Where postcards were once the most cost-effective way to reach potential customers on common ground, today marketers can choose between direct mail, search advertising, site advertising, email marketing, social media, mobile advertising, and other outlets. Marketers today have an enormous number of marketing channels to pursue, which can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, marketers can test and try many different marketing strategies to bolster sales. On the other hand, having so many different marketing outlets to choose from can dilute budgets for any single marketing strategy, thus making each individual method that much less effective. The key is to determine what works for your company and focus your efforts on that marketing channel. And the fact that digital marketing is often extremely cost-effective begs the question: Are postcards still relevant?

It’s not the cost of postcard printing that makes postcard marketing a significant initial investment; it’s the postage. Postage prices for postcards have increased dramatically during the past 20 years – from 19 cents in 1993 to 33 cents in 2013. Thus, while you can get a deal on printing, say, 10,000 postcards for around $250, you’ll incur $3,300 in postage to have those postcards delivered.

Despite postage costs, postcards absolutely remain relevant. Here’s why:

● Direct mail has the highest rate of success in new customer acquisition at 34 percent

● Postcards have an average response rate of 3.99 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2012

● Fifty-four percent of postcards are read by recipients, according to the DMA 2012 Statistical Fact Book

In fact the Direct Marketing Association has tons of data that supports the fact that postcards are not only read but are powerful marketing tools. But how does that translate to your business?

Let’s say you have a web-based service that charges $20 per month, for a total of $240 per year, and 75 percent of new members remain with you for a minimum of 12 months. You can say your average profit per sale is $180. You print and mail 10,000 postcards, which achieves the average response rate of 3.99 percent, or 399 new customers. Your gross profit for the campaign is $71,820.

Now, subtract the cost of printing and mailing your postcards (we’ll estimate $4,000 for posterity), and that leaves you with a net profit of $67,820. That figure is very relevant.

With a great mailing list, a great offer, and good copy and design, you can predict your postcard marketing profits by adding your own numbers into this equation:

(3.99% of postcard volume)(value of each sale) – (printing + postage) = estimated net profit

If you have design, copy, or mailing list rental fees, add them in with printing and postage before you run your estimate.

The fact that postcards are delivered right to your customers and that they have to at least glance at your postcard – and that the DMA’s figures demonstrate that postcard marketing is highly effective – prove that postcard marketing is not only still relevant but still one of the best marketing tools available today – even in the digital age.