If you are looking for a way to expand your brand and diversify your marketing strategy, direct mail marketing is something you should seriously consider. Though the advent of platforms like email and social media has caused the claim that direct mail marketing is a thing of the past, mailed advertisements can still be a versatile and powerful way to expand your business.
Direct mail marketing provides a variety of options, including flyers, postcards, letters and even scratch-off mailings. Two of the most popular forms of mail marketing are also two of the most traditional types of mail – postcards and letters. As the owner of a direct mail marketing business, Addressers, I often get asked, “Which of the two gets better responses and will help me grow my company faster?”
While a straightforward answer to this question would be nice, the reality is that the type of mail you should choose depends heavily on the business you own and the ultimate goal of your marketing campaign. Whether you run a nonprofit, law firm, home renovation service, or plumbing company looking to drive new leads, reach old customers, or gather donations, the power of direct mail is universal. We’re here to break down the differences between postcard and letter mailing, hopefully simplifying your decision and helping you maximize the returns on whichever direct mail marketing campaign you choose.
Benefits of postcards
The first major advantage of postcards is their brevity. Postcards should be eye-catching, personalized and straightforward, with an emphatic call to action. You may be asking yourself, “What is a call to action?” A call to action, or CTA, is a direct prompt for the response you want from your audience in a mailing campaign – the ultimate purpose behind your postcard marketing campaign. For instance, a CTA might ask the customer to sign up for a subscription at a discounted rate, visit your website to check out the latest sales, or call a number for a free quote.
Two things can enhance this directness. First, unlike letters, postcards don’t require opening, allowing you to catch the customer’s eye from the minute they open their mailbox. In other words, your postcard will have a 100% open rate. A study demonstrated that 57% of customers go on to read the postcard, making postcards the most-read form of direct mail marketing.
Second, postcards are incredibly customizable with techniques such as variable data printing, which is a form of digital printing that can customize text, graphics and images for each piece of direct mail. Through variable data printing, it’s easy to personalize your message and provide a straightforward lead into your website, restaurant, or brick-and-mortar store.
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Postcards are also notably cheaper than letters. Sending out 5,000 postcards costs about 42 cents per piece, including postage. Sending out 5,000 letters, on the other hand, costs about 53 cents per piece. That amounts to $550 in savings per campaign. According to the Direct Marketing Association, postcards have the cheapest cost per lead ($54.10) of any form of marketing. For comparison, print ads cost about $60.50 per lead.
If your business doesn’t require as much information or details as, say, a retail store or restaurant, and you just want to drum up interest or have a simple message to convey (like a store reopening, a new product or an important annual sale), postcard marketing is a cheap and effective way to market your business.
To give an example, in these unprecedented times with COVID-19, stores, restaurants, and other businesses can take full advantage of postcard mailing to inform previous customers and new prospects of reopenings, new products, sales, or precautionary measures they are taking.
Benefits of letters
If your mailing requires a more official or personal touch, or needs to explain a lot of information, a letter might be the way to go. One advantage of letter marketing is the space it gives you. If your services require more explanation and details (such as for a financial planning firm, a nonprofit seeking donations or an insurance company), a letter gives you room to explain yourself to potential or current customers.
The larger page area gives you the chance to do several things. You can convey a more comprehensive message, demonstrating to customers that you are invested in them, through effective storytelling or targeted appeals to emotion.
More space also gives you a more official advertising platform. Looking to run a fundraising campaign for a local nonprofit, or asking customers to sign a document or RSVP to a big event? Then a letter is the way to go, since it provides the bandwidth to explain why your fundraising campaign is so important, or give all the details of the big event your company is throwing next month.
Furthermore, you can implement many different direct mail strategies with a letter and envelope to better convey a sense of importance and capture the recipient’s attention. These methods include hand-addressing a letter or using a pen-addressing machine. In addition, snap pack mailers are often used to convey important messages because of their unique design.
As we briefly discussed above, letters are slightly more expensive than postcards because of factors like envelope style and design, but that slightly higher price point can be worth it for advertisements that are more informative, personalized and professional.
Conclusion: Postcards or letters?
As you can see, both letters and postcards can be an incredibly valuable tool for your direct mail marketing campaign and an easy, versatile way to expand your business. However, it’s important to correctly choose which of the two to spearhead your campaign with in order to maximize the gains to your company. Also remember that these are just two forms of direct mail marketing that you can utilize. If you have a campaign in mind that requires a more specialized design, there is almost certainly a direct mail marketing method that will fit. That is one of the beauties of mail advertising: Though popular staples like postcards and letters are practically guaranteed to get results, it remains one of the most versatile marketing methods out there, with many alternative options.
As an expert in direct mail for over 40 years, I believe direct mail marketing is still an effective tool that businesses and organizations of all sizes should take advantage of to drive new leads. Especially in the time of this pandemic, it is important to stay connected with your past and present customers, no matter what direct mail or online marketing strategy you choose. Businesses like Addressers can provide direct mail services or other marketing services to help you out with this. Hopefully, this brief guide on postcards and letter mailing has helped you determine which method best suits your business.