Adding Triggered Postcards to Your Marketing Mix

Catalogs (and other forms of direct mail) generate a high ROI and have the staying power that digital lacks.  So how can digital marketers economically harness the focusing power of catalog and direct mail advertising for driving online sales efforts?

Hello Triggered Postcards…

While digital is great for capturing attention, direct mail wins for retaining and maintaining that attention.

So, what are “triggered” postcards?

Think about a digital drip campaign that “drips” content bit-by-bit or triggers an automated workflow or email sequence based on a customer’s actions (exiting the website, deleting, clicking but not converting, etc.).

Triggered postcards work almost like that. By connecting one’s direct mail or catalog strategy with technology, brands and businesses can opt for a more personalized, physical approach when coaxing the online shopper to return.

The triggered postcard might contain images of products the shopper may have already seen, possibly clicked through on, or it may offer suggestions for similar products. Besides benefitting from direct mail’s novelty in a digitally-saturated world, triggered postcards offer one more advantage — unlike email lists, where a potential customer must opt-in, postcards don’t have that same requirement.

Triggered postcards are mailed first class within 24 hours of the browse activity and reach the recipient within 3 to 5 days at most, if not earlier.

Businesses and brands are free to identify potential customers not already on their list and use triggered postcards to communicate with them, following up on abandoned carts or past purchase history.

The caveat, of course, is that triggered postcards must be used with specific intention. It’s not only that mailers present a greater upfront cost…it’s also that your efforts in targeting potential customers must be based on a shopper’s behavior.

If there are no behavioral signs of intent that this is a shopper who is far enough along the buyer’s journey or is motivated to buy, then your triggered postcard efforts will have lackluster results.

Make Direct Mail a Part of Your Contact Strategy

The efficacy of triggered postcards is twofold: First, they allow businesses and brands to send personalized communication that fulfills the “right message to the right person at the right time,” the golden trifecta of marketing.

Second, the content of triggered postcards is based on online browsing behavior and actions taken. So, a triggered postcard program can work to tailor content to a specific customer and be very customized.

Source: Unsplash

How to Use Triggered Postcards

Triggered postcards capture real-time, customer data in order to create a specific campaign. These are then executed during a specific period of time, when the customer’s attention is at its peak.

Since triggered postcards call for a marriage between direct mail strategy and automation technology, marketers will need to make sure that their backend systems are up to the task.

Once it is, however, marketers can generate direct mail pieces based on variables like multiple product pages viewed, time spent browsing on site, search terms, shopping cart behavior, and more.

Site viewers can then be “filtered” through a marketer’s own pre-determined business’s rules of which patterns and behaviors indicate an intent to purchase, which then triggers the sending of a postcard.

These “rules” can include variables like prior purchase, frequency capping, list suppression, geo-targeting, promotional A/B testing, etc.

Syncing Online and Offline Efforts

Let’s talk about LinkSoul and what their VP of Marketing had to say about catalogs and postcards in a January 2018 eCommerceFuel Podcast interview.

To integrate triggered postcards with their pre-existing marketing strategy, LinkSoul decided that their catalogs would be the “main thrust” of their direct mail and print efforts.

They employed testing and versioning, personalizing catalogs for men versus women, to generate interest and support online sales.


Once customers are online, LinkSoul uses triggered postcards to capitalize on a window of time where the customer is most primed to buy by placing in their hands what McGregor Button calls, “an offline display ad.”

If you come to the website and you leave without making a purchase, 24 hours later, we’re [going to] send you a postcard. And that can be tailored to, you know, have imagery from a category you were looking at, it can be targeted just like a display ad can…we’re using direct mail [in a way] that’s not just a static catalog that we’re sending to our buyers and to our prospects. — McGregor Button, LinkSoul

Clearly, LinkSoul’s catalog efforts, its “main thrust,” is just one part of the entire e-commerce marketing and outreach strategy. The key is not only to reach a wider audience or to generate quality leads, but tailor mailing efforts towards a more specific and primed-for-action audience.


Each component has its own key role: While the catalog builds brand loyalty and recognizability, inspiring shoppers to head online, the triggered postcard captures them at a time when their attention is focused and builds a link between an ephemeral action — digital browsing — and a physical call-to-action: the triggered postcard.

Behind LinkSoul’s success, however, is also a fair bit of testing. You’ll notice that even catalogs and triggered postcards need this for maximum efficacy.

While marketers are already familiar with this, they’ll have to be prepared to perform it over a period of time because the results may be surprising, overturning assumptions on their head.

When LinkSoul decided to swap their 52-page catalog for a smaller format, 8×10, 16-page mini catalog instead, the postage price was 40% less, but they found that the conversions were also significantly less.

“In the very recent tests that we ran, we actually found that it wasn’t worth it. We were better off sending the big book to our customers.”

LinkSoul has a great approach to their marketing efforts.  They are open to new ideas and always conduct tests to confirm performance.  At Hansel Group Marketing, we feel the same way.  We always recommend setting up a control group to monitor test results and validate your findings.  How can we help you today?