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Healthcare Marketing: Boost Digital Marketing with Direct Mail


It's easy to consider direct mailing a relic of the past in today's digital age, but studies show that's not the case. A combination of direct mailing and email can prove to be very beneficial to your practice, here's how.

Healthcare Marketing: Boost Digital Marketing with Direct Mail

How To Integrate Your Direct Mail With Digital Marketing

You may think that in today’s digital world, direct mail marketing is a relic of the past. However, direct mail is still one of the best ways to nurture existing relationships and reach new patients, which can actually boost digital marketing results. Here are the best tips on how to do just that.First, why not stick to an entirely digital marketing strategy? After all, digital is agile, trackable and cost effective, three qualities that direct mail hasn’t exactly been known for in the past. The truth is, digital advertising has become so dominant that it produces channel fatigue, like the spray-and-pray mass mailings in direct mail’s past.

At the same time, direct mail has come a long way too. Direct mail is evolving into a faster, more targeted and more relevant communications medium. Technological changes are helping mail to become a major component of a truly multichannel marketing strategy.

For healthcare marketers, this means silos are out, and integration is in. To be more engaging and effective, marketing campaigns must combine the advantages of both approaches. Adding direct mail to digital campaigns has been shown over and over to increase response rates, boost conversions and ultimately, improve ROI. According to one study, consumers who received direct mail offers were able to recall the brand 75 percent of the time, compared with 44 percent of the time for digital-only offers.

Use direct mail to drive potential patients to the web

Ready to connect your direct mail to digital marketing? Here are some of the tools you can use.A targeted direct mail piece can help increase general awareness, while inviting a prospective patient to learn more via your website. Using direct mail is a critical component of new patient acquisition: someone won’t think of you next time they get sick if they don’t know you exist in the first place, which is why awareness is key.

Expand your digital campaigns to automate patient reminders

By strategically targeting new patients with introductory mail pieces in certain zip codes, you can ensure your other marketing efforts will be more effective because you’ll be more top of mind. Savvy healthcare marketers can take advantage of USPS incentives for mailers to include emerging technologies like near-field communications or augmented reality.Start by building on your existing digital communications software to reach current patients. For example, if you have an e-newsletter, some email service providers offer a feature that lets users create a simple direct mail piece, like a postcard. If your recent newsletter included a reminder that cold and flu season is near, you can send a personalized reminder to your patient to get their flu shot.

Use retargeting to drive prospective patients back online

Or, you can segment out patients that are overdue for their regular checkup. Studies show that people remember and respond more emotionally to print pieces than digital ads, especially when they are customized and timely. Furthermore, adding personalized information such as a person’s name (along with using full-color pieces) can increase the response rate of direct mail by up to 500 percent, according to Canon.Many companies leverage online behavior, like browsing or abandoning a shopping cart, to retarget those consumers. If a prospective patient is searching for a healthcare provider in your area, you can use retargeting in a similar way. When they trigger this option, the prospective patient receives a printed direct mail piece a few days later encouraging them to schedule an appointment, along with a discount or other offer that makes sense for your area of practice.


Programmatic mail is becoming a more common feature in marketing automation platforms and CRM systems and is an ideal choice for simple patient follow-up communication. It is more cost effective and faster than typical mail runs, in exchange for fewer creative choices when designing.Tools and platforms change, but marketing fundamentals don't. Whatever your immediate goals are for your campaigns across various touchpoints, ultimately you want to increase the return on investment (ROI). Consumers have come to expect a consistent brand experience across all channels, so direct mail and digital technologies can work hand in hand to help marketers meet consumers where they are and provide a comprehensive service.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice