Has Direct Mail Marketing Gone the Way of the Dinosaur?

By Practice Growth December 16, 2021

There’s no doubt that social media has revolutionized marketing for eye care providers, as well as nearly every other sector. The reach and target-specific messaging it allows are far beyond those of any technique available before, and they’re achievable at a price point that fits into even the most limited marketing budget. 

In comparison to social media marketing, older forms of marketing have become less and less common, among them direct mail marketing. For years, this form of reaching out to potential and established patients was king. 

It’s easy to see why. Direct mail marketing reaches people who aren’t computer and internet savvy, or who choose to limit their use of technology. Direct mail pieces, unlike emails, don’t have to contend with spam filters nor do they meet the fate of so many posts on social media platforms – visibility for a few minutes before being pushed out of sight by newer content. For this reason, direct mail campaigns offer a higher chance of individuals receiving, opening, and reading your marketing message. 

A direct mail campaign makes it easier to measure your return on investment (ROI) by identifying who responded to a particular offer. Because of limitations in physical size, the direct mail messages have to be succinct.  With small marketing real estate, an eye care practice is forced to craft more concise and effective marketing messages.

Social media, on the other hand, makes it easy to include a link that takes the patient to a landing page – or a whole website – with unlimited space and marketing copy. That's a lot more space to fill with content designed to make a sale or book a new patient than a business card, flyer, or appointment reminder.For many patients, being confronted with page after page of words and photos is overwhelming, and they are quickly turned off. 

Rather than inhibiting direct mail marketing, the fact is that social media’s success and popularity have actually empowered it. Fewer businesses are using direct mail pieces these days, so the businesses that do use them face less competition. As a result, when your patient pulls your direct mail piece out of the mailbox, it will stand out and compel them to read it. 

Even as 2022 approaches, direct mail marketing still has relevance for your practice. Here are questions to consider so you can make your direct mail marketing pieces effective. 

What services and products to market…and when. 

It probably goes without saying that you should market products or services that people want already, or ones they will want once they know you’re offering them. However, just because a product or service is in demand doesn’t necessarily mean that anytime is the best time to market it. Some offerings are best publicized when they relate to a heightened awareness in the media. When National Glaucoma Awareness Month arrives on January 1, 2022 or National Eye Exam Month begins on the first day of August 2022- that’s the ideal time to send out a direct mail piece that references the Awareness Day or Month and includes a special offer that ties into it. This association adds importance to your offer and makes it feel like an event, and it will motivate patients to schedule their exam, consultation, or second opinion. 

How to keep the written content clear and concise. 

Clear, concise written content should always be the goal, regardless of the medium, but for direct mail marketing, it’s really a requirement because there simply isn’t room for extraneous words within the limited physical parameters of a postcard or letter. Focus on promoting one product or service so that all of your content is aimed at selling that offering. Stress the benefits to the patient, not the bells and whistles, so that the patient can more easily understand how what you’re offering will meet that person’s needs or solve his or her problem. 

How to write an effective call to action. 

An effective call to action (CTA) is simply telling the patient what action you want him or her to take. That could be calling for an appointment, going to your website for more information, filling out a survey, or stopping by your office. Decide what one specific action you want the patient to take and then instruct the individual to take that action…and to take it today! Stressing time is important because if the person doesn’t feel a sense of urgency, he or she may decide to follow up on your offer later. Once that decision is made, odds are that the person will never take the action you’ve requested. For all intents and purposes, your offer has been tossed in the trash. 

How to make the direct mail piece visually appealing. 

Just as clarity and brevity in written content are essential for your direct mail piece, so too are the visual components. The limited physical dimensions of the postcard or letter may allow room for only three or four photos and/or graphics (perhaps including your logo and a map of your office location). Add any more than that and you risk creating a busy and cluttered appearance that confuses the recipient and comes across as amateurish or outright desperate. Focus on visual elements that illustrate the one product or service you’re promoting, support the message contained in the written content, and help the patient take the action you desire. 

Get direct with your marketing. 

Direct mail marketing is still an effective technique for marketing your eye care practice’s products and services, and the fact that it isn’t social media can actually work in your favor. The mere presence of the direct mail piece catches the attention of the recipient – often because it’s the only such piece in his or her mailbox. The limited physical dimensions of the piece force you to craft your message and choose your visuals with care. As a result, your direct mail campaign focuses on your offer, the benefits to your patient, and the specific action you want that person to take. This focus produces an effective message that’s presented in a fresh but familiar way.

Check out this case study.

Optometry Direct Mail Marketing Case Study | Eye Care & Wear | PostcardMania

The direct mail piece has all the must-haves: clear headline, photos supporting the written content, an offer that creates a sense of urgency, and a clear and compelling CTA. The study also shows the resulting ROI.


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