The Pros and Cons of Postcard Marketing

January 5, 2020
WHERK Blog: Postcard Marketing Pros and Cons


Contrary to what some may believe, there are still effective methods of advertising your small business that don’t involve the internet. If you just let out a gasp and clutched your chest, we understand why you’d feel that way. Between display, social media, search engine marketing, remarketing, video and email, the tried-and-true approaches of yesteryear seem all but forgotten. But the truth is, tactics like direct mail can still work if done in the right way.

Postcard marketing is a perfect example. In one survey conducted in the UK, 57% of respondents said that postcard marketing made them feel more valued and that a postcard created a more authentic relationship. As it turns out there’s something to be said for a tangible ad. One that you can hold and put on the fridge. If using postcards is an approach that you’re considering adding to your marketing mix, you should be aware of both the pros and cons.

Pros of Postcard Marketing

In a UK survey, 57% of respondents said that postcard marketing made them feel more valued and that a postcard created a more authentic relationship.

As we alluded to earlier, the internet didn’t eradicate direct mail marketing for good—it just shifted the spotlight a bit. And the businesses who haven’t abandoned these old school ways for good are generally pretty thankful. After analyzing data provided by Bizo and Epsilon, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) recently announced that direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s paltry 0.12%. Further, DMA discovered that direct mail’s response rates are significantly higher—by as much as 30 times—than what they see across the board in digital.

But that’s not the only advantage postcard marketing can offer.

Postcard mailings can be an affordable endeavor, even for small businesses with even smaller budgets. For one, they usually qualify for postal discounts, with postage completed and billed during production. That means you aren’t responsible for having to buy the postage or mail them yourself. Keep in mind that “affordable” is relative to a budget.  Any campaign can quickly add up depending on the size of the distribution list.

With a postcard, you can really make your logo the star.  Have it serve as an attention-getter.  Something you probably wouldn’t do in an email or banner ad. Most postcard vendors afford you the option of double-sided printing, giving you even more space to promote your business. Or even include specific products through the use of bright and vivid images. You can also get very targeted with your postcard campaigns.  You can pursue specific demographics like age, household income, profession or zip code.  Postcard marketing also gives you an easy way to track your success since you can include custom URLs, phone numbers or even a small form for the recipient to send back to the business.

Related: Standing Out in the Offseason as a Seasonal Service.

Cons of Postcard Marketing

While all of these pros are great benefits of postcard marketing, the strategy isn’t without its flaws. And one of the biggest might be that you’re working with a finite space for your messaging to fit into. You can include an image, logo, contact information and a call-to-action on a postcard of course.  But then you’re only left with little room for an actual message. Particularly if you’re only using one side of the postcard.

Another detriment to postcard marketing is that they lack the privacy of an email. Because a postcard travels through the mail, you have to avoid including any type of personal or sensitive information.  Things that you wouldn’t want the public to see.  There’s a chance it could get lost or delivered to a neighbor’s mailbox by mistake, because of the many hands involved in postal delivery,

One of the most potentially damaging aspects of postcard marketing is that it’s permanent. In some ways, it’s a lot like writing in ink in that you can’t erase it once it’s out there. If your postcard goes out with an error, you’ve essentially wasted your budget and your time.  If you sent an email with the incorrect number or posted a banner ad with the wrong pricing, you could easily send a follow-up with a correction. Or even update and swap out the ad before too many people see it.  While the numbers around direct mail are positive, there’s always the risk of the “junk factor.” Some people will automatically throw away any mail they assume to be spam. Even if they are interested, your customers are more likely to misplace a postcard than they are to delete an email.