Marketers from every industry love direct mail postcards because they’re affordable and effective ways to advertise their products and services. So we applied our 65+ years of knowledge and came up with a few tricks you can use to boost your results. Here’s how to optimize your postcard direct mail marketing strategy to find the success your brand deserves.


Direct Mail Postcards: The Proof is in the Statistics


postcard direct mail marketingWhen it comes to direct mail, you have a lot of choices—and they’re all good ones. There’s the tried-and-true, classic letter and envelope format—or a self-mailer if you’re not into envelopes. You could also choose a catalog or top-performing dimensional mailer (like a tube or box) if you really want to get those open rates exploding. There are no bad choices from among that group. But postcards rank high in direct mail response rates, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they have a better “read rate” than other types of direct mail.


Postcard direct mail marketing has been a staple for many successful brands. In fact, postcards have an almost 4% year-over-year increase in getting consumers to read your message. Plus, people find them useful. In fact, when you’re looking for the most effective direct mail format, postcards place second only to large envelopes in generating outstanding response rates (5.7%) and ROI.


Granted, every business is different so you should test different methods to see what works best for your brand. But postcards, generally speaking, are a cost-effective way to bring direct mail into your marketing strategy. If you’re announcing a product or service or if you want to influence customers to visit a retail store, website, or even attend an event, a postcard direct mail marketing campaign is a smart choice.


Direct Mail Postcard Sizes: Choose Wisely


One of the many nice features of direct mail postcards is the variety of sizes you can select from. You’ve probably encountered this in your own mailbox—everything from the “typical” or “standard” postcard layouts to the larger sizes that really stand out. Some of the more popular postcard formats include:


  • Standard (4¼” x 6″)
  • Double
  • Oversized (9″ x 6″)
  • Jumbo (11″ x 6″)


For the sake of our direct mail postcard discussion, let’s assume you’re going to use USPS Marketing Mail. This platform offers a bulk rate for pieces of mail that weigh less than one pound each, as long as you have 200 or more pieces of mail or 50+ pounds total.


There isn’t a “postcard rate” when it comes to USPS Marketing Mail. Your direct mail advertising costs are based on a piece of mail that’s no bigger than 6-1/8″ x 11-1/2″ x 1/4″ thick. It’s the same as a standard letter rate. If you go bigger, you’re in the large envelope territory (not that there’s anything wrong with that) so you’ll pay a bit more.


Always Remember to Add a Personal Touch


personalized marketingOne of the most important elements you can add to your direct mail postcards is some form of personalization. In fact, the more personalized you can make any of your marketing campaigns, the better. That means paying attention to the simple things, like a person’s name, to the more wide-ranging forms of personalization, like location and/or order history, etc. The more personalization you include, the better. Why? Almost 90% of consumers say that personalized marketing influences their shopping habits. That, in turn, equals more sales for your brand.


How to Apply Variable Data Printing


You can make your campaigns more relevant with variable data printing, aka VDP. Variable data printing is a type of digital print production with mass customization. For example, instead of sending 10,000 of the exact same sales brochures to customers (with the same message), smart marketers use VDP to create 10,000 custom brochures without slowing down the printing process. Genius, right? So, you could work with your existing data to personalize each direct mail piece by printing geographic-specific information on every brochure. That’s just one example. It could be a coupon for a specific location or a website URL that leads customers to their nearest store. Here are some of the ways you can personalize direct mail postcards with variable data printing.


  • Add the recipient’s name to the message headline.
  • Print the recipient’s name on the outside of the envelope.
  • Use personalized images that pertain to the customer.
  • Apply data about previous interactions to the content.
  • Send a campaign to consumers within a specific zip code.


When you design your direct mail postcards with the information that directly affects your customers, they’ll respond to your offers. Adding a personal touch, no matter what type, makes all the difference. So you should customize the text, images, offers, etc. based on your existing customer data to significantly boost your response rates and ROI.


Postcard Direct Mail Marketing Case Study: McDonald’s


Take McDonald’s, for instance. Clearly, this is not a brand that needs any introduction. But depending upon the geographic region and its services, some locations do need marketing help from time to time. Take a McDonald’s restaurant in Downtown Denver as one such example. McDonald’s franchise owners have to handle their own marketing campaigns. This particular Denver location used direct mail postcards to drive awareness to some of their new offerings, like modernized dining, touchscreen ordering, a kid’s PlayPlace, and brand new services like a McDelivery option. In this case, zip-code targeted direct mail postcards worked. The restaurant enjoyed as much as a 7% bump in sales plus increased local awareness, to name a couple of the rewards.


Make Your Customers Notice Your Brand


direct mail designThe best way to stand out in consumer mailboxes is to not blend in. This means you need to design your direct mail postcard to impress—which usually comes in the form of a stunning photograph or eye-catching graphics and colors. Think big, bold, and beautiful. Statistics show that larger postcards perform better in terms of response rates and ROI, but you can still accomplish your postcard direct mail marketing goals with any size mailer. Here are five things to think about when designing your next postcard campaign.


  1. Embrace strong visuals. We already talked about using a beautiful image or graphic. Your brand can make a statement without saying a word.
  2. Use white space. Give your message room to breathe. Don’t try to cram as much information as you can into the small space a postcard allows. Decide what’s most important—and impactful—and use it to your advantage.
  3. Personalize that postcard. Print the recipient’s name on the postcard. People love to see their names in print. Any form of personalization works wonders for your response rates and ROI.
  4. Get the omnichannel edge. Add a QR code or PURL to your design. Keep reading for more on the effectiveness of QR code marketing.
  5. Remember to include a CTA. Don’t get so caught up in all the other parts of designing your postcard that you forget the most obvious one—the CTA. What do you want your customers to do? Scan that QR code? Call a phone number? Make it clear so they know what you want them to do.


If you apply these five basic principles, you’ll be well on your way to a successful postcard campaign.


Postcard Direct Mail Marketing, Omnichannel Style


omnichannel marketingDo some marketers think they have a decision to make when it comes to direct mail vs. digital marketing? Yes, but it’s time to put that antiquated thought to rest despite how well each channel works on its own. We know how effective response rates are for direct mail: roughly 3% for prospect lists and more than 5% for house lists. But you have to consider digital marketing ROI. It’s easily better than any other marketing channel at roughly 30%. So which do you pick? Both! They work even better together. Smart marketers call this strategy omnichannel marketing.


Put a QR Code on Your Postcards


One of the most popular methods for combining direct mail and digital marketing is QR codes. They make your postcard direct mail marketing campaigns both interactive and entertaining. It’s the ideal combination of direct mail and digital marketing, and it provides a great example of how to optimize your direct mail postcards.


When consumers scan your postcard QR codes, they have an immediate connection to your brand. You could send them to your website for more information. They could place an order, contact you for more information, or learn more about your brand. You could even provide directions to your nearest retail store. QR codes are a great way to combine print and digital marketing options. Some of the world’s biggest brands (like Amazon, PayPal, Pepsi, Starbucks, and countless others) have been using QR codes for their marketing campaigns for years with great results.


MSP Can Print and Ship Your Direct Mail Postcards


Direct mail postcards give your business a great opportunity to talk about your brand and/or sell your products and services. Use your brand standards and an omnichannel direct mail marketing strategy and you’ll thrive with response rate and ROI. We’d love to talk with you about your specific marketing goals. Contact an MSP representative and let’s get started today.

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