10 Steps to Create an Effective Postcard

Some people say there are seven steps to building an effective postcard, others claim there are twelve.  At VerticalResponse, we say there are ten steps, and we’ve listed them below to aid you in creating a successful card of your own.

Note that many of these steps would apply to just about any kind of marketing:

1. Start with an Idea

You can’t build an effective postcard if you don’t have an idea of what you want it to be about.

Why are you creating a postcard?  Are you looking to invite new residents to your neighborhood business?  To increase attendance at an event?  To sell a particular item?  Figure it out before you start.

2. Decide On an Offer

You know why you’re sending the card.  Now what exactly are you going to offer up to your recipients to get them to take action?  Is the item, service, event, etc. compelling enough on its own?  Or are you going to offer a discount or provide some other incentive?

3. Identify Your Audience

Is the idea a good fit for your entire list?  Or do you want to reach out to only a certain segment based on their interests or location?

You can also use purchased or rented lists for direct mail postcards, something that is generally an awful idea with email (VerticalResponse prohibits the use of third party lists for email campaigns).  So give some consideration to whether your offer could generate prospects for your company.

If you’re looking for direct mail lists, then sites like hoovers.com, avention.com and infousa.com are a good place to start.

4. Select an Eye-Catching Image

With the possible exception of the offer itself, the image is probably the most important part of the card.  An eye-catching image could land your card on a recipient’s refrigerator for the next three months, or, even better, make them want to flip the card over and see what you’re offering them.

An image that fits your offer and is funny / striking in some way is never a bad choice.  If you don’t have an image of your own, then you can always choose an image from our free Stock Photo Gallery.

5. Write Your Headline

The headline on the front of your card is like the subject line of an email.  It should usually be short and interesting, and (in conjunction with the image on the front) make recipients want to flip the card over and read what you have to say.

6. Clarify Your Message

It can be tempting to write a long explanation of what you’re offering and why people should take action with it.  But that is the wrong way to go.  Your offer should be easy to read and understand in the time it takes a recipient to go from their mailbox into their house.  Otherwise your card could end up in the garbage without it having achieved the impact you wanted.

7. Design Your Card

Now that you know your offer and have chosen your image, you’re ready to design your card.  You can do this with a tool like photoshop or using the tools within VerticalResponse.

Try to keep the design simple and easy to scan, because (again) you really only have until the recipient reaches the trash or the recycling bin to get your point across. If you can say what you need to say in a sentence, then don’t say it in a paragraph.

8. Include Tracking

Tracking an email is easy.  You just have to send them email and we’ll immediately tell you who opened it, who clicked a link and can even tell you who made a purchase or otherwise converted from your message.

Postcards are not quite so easy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be tracked.  If you’re linking recipients to your site, send them to a landing page that is specific to the card.  If you want them to make a purchase, include a postcard specific promo code.  If you’re doing a sale at your store, require that they bring the card in with them.

Doing some kind of tracking is important, because otherwise you’ll have no direct way to measure the success of your card. 

9. Send Your Card

Once your card is together, you’ll obviously need to send it out.  You may of heard of this great service that makes it easy for you to do that.

10. Track Responses in Salesforce

If you’re tracking your responses in such a way that you can see exactly who took action, then make note of that on your Lead & Contact records.  And if a postcard is returned to you as undeliverable, then be sure to note that the address on record is no longer correct.  Otherwise you’ll be wasting your money on a bad address again and again in the future.