5 (scientific) reasons your veterinary practice should be sending direct mail

by By Vetsource

12 min read

I must confess, I am a big fan of direct mail. Actually, not just direct mail, but print in general. Full disclosure: My husband owns a third-generation commercial printing company, so let’s just say that ink flows through our veins! But beyond that, as a marketer, I have had a lot of experience with direct mail in my career, and I am here to tell you that it has a solid, proven ROI.

Here are five reasons for incorporating direct mail as one of your channels for marketing to your veterinary clients. And these reasons are not just anecdotal—they’re based on neuroscience research!

1: Direct mail and digital marketing make the perfect marriage

Many studies have proven the effectiveness of direct mail, especially when combined with other digital channels. One that you will definitely want to check out is a robust USPS study, in which “the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General partnered with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business in 2015 and again in 2019—first to study the power of print and digital advertisements, and then to dive deeper into how different generations react to them.” This neuromarketing research is very cool and geeky—you’ll really find it fascinating—and it reveals how direct mail positively impacts:

  1. Review time
  2. Engagement
  3. Emotional stimulation
  4. Memory retrieval and speed
  5. Willingness to purchase
  6. Desire for the product or service
  7. The value placed on the service

neuromarketing within veterinary marketing

Check this study out, as well as this Forbes article that summarizes findings from a variety of neurological studies.

The bottom line: You need several touch points to get your message to your recipient. All the research concludes that a multi-channel approach is the most successful, that the physicality of print combined with the accessibility of digital communications is the most effective.

On average, in the majority of industries, eight touchpoints are needed for conversion— so don’t be afraid to send reminder or promotional emails, text messages, app notifications, social media messaging, and direct mail!

2: Direct mail motivates action

The tactile nature of direct mail makes it more “real.” A 2019 True Impact/Canada Post study discovered that direct mail is far more persuasive than digital media, with a 20% higher motivation response. Their conclusion: “Direct mail is more likely to drive behavior than digital media. Surpassing the important motivation-to-cognitive load ratio threshold of 1.”

When you send a postcard reminder for upcoming or past-due services, you can be sure that it will be either kept on hand, stuck on the fridge as a reminder to book an appointment, or immediately trigger a phone call or an appointment request through your practice app. And, if you have a beautiful piece-of-art postcard (like the Vet2Pet postcards), you can feel confident that these will be treasured because they bring such joy!

“We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to our new postcards from Vet2Pet. Clients who changed their email or phone number during COVID and fell through the cracks are receiving the postcards, and they’re coming back in. One of our clients even said she put hers on the fridge for everyone to see!” —Crista Wallis, DVM, Monticello Animal HospitalMake sure your direct mail piece is beautifully designed, consistently reflects your brand, and has simple, straightforward messaging, to ensure it has the desired impact.

direct mail veterinary postcard reminder

3: Direct mail elicits an emotional response

It’s been proven that the physicality of direct mail has an emotional impact.

From the USPS study: “However, print materials—like postcards, catalogs, and magazine ads—have a more pronounced emotional effect on consumers. For marketers who want advertising with long-lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical ad simply has more psychological influence.“

And an emotional impact is a good thing when you are sending reminder postcards for upcoming or past-due services. Let’s face it, you want to trigger positive emotions in your clients: feelings of love and caring for their pets (stimulating them to make an appointment), and warmth and bonding with you, their trusted veterinarian.

4: Direct mail makes your brand more memorable

Several studies have shown that brand recall is stronger with print than digital, because direct mail is more physical and tactile. Research from Canada Post and Ipsos found:

  1. Direct mail held participant attention for 118% longer than digital advertising.
  2. Direct mail stimulated 29% higher brand recall than digital advertising.
  3. Integrated digital and direct mail campaigns elicited 10% higher brand recall than digital on its own.

Sequencing of campaign elements mattered, and if direct mail was received after an email, brand recall was 40% higher than digital marketing on its own.

For your veterinary practice to stand out from your competition, brand recall matters a lot. It’s important for retention that your clients remember your practice name and logo. That is the whole philosophy behind Vet2Pet’s custom-branded app: It’s all about stimulating brand recall, bonding, and retention.

Vet2Pet is currently conducting an analysis of veterinary practice retention rates, and although the data is not ready for prime-time sharing, it appears that retention is a lot lower than you would think. Whatever you can do to keep your brand front and center with your clients will have a positive financial impact on your business.

5: Direct mail is easy to understand

The True North/Canada Post study research also found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort than digital to understand, meaning that messaging is more quickly and easily digested and comprehended. Part of the reason for this is that there are fewer distractions, as compared to viewing content on any digital device. We are all constantly distracted by social media, pings, notifications, and pop-ups. Because of this, our attention spans are getting increasingly shorter, so another advantage of direct mail is that it caters to shorter attention spans.

veterinary client reading direct mail

6 BONUS TIP: There is less competition in the mailbox than the inbox

USPS volume has declined steadily from a peak of 213 million pieces in 2006 to 129 million pieces in 2020. In 2019 alone, 293.6 billion—yes, with a B—emails were sent and received daily! So, guess where you have the opportunity to really stand out?

Well, there you have it, five (plus one!) solid reasons for incorporating direct mail into your integrated marketing and communications strategy. What does this mean for your veterinary practice? In addition to reminder postcards, consider direct mail for important announcements, promotions, or any communication that you really want to get eyes on.

While you work on creating those attention-getting direct mail pieces, let Vet2Pet help with your other client communication and engagement needs. With your own custom-branded veterinary hospital app, your clients can do everything from request appointments and refills to exchange chat messages, photos, videos, and documents with your team. Take a closer look at Vet2Pet’s platform today.



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