Don’t abandon direct mail campaigns — they’re extremely effective, even in the digital age, according to an annual Household Diary study conducted by the U.S. Postal Service. Even young people respond to printed material. An ExactTarget study found that 76 percent of surveyed young people said they’d make a purchase based on something they received in the mail.

Postcards are attractive and effective forms of direct mail because they are eye-catching and inexpensive. Your message is also more likely to be read. Customize postcards to meet your budget needs, and choose the color, size, finish, and other features that will optimize your marketing goals. While making monetary and creative decisions about postcard features, check out the pros and cons.

Bright & Bold Colors

Pro: Bright colors catch people’s attention and make them more likely to pick up the postcard and read the message.

Con: Too many vibrant and bold hues can look cheap and garish. If the text is printed in a hard-to-read color (e.g. neon), people won’t take the time to decipher the message and toss it in the trash unread.

Tip: Use a strong, but limited, color scheme to create a postcard that attracts attention for your company and easily communicates with consumers.

Non-Standard Size & Unique Design

Pro: Using a large or unusually shaped postcard will catch the eye of the recipient. If you have great artwork on the front, the recipient may be more likely to save your postcard or pin it on a bulletin board as decor.

Con: Unusual sizes and shapes can increase postage costs.

Tip: Increase the size of the postcard and use an elaborate design on high-profile campaigns worth the splurge.

Two-Sided Printing

Pro: Two-sided postcard printing provides extra space for details and more information.

Con: Postcard recipients will not always turn over postcards and could miss an important detail on the back.

Tip: Use a striking graphic with minimal text on the front of the card to arouse people’s curiosity. Include a cue to encourage them to turn the card over and read the other side.

QR Codes

Pro: Including QR codes on your postcard invites recipients to access your website or social media page where a consumer can learn more.

Con: People who don’t have smartphones cannot use the QR codes.

Tip: If you use QR codes, make sure you also print your website or social media URL on the postcard so that you don’t exclude anyone.

Tear-Off Stubs

Pro: Use perforated tear-off stubs on your postcards to serve as coupons, surveys and requests for more information. Special discounts can increase responses to your marketing campaign.

Con: Printing cards with tear-off stubs can be costly.

Tip: If you are planning a large marketing campaign, test a batch of postcards with tear-off stubs and compare the response rates to what you receive from postcards without the stubs.

Glossy Finish

Pro: A shiny glossy looks professional and makes your graphics “pop.”

Con: A matte finish is better for reading text. Matte finishes also create a more conservative image.

Tip: Try using a combination of glossy and matte finishes in your cards for a contrasting, yet aesthetically pleasing effect.