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."
2. It's Easier to Put on the Fridge. [Editor's note: For consumers, it's a memento or a wedding/event reminder. For marketers, it can be the same and more, including coupons and other offers.]
As for direct mail-specific postcard tips, BizBest Media provides these options:
- Have a purpose for the campaign
- "Be sure to include high-quality photos or other striking images, graphics and colors."
- Keep copy short.
- Make headline meanings clear.
- Use postcards to gain leads, not close sales.
- Include contact information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
- Be timely — even include a deadline for the recipient.
- Include an offer.
- "Think multi-faceted. Postcards can be used for many purposes, including reminders, gift certificates, coupons, new product announcements, openings, discounts and even as tickets."
- Opt for high-quality (from the card to images).
- Oversized cards stand out in the mail. [Editor's note: So do uniquely shaped ones.]
- Use templates or online services to design the cards.
Bonus: Watch the on-demand webinar, "Ask the USPS: Live Q&A," for current information about postcards and EDDM from Betty Su, executive director of brand marketing at USPS. She spoke during Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, hosted by Target Marketing and DirectMarketingIQ.
What else would marketers like to add about postcards?
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