Postcards are a direct mail piece every marketer should consider using! They offer great response rates, and offer opportunities to explore creativity. Not only are they budget friendly, as with all direct mail products they give you the ability to easily measure results. Some postcard formats can offer the lowest postage rates, and can provide the advantages of mailing first class. Postcards are relatively inexpensive to design, print and disseminate in comparison to regular letters and other advertising materials. They come in various sizes and paper stocks, enabling multiple messages and designs. Plus, you can easily test headlines, copy, and graphics on audiences to ensure the components of your postcard will elicit the best response.
So, the question you may be asking yourself is, “What is the process of running a successful postcard campaign?” Follow these six steps:
Step #1: Identify the Audience
Not every consumer is the same, so it’s important to break them down to separate groups based on their characteristics, interests, and behaviors. Once divided, you can reach groups with the most relevant information based on their needs and wants, increasing engagement.
To reach the right audience at the right time, every business should have multiple segmented mailing lists. A house list could be divided by geographic, demographic, firmographic, psychographic, and behavioral qualities. To do this, it can be helpful to complete an RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) Analysis, though that’s not always necessary.
You can also purchase lists to reach new prospects. These range from broad to extremely granular, and should be matched to your ideal prospect for the best performance.
When you’re segmenting the list, make sure to consider your offer. For example, when sending a postcard advertising new house listings, you would want to segment the market by type of homeowner, age, and income. Then, you can match up specific houses with the segments of your audience most likely to purchase them.
Step #2: Set SMART Marketing Goals
When running any marketing campaign, it’s important to set SMART goals:
- Specific: The goals are clear and well-defined.
- Measurable: You should be able to test results to ensure targets are met.
- Attainable: Objectives must not be impossible to achieve.
- Relevant: They should relate back to your company’s overarching mission and broader ambitions.
- Timely: Set a date to achieve the goal.
A postcard campaign should be started with only one goal in mind. They can be used to introduce new products, provide a discount offer, generate leads, attract new customers, or drive repeat business.
Examples of goals could include:
Have 250 visits to the product landing page provided on the postcard after one month.
Make a $3,000 return on investment from a promo code by the end of the first quarter.
Receive phone calls from 75 qualified leads within the next six months.
Step #3: Determine a Budget
Before jumping into the more creative aspects of a campaign—the design and offer—you must start by determining a budget. On average, 11 percent of a company’s budget is allocated for marketing, and of this, a company must decide how much it will set aside for postcard campaigns.
Generally, postcards can cost anywhere from a few cents to more than a dollar per recipient, depending on factors such as quantity, size, paper stock, graphics, specialty coatings and mail class. So, calculate 11 percent of your budget, then break out a portion to go toward postcard campaigns. Postage is one of the largest factors in your budget, so make sure you have a good idea as to what your postage would be. Postage is format and mail class specific.
The exact amount you spend will depend on a number of factors, such as the quantity being mailed, how often they’re sent, how, and more.
For example, if your goal is to obtain 10,000 new customers for a high-value product, you’ll have to obtain a high-quality list and spend more on stunning creative. If your goals or product price points are lower on the other hand, you may be able to reduce your costs.
Overall, there are a lot of factors that go into creating the perfect postcard campaign budget, and no two companies will have the exact same approach. If you’re having trouble deciding how much to set aside, contact a qualified direct mail partner, such as Design Distributors. We’d be happy to help you map out your campaign and budget.
Step #4: Develop the Postcard
Next, you must choose the size of the card, develop the copy as well as the message, create the design, and personalize each piece. This will flow naturally from the previous steps, as at this point you should have an idea of who you’re reaching out to, and what you’d like to sell them. Remember that the most important element of your campaign is the offer, so spend time refining that before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Choosing the right-sized postcard depends on the message you’re trying to convey and the impact you’re trying to have. However, the size may also be dictated by your budget: Small is the most economical, but could be overlooked, while jumbo may fit your message, but cost more.
The four most common postcard sizes are:
- 4.25” x 6” (Small)
- 6” x 9” (Standard)
- 6” x 11” (Jumbo)
- 9” x 12” (Extra Large)
The small postcard is the most cost effective for taking advantage of First- Class Mail prices. A postcard mixed AADC first class rate starts at $0.276. First class offers speed, mail forwarding, and pieces being returned for incorrect addressing. The next sizes should mail at the Marketing Mail class to be cost effective. Standard and jumbo cards mail at the letter rate beginning at $0.299, whereas the extra large size will mail at the flat rate beginning at $0.666. Therefore, postage is a critical factor in the decision-making process. You’ll have to weigh the message you need to convey with postage expense in order to decide the best size for your campaign.
A postcard’s message should be simple and concise, calling the customer to a single action through headlines, subheads, and body copy. Headlines should grab the client’s attention and get them to flip the card over to read the rest of the message. The subhead should complement the headline, while the body copy explains the offer in further detail and lists the benefits.
Also, make sure to include a call to action that’s clear, concise, and appealing. Again, the offer is the most important part of your marketing message, so make sure it’s optimized and communicated properly. If you’re unable to fit all the information necessary on a postcard, include a QR code that, if scanned, will take customers directly to a landing page full of additional information.
Continuing with the real estate example above, a postcard headline could be:
- Looking for the Perfect Home?
- Check Out Your Dream Home
- Act Fast, New Home on the Market
The subhead could support the headline with urgency by saying “Get this house before it’s gone,” while the copy describes the listing as having hardwood floors, a modern kitchen, new appliances, and a spacious backyard. The call to action should lead the customer to the contact information for the realtor, or a landing page on a website.
The design of a postcard combines a few elements: size, shape, color, quality, and graphics, all working together to capture attention and improve response.
Images, graphics, backgrounds, and other visuals should support the overall message of the postcard. For example, when showcasing a new home, designers could use photos of the front of the house and its various rooms to entice homebuyers through the doors.
Also consider the variety of finishes, colors, thicknesses (caliper), and weights that are available to make your card stand out. In general, anything you can do to grab attention—such as adding a unique finish, or using thicker material—can improve response, though costs will rise, accordingly.
Two universal rules are to implement your brand’s colors into the design, and choose bold colors whenever possible, such as orange or yellow. This will make it clear that your brand is associated with the offer in an instant, while drawing and holding attention to the most important parts of your message.
A Design Distributors representative would be happy to jump on a call to help you learn about our various finishes, stocks, weights, and color quality.
All elements, including copy, graphics and design, can be tailored to individual clients. Variable data printing uses personalization points to create specialized messages and images at high production speeds, making the piece more relevant to the consumer. When relevancy increases, so do response rates, customer loyalty, and ROI (return on investment).
For instance, when using the home sale example, Customer A, a parent of two children, may receive a postcard promoting the family-friendly elements of the home, such as the bedrooms and backyard:
Your Family Home Is Calling
Hello Customer A,
This home with a brick facade, stunning hardwood floors, three bedrooms, an updated kitchen and bathroom, and a recently laid patio for entertaining is now on the market. To view this perfect family home, visit the open house on Feb. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Call us now to put in your bid.
Customer B, an older couple who no longer have kids at home, may receive a postcard boasting about the entertainment features such as the kitchen and living room:
Check Out Your Dream Home
Hello Customer B,
This home with a brick facade, stunning hardwood floors, three bedrooms, an updated kitchen and bathroom, and a recently laid patio for entertaining is now on the market. To view this dream home, visit the open house on Feb. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Call us now to put in your bid.
Because these two variations will speak directly to the customer’s needs, they will resonate more than just a simple “New Home on the Market.” For Customer A, family is their priority, so marketing a family home with enough rooms for all members will work better than a generic message. Similarly, Customer B, an empty nester, is most likely looking for home features, like the kitchen, living room, and patio, for entertaining when family comes home.
No matter what creative you use, you must experiment to improve results. To do this, set up A/B tests before the campaign to try out multiple designs and/or messages to see which will garner the best results, and test your lists to find the perfect audience. Ensure you’re testing only one variable at a time, so you know the effect of it. Then, you can conduct multiple tests, each for one variable, to determine the optimal postcard.
To complete A/B testing, the CDMP (Certified Direct Mail Professional from the United States Postal Service) claims it’s best to test a minimum of 10 percent of the total prospects to validate if your variable amasses a greater response than the control. Send a control—a postcard you know will achieve results—to one group, and a variable to a group within the same segment, with changes in headline, subhead, message, images, offer, color, fonts, or size, to test which reaps a greater response rate.
You can also test your lists. You can send identical postcards to different segments or different types of lists (house vs. prospect) to see which receives the greater response. Testing will allow you to improve your campaigns over time as you hone in on what works the best.
Check out our blog 10 Postcard Campaign Tips to get more pointers on developing a postcard.
Step #5: Run the Campaign
After fleshing out the details, it’s finally the moment to run the campaign. Review your design one last time with critical attention to detail, check your copy for typos, get your artwork in, and ensure your proofs have clear instructions. Always be available to communicate with the production team and printer, so any questions can be answered in a timely manner.
Then, print and mail the postcards to your targeted lists. For small companies with less than 100 contacts, this process may be done in-house, but for businesses with higher volume campaigns, it’s best practice to employ a printer and fulfillment center, ensuring orders are completed by professionals accurately and in a timely manner.
Step #6: Track Your Results
Measuring results doesn’t begin when the campaign is over. After a test is conducted, you must track the response rates of both the control and variable. According to the CDMP, the campaign isn’t viable if response rates are below 1 percent.
Tracking results determines how you’ll conduct the future campaign, and can affect copy, headlines, images, calls to action, offers, colors, and fonts. For instance, after running your campaign you had an offer that read “50 Percent Off One Item” and received a 2.5 percent response rate, while the control reading “Buy One Get One Free” received a 0.7 percent response rate. You would want to choose the first offer, and may also choose this type of offer for future campaigns.
Although response rate is the simplest way to monitor the success of your campaign, it’s also important to track qualified response rate, sales rate, cost to acquire a customer, ROI, and lifetime value.
If you follow these six steps, you’ll ensure your postcard campaign will be effective. Design Distributors can assist you from start to finish. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to get started.