Good old postcards. Year in and year out, decade in and decade out, they just keep rolling in the business for marketers across the country. Some things just never go out of style. But smart marketers are always on the lookout for ways to increase the return on their efforts, no matter how great the results may be. With that in mind, let’s look at some ways to increase your postcard ROI.
1. Tweak your targeting.
Targeting is the name of the game now, if you expect to make the most of your marketing dollars. Why bother to make your pitch to people who don’t care? Or people who might care? That’s a waste of money, not to mention time and effort. To get the highest ROI from your direct mail, you need to deliver your postcards straight into the mailboxes of people you know are most likely to be interested and buy.
Some industry experts like to quote a rule of thumb called the “40-40-20 rule” that says 40% of your postcard’s success comes from the quality of your mailing list. So there’s a lot of potential ROI riding on whether or not your mailers go to those “most likely” buyers. Are you being careful enough about your mailing lists?
If you’re using an internal list, how often do you “clean” it? Periodic review is essential to be sure every address is complete in every detail, that you have updated addresses for customers or patients who have moved and that no-longer-valid addresses are deleted.
If you’re using an external mailing list, choose only sources that can assure top quality. You can sort by demographics, geographics and myriad deeper details to home in on exactly the right targets, but you can’t do it well unless you’re clear on the audience you want to reach. Precision has a direct impact on your ROI.
2. Refine your offer(s).
Do you track your postcard marketing results, to see which offers are working best for you under different circumstances? You should. Otherwise you can’t know which offers are more productive, and if you try out a new offer you’ll have no way or comparing its drawing power against offers you’ve used in the past. Guessing drives down ROI.
Remember that 40-40-20 rule? Your offer accounts for the second 40%. It has to be meaningful — just as well-targeted as your mailing list — so it speaks directly to your prospects, at this time. It can be a discount, free trial, buy-one-get-one, gift with purchase, free add-on, upgrade or something else your prospects would dearly love to have.
Offers that work best are not just a “good deal,” they are relevant – overcoming barriers that might make postcard recipients hesitant to buy. For instance, if a prospective patient is afraid to go to the dentist, even offering 100% free services probably won’t entice them. But “pain-free or your money back” might.
3. Talk the right talk.
The final 20% comes from design and content. If you think that seems “insignificant” compared to 40% each for your mailing list and offer, consider what a 20% boost in your response rate, sales and ROI would mean to your business growth and profitability. Uh huh.
Every design element has specific impact on prospects, as does what you say. But postcard marketing isn’t really about you, it’s about them. You’ll get the greatest response when recipients can clearly see you have something they want or need. Your content should zoom in on how your products or services help solve problems:
• 45-minute lunch guarantee.
• Non-toxic pool or carpet cleaning.
• Painless dental work.
• Elimination of disease-carrying rodents or insects.
• Affordable fashion.
• Better grades for schoolkids.
4. Add a deadline to your offer.
If you give prospects an “out” – making it easy to set your postcard aside to deal with later – you’re negating your own efforts. You need recipients to respond while your offer is fresh in their mind and they can feel the need. Giving them a deadline makes it imperative that they do something right away. It strikes just a little fear into their heart – if they dawdle, they’ll miss out on your great offer.
Deadlines can be a specific time limit – “offer good this week only” (or this month, depending on your business and offer), for example. When you advertise your annual sale, the sale dates automatically announce a response deadline. You can also inject a sense of urgency by limiting quantity – the first 10 callers or visitors, or “good while supplies last.” The message is clear: Hurry, people, don’t lose out!
5. Repeat yourself – but only in the right way.
Not everyone will respond to your first mailing, no matter how alluring the design and offer. That’s just human nature. Are you sending the right number of follow-up mailings to your targeted audience, at the right intervals? Timing is everything, you know. If you’re short-changing yourself in the repetition department, you’re leaving cash and ROI on the table.
6. Be professional.
One reason postcards are so effective at drawing in prospects is that they engage people in multi-sensory ways. Your audience can feel them. Interact with them. Are your postcards speaking the right tactile language? Flimsy paper stock or muddy printing can instantly kill the deal, by associating your name and brand with poor quality. No price will be low enough to overcome that.
The bottom line on increasing postcard ROI is that all of these factors – though tremendously important on their own – have to pull together like a fine team of horses in order to produce the strongest results. Improving one area can certainly boost your response, but regularly reviewing every aspect of design and production will help make your postcard marketing irresistible.