Our business is postcard marketing, so we know a bunch about direct mail marketing.
We’ve spent a lot of time looking a direct mail marketing options (EDDM, hand written direct mail, non-postcard mail, the list goes on). Plus, huge brands like Chase, Verizon, Target, Chipotle, Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon and a bunch of others use postcards. We think targeted postcard campaigns are the best way to go.
Needless to say, we’re postcard experts and we’ll keep this guide updated for you.
This guide will give you the low down on how to run your own postcard marketing campaign. We assume that the only thing you know about postcards is that they are rectangles, that they are delivered by the post office, and that you’re at least interested in using this unique channel. If you need more convincing that postcards are the way to go as far as direct mail marketing goes, here are the numbers from another piece I wrote.
Where do I Start With Postcard Marketing?
Before getting started, know that the average conversion rate for direct mail is usually between 1-5% and direct mail is a more expensive, and therefor a lot less utiltized acquisition channel. If you’re ready to go you’ll need to think about your targeting options. You can target in so many different ways.
1. Options to Get Direct Mail Addresses
There are tons of different ways to get addresses for your postcard marketing campaign. Pick the best one based on who you’re targeting.
Here are your options on how to get addresses:
- Buy consumer lists
- Buy occupant lists
^—- Here’s the difference between 1 and 2.
- Buy property lists
- Buy business lists
^—- Here’s our guide on these 4.
- Do web research (e.g. LinkedIn)
- Get addresses from emails (you can also do the reverse, get emails from addresses).
- Get addresses from ~80% of website visitors (this one is crazy, so you’ll have to chat with me to learn more).
- Use addresses you already have (e-commerce companies do a lot of this for abandoned cart recovery).
- Send out to targeted zip codes and carrier routes.
- Get addresses from Facebook Accounts (also crazy, chat with me).
There’s a ton of information to assimilate here, but it’s best just to think about where your ideal customers. If your business can serve everyone in a particular location (coffee shop) go with an occupant list. Or have an outsourcer do web research if your customers are on the web (e.g. LinkedIn). To build your own postcard marketing list, we suggest you contact a list building agency (links in my private guide) or go to Info USA.
Can’t decide? Chat with me in the corner and ask away. Also, I suggest you don’t actually purchase the list until you’ve finished your design and are ready to.
3. Determine How To Measure Your Campaign
There are tons of ways to do attribution. Like tons. Here are some of your options, depending on how fancy you want to get.
- A forwarding URL for the whole campaign (you could even have it forward to a Google Campaign URL).
- A forwarding phone number for the whole campaign (just use Google Voice, it’s free).
- Forwarding URLs, QR Codes, or redemption codes per-card (this is what we do at Scout).
- Tracking on when the cards are delivered (depends on your printer).
- Reverse tracking based on website visitors to list matching (chat with me more about this, but it’s eerily possible).
These are just some of the ways you can do tracking, but you absolutely should measure your results. Even if it’s just a single forwarding URL, that’s way better than spray and pray. Which is honestly what a lot of folks are still doing in their postcard marketing campaigns, even in the age of digital attribution techniques and personal URLs.
3. Design Your Card, Talk About Benefits Only
We’ve got a whole post on how to design postcards that convert. The gist is that you need to spend 80% of your time on your headline and 20% on your offer. Remember, that you have to earn every second of your prospect’s attention.
Here’s our postcard design process in a nutshell:
- Spend 80% of your time on a killer title.
- Use a compelling image. Free ones at pixabay.com or unsplash.com.
- Make sure your offer is hard to resist.
- Focus on your benefits, not features. This is marketing 101, but everyone gets it wrong (me especially).
- Add personalization if you can, it improves conversions by 2-3x.
- Have a big bold clear call to action.
- Make sure that you have an expiration date to get people to act.
Show your card to someone for 3 seconds per side. Have them explain what you do and what you’re offering.
If they can’t, you need to revise, revise, revise. We put together a 10 minute YouTube video that talks about three great postcards and what makes them great if you’d like to take a gander.
Your list is the most important thing, but if you’re sending an essay when your customers want to read a tweet, you’re saying too much. Focus on saying only what you need to, nothing more. The key to a successful postcard marketing campaign is to say your peace and move on, not mail out a novel.
4. Plan a Perfect Postcard Marketing Campaign
There are a lot of little ins and outs that you can do to make sure your postcard campaign is great.
Planning a successful campaign:
- Send 3 cards over 8 weeks (100 cards 3x is better than 300 cards 1x).
- Absolutely make sure you can measure your conversion rate, see #2 for ideas.
- Buy the list just before you send (as the data may change).
- If you need to further refine your list (e.g. remove solar panels based on Google Satellite images), use Mechanical Turk or Upwork to hire someone.
- Always think about how you can help or inform your customer, if your card doesn’t do either, try harder. Take a week away from your campaign and come back at it next week.
As a general matter, if you had to invest your time intelligently, you’d spend 65% of your time refining your list and 35% of your time designing your postcard.
If you get the list wrong, the design doesn’t matter at all.
5. Pick a Printer
- I’d search for local printers first.
- We have a private list you can access if you email me or chat below.
Don’t bother with trying to understand the pricing differences between printers. Just email each one with the specifics your campaign and let them come back with the cost. You should tell them the size of your card, the number of cards you want them to send, you’ll want to verify it includes postage and they can do the sending. Also, ask for their price breakdowns at various volumes and if they can do standard postcard instead of first class (cheaper).
Not much has changed since Johannes Gutenberg. Well, some things.
6. Refine and Start Over
I heard a story about a Bay Area company that spent over $1M in postcards and was able to move their conversion rate into the double digits. WHOA, right? Well they only were able to do that by having over 10 different variations of their campaign. They targeted and retargeted based on what was working.
SpaceX didn’t say, “oh well, I guess since the first one fell down we should just give up.” You should use your tracking data to determine who converted, figure out why they converted and refine your list and design to match your conversion numbers.
This is all I will say about postcard marketing for now, but I’ll keep coming back to this guide to add more things as we learn about new technologies, new techniques, and new postcard marketing hacks.