Direct Mail VS SEO

There’s been a recent resurgence of direct mail among dentists.  The fact is the numbers show direct mail marketing has a significant benefit over it’s digital counterparts due to its ability to brand your practice and provide lead generation.

People Will Purchase When They Want To.

The bottom line with SEO and online search is that there are only a handful of people searching for a dentist each month and just because they searched a dental service doesn’t mean they are looking for a dentist or looking to switch dentists. This means there are limited opportunities each month to capture the few that are looking for a dentist right at that very moment.

If they came online to find a dentist they are probably going to do some research which means you are now listed next to your top competitors. This means your fighting to be their choice rather than the choice.

Direct mail allows you to build a brand month after month to thousands of potential patients without being grouped in with all the other local dentists in your area.

This means when people are ready to contact a dentist you are the choice, not one of the choices. It’s better to have their attention before they go online than to fight for it once they begin their search.

Direct Mail Leads to SEO, Not the Other Way Around.

Recent surveys have shown that there’s a higher likelihood of someone engaging a product or service when people are drawn online by an offline source. SEO is important to have set-up in the beginning but direct mail can lead people straight to your website.

The purpose of your website is for reference so people can get the information they need quickly and have the ability to get to the next step: scheduling an appointment. You want people to be sold on your brand before they get to your website. This is the biggest benefit of direct mail.

Dental Postcards Have a Higher ROI.

Many practices are still using online advertisements as well as search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, hoping to generate leads. That’s not necessarily why people were searching.  Although digital ads and SEO can garner people’s attention, it is nowhere close to influencing a conversion like direct mail can.

Direct mail enjoys a 29% median ROI compared to digital ads and SEO with medians of only 16% and 14.6%, respectively. That is a 13% difference in median ROI! The reason for the popularity of direct mail is simple; when a person gets the mail, it feels more personal. Digital ads, regardless of what type it is, cannot match the intimate feel of a physical piece of mail.

Dental Postcards Get More Engagement.

When people go to their mailbox and collect the day’s arrivals, they tend to sit down and go through all the mail. Sorting through the mail has become a sort of ritual for most people regardless of age and gender. Each piece of mail is looked at carefully, which means when you send a dental postcard, the likelihood of people taking a close look at it is high.

People’s behavior online is much different since there are numerous options for an SEO search. They are less likely to take the time to process information that doesn’t get their attention immediately and is surrounded by numerous other options.

Postcards also have the ability to be saved for a later date when people know they may need your services. It’s much less likely someone will save a search or a website page for later.

Dental Postcards Reach All Age Groups.

The fact is, seniors are definitely grasping digital technology but still rely heavily on print sources and traditional mediums. Many dentists are focused on reaching families and millennials that they have forgotten about seniors.

Seniors are:

  • More likely to value their overall health
  • Less likely to have dental insurance which allows for the growth of a fee for service practice.
  • The highest growth market since baby boomers are rapidly entering retirement age to the tune of 10,000 a day.

It’s not just seniors. Millennials are more likely to be influenced by direct mail than online.

Millennials are:

  • 71% MORE likely to scan the mail compared to 66% of non-millennials
  • 54% LESS likely to discard mail without reading it compared to 59% of non-millennials
  • 45% MORE likely to organize and sort the mail compared to 40% of non-millennials
  • 36% MORE likely to take time to read the mail compared to 35% of non-millennials
  • 24% MORE likely to show mail to others compared to 19% of non-millennials

You Can Track Dental Postcards Too.

Just as marketers can track what is happening with their digital ads, such as who is responding and converting to paying patients, etc. you can do the same for direct mail campaigns. The way to do this is to designate specific phone numbers to the consumers who were contacted via postcards.

The biggest issue in tracking is, as we mentioned earlier, direct mail leads people to SEO not the other way around. To understand how direct mail influences your online activity take a look at your Google Analytics to see if you had a traffic spike the week your mail went out. You can also use analytics to look at the direct hits to your website and branded VS non-branded results.

You Can Develop Long Term Relationships.

Any clients who have ever worked with us know we value relationships over transactions.

The personal touch a dental postcard gives to people on a consistent basis cannot be duplicated by digital ads and SEO content. Therefore, you can expect to build relationships and trust that are much harder to do online.

On top of all this, direct mail has become much more affordable so every office can take advantage.

Ben Shaver
Lead Strategist & Consultant

Ben Shaver is a dental marketing consultant for Dental Inbound. He works with practices of all sizes.

His main focus is to develop strategies that provide congruency between traditional media sources and new media platforms.

You can email him at