We’ve all received mail that looks like it was designed in Microsoft Paint sometime during the 90’s. If you’re sending mail today, you can’t afford to be that kind of company. Consumer expectations around design are far greater today, and how you market is a reflection of that. A postcard’s design is a critical element in the effectiveness of a direct mail campaign.
Great design results in mail that delights recipients — which reflects positively on your brand — and can mean the difference in whether or not your campaign is ROI positive. There’s no one size fits all approach for every company, but there are a few best practices which will get you 90% of the way there. Let’s explore the elements of an effective postcard design that’s geared towards generating an action from the recipient.
Less is more when it comes to postcard design. Rather than cram in loads of images and text, keep things simple. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more you include, the more a recipient has to process. The goal is to drive action. Get your recipient’s attention, deliver the most important information, and then make it easy for them to complete your desired action.
Put simply, the headline is the hook. It’s what makes the recipient stop to think or do a double take. Great headlines should be clear, concise, compelling, and stand out from other text. They work best on the postcard’s front.
In the example below, the first thing you notice is white space! Despite all the space available, the designer chose a three-word headline and a four-word sub-line. Less can really be more, especially when every word is chosen to convey a relatable idea.
Great imagery supports your message, helps your postcard stand out, and can even elicit a positive emotional response. The images you choose merit careful consideration. Avoid overly stock-looking photos and ensure the photos are high enough resolution for print (300 dpi). The quality you see on your screen may not be reflective of the actual print quality.
Check out resources like Unsplash, Stocksy, and Pixabay to find high quality, print-friendly imagery. Try to make sure your image does one thing well, rather than trying to capture every aspect of your copy. The examples below leverage bold colors and high contrast to pop off the page. Delight the eyes and the hands will follow (hopefully to complete your call-to-action).
Compelling offers drive action. While having an offer isn’t always required, it can help drive urgency to your call-to-action. For example, consider infomercials who drive immediate action by showcasing a “great” offer that’s only available for a limited time.
You should only include a single call-to-action that’s easy to complete. Sure, you may want the recipient to visit your website, follow you on Facebook, and make a purchase, but the goal of your postcard is to drive some sort of response. Pick the one that aligns most with your desired campaign goals, then make it stand out. The call-to-action should be trackable so you can effectively measure the ROI of your campaign. Here are some examples and ways to track them:
Example: “Learn more at our website”
How to track: Send them to a custom landing page and measure the traffic. This could either be a unique url like www.yoursite.com/campaignlander or through a url shortener like the one that Google built.
Example: “Get $10 when you signup with code new10”
How to track: The code itself is unique to the campaign. When you run internal reports to see which promo or invite codes new users signed up with, you’ll know that people who used this code came from this mail campaign.
Personalization drives results. It makes the experience feel relevant to the recipient and that the postcard was designed for them, rather than the lowest common denominator. You should use available recipient data to personalize their postcard. This could be things like their first name, a recent product they purchased, a custom url or promo code, or their company name.
The postcard above combines all the preceding advice: a clean, simple graphic and font combination, concise copy, a compelling offer and the recipient’s first name. Be sure to include all these elements in your next campaign, and watch the responses roll in.