Consumer Marketing

Email or Postcards: Which Direct Mail Media is Right for Your Business?

Direct mail marketing continues to be an effective way to communicate with both customers and potential customers. But you can use either email or postcards to do the communication. Both have advantages and disadvantages for communication and your business. Choosing which one is right for your business will save you time, effort, and money.

photo credit: Freddy The Boy via photo pin cc


The main advantage to email is that it’s cheap. You can send out a million emails for about the same cost as sending out one. But that cheapness is also a disadvantage as people are overwhelmed with electronic communication. Recent estimates put the number of spam emails sent at 230 billion – every day. That’s over two-thirds of all emails sent around the world. So, if your email runs the risk of getting lost in the noise, you may want to resort to postcards instead.


In the same way that email is cheap in both the cost to you and in its efficacy with recipients, postcards are more expensive and more impactful. Not only do you have to pay for printing, but you also pay for postage on the cards. But, each postcard has far less competition with other mail, and people will at least look at the postcard, an advantage that emails do not have.

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Get Permission

Both email and postcard campaigns are much more effective if you get permission from people before sending them your marketing material. You’re automatically saving yourself time and money by not sending out as much, and your impact is greater because people are already wanting to hear from you. One of the most common ways to do this is to create a loyalty club with deals and discounts like a free item for birthdays.

Know Your Audience

Think about how your audience prefers to communicate. How they will interact with your business and where they’re located? If the primary form of communication is electronic, mirror that in your marketing. Use your website and email campaigns to connect. If your business is brick and mortar, a physical postcard will help to reinforce the connection you have with people at your physical location. And, if you’re a local business, you can target local people very effectively with postcards, but a disparate audience is easier to reach with email.

Do Both

A major, national coffee company uses a loyalty program to reward and retain customers. The customers first sign up for the program online and receive emails, but then they start getting postcards in the mail with coupons and deals tied to their coffee card.

In the same way, as you get to know your customers and as they commit to working with you, you can increase your impact by moving from electronic marketing to physical marketing. Use email campaigns to cast a wide net and then find the committed customers and reward them through a postcard campaign.

Using both forms of direct mail marketing in the right way increases your chances of moving your customers to action, but remember that the key here is “in the right way.” Send direct mail only to those customers who agree to receive your mail.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 6

  • Excellent article and I agree to do both. Direct mail marketing will probably get a lot better response, but email marketing is great especially as a follow up.

  • I like how you mentioned that marketers must “cast a wide net” using e-mails before moving into postcard marketing. Both play an important and specific roles – emails sift through people in your market that are worth rewarding while postcards is the logical next step in which worthy recipients receive something that has more value than an email. At least that’s how I read it :)

    Just to add as well – doing both allow you to touch base with people in the online and offline world. Aside from casting the proverbial net, you get to tap the best of both worlds by doing email and postcard campaigns.

    Thanks for the article! Got me a little worked up there. Heh.

    • Haha…I always take it as a compliment when I get passionate responses to my articles. :)

      Thanks for pointing out that doing both email and postcard campaigns also has the added benefit of reaching both online and offline audiences. I completely agree.

  • As a consumer, I’d much rather get a postcard, that I can read at my leisure, not to mention, I’m a bit old school and I appreciate the tactile that direct mail cards provide. The annoyance factor of email marketing really gets to me on days when its all I can do to keep up with deleting the emails received.

    • I agree, David. I too end up deleting most promotional emails simply because I get way too many; whereas a printed postcard I notice and actually take the time to read while flipping through my mail.

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