ST. LOUIS—Even as digital marketing becomes more of a go-to marketing tool for many small and mid-sized businesses, there is still a place for traditional direct marketing campaigns, particularly in eyecare, according to a recent study.

Opti-Port, a national alliance of leading multi-office eyecare providers, recently published results of a direct marketing test that one of its member companies used to compare direct mail to email and text messaging. What the study found is that direct mail can produce better patient responses than either simple generic email messages or text recall reminders alone, according to Erin Meyer, marketing manager at Opti-Port.

The findings are based on the research of an Opti-Port member who, over a three-month period, sent one half of patients who were due for an eye exam a personalized and targeted direct mail piece (see samples with this story). The direct mail pieces were segmented based on patient age and months since their last exam. The other half of the patient base received only a generic email and text recall reminder.

Two of the research’s key findings:

  • Patients who received a direct mail piece were 5 percent more likely to respond than those who received only digital communications.
  • Those who received a direct mail piece generated 20 percent more revenue than those who did not.

The response rate for those who received a mailing was 22.8 percent compared with 17.5 percent for those that did not receive a postcard in the mail. In addition, there was a total revenue increase as well from the group who received postcards.

Those who received a mailing brought in an extra 20 percent in revenue over those who didn’t receive a mailing, according to Opti-Port’s analysis of the research.

"Creating "personalized experiences"—or a one-to-one marketing approach with customer-specific messages—is increasingly becoming recognized as a fantastic way to drive revenue,” Meyer said. “By personalizing a card with the customer's name, direct mail can do this easily. Cards can also be personalized by age, gender, months since last exam, store location, and [in other ways]. With this type of specific targeting, direct mail is an effective recall strategy for eyecare practices.”

Founded in 2001, Opti-Port offers members a common solutions platform focused on group purchasing, web technology, education and training, and marketing solutions.