The postcard mailer is one of the most popular direct mail formats being used today.
Because of its simplicity, the postcard mailer is relatively inexpensive to design, print and mail (although except for the smallest postcards, postage is the same as regular mail).
Simplicity also helps with your messaging. Because you have so little room compared to other mailer formats, the postcard forces you to stay on message and focus on the goal of the mailing.
Moreover, simplicity keeps the reader focused. There is no opening or unfolding involved. It’s just front and back – and the reader has to look at it even if they ultimately throw it away.
I recommend direct mail postcards all the time, but only if the application is right. Some direct marketing goals cannot be achieved through postcards.
Many shapes and sizes of the postcard mailer
The postcard mailer can be produced in many different sizes and shapes. It’s important to keep a close watch on your dimensions as they will impact your costs to print and mail.
Postcards can be broken down into the following categories – which are based on postage rate categories.
- Postcard-Rate Postcards
Postcard-rate postcards are small postcards (between 3-1/2 x 5 inches and 4-1/4 x 6 inches) that are eligible for reduced first class postage. This is a special rate that only applies to small postcards and small double postcards.
- Letter-Rate Postcards
Letter-rate postcards range in size from 4-1/4 x 6 inches up to 6-1/8 x 11-1/2 inches. These postcards have the same postage rate as a regular letter.
- Flat-Rate Postcards
Flat-rate postcards are larger than 6-1/8 x 11-1/2 inches (including a standard 8.5×11 inches). These postcards pay a surcharge in postage – the same that is applied to all flat-rate mailers.
- Square Postcards
Square postcards are interestingbecause they are different and more eye-catching. But you will pay a premium for postage because they do not comply with mailing standards.
- Odd-Shaped Postcards
Today you can find postcards that can be die cut to almost any shape or form. You are only limited by your imagination and your printer’s ability to die cut. If you planning these types of cards, check with your post office first. Chances are you can mail them (although they do say you cannot mail round postcards), but at additional cost.
All postcards must be printed on card stock. Have your printer check postal regulations if you have any doubts about thickness.
The postcard may be used for lead generation, but it is even more effective for traffic building (at retail stores and trade shows) because no separate reply card is needed. The postcard is also a cost-effective format for lead follow-up, lapsed customer reactivation and list maintenance.
For small target audiences, consider creating a postcard series with each postcard focusing on a different product benefit or application. The postcards are then mailed at intervals over a short period of time to the same audience. Multi-touch postcard campaigns can provide effective brand building.
The pass-along effect
One advantage of the postcard is that it has the potential of being seen by others in the office or at home. We call this the pass-along effect.
Think about it: if you walk into a colleague’s office and saw a letter or envelope that interested you, you would never pick it up and read it. That would rude.
But if it were a postcard, you might very well pick it up and read it because it is not perceived to be personal. This works to your advantage as a marketer because the postcard could get more eyeballs that just the target recipient.
Disadvantages of the postcard mailer
For all of its advantages, the postcard mailer does have some limitations.
The biggest disadvantage is space. If you have a complex product or service that requires extensive explanation, the postcard is probably insufficient for communicating your message.
If you want your message to be personal, obviously the postcard is open for all to see.
Another disadvantage (although less so today) is that the postcard has no mail-back reply device. This is less of a concern today as many marketers are relying on landing pages to capture response. Other response channels – such as the phone, fax, email and walk-up – are also available.
As discussed above, there is nothing really personal about a postcard mailer. But you can employ personalization techniques to increase readership and possibly response.
Obviously your postcard needs to be addressed to someone so you’ll need to place an address in the address box.
If you have additional information about your prospect, you could easily insert a personalized message at the same time you address the postcard.
Variable Data Printing (VDP)
But the real potential for postcard personalization with the use of Variable Data Printing or VDP. VDP is a form of digital printing that allows you to print the postcard while inserting personalization throughout the mailer. In effect, you are creating one postcard at a time.
With VDP, you incorporate a person’s name into an image or other artwork on the postcard. With a very specialized form of VDP, you can actually build your message with customized fonts so your recipient’s name appears in the clouds or imprinted in the beach sand.
Response handling – phone, landing pages, PURLs
The real test in any direct mail campaign is the response. The postcard mailer often relies on the telephone to generate response. If you have a retail business, response is usually in the form of people walking into your business and presenting their coupon.
In recent years, response has been handle by landing pages. A landing page is a dedicated web page designed specifically for the particular direct mail program. It helps to facilitate the response more easily, more immediately and automatically.
To further advance the landing page, we also have personalized landing pages (or PURLs) which provides more personalized message, pre-populated forms and better tracking of all responses.
When designing your postcard mailer, be sure to repeat your offer on both sides of your postcard. You never know which way the postcard will land.
How we can help
We can help you create and execute your postcard mailer campaign.
We can provide a full-service approach that include:
- list research/acquisition
- offer planning/development
- graphic design/creative
- testing strategy
- print/mail production
- landing page/PURL creation and hosting
- post-mailing analysis
We also provide our creative services (copywriting and graphic design) to those who prefer to manage their own campaigns.
If want to handle everything yourself, but would like to our guidance, we provide coaching services on a project or monthly basis.
To learn more …
Please contact Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or fill out the form below