Even the best and brightest marketing copywriters must take inspiration from somewhere. If you’re looking for direct mail examples to add to your swipe file, you’ve come to the right place.
Wait? Let’s back up. What’s a swipe file?
If you’re new to the creative side, you might not be familiar with the jargon. A swipe file is where efficient copywriters stash ideas—think screenshots of successful marketing postcards, headlines, imagery and copy. This way, writers and designers don’t have to start from scratch on every direct mail project. They’ve got a nest egg of marketing postcard ideas at the ready whenever their creativity needs a boost.
Unfortunately for creatives, it can be hard to find good direct mail examples to swipe. It’s not that there isn’t high-performing direct mail out there, but that the volume isn’t quite that of e-mail or digital ads. Plus, it’s just not as easy to find (or bookmark) great postcard examples as it is, say, social media ads. (This is why we just shared 3 direct mail marketing examples with Sumo’s audience this week).
If you want to stockpile direct mail examples, we suggest starting with your own mailbox. Take pictures of any compelling direct mail postcards you receive, and add them to your swipe file (ideally jotting down a couple notes about what you like as you go). If you work on a team, have your colleagues do the same, as they should receive different marketing postcards than you, assuming they’re receiving data-driven, personalized direct mail.
While you’re anxiously awaiting the mail carrier, I’ll give you something to jumpstart your direct mail swipe file. I’m going to let you take a sneak peek at my file. Below, I’m sharing 5 postcard examples I just swiped. (Make sure to read past the direct mail examples to see my common gripe about all five postcards).
Direct Mail Ideas in My Swipe File
1. Friends and Family Promotion Postcard Idea
This postcard stood out in my mail pile in a major way. The aspirational imagery is stunning, and the 5×7 postcard size ensures I won’t miss taking a glance (and setting this aside to cash in on the 20% off offer). I also love that the back of the postcard provides brief, but thorough, information about each of the retailer’s departments. While I am a regular Rejuvenation customer, I exclusively purchase niche light bulbs for antique light fixtures from the retailer. I’ve never dabbled in their other offerings. But after one quick glance at this postcard, I found myself thinking about all of the things I could buy during their friends and family sale. This is a solid direct mail example to swipe for any promotion.
What I don’t like: The friends and family promotion lasts only one week, as listed on the postcard reverse in the fine print. While a short-lived promotion instills urgency, I predict Rejuvenation will lose a few sales from people who set the postcard aside, going back to it a week or so later hoping to redeem it. I would either lengthen the redemption period, or include the deadline on the front.
2. Re-engagement Direct Mail Example
I assume that this is a triggered re-engagement or cart abandonment postcard, as I have not placed an order from Patagonia in a long time, but I have been browsing the site. Based on that assumption, I love this postcard example! Triggering a postcard to someone who is interested but hasn’t made it through the check-out yet is a highly effective postcard automation. Even better, the postcard offers 15% off—which is exactly the nudge I need to make a purchase.
What I don’t like: This postcard could be better customized for individual recipients. You see, I’m not much of a camper. My purchase and browse history would show that I exclusively shop Patagonia for their carseat-friendly children’s outerwear. Patagonia’s marketers could draw me in by showing the winter toddler collection rather than a campsite. Using Inkit’s postcard builder in sync with a CRM, Patagonia’s marketers could better ensure postcard design and copy matches each recipient’s interests.
3. Welcome Postcard Example
This large direct mail example from Freshly Cut barbershop has a great look that drew me in to read the copy. While I don’t need a barber, I set this postcard aside to let my husband know about this neighborhood shop. The images and copy establish a strong brand that echoes the tagline: “Traditional Barbers with a New Age Look.” I love that they included a photo of a child getting a haircut, as there is surely a market of parents looking for barbers who are good with children. The $5 off coupon (plus a standing discount for members of the military, seniors and children) tops of this friendly, welcome postcard. This postcard does a good job of aiming to acquire new customers (with the coupon), and of spreading brand awareness and goodwill. I can’t think of much, if anything, I would improve on this postcard.
4. Cross-Channel New Customer Acquisition Postcard Idea
I’ve seen a ton of ads from Third Love lately. Apparently, I’m on their list. They’re hitting me up on Facebook and Instagram, and now in my mailbox. I appreciate a marketer with cross-channel chops. And, of course if I make a purchase from them and share my email, they’ll soon try to reach me there. This is a great postcard that actually folds out into a brochure to introduce me to the brand. I was never interested in clicking on the social media ads, but this direct mail piece brought me in. Now, I know exactly what this retailer is all about, and even if I don’t make a purchase (but I might, because hey, 15% off!) it’s on my radar to recommend to friends.
5. General Marketing/Branding Direct Mail Idea
As a parent, I instantly saw the image of someone sleeping and thought “Wow, that looks nice. I remember those nights.”
This postcard example from Casper has nice, simple imagery, clean lines and strong branding. I love the phrase “award-winning comfort” in the headline, and the subheading which acts as a CTA to get me online or into the store. The discount code, listed at the bottom, still packs enough punch to stand out without overwhelming the clean, serene look. Like ThirdLove’s postcard, this one also opens up into a small brochure to give me a strong feel for the brand.
What I don’t like: The CTA lists the retailer’s homepage, but I would probably set up a landing page specific to the mailer in order to track campaign performance. While the discount code is probably unique to the postcard, this will only allow Casper to track redemption rate. With a unique landing page (such as Casper.com/mail for example), Casper could track how well the postcard engages people, which is a very important metric to analyze. A failure to use a trackable URL is actually an issue on many of these postcards, but Casper’s is noteworthy as it is in the CTA. Often, direct mail shouldn’t be just about sales. Direct mail is a strong vehicle for driving offline consumers into an online sales funnel.
Finally, All 5 Direct Mail Examples Lack…
Personalization! Ahhhh! As mentioned above, there is a lot to like about all of these direct mail examples. I would venture to guess that, assuming these are all well targeted, all of these postcards will net strong response rates. However, not one of these campaigns includes postcard personalization!
Personalizing direct mail is very easy and this can significantly improve your campaign results. Using Inkit’s postcard builder, you can use dynamic content insertion to customize postcards with any fields you provide in our system. Even better, integrate Inkit with your CRM to personalize postcards just like email.
So, when you add these direct mail ideas to your swipe file, make sure to make a note: “*will personalize!”
Need a few more marketing postcard examples? Check out our piece for Sumo where we share 3 more direct mail examples as well as in-depth case studies. If you’re feeling inspired and want to start building out your postcard ideas now, get a demo of our easy-to-use postcard software.