Consumers may notice they're getting fewer postcards from friends, but USPS says direct marketers are still fans of the mail option. Specifically citing a product called "Every Door Direct Mail," USPS says on Monday that what it first issued as "postal cards" in 1873 are still distributed in the billions each year. (Opens as a PDF)
"Since the [EDDM] service was launched in 2011, USPS has handled about 1.2 [million] transactions, resulting in over 6.4 [billion] pieces of mail and more than … $1.2 [billion] in revenue," USPS tells Target Marketing on Monday. "We are seeing growth in this type of mail. These are mostly oversized marketing/business postcards."
For EDDM, the most popular sizes are postcards (6.5" x 9") and oversized postcards (8.5" x 11"), and then an EDDM option that isn't a postcard at all — it's a tri-fold menu (4.25" x 14").
Also, even as USPS figures show sending "single-piece cards" is declining — from more than 3 billion in 1997 to about 1 billion in 2013 — the numbers of pre-sorted postcards in the 155.4 billion-piece-strong mailstream in 2014 are holding steady. Rounded up, mailers sent 2.4 billion pre-sorted cards in 1997 and rounded down, about the same 2.4 billion reached addressees in 2013. (Opens as a PDF)
Where consumers may be noticing a difference is in their personal correspondence, according to a Feb. 26 article in The Washington Post that is making the rounds among publishers. On Monday, the Post's "Are Postcards Obsolete?" became the Minneapolis StarTribune's "In E-age, Are Postcards Headed to Dead Letter File?"
The article says USPS mailed "770 million stamped postcards in fiscal 2014, down from 1.2 billion in 2010."
Here are a couple reasons the Post writer still likes postcards:
1. The Tactile Can Be More Personal. There can be an emotional connection between the sender, the recipient and even the route the mail piece took. "In South Korea, I sent a postcard to friends whose elementary-school-age son, Min, was adopted from that country as an infant," writes Mark Jenkins for The Washington Post. "He claimed the printed-cardboard talisman and put it on his wall — both a picture of a meaningful place and an actual piece of it. Yes, Min could have printed out an Instagram image and put it on his wall. But it's just not the same."