How to design a postcard: Strategy and design tips for postcards that convert

When executed properly, direct mail can result in ROI that far exceeds email

How to design a postcard: Strategy and design tips for postcards that convert

1300 700 Mailjoy blog

Mail is something nearly everyone gets, but not all mail is created equal. While some mail may be personal in nature, many companies use mail as a marketing channel — aka direct mail — to either acquire new customers or reengage customers they already have in hopes of driving more revenue. According to the DMA, direct mail accounts for 57% of the USPS’ mail volume. As a channel, mail isn’t cheap when compared to email, but when executed properly, it can result in ROI that far exceeds email. This is especially true for companies that have customers with high lifetime value (LTV). In short, learning how to design a postcard that converts well is crucial to an effective direct mail campaign.


Postcard marketing refers to direct mail that uses postcards as the mailer format. Postcards have a front and back design, and unlike stuffed mail you have to open, the mailer’s message is immediately present. With the right recipients receiving your mail— i.e. targeting — and the right design, you can drive results. (We even have a post showing some effective postcard examples)

In this post we’ll cover strategy and design principles behind simple, yet effective, postcard designs that convert.

Ways to use postcards

There’s really an endless number of ways you can use postcards, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Promoting a sale to existing customers.
  • Acquiring customers in new markets when launching a local product/service.
  • Sending thank you notes or holiday cards to customers.
  • Advocating a cause.
  • Realtors promoting properties sold nearby.
  • Inviting prior attendees to a new upcoming event.

Postcard design strategy

Creating an effective mailer that drives results is more than just creating something that looks nice. It needs to be relevant to the recipient, have quick to comprehend copy, and show a clear call to action. These are some general strategy questions you should start with each time:

What size should we use?

The postcard size will matter when it comes to making your mailer stand out from other mail in a mailbox. Odd sizes and typically ones that are bigger will stand out more than others. However, the larger the postcard, the more expensive it is. For the right campaign, this can make all the difference as you have more space to work with.

Should we personalize the content?

If you have relevant data to personalize a mailer, you should. For example, in emails, personalized data results in 6x higher transaction rates. For new potential customers, the ability to personalize depends on whether it’s a targeted campaign (specific recipients are known) or a local mail campaign (covers a whole region with no specific recipients). If these are your existing customers, consider data from your CRM.

postcard image personalization
Personalization can be as simple as a name, but if you have additional relevant data you should use it

Do we have a relationship with the recipient?

If a recipient knows your brand, you have more flexibility in the messaging. You can do this with existing customers, but for new potential customers, you should assume they’ve never heard of you. This is why it’s important to say what you do in simple, short, jargon-free phrasing.

What’s my call to action?

A clear call to action is essential for two reasons: 1) it tells the customer what to do and 2) it lets you track the results of a campaign. There should only be a single call to action. Some examples include “Get $10 off when you use this code” or “Go to this page to signup.”

Postcard design principles

Regardless of your campaign’s strategy, there are some basic rules you should follow when designing a direct mail postcard.

Keep headline text concise and impactful

The front of your mailer should catch their attention. The headline text should only be a few impactful words like “Increase revenue 20%” or “50% off all winter items.” Additional supporting text should be smaller and used when needed.

Dollar Shave Club shows how to design a postcard with a simple title
Dollar Shave Club uses simple yet intriguing titles

Use high-quality imagery that supports the message

Images reinforce your message and convey a level of trust and professionalism about your brand. Therefore, if you use low-quality, stock images — which most mailers use — your mailer will look uninspiring. One of our favorite places to find high-quality images is Unsplash.

Uses relevant, professional, high-quality imagery

Have a clear, single call to action that’s trackable

Your call to action should stand out. Ideally, it should also be a significant, trackable event like signing up for your product. Some ways to do this include sending traffic to a unique URL so you can track page views or offering campaign specific promo codes so you can attribute conversions to the campaign. You can get real specific by even offering a unique promo code to each individual so you can see who specifically converted.

Here at Mailjoy, we see a lot of unique postcards being created and mailed each day. Many of the best designs follow these strategies. If you’d like feedback on your next postcard design, feel free to reach out and say hi. We love postcards!