Design an effective postcard

Last week I went over “How to improve your direct mail response rates and earn more!”, and that there are three elements that you should consider the list, the design and the offer. Now that we have covered the importance of your mailing list; let’s take a look at design…


How important is the design? Your direct mail postcard must grab attention within 2 seconds or your card could end up in the trash pile.  Now that you have sent your card to the correct person let’s make sure your prospect chooses the save pile.  Our talented design team receives many requests from our customers to spruce up the design but rarely consider these factors:

1) The Perfect Headline

Your card must demand attention!  Your prospects are bombarded on a daily basis with all sorts of media, all requesting attention from people who have shorter and shorter attention spans.  Postcards give you an advantage because they are “ready to read” but what will make your direct mail postcard stand out from the rest?, A perfect headline.  Your headline is the first and may be the only impression you can make on your prospective reader. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the remaining copy.

Headline ideas: Consider asking a questions that start with phrases like “Did you know”, “Who else wants x”, or use something enticing like “the secret of x”, little known ways to x”, “Here’s a quick way to x”, “What everyone should know about x”

2) Pick the right image

Want to grab attention and avoid the trash bin?  Find the right picture!  A picture is worth a thousand words and thousands of marketing dollars.  The picture tells the story, grabs attention, draws emotion, etc. imageMEDIA has a huge library of images that we offer at no cost to our clients, we also direct our clients to image providers like

3) Brand and Color

Brand equity and color scheme is important, especially as you target the same prospect multiple times.  Keep it simple and stick with just a few colors that support your brand.  Remember that you only have a couple seconds to grab the attention of your reader and a clean straight to the point design will help.

4) Call To Action

An effective direct mail postcard design must embrace the Call to Action. Now that you have caught the prospect’s attention with your perfect headline, eye catching pics, and good choice of color, make sure you always tell the reader what to do with the postcard.  This will also support your offer.  Example:  “Bring this card in by x date and get a free x”, Call today and receive 20% off your first order” or “use promo code xxxx and get 10% off!, etc.

5) Use the back

We recommend that use the front to grab attention and the back to be informative.  Use the back to get more detailed about what you are offering.  Don’t forget to leave room for the addressing area.  Check out our postcard card design templates.

Other design tips to keep in mind.

  • Make sure your designing in CMYK color mode, 8 bit
  • Text must be 1/8th inch inside of the cut line on all sides
  • Be sure you use pictures that are high resolution (300 dpi or higher)
  • Avoid using borders if you can, if needed make sure they are ¼ inch inside
  • Black backgrounds = Rich Black = C:50% / M:40% / Y:40%/ K:100%
  • Fonts must be outlined
  • Flatten all Layers

I hope you find this information helpful in order to design an effective postcard and achieve higher response rates. Next week we will look at how the offer impacts response rates for direct mail postcards.

Remember,  Keep working Direct Mail and Direct Mail will work for you…