How to Design a Postcard That Sells

Postcard marketing has the potential to boost your sales, increase your number of repeat customers, and improve your brand awareness—but to maximize your marketing potential, it starts with a solid strategy and strong design.

Read on to learn more about designing a postcard that sells.

Effective Postcard Design Strategy

When creating a postcard for your company, you’ll find strategies that work well for your other advertising efforts—think website copy or social media ads—can be effective with direct mail here as well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Stay True to Your Brand - Before embarking on any marketing initiative, it’s critical to get your branding guidelines in order. What logo, colors, font, and voice represent your company? Choose words and images that are authentically you.

Consistency is key to building brand awareness, establishing trust, shaping perceptions, and maximizing impact. Ensure your branding elements are applied across all your online and offline marketing initiatives so every touchpoint feels familiar to your customer or prospect.

Personalize Your Piece - Savvy marketers know that people’s favorite word to hear and see is their own name, and using it can increase engagement.

Social media ads and website copy don’t offer the ability for 1-1 personalization, but MailSnail does! Full names (rather than "Current Resident") are automatically used in the address box. Plus, go even further by using merge fields to greet the recipient by their first name in the actual message on the card. 

Stand Out - With overloaded email inboxes, you might be lucky to get a recipient to simply read your subject line. Postcards give you the freedom to get creative by putting your marketing message directly in their hands. 

Combine personalization with a bold and striking design to engage the recipient and leave a lasting impression. You can also select oversized cards such as 6"x9" or 6"x11" to stand out even further.

Keep It Simple - Attention spans are short, so when it comes to advertising, simple is effective. Postcards cluttered with images or text make it easy for customers to miss your main message.

Ruthlessly cut out any unnecessary words and create a layout that makes it easy to process with a glance.

Have a Clear Call to Action - When designing your postcard (or any marketing piece), ask yourself, “what is the number one thing I want the recipient to do?” Your call to action should be prominent and specific, so the customer isn't left wondering what to do next. 

For example, if your goal is to sell more graphic tees, there should be a prominent, clear message such as “Come back today to get 20% off your next graphic tee!” Clear calls to action are crucial for motivating customers to take your intended action.

Don’t Forget Your Contact Information - This may seem obvious, but it’s so simple that it can actually be easy to forget. If you want your postcard recipients to visit your website or call your company, make it blatantly obvious how. Include your website URL, phone number, or any other information they need to reach you.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread - Nothing kills a brand’s credibility like typos/misspellings or poor grammar. Get a few different people to review your design to catch any errors before starting your campaign.

Technical Aspects of Postcard Design

Once you have a sound strategy, there are also a few technical aspects unique to postcard design to keep in mind. 

Get in the Zone - Bleed zone and safe zone, that is. 

The provide some buffer to account for tiny fluctuations in how cards may be cut when coming out of the printer.

The bleed zone refers to extending the border of your design just beyond your postcard size to ensure no white edges appear on a postcard trimmed just outside the guideline.

All text and important elements should fall within the safe zone to ensure nothing gets cut off in case the trim is slightly inside the guideline.

For example, the file of your 4x6 postcard design should actually be 4.25” x 6.25” to accommodate for the bleed zone. Additionally, all copy and important photos should fall within the safe zone of 3.875” x 5.875.”

Also remember to take the address block and postage stamp into account on the back of your card. You can (and should) still personalize both sides, but be sure to leave room for those must-have elements.

Avoid the Blur - Have you ever seen print advertising that included a blurry photo? Fuzzy photos can create negative impression of your brand, so it’s important to understand how to avoid this.

Every image is made up of a certain number of dots per inch, commonly known as DPI. On your website, an image only needs 75 DPI to show up crystal clear. However, 300 DPI is typically recommended for print (though in some cases, 150 DPI will work). 

A pixel calculator such as this one can be helpful in choosing an image that looks as clear on paper as it does on your computer screen.

If you already have an image you’d like to use, the top section of the calculator can tell you how big you can make that image while still preserving your preferred DPI. In the bottom section, you can work backwards. Simply input the size (in inches) and DPI you need, and the calculator will tell you the image size (in pixels) that you need.

You can always view a proof or send yourself a sample card if you want to see how it looks.

Start Designing Your First Postcard for Free

Are you ready to design a postcard that sells? Click here to get started with MailSnail for free. If you’d like more information about the technical aspects of postcard design, don’t miss our print design guidelines on everything you need to know before designing the perfect postcard with MailSnail.