Direct Mail Postcards = Big ROI

by Erik Haug

Your mailbox today is almost certain to contain at least one postcard. This is for the simple reason that postcards perform well for marketers. Marketers know what works best because direct mail is easy to track. Direct mail postcards are an ideal choice for your next direct mail project because of their impact, lower cost, and outstanding ROI.  


We live in a fast paced world with a constant barrage of media messages. hurried man.gifConsumers change channels, close tabs, switch stations, and block popups.  We have short attention spans, skimming through news stories and web content, reading only the first paragraph of a blog post before moving on.  Print is high impact, tactile, even interactive. Direct Mail demands the recipient make a choice. Postcards have the benefit of capturing attention quickly. Without having to make a decision whether or not to open something like an envelope or folded self-mailer, the message and offer are immediately conveyed with a postcard. According to the DMA Statistical Fact Book 2016, 50.9% of postcards received by households are read by at least one member of the household. That is significantly higher than other direct mail formats.

Postcards Cost LessLow_cost.jpg

Direct mail postcard printing cost less to produce than other direct mail formats. A graphic designer is able to create a postcard in much less time than it would take to design the typical components of an envelope mailing, which often include the outer envelope, a letter, brochure and a reply envelope. Fewer components to print means there will be a savings in the cost of paper and ink, as well as setup time and run time on press. With a postcard the only bindery finishing operation is trimming the cards to final size. Personalization of postcards is generally performed on high speed inkjet addressing systems, which is the least expensive method of addressing for postal acceptance. A postcard can be as large as 6-1/8” x 11-1/2” and still qualify for letter postage rates.  

Postcards Delivery ROI

While response rates for direct mail postcards may not be as high as dimensional mail or oversized formats like 9”x12” envelope mailpieces, the average response rate of 5% for house mailing lists and 3.6% for prospect lists, combined with the lower cost equates to postcards having the lowest cost per response compared to all other direct mail formats. According to the *DMA Response Rate Report 2016, postROI.jpgcards provide a cost per response of $17.30 for house mailing lists and $29.80 for prospect lists.

Direct mail continues to drive multi-channel marketing endeavors. Print costs more than email and web based channels, but higher response rates justify the expense when compared to other less costly marketing channels. Postcards perform well because they are impactful, putting the offer and message in front of the recipient without requiring a decision whether or not to open something. Postcards cost less to produce, which makes them an attractive choice for marketers with limited budget resources available for direct mail printing. Good response rates combined with low cost make postcards tough to beat for both acquisition and retention.