How Postcards Can Help Your Email Marketing

What’s a postcard got to do with email anyway? You can’t send those things through the internet!

Postcards and email marketing may seem to have very little in common, but it turns out imitating a postcard can be a successful way to run an email campaign. Actual postcards can also be a great way to follow-up on an email campaign or website visit, but more on that later in the post.

Postcard-style emails get more clicks

If you’re not sure what that means, a postcard email looks like a postcard.  It’s landscape (meaning wider than it’s tall), and doesn’t have very much text.  Just your logo and address, a headline (or a salutation), a few lines of writing, and a signature.

Bacon photo by cyclonebill (Bacon) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bacon photo by cyclone bill via Wikimedia Commons cc 2.0 sa

A newsletter style email looks more like a newspaper (portrait, or longer than it is wide), like a portrait of a person.

newsletter style email

It’s a lot more text-heavy, and it’s generally longer, and has fewer graphics.  Think The New York Times, but in pixels instead of print.

The postcard style is more effective in certain situations than the newsletter style.  The important thing is to tailor your text and design to your audience and their needs.

If they want a list of “top five backpacks for hiking” and a quick list is all they need to make a decision to buy one, then a postcard format is ideal.

If your sale (or offer) is something more complex, such as a design service, then you’ll need more time and space to explain the benefits.

According to Marketing Sherpa, one non-profit used the postcard technique for their year-end fundraising campaign. They sent a series of emails that looked like postcards, with a headline, a photo, and a few short sentences.  Then one link, leading to a donation page. It boosted their response by 50%

One-two punch: paper postcards and email marketing

Or, you can even use actual postcards.  Make it part of a two-step campaign.  First, mail a paper postcard to drive potential new users or existing users to your site for a special offer, a free analysis, or a report.  Then, ask them to enter their email addresses on your site, in order to get that offer. Once they’ve signed up, follow up electronically.

This is a also good way to build your email list (make sure you use double opt-in (signup plus confirmation). SInce many good rented lists don’t include email addresses, sending a  paper postcard can help you reach prospects you might otherwise miss.  And, since postcards are low cost, it won’t blow a big hole in your marketing budget.

A third (and brand new) option comes from PebblePost. They’re using using information from website visits to send a customized follow-up direct mail piece highlighting exactly the items that web visitors were looking at.

It’s currently only working for web visits, but they say it can be adapted for use with email too. It’s less intrusive than retargeting and following people around the web with your ads, but far more targeted and relevant than a generic mailing would be.