Postcard Mailers: The Secret Weapon in Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing

Postcard Mailers: The Secret Weapon in Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing

Cactus Mailing Team

  |  Oct 26, 2023   |  

8 min read

Postcard Mailers: The Secret Weapon in Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing

As a marketer, you're always looking for a way to reach new customers - and there's an affordable tactic you may be overlooking! Postcard mailers cost a fraction of the price of other marketing techniques - and are more effective. They are versatile, easy to distribute, and can be tracked and measured to prove their ROI after each campaign. 

In this article, we'll discuss the power of a direct mail campaign and explain how much direct mail marketing campaigns cost.

The Resurgence of Postcard Mailers

Marketing messages flood our screens and inboxes every day, which is why a direct mail campaign using postcard mailers is a refreshing and impactful strategy to attract your target audience. There's something uniquely compelling about holding a physical postcard in your hand. Unlike digital marketing, postcards don't get lost in a cluttered email inbox or discarded with a quick swipe. Instead, it occupies physical space and engages the recipient on a sensory level. 

Here's why direct mail postcards are so effective:

  • A Physical Presence: In a mailbox filled with utility bills, credit card statements, and catalogs, a postcard stands out like a friendly face in a crowd. 

  • Novelty in Simplicity: In an era of complex digital marketing strategies, postcard mailers embrace simplicity. Their straightforward format and clear messaging offer a refreshing change from the complexity of online advertisements.
  • Unique Engagement: When recipients hold a postcard in their hands, they engage with it in a unique way. They flip it over, examine the visuals, and read the message. This engagement leads to increased message retention and response rates.
  • Minimal Competition: While digital channels are saturated with competing messages, the mailbox is relatively uncluttered. This scarcity of physical marketing materials means that postcard mailers have a higher chance of getting noticed.

Benefits of Postcard Mailers

In this section, we uncover the multitude of benefits that postcard mailers bring to the table, making them a compelling choice for modern marketing strategies.


In an era where marketing budgets are closely scrutinized, postcards offer a cost-effective solution. Here’s how postcards can cut down your marketing budget: 

  • Printing Costs: Postcards are relatively inexpensive to print compared to brochures, catalogs, or other direct mail formats. This affordability allows you to reach a larger audience without breaking the bank.
  • Minimal Design Expenses: Postcards demand less design complexity compared to other marketing materials. With efficient design practices, you can save on design costs while maintaining impact.
  • Reduced Production Time: The simplicity of postcards translates to quicker production times, which can result in faster campaign deployment and response.
  • Higher ROI Potential: The lower overall costs associated with postcard mailers mean that even a modest response rate can yield an impressive return on investment.

The cost-effective nature of postcards means that even small businesses with modest marketing budgets can leverage postcards to reach their target audience effectively.

Targeted Marketing

Segmentation in postcard mailers is the process of dividing your mailing list into smaller groups based on shared characteristics, such as demographics, interests, or purchase history. This allows you to send more targeted and relevant messages to each group, which can lead to higher response rates and ROI.

 Here's why direct mail marketing is so effective at targeting and segmentation: 

  • Audience Segmentation: By dividing your recipient list into distinct groups based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences, you can deliver highly relevant content to each segment. Let’s say you have a local restaurant. You might want to send welcome postcards to every new resident that moves into the area to introduce your restaurant, and reminders about your specials to locals that have lived in the area for a long time. 
  • Geo-Targeting: Postcards offer the opportunity for geo-targeted marketing, allowing you to focus on specific geographic areas where your audience is most concentrated or where you want to expand your reach.

Brand Visibility

Postcards are inherently open, ensuring immediate visibility of your marketing message. Unlike sealed envelopes or bulky packages, recipients can see your message without any effort. This instant recognition can be crucial in capturing the recipient's attention and making a lasting impression.

Higher Response Rates

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), postcards consistently have the highest response rate among various direct mail formats. This high response rate can be attributed to their simplicity and the fact that recipients don't have to open an envelope to access the message.

Best ROI

Direct mail campaigns often involve costs related to printing, postage, and mailing lists. Postcards tend to offer the best return on investment (ROI) in this regard. They are typically more affordable to produce and mail compared to elaborate brochures or catalogs, and their higher response rates mean that you're getting more bang for your marketing buck.


Postcards can be used for a wide range of marketing purposes. Whether you want to promote a product, announce a sale, invite people to an event, or simply stay in touch with customers, postcards can effectively convey your message. Their compact size also makes them easy to distribute.

Visual Impact

Postcards provide a canvas for eye-catching visuals, which can be crucial in marketing. A well-designed postcard with compelling imagery and a clear, concise message can captivate recipients and leave a lasting impression. Visual content is often more memorable than text alone, and postcards provide an excellent platform for visual storytelling.

When you weigh up your direct mail marketing cost and the benefits, it's easy to see why direct mail is becoming so popular with businesses of all sizes!

How Much Does Direct Mail Cost Compare to Digital Marketing Campaigns?

Does direct mail cost more than digital advertising? It's not an easy question to answer. Let's first compare the costs associated with each:

Upfront Costs

The upfront costs of direct mail include designing, printing, and mailing physical materials. These costs can vary widely depending on factors like the type of mailer, paper quality, design complexity, and postage rates. Digital advertising encompasses a wide range of platforms and strategies. While it can be relatively inexpensive to set up a basic online ad campaign, costs can quickly escalate as you invest in more advanced targeting options, keywords, or social media advertising.

Targeting Costs

Direct mail targeting involves purchasing or building mailing lists. These lists can vary in cost based on factors like the quality of the data and the specificity of the audience. On the other hand, the cost of digital advertising targeting depends on the competitiveness of your chosen keywords or the audience size you aim to reach.

Production and Creative Costs

Designing and producing physical mail pieces can incur additional costs, especially if you require professional design services. Digital ads also require creative elements like graphics and copy. While creating these assets can be done in-house, some businesses opt to hire designers or copywriters, adding to the expenses.

Distribution Costs

Postage costs are a significant part of direct mail campaigns. The size and weight of your mailer, as well as the mailing class (first-class or standard), impact postage expenses. Digital advertising generally doesn't have distribution costs, as ads are delivered electronically. However, you'll pay a fee each time a user clicks on your ad (cost-per-click or CPC) or based on impressions (cost-per-mille or CPM).

Measurement and Tracking Costs

Tracking the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns often requires specialized tools and analytics services, which can incur additional costs. Tools like Google Analytics often require specialists to set up and interpret the success of the campaign. With a postcard, simply include a unique coupon code on your postcards that customers can use when they make a purchase. When customers use this coupon code, you will know that they are responding to your postcard campaign. You can also use QR codes or unique phone numbers to track your campaigns. 

Direct Mail Cost vs. Return on Investment

There aren't any industry benchmarks that tell us how much direct mail marketing costs as it depends on various factors, but we can give you some insights from our own direct mail campaigns:

  • All Kids Dental spent $2,700 on their direct mail campaign, which resulted in $44,000 in sales, giving them an ROI of 1,630%.
  • Theresa's Country Feed & Pet spent $14,000 on their direct mail campaign, which resulted in $50,000 in sales, giving them an ROI of 357%.
  • Parkside Builders spent $6,200 on their direct mail campaign, which resulted in $600,000 in sales, giving them an ROI of 954%.
  • James Auto Center spends $17,000 per month on their direct mail campaign, which results in $18,000 in sales per month. This gives them an ROI of 1,059%.

As you can see, the ROI of a direct mail campaign can be very high. However, it is important to note that these are just a few examples, and your results may vary. 

You can save money by choosing an all-in-one direct mail company with transparent pricing and a proven track record. The company should have their own direct mail lists, discounted delivery fees, design capabilities and printing facilities.

But the best way to guarantee that your campaign runs within your budget and still achieves the results you want is to speak with a direct mail marketing specialist. Our team at Cactus Mailing will be able to break down your direct mail marketing costs or provide you with a direct mail pricing guide before you commit to your campaign.

It's always worth looking at your expected ROI when you evaluate the cost of direct mail marketing.

What Is the Best Way to Run a Low-Cost Postcard Campaign?

Ready to launch your first low-cost, high-impact postcard mailer campaign? We recommend doing the following:

Find the Ideal Mailing Volume

For campaigns aimed at generating new business, consider a minimum mailing volume of 2,500 postcards per mailout. For more rapid business growth, it's recommended to mail 5,000 to 10,000 postcards per mailing. If the quantity is limited by the number of recipients meeting your targeting criteria, consider mailing more frequently to the same list. Increased frequency can compensate for lower quantities in terms of response rates and improve your ROI. 

Choose the Right Postcard Size

Consider the available postcard sizes, ranging from 4x6 inches to 6x11 inches. The 4.25x6 size is cost-effective but offers limited space for your marketing message. Reserve this for concise and straightforward messages. The 6x9 size strikes a balance between cost-effectiveness and message space. It's the most popular choice and provides enough room for a more elaborate and compelling message.

Utilize Free Postcard Design Services If Possible

Design quality is crucial for campaign success, as it directly impacts how well your message is received. It’s much better to leave the design to expert teams that can create compelling, effective postcards that resonate with your target audience. The more effective your design, the more effective your overall campaign will be. Some direct mail providers (like Cactus Mailing!) offer free postcard design services, which can save even more money upfront. 

By following this recipe for success, you can create a well-rounded postcard direct mail campaign that not only reaches your desired audience but also maximizes your chances of eliciting a positive response. Remember that consistency, quality, and effective targeting are key elements in any successful direct mail campaign, and working with an experienced direct mail provider can enhance your chances of achieving your marketing goals.

Final Thoughts

Postcard mailers are indeed a secret weapon in low-cost, high-impact marketing. The resurgence of postcard mailers in the digital age offers a refreshing and impactful strategy, engaging recipients on a sensory level and conveying a sense of value that digital messages often lack. 

The cost-effectiveness of postcard mailers is undeniable, with minimal or free design expenses, quick production times, and simple but effective targeting techniques. Moreover, the targeted marketing capabilities of postcard mailers, coupled with their suitability for small businesses, make them a versatile and cost-efficient choice with a high ROI. 

Get in touch with Cactus Mailing if you want to deploy your very own direct mail strategy. We’ll help you put together a free no-obligation direct mail marketing plan tailored to your goals and your audience.