, more revenue through automated technology.

Although direct mail can seem complex, Postalytics makes it easy for a busy dental office to take advantage of automated direct mail marketing. So get started. The results you get are sure to bring an even brighter smile to your face!