10 Ways to Make Your E-mail Postcard Campaign More Effective

You’ve invested in a nice postcard that you physically send to leads and prospects, and you’ve realized you want to use it in an e-mail marketing campaign. Even without the original artwork, it’s a fairly simple matter with a scanner to produce a nice .png file, resize it to 600px or less, and include it in an e-mail blast. There are some things that can make your e-mail postcard campaign more effective:

#1: Use a Familiar Heads Up:Remind recipients of why they’re getting the e-mail by reference to how you got their lead, and do it with thanks: “We want to thank you for attending…” “We appreciated you registering at…” “We feel lucky that you expressed…” The thanks makes it harder for people to respond negatively. You can use a different color or highlighting of this sentence to make sure they see it first.

#2 No Pants Down: If the postcard you’re sending is a scanned image, not pure text that you can copy/paste as text into Notepad, most e-mail systems no longer automatically display the image. If recipients don’t notice the little button in their e-mail software to display it, it could be missed. The image “alternate text” or placeholder text in html format e-mail blasts will occupy the place of the image in the meantime. Don’t let the placeholder text be the image file name like newest-pitch.jpg or latest-marketing-message.gif. Instead, set the alternate text of the image to say something like “Click Display/Show Images in your e-mail software to see the newest…”

#3 Overcome Image Resistance: Make it possible to see all written content even if they don’t click “display images” or “show images” in their e-mail software. You can do this by simply reproducing any text on the image entirely as text (e.g. below where the postcard would appear in the e-mail). If the postcard says “An unplanned estate is an uncertain future, call 555-1216 now for a free consultation” then put that same text as text below the image.

#4 Be New (each time): Add value when sending a postcard by saying there is something new that can simplify or streamline things for the recipient – save time or money – make life easier, etc. Don’t let them treat it as if you’re just sending out another business card. That’s like applying for your own job and has about as much return potential (not zero, of course) as blanketing a city with resumes. We have critical mass now of services and products being “offered” – and just the fact that you exist and provide something is not enough anymore (hasn’t been) to create a rush. Wow, you mean I can get accounting services in Charleston? Wow, there are lawyers in Philadelphia, and they can take my business? Add value beyond telling someone of your existence and list of services – and try to avoid fluff. Get to the heart of the matter – then you’re ready to send.

#5 Be Counterintuitive: Actually *feature* the unsubscribe link. Instead of making it tiny and hard to find, put some verbiage in front of it like “Don’t want this e-mail? We understand!” or “You can drop us any time, but we promise not to overfill your inbox.” Make the text obvious – maybe a different color. Make it easier to find the unsubscribe link, by possibly increasing the font. The reasoning is this – most web-based e-mail providers – like G-Mail – provide a “SPAM” button. A lot of recipients don’t understand this is a declaration that they *never* gave you their e-mail address. Too many SPAM declarations can get your e-mail marketing banned. You would much rather have people opt-out using e-mail marketing software that tracks opt-outs and doesn’t let you send to that person again, than have them hit that SPAM button.

#6 Be Social: Include your social media links in the e-mail. It’s amazing that people still send out postcards and flyers and e-mails without ever offering a way for an ongoing connection. That means you miss all those people who aren’t ready to act exactly on the moment they open the e-mail, but will soon forget they even received it as their day progresses. This is especially true of people with smart phones who maybe notice their 5 most recent messages if you’re lucky. Why throw away the opportunity to keep people in your orbit by not giving them a way to socially connect to you, and revisit it later – which could be later in the day, the week, month, or year, besides the referral value? It’s almost like sending a postcard with your address and phone number but no e-mail. It’s very horse and buggy. Update or see increasingly smaller returns on your e-mail marketing.

#7 Be Catchy not Fluffy Wuffy: Have one summary line that works really well as the subject line of the e-mail. Something that describes in one phrase the essence of the value you’re providing. It can be a little sentimental and warm without being utter fluff. Above all, it has to make sense. If recipients have to click to understand, it has to be a really good teaser, or most won’t. If it’s too sales-ish, it’s not like the don’t get enough ads already.

#8 Be Familiar: Make the “From” information they see before opening the e-mail something they recognize and see value in. A lot of people won’t open e-mail if they don’t know who it’s from or recognize where they would have agreed to receive it. A gentle reminder in the form of your company name or credentials may help. If you’re John Doe – an accountant at Rigsby Accounting, maybe it should be John Doe CPA, or John Doe, Rigsby Accounting, or even John at Rigsby Accounting.

#9 Be Sure to Fit In: To fit most devices, try to keep the width of the e-mail and images to 600px (600 pixels) or less and don’t send enormous physical image sizes. *Physically* resize images *before* you add them to the e-mail. Virtually resizing an image is where you just drag it smaller in the e-mail campaign before you send. That doesn’t make it physically smaller and, if the image is quite large physically, it can take a long time to download (*especially to a phone!*) which can be frustrating to the recipient. Smaller actual physical dimensions for images means smaller file sizes for those images, and that means faster image handling on the recipient’s end, especially with a lot of dodgy phone internet connections. 600px will usually keep all but the lamest phones from having to scroll left to right in order to read your postcard. Common image formats are .jpg, .gif, and .png. We like .png, because we get small, fast-loading images with no quality loss. Gif is good if the original image quality is high. JPG can be a little blurry or pixelated if the image contains text. But any of these will do if you keep it small.

#10 Be Upstanding: We didn’t put this first, because while it’s silly not to stay within the bounds of the law, that’s primarily a legal concern for your business, not a marketing one per se. Still, the CAN SPAM Act says you need to use e-mail marketing tools that provide an opt-out method. You need to include your physical address in the e-mail. If it’s an ad or solicitation, instead of a newsletter or blog article. the e-mail has to say that somewhere. It has to have a valid, working reply-to address if the recipient hits “reply” to the e-mail. It can’t have a misleading subject line like “I’ve been trying to call you” or misleading content like links that purport to offer free information and then take them to a checkout cart. And no spoofing or misleading transmission info – meaning you can’t pretend the e-mail is from something or someone it isn’t, like a government agency if you’re not a government agency. Buying lists may be iffy, if they didn’t opt-in specifically to *your* e-mails, even if they did agree to receive e-mails from someone’s “parters” – because if recipients later opt-out from that original source, it doesn’t automatically remove them from the list you’ve already purchased. Check with your company’s attorney about the current state of the case law before risking your wealth and reputation. We’re not attorneys and this summary is just an amateur reading of the law, but you’ll find a summary by attorneys here if you like. For anything iffy, especially if you’re in a highly regulated industry, pay the attorney for the hour and get legal advice.

A postcard is the simplest, lowest overhead type of e-mail marketing, because you’re just adapting a print medium to another medium (e-mail). It can deliver a lot of bang for the buck if you have a good contact list, use good e-mail marketing tools, and keep the above suggestions in mind.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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