3 Steps to Perfect Postcard Sales (yes, in 2017)

Postcard marketing? What is this, 1999? And it’s good that you’ve likely come here thinking that. If you’re pretty certain it’s dead and won’t let me convince you otherwise, please close this window now.

Great, now let me tell the rest of you why direct mail is alive and well and how to take advantage of a drastically underutilized marketing channel. This article was designed for you to skim, so make use of my kind formatting. It’s also basically a description of our entire business process at Scout.

Postcards are the best in direct mail marketing

Direct mail marketing is down from a peak in 2007, but that’s good for you because it means you have 23 billion fewer pieces of advertisements to compete against.

Standard Mail volumes declined about 20 percent during the Great Recession, from a peak of 103.5 billion pieces in fiscal year 2007 to 80 billion pieces in 2015. -U.S. Postal Service, “A Decade of Facts and Figures

And, no bidding for the top spot in the mailbox; it’s the most egalitarian marketing channel. You may ask, why postcards vs other types of direct mail? Here you go…

51% of postcards are read (highest of any piece of direct mail)

Compare this with 20–28% of this article that you’ll likely read. :(

20% of people likely to respond (also, highest)

Postcards are the least used type of direct mail!

Postcards are ALSO one of the least leveraged types of marketing

Don’t be mistaken, though. Huge brands like Chase, Amazon, Gap, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Equinox know that this channel works so well because it’s not saturated at all.

Even better for you? This “shift to digital” has all but eliminated the competion in direct mail. Compare 2004 to today in terms of search volume.

While digital marketing is much cheaper, it’s certainly a channel to try especially if you have a high customer LTV.

Step 1: Define your customer & get addresses

Write a draft email of your ideal customer.

Who are your people? Think about this step very carefully. Are they young, old, married, single, 2.2 miles away from your business, do they like surfing, coffee, or do they enjoy dancing? Just write an email with your perfect demographic and then send it to one of these two people below. You should include as much data as you can about your current customers or ideal prospects.

Your campaign will fail if you don’t do this well.

For Googleable Data: Send it to joe@getsteward.com

For Scout customers that are targeting folks in the Bay Area, in high tech, or generally that I could find 1–1 with a Google search… my friend Joe over at getsteward.com is the very best. You describe your task, who you want, and then he’ll get you company names, addresses, and email addresses.

His data is very clean and comes mainly from places you could find via a Google Search. If your target customer is a little bit more obscure (e.g. you want to target people with kids), go with mailershaven.com.

For non-Googleable Data: Send it to rob@mailershaven.com

Ok, their website looks a little bit dated (don’t tell anyone I said so), but from a customer service, response, and data perspective… Rob at Mailers Haven is the very best. Now there are other places you can get your data (like infousa.com), but these guys have aggregated a lot of different lists and they know who they can find and where. And, they are reasonably priced; just use them. You’ll know why once you email Rob.

Step 2: Steal this design & edit, edit, EDIT!

Make 1 clear offer with 3–6 big words understood in < 3 seconds.

Designing a postcard is only hard because it takes time to edit yourself, but you should as a prospect will spend 3–4 seconds trying to figure out what you do and if what you’re offering is at all interesting to them.

Your postcard is going in the trash if it takes more than 3 seconds to grasp.

Here’s what you should steal from GrubHub (in order of importance)

  1. Make what you do clear and memorable in a few words
  2. Provide a compelling offer with an expiration date.
  3. Make it colorful with an image or text and include your logo.

Listen to my friend Henry and invest time on this piece.

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short. — Henry David Thoreau (1857)

Here’s an example of exactly what NOT to do

I won’t spend too much more time on jet.com’s card than I already have on the Scout blog, but here’s why you shouldn’t do this.

It’s confusing, has two messages, an unclear value proposition, a small complex offer, no expiration date… and this postcard doesn’t tell me about what problem jet.com solves for me. Do they ship out your old cleaning supplies? Maybe they help you get rid of things you’ll never use (or eat)? Plus, who buys tide, cheerios, and tennis shoes at the same time?

Aside from this one postcard, I really like jet.com!

Send 3 different mailers over 8 weeks

Just trust me on this. It’s better to send 100 cards 3 times over 8 weeks than 300 cards once. I suggest experimenting with different sizes, too.

Step 3: Make it personalized and track it

Personalize your Postcard

There’s so many ways to do this. Adding in personalization gives people a reason to spend more time on your card. You’re asking for their time, so show you deserve it with information that’s clearly just for them.

Some ideas for card-level personalization:

1. First name on every card.
2. Neighborhood level map with nearby customers.
3. Called out the recipient’s city in the text.
4. Distance data from their address to a nearby sold home.
5. Property pricing data crossed out (i.e. online home valuation data sucks).
6. A picture of their new restaurant website (yea, really… try it).
7. Solar installer data that shows nearby panel installations (see below).

Some ideas for list-level personalization:
There’s a hack that no one really uses, that’s sending specific messages to hyper defined lists. So, if you know they like sports, use a sports message. Here are some ideas.

1. Design different cards for each sub-section of your list.
2. Have an outsourcer design 1 card for each person.
3. Include an offer relevant to their zip code.
4. Talk about things nearby (e.g. reference customers in the same city)

Here’s an example of what we’ve done.

Track it! Once more, track it!

This piece is so important and here are some useful ways you can track your ROI.

1. Forwarding URLs to track conversions.
2. QR Codes (also powered by a forwarding URL)
3. Forwarding phone numbers (we LOVE Ytel for this, or Google Voice)
4. Unique tracking redemption codes (for promos, etc)
5. Delivery timing information (if your mailing company provides it)
6. A quick view of your Google Analytics stats based on #5 above

P.S. Email me if you need help

My help is free, why not use it? You can also always reach out to me...

Taken at Sequoia National Park. Credit to Tommy G.

About Jordan

I’ve sent tens of thousands of postcards via, http://sendwithscout.com. This article contains all I know so that you can do it yourself.

I’m happy to help, too… jordan@sendwithscout.com

P.S. I didn’t eat this pinecone.