Direct Mail Postcards (All You Need to Know)
By Paul Bobnak | February 27, 2020
5 Steps to the Perfect Postcard Campaign
You have many great options to get your message into your customers’ mailboxes, but none is as simple as the postcard.
You can design and produce them quickly. They don’t cost much to print or mail, so they’re perfect when you’re on a budget. You get just enough room to make your point quickly, and your call to action can be impossible to overlook.
With the right combination of postcard mailing services, your campaign can stand out from the competition and move your customers to act.
1. Set a goal first
Before you start designing, figure out what your campaign objective is. That will help you decide whether the postcard is your best tactic to help you achieve it.
Postcards are best suited for limited or single-focus uses. They serve a narrower purpose than any other format in direct mail marketing. These three examples show how the postcard can make your campaign stand out:
- Promote a special offer (maybe even 2 or 3 at most) or a sale
- Reward a customer for their loyalty with a coupon
- Solidify the reputation of your brand – whatever your business or service – with helpful information (think realtors and insurance agents)
- Announce a grand opening, new service, or new hire
- Remind a patient or customer about an appointment, a renewal or a needed service
- Introduce a business or store to a new mover
- Drive traffic to an app or website
The postcard’s physical limits and its lower printing and postage costs make it perfect for most small and local businesses. Depending on your product or services, think about mailing different postcards to different segments of your audience, or even using variable data printing (VDP) to create customized versions.
To make your campaigns more relevant, create special messages, offers or creative elements to the different segments you’ll be mailing.
2. Check your size
Let’s talk about all of that space you’re going to be using to sell your service or product.
What is a postcard, exactly? According to USPS, a mailpiece must be rectangular and meet these dimensions to qualify as a postcard:
- At least 3-1/2” high X 5” long X 0.007” thick
- No more than 4-1/4” high X 6” long X 0.016” thick
- Have finished corners that do not exceed a radius of 0.125”
By the way, the length is the measurement of the side that’s parallel to the address.
Remember – this is a narrow range of sizes that gets your mailer through USPS’s equipment more easily and mails at “postcard” rates.
But other, larger postcards really stand out better in the customer’s mailbox and drive response.
A 5.5” X 8.5” postcard, or even better, the popular jumbo size (measuring 6” X 11”) has much more room for your message, offers, images, and call-to-action. They showcase all of these elements using white space, rather than jam too much onto a small card.
You can save money per piece, even at the letter or flats postage rate, by printing and mailing in larger quantities.
3. Know your USPS rate
Although some postage rates went up on Jan. 26, 2020, the single postcard under First Class mail remained at 35 cents for the second year in a row. But that’s for the single-piece rate, with a stamp. To mail at commercial rates, your campaign needs at least 500 pieces.
Let’s say that you have that amount or more. Depending on how your mail is printed and prepared, your bulk campaign might qualify for either machinable or automation rates.
“Machinable” means that you have an accurate address and have met the correct size and weight standards. The single presort price for a postcard is now 0.285 cents each.
“Automation” means that you’ve done some of the work for USPS by helping to process the mail with a delivery point or Intelligent Mail barcode. Your postcard will have to meet certain design standards. The aspect ratio has to measure between 1.3 and 2.5. To figure it out, take the length of your postcard and divide it by the height.
Now, here’s the info you really want: how to save even more money:
USPS uses 3 levels of presort when pricing: 5-Digit, AADC, and Mixed AADC. With the 5-Digit tray preparation (mail with the same 5-digit zip code), the current per-piece rate is 26 cents, a savings of nearly 2 cents per postcard over the other 2 options.
4. Build your budget
At this point, you have the crucial cost information. Now, you have to add up how much money you can afford to spend on printing, processing, and postage.
For every postcard campaign, you’ll have to balance your budget against reach – your target audience or audiences (see above) – and your mailing frequency (see below). You have a wide range of options. As you monitor your response, consider adjusting your tactics to get the most for your money.
5. Set your schedule
While a postcard campaign is economical and efficient to run, you still have to coordinate many moving parts. Again, depending on your overall goal, your target audience, and your budget, you should set up a timeline for deliverables like design, approvals, printing, and delivery to USPS.
Also, don’t expect that campaign to be a one-time thing.
Remember the marketing “Rule of 7”: A prospect needs to see or hear an advertiser’s message seven times before acting. Your postcard might not be noticed right away. Don’t worry! Frequent mailings – even those with different messages or offers – are more likely to appeal when mailed to the right audience.
Wrapping it up
Your audience, budget, and schedule all have certain advantages that have to be weighed against each other when planning your postcard printing and mailing.
Knowing what to do, even for a simple piece of mail, isn’t easy.
Call on the experts at mailing.com! We can help you choose the right postcard and tailor a campaign that meets your specific needs.