To Letter or Not to Letter, That Is the Question

There are many, many times when we get asked, “Is sending a letter better?” With the fast paced world now, many people are worried that a letter will go unread, so sending a postcard would be better. Here I will attempt to answer that question, beyond just, “Well … it depends.”

There are many, many times when we get asked, “Is sending a letter better?” With the fast paced world now, many people are worried that a letter will go unread, so sending a postcard would be better. Here I will attempt to answer that question, beyond just, “Well … it depends.” So let’s take the time to examine letters and self-mailers/postcards, keeping in mind that there really is the option that it may depend.

So let’s dig in. You may be tempted to say that postcards would be best as they are by far the cheapest and easier for the recipient to read. However, we need to look beyond the cost to produce. Yes, an envelope with a matching letter is going to cost you more money to send out. The funny thing about that is, it may not be a bad thing after all. We have found that recipients spend less time looking at the postcards and self-mailers. They are immediately identified as advertising. A well thought out and targeted personalized letter may provide you with more responses.

Benefits of a letter:

  • A letter is a little sneakier since it does not announce itself as an advertisement
  • Chance to provide more information about your product or service since you are not limited on space
  • Provide a reply device
  • Provide a brochure to keep or show others

Benefits of a Postcard/Self-mailer:

  • Catch the eye with images
  • Easy to understand with little effort on the part of the recipient
  • Cheaper, so more cost effective

In order to find out which is right for you, it is best to test your list. Split your list and send some people personalized postcards or self-mailers and the rest a personalized letter in an envelope. The key factor in what works for you is your audience. You need to find the best fit for them. What works well for your competitor may not indicate what works well for you. Track your responses to see what works best.

I have heard many people say that the younger generation is not going to read a letter so send them a postcard or a self-mailer. Well, while it may be true that the younger generation is not reading the whole letter, they are reading enough of it to get the point. Make sure that you have bold words, bullet points and a strong PS. This is what they are looking at as they skim the letter. Give a letter a try if you have not done so before, you may be surprised by your results.

In summary, postcards, self-mailers and letters are all good ways to market your company with direct mail. Each one has pros and cons. Test, test, test to see how your audience responds. Knowing who responds to what can help you provide direct mail your recipients want to receive. Assume nothing, test, track and test some more. See how creative you can get.

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

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