Envelope or Postcard? Which Format Works Best?

Direct mail is a powerful tool, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. There are different formats, and there are pros and cons to each. Let’s look at some differences between the two most popular formats: envelopes and postcards.

Why a Postcard?

  1. Postcards are inexpensive. These powerful mini billboards pack a powerful punch in a small space. Write concisely and use bullets, images, and graphics to tell your story.
  2. Postcards are quick and easy to send. Because of their simple format, postcards can be produced very quickly and require little lead time. They are great for spontaneous offers.
  3. Your message gets through faster. Because postcards don’t require the recipient to open an envelope before seeing your message, recipients immediately see the basics of your offer.
  4. They enable high-quality colors and special finishes. Most envelopes are black-and-white, making a full-color postcard stand out quickly. You can also use special finishes such as spot or gloss coatings not available for thinner papers.
  5. They make great follow-ups and reminders. A well-produced postcard can boost response rates to other campaigns, whether digital or print. If someone doesn’t respond to an email, nudge them with a postcard. It only takes a glance to be reminded of a renewal deadline, an upcoming appointment, or an expiring offer.

Why an Envelope?

Envelopes cost more to produce and mail than postcards, and lead times are generally longer. But there are some significant advantages to them, as well.

  1. More detail and better storytelling. The typical envelope mailing contains an outer envelope, letter, brochure, optional lift note, and reply card. A letter alone can convey much more information than a postcard, and using multiple elements within the envelope gives recipients an even deeper look.
  2. Readers are more engaged. Opening the envelope, in itself, creates a level of engagement not present with postcards. Once they choose to open the envelope, recipients are already more invested in your message.
  3. The mailing feels more personal. Envelopes inherently seem more personal than postcards, primarily when you use real stamps.
  4. You can offer greater privacy and confidentiality. Buyers love their privacy. Envelopes protect their personal information and provide confidentiality.

Be sure to test each format with different campaign goals. You can think you’ve got your usage right, but the proof is in the testing.