How Postcards Drive Response

Looking for a hot new medium? Try postcards. They offer many of the same benefits as direct mail and e-mail. And they’re cheap.

Postcards are easier to mail than solo envelope mailings, magalogs and catalogs.

How should you use them? One great way is as a secondary driver of action. For example, if you have a month-long Father’s Day promotion on your web site, you can send postcards a week before it ends to remind customers that the offer is good until the expiration date.

But wait, you say: Isn’t e-mail cheaper? Perhaps. But not every one of your customers has shared his or her e-mail address with you, and some of the addresses you have may be invalid. Postcards can serve a similar purpose when reaching out to those consumers.

In addition, postcards serve as a customer touchpoint, one that can help you build response over longer periods of time than you can by using e-mail alone. Face it, inboxes are getting more cluttered, making e-mail less noticeable.

Postcards can also drive traffic to your stores and let customers know that your promotion is valid in them. Ask the customer to bring the card into the store—This will allow for better tracking than retail mailings normally get. But try to mail only consumers within a reasonable distance of the outlet.

What else are postcards good for? Well, they’re good for special offers featuring a single item. But you’ll have to delve into your database to do this.

For example, send a personalized postcards with a birthday offer to all of your customers who are reaching a milestone this month. This is so much more personal than a birthday e-mail.

And they can help build response for general promotions. Let’s say you’re running your annual overstock sale. Consider announcing it with a postcard offering an overstock item in a category that appeals to the individual customer.

If your customer has purchased dresses in the past, send a card showing a popular dress that is being discounted instead copy that promotes a generic overstock sale. This kind of customized offer can be highly appealing.

The bottom line: Postcards are an inexpensive form of direct mail, and they can help you boost results when combined with other promotions. And response can only go up when you personalize them.

Shari Altman is president of Altman Dedicated Direct, a direct marketing consultancy specializing in customer acquisition, catalog, continuity, DRTV, and loyalty marketing. She can be reached at

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