You’ve heard the rumors and excuses before: Direct mail is outdated. It doesn’t work. It’s too expensive. No one even reads their mail anymore…and so on. The list is nearly endless.

But here’s a secret for you; you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet.

The truth is that postcard marketing really does work. In fact, it’s even more effective than some of the most popular digital channels and has a higher ROI too.

The ironic thing about today’s perception of postcard marketing is that, before the digital revolution (when every company was sending out mailers), direct mail DID kind of suck.

Without the technological advancements that came with the digital age, it was difficult for direct mail campaigns to achieve a good ROI, track their results, or personalize any aspect of the mailers.

But those days are long gone!

As you’ll see in this article, postcard marketing produces tremendous results. It outperforms digital channels in nearly every category.

So much so, that even with the upfront expense of printed cards, the generated results are strong enough to offset the costs and create a fantastic return on investment.

And yet, somehow, the idea persists that direct mail is antiquated and behind the times.

Allow me to put these rumors to rest.

#1 – Direct mail has a fantastic return on investment.

According to the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail outperforms paid search and display ads by more than 12%. In fact, even the ever-popular social media struggles to outshine direct mail’s ROI. It barely squeaks ahead by a measly 1%.

Overall, direct marketing has a median ROI of 29%. That’s huge!

As you can see, online display ads and PPC campaigns struggle to compete with the power of old-school snail mail. Even with all of Google’s algorithms and consumer data, the United States Postal Service can still offer a higher return on your investment.

Go ahead and pick up your jaw off the floor. It’s okay to be surprised.

To tell the truth, so were we. Here at Scout, we already know the power of postcard marketing. That’s why we got in this business to begin with. And yet, we are still pleasantly surprised when we see such strong figures.

So, why is it so startling? Why has the myth prevailed that digital is the only option for a solid ROI?

Primarily, it’s because of the low initial cost associated with digital marketing. Digital channels require that you pay on the back-end after the results are calculated. But with direct mail, you have to pay for your postcards to be printed before you can send them. In the end, the money evens out.

#2 – People are statistically more likely to read a postcard than an email.

Email has been around for a long time. And through all the advancements in technology, it remains a powerful marketing tool. As we saw in the previous section, email’s ROI is head-and-shoulders above any other channel.

However, if we shift the conversation to open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, direct mail takes a commanding lead (assuming you aren’t making any silly campaign mistakes).

As you can see, 98% of consumers bring the mail into their home. That means almost every single one of your prospects will at least receive your postcard. Compare that to the email campaigns you’ve run in the past.

How many of those messages bounced back or got redirected to spam folders? And of the ones that miraculously made it to the recipient’s inbox, how many were opened?

Do you see my point? People are much more likely to glance at a postcard mailer than they are an unsolicited email.

Let’s talk about that other number – 77%. Not only is nearly all direct mail received, but more than three-quarters of it is intentionally read by the recipient. By today’s digital standards, this percentage is astronomical.

Can you imagine if 77% of your marketing emails were opened and read? You’d probably win the Nobel Prize for Marketing. (Is that a thing?)

The simple truth is that most marketing emails don’t come anywhere close to this read rate. In fact, according to Smart Insights, the average open rate of an email campaign is 23.67%.

So direct mail has 77%, and email has almost 24%. I’m no math whiz, but I know which number I’d prefer to see on my campaign results.

Okay, so people are reading it. But we all know that’s not enough. We’re looking for action. So, how many people are responding? I’m so glad you asked!

According to the Association of National Advertisers, direct mail’s response rate can be as high as 5.3% for mail sent to previous customers and verified leads, and nearly 3% for cold leads. That’s a combined total of more than 8%.

Is that good? Are those high percentages? Let’s compare them to the figures for email, and you can decide for yourself.

Smart Insights tells us that the average click-through rate for email is somewhere between 2%-3%, and email’s response rate is way down as low as 0.6%.

Hmmm. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? The numbers speak for themselves. Once again, postcard marketing outshines its digital counterpart.

#3 – Digital integration with direct mail is not only possible, it’s powerful.

Listen, if you’re a marketer who is good at your job, then you know that any campaign worth running will explore every channel possible.

It’s never enough to boost a Facebook post and call it quits, right? Of course not! Your social ads need to run in conjunction with your email funnel and display ads.

That’s because the more people see your brand, the more likely they are to engage with it.

So, if you’re looking at the various digital options available to you, then you need to also check what benefits you can get from postcard marketing. Similar to digital channels, direct mail audiences can also be targeted and tracked. But we’ll get into that in a little while.

The bottom line is, postcard marketing can help boost your online efforts. It can drive traffic to your site, and encourage downloads or email opt-ins. It can also get people engaged with your brand on social media and even help to get prospects over the line to making a purchase and becoming customers.

In the end, it’s all about getting folks connected to your brand. Since we’ve already proven how frequently people receive, read, and respond to direct mail postcards, you should take advantage of this powerful marketing tool. Leverage the strength of postcards to get people connected with your business online.

#4 – The results of a postcard marketing campaign are very trackable.

Click through rates and online purchases aren’t the only way to track the effectiveness of an ad campaign. With a little creative thinking, direct mail can deliver piles of data to help you measure your success.

Here are four ways that tracking is possible with postcard marketing:

  • Personalized URLs
  • Custom Phone Numbers
  • Coupon Codes
  • QR Codes

Let’s take a look at each one of these techniques to see how effectively they track a direct mail campaign.

Personalized URL’s (PURL’s)

How many times have you received a marketing postcard in the mail with the company website listed on it? Plenty, I’m sure. And, that’s a smart idea, right? Of course, it is. Businesses should always have the company website on any mailer.

You’ve probably seen a ton of postcards similar to this one:

However, when people are driven to the website from a postcard like this one, there is no way to credit the mailer with driving that traffic. It will just show up as a direct website traffic on the analytics report. Furthermore, if this person becomes a lead or even a customer, it will be the website that gets credit for creating the new revenue.

Obviously, that’s a problem. So, what’s the solution?

Instead of providing the standard company homepage address, print a personalized URL that is unique for every individual mailer. Let me say that again. Every mailer can have its own unique website URL.

How great is that? That means, instead of sending visitors to the company homepage, these one-of-a-kind URLs direct prospects to a dynamic landing page that is also specifically designed for that particular URL.

Like this:

And by monitoring the traffic to these landing pages, it is possible to track the success of your postcard campaign.

Don’t forget to include a call to action on these landing pages to take the prospect one step closer toward conversion.

By utilizing personalized URLs, not only can you track how many people responded to an offer, but you can find out which households took action. And since you already have their address and other information, you’ll be able to remarket them for continued purchases.