Postcard Marketing: Tips for Growing Your Brand

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Magdalena Georgieva
Magdalena Georgieva



Postcard marketing is a tried and true form of direct marketing that is as old as mail itself. Don’t let the traditional aspect hold you back — there are smart ways to use this tool as a supplement to your overall inbound marketing strategy.

woman reads marketing postcard with a friend

You read that right. Marketing with postcards isn’t solely an outbound tactic anymore. We know that inbound marketing comes with huge benefits and beautiful statistics, like three times more leads and higher conversion rates.

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So, what is postcard marketing, and how can it boost your inbound efforts while building your brand? Let us deliver some information and insight.

What is postcard marketing?

Simply defined, it’s sending a postcard to potential or existing customers in an effort to get them to consider and then contact you for a product or service you offer. You can quickly and relatively inexpensively get your brand in front of lots of eyes that may not have seen you before. You might also use it to achieve reconsideration from your existing customers for a subsequent purchase.

As a marketer, think of postcard marketing as creative content that feeds leads to your online content. It’s like a fascinating Instagram image people find in the real world — an unexpected surprise in their mailbox that hopefully piques their interest in what you have to offer.

It’s a branding opportunity for you, letting you introduce yourself or your business as you’d like to be seen. It contains many of the same functional bits of a blog: an eye-catching headline, attractive images, an offer as a hook, and a call-to-action (CTA) that directs them further along the customer journey you’re crafting.

Marketing postcards put your logos, colors, and messages in more places to build brand recognition. They are a connection point for interested recipients, a QR code often acting as the link that opens a window to your slice of the internet.

Postcard marketing creates new opportunities for your existing customers, too. Postcards act as a reminder of their positive experiences with you while also showing them what you have that’s fresh. It’s a chance to offer solutions to problems that are adjacent to the problem you initially helped them solve.

Plus, if you connect your postcard marketing campaign with your CMS, you can speed up the process considerably while also making your postcard content much more personalized to your recipients.

postcard marketing why use postcards

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Why use postcards?

1. Once upon a time, postcards were personal.

A family member or friend would travel somewhere and send postcards in order to share an experience. The front shared a beautiful image from the trip, the words shared a story and/or personal message, and they ended with happy wishes to see you again soon.

This is incredibly similar to how marketers are aiming to delight their customers. Let them share in the experience of what you do. Make it beautiful and eye-catching. Tell a story. Share your message. Express your hope to see them again soon.

2. Too many emails are just too many.

It’s not the fault of marketers — customers are genuinely interested, then interests or priorities change, then they’re getting emails they don’t need from several sources, and it becomes too much. They get ignored or deleted until it’s finally worth it to them to unsubscribe to dismiss the hassles entirely.

So, even though email campaigns are still well worth the effort, one way to stand out is to step off the internet to meet your customers where they are at — other than the internet. If the goal is to delight your customers, it can be delightful to receive something in the mail other than utility bills, credit card offers, and political smear campaigns.

3. What’s old is new again, making mail a novel opportunity.

Have you met Gen Z? There’s a lot of them, accounting for 27% of the US population, and a third of them are employed — really earning and spending for the first time. By 2025, Gen Z will account for 27% of the global workforce.

Trends show that they want to experience something new and are also hungry for nostalgia as long as it’s made in a new way that is sustainable and socially conscious. With so much of their lives on the internet, postcard marketing might be right up their alley for something novel. Aim to make them smile, and whatever you send — make sure that it can be recycled.

4. You’ll benefit from an efficiency of conversion, much like all things inbound.

Whatever your target demographic, one of the benefits of postcard marketing is that the people brought in by your postcards already have their interest piqued. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother following the trail you mark from your postcard to your online sales funnel.

In this way, postcards weed out those who aren’t interested, an efficient way to gather leads that are more likely to convert.

Postcard marketing comes with some challenges, too.

For marketers who were working on web content when X (formerly Twitter) flitted onto the scene, the 140-character limit could be frustrating when trying to include all the things we knew were important. We had to learn how best to use the new opportunity in a very short form.

It’s a similar group of challenges with good postcard marketing:

  • The most obvious challenge is the brevity required to fit your marketing content on one or two surfaces that usually measure only 4”x6” or 5”x7.”
  • It can quickly get cluttered and stressful to look at.
  • You can only make the lettering so small that people can’t easily read it.
  • You have to make what you put on there useful, beautiful, personal, and convincing — using your brand voice.
  • Until new technologies are developed, there is still some friction to overcome between your postcard and your online content — picking up a phone, aiming it at the mailer, tapping the QR code, waiting for it to load if the signal isn’t strong, etc.

Tips for Using Postcards in Your Marketing Strategy

Tips for Using Postcards for Marketing

1. Treat it like a blog.

Your postcards are legitimate content and should include many key features of a good blog post:

  • Use an eye-catching headline
  • Include strong, relevant visual elements and attractive design
  • Be sure to share your message in a way that is useful to the audience
  • Maybe make them a special offer
  • Definitely include a CTA

2. Guide them smoothly to your content.

The CTA on your postcards should be paired with a low-resistance path to get them to your online content. It’s the IRL equivalent of a link for them to follow.

This is typically a web address or phone number, and more recently a QR code that bridges the mailer to your web content — but it doesn’t have to be. It completely depends on the goals of your campaign.

For example, it could also be a virtual business card that swiftly adds your info to their phone contacts. Or it could link to a poll to get their feedback. Feel free to get creative here.

3. Include your mailing address.

Not only does including your mailing address lend credibility to your messaging, but it can also act as an open invitation for interaction. Some of the best and most exciting marketing has happened where the virtual and analog meet.

If your campaign can support it — and if you can fit it on your postcard — invite people to write back. Maybe you’ll get a postcard back from someone’s exciting trip to a new country. Maybe you’ll get an envelope full of empty gum wrappers or an 80s hair band cassette. Who knows?

Anything you get back can be a unique experience to share online or inspiration for a funny/potentially viral video. Creatives on your team can embrace the creativity of others by leaving an open door to interact.

4. Place your copy carefully.

The standard practices work well, but if your audience enjoys constructive disruption, it may prove useful to shake them up. You can decide what to keep and what to experiment with, but here’s the formula:

The front of the postcard should be visual. The front needs to be tasty to your eyes and brain. You want it to be eye-catching for your target audience so that as they shuffle through the mail, it gets their attention and gets them wondering what’s on the other side.

So, which side is the front? The big open side, or the side with the address and postage on it? It’s really up to you which side you use as front or back, but there are advantages to consider.

Using the big open side gives you more space for photos and other visuals along with text, which is why it is often used as the front. The already-inhabited address side is usually considered the back.

In the US, though, putting the tasty stuff on the address side of your postcard has an advantage. We tend to think of it as the back, but your mail carrier turns that side to the top to make scanning more efficient. Odds are that when you look through your mail, this is the side you’ll see first. That’s an opportunity.

Whichever side you choose as the front, your primary message needs to be clearly communicated and visually enticing. If you have to pick one or the other for some reason, choose clarity. The more eye-grabbing you can make it — without being garish — the more likely they will be to turn the card over.

It’s like a Pin on Pinterest. It doesn’t say a lot, but it entices you to click on it — or turn the postcard over — for more.

The back of the postcard is text-based. Here is where you’ll put your functional information. First, you build on what you said on the front of the card, like a subheadline or an answer to a question you posed on the front, or whatever it makes sense to say before you move on from the hook.

Even though it’s text-based, you should design it so that their eyes follow an easy path to your ultimate CTA. Make your copy brief and valuable to your customer. Bullet points are a good way to get the facts down without a lot of extra copy. Make your offer next, so they have a concrete reason to contact you.

Finally, give them exactly what they need for the next step and give them instructions: your CTA and QR code. Make it clear, easy, and low-friction. They shouldn’t have to figure out what to do. Be sure to stop there — post-scripts become distractions from what you’re trying to get them to do.

5. Design your postcard to be mailed.

postcard marketing diagram showing the spacing on a US postcard

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Mind the needs of your mail servicers! In the U.S., make sure to keep the bottom ¾ of an inch of the address side of your postcard clear of text, images, and numbers. This is where the postal service adds barcodes or other scanning marks.

Ditto for the top right corner of the address side — this is where you either put a stamp or the USPS puts your permit imprint on mass mailings.

If you’re not in the US, be sure to make yourself familiar with what your mail carrier needs in order to do their job, and adjust your postcard marketing design accordingly.

Marketing Postcard Examples

We pulled some successful postcard marketing examples from around the internet to share with you. Explore, get inspired, make a plan, and send a postcard!

1. MarketingSherpa

postcard marketing example: marketingsherpa

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This postcard uses text rather than an image on its front side, but it plays with the text to clearly communicate its message — and its message is a hook, enticing recipients to flip the postcard over to read more.

What we like: The bold and eye-catching imagery and clever connection between broken lights and poor print results. One of the known ways to catch an eye is to put something obviously gone wrong for people to catch, like the broken neon here.

This postcard example from a MarketingSherpa post about a 70% increase in inbound calls points out a possible complication, shows it to you in a way that it doesn’t look like they’ve made a mistake, and leaves you with an ellipsis to entice you to turn the card for their solution.

2. Slate Group

postcard marketing example: slate group

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This series of personalized postcards from Arkansas Tech University greet the students by name and picture their dean. The simple black-and-white photo with the green speech blurb keeps things clean while intriguing recipients to turn them over.

Pro tip: Let your CRM help you make it personal. These postcards include the name of a new student as well as the dean of the respective college they were entering for their major.

The CRM grouped the names by college so they knew which name went with each dean and which address to send each postcard to. Smart work by Slate Group for Arkansas Tech University.

3. Running With Foxes

postcard marketing example: running with foxes

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This postcard uses bright images to draw the recipient’s attention and offers a $10 off coupon to encourage them to make a purchase. The text size is a little small, but the key information is highlighted with different font sizes and colors.

Pro tip: Put something tasty on the address side because it’s likely the first thing your customer sees. Running With Foxes Creative Art and Design put bright and beautiful images, an offer, and an exciting introduction to a new product — all on the side we think of as having limited space. On the other side, you could practically put in a picture frame.

4. Accuzip

postcard marketing example: Accuzip

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This postcard splits its front side into two halves, one showing a map and the other the house, which is the destination. It invites the recipients to come to the open house, offers a unique CTA, and provides all the relevant information right on the front.

What we like: The future is happening right now. This direct mail marketing idea from AccuZip harnesses the power of AI to create targeted postcards with maps from your customer’s home to whatever the algorithm shows they’ve been interested in — in this case, a piece of real estate they looked at online.

New ideas and options are developing all the time. What can you and your creative team bring to the practice of postcard marketing to make it novel and fresh for your target audience?

Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. 

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