How compelling was the call to action on your last direct-mail postcard? Did you meet or exceed your goal response rate? If not, and your postcard headline and body copy are in great shape, chances are your call to action could use some work. The following details what makes a powerful call to action and presents five example postcard calls to action you can emulate to boost your ROI.

How to write a powerful postcard call to action

First things first: the success of any direct-mail marketing campaign is largely predicated on the quality of your mailing list and your offer. Thus, you need to start by identifying your audience and building or renting a mailing list comprised of those who fit your audience’s demographics. Next, you have to develop a desirable offer; something that your audience needs or wants under a condition that motivates them to act now: a time-limited discount, for example.

Your headline, body copy, and postcard design all play roles in the success of your postcard campaigns; particularly your headline. The quality of your design informs customers of your brand’s credibility and can help create desire. Your headline commands attention and draws customers in to read your body copy. Your body copy supports your headline and helps create desire. Anything else is too much information.

The only thing missing? The next step customers must take. That’s your call to action, or CTA, and it can mean the difference between a postcard marketing campaign that bombs or breaks company records for direct-mail ROI.

Writing a powerful postcard call to action isn’t difficult, though many small businesses struggle with it because they don’t put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Instead, they repeat what they’ve heard: “call now,” “visit our website now,” “act fast,” and so on and so forth. These CTAs are too generic, and do nothing to motivate action.

Great postcard calls to action are:

  • Specific: They tell customers precisely what to do next to take advantage of your special offer.
  • Promotional: They reiterate the offer and major benefits so customers know they’re getting exactly what they want by taking the next step in the purchasing process.
  • Urgent: They demand immediate response in order for customers to take advantage of your special offer.

Five powerful postcard call to action examples

Now we can construct a good postcard call to action. Let’s say you’re an accountant and you offer tax preparation services. Every year you get bombarded with returns at the last-minute. This year you want to motivate your clients to be proactive and generate more business, so you decide to offer your tax prep services for 50 percent off to anyone who signs up by February 15. Here’s how your CTA might read:

“Call 555-555-55555 now to save 50% on tax prep and maximize your return – guaranteed! Offer expires Feb. 15”

As you can see, this example is:

  • Specific: it tells customers exactly what benefits they’ll get (saving money and a guaranteed maximized return) and exactly what and when they need to do next to get those benefits
  • Promotional: it restates the benefits that should have been revealed in the postcard headline and body copy
  • Urgent: it tells customers to call now and gives an expiration date for the early-bird special offer

Of course, that’s not the only way you can phrase those same CTA components. You might instead place an actual price on tax preparation. For example:

“Maximize your tax refund for just $50 when you call 555-555-5555 by Feb. 15!”

In this example, it would be helpful to display the original price with a strike-through over or under the “$50.” This helps visually demonstrate the savings portion of the special offer.

Another way to phrase the same CTA:

“Get more money on your tax refund for half the price when you call 555-555-5555 by Feb. 15!”

And another:

“Hurry! Feb. 15 is the deadline to maximize your tax refund for 50% off! Call 555-555-5555 now!”

And yet another:

“Don’t overpay to get your hard-earned money back where it belongs – maximize your tax return at our absolute best price when you call 555-555-5555 by Feb. 15”

As you can see, each of these postcard call to action examples takes a different approach to conveying the same information. The point is, how you present your CTA can have as effect on your response rate as what your CTA says. Thus, you should test different versions of your CTA on smaller audience segments to see which yields the best response rate, then use that version when you send mass postcard mailings. Constantly test, track, and tweak your CTAs to maximize your own long-term direct-mail postcard marketing success.