The US Postal Service detractors will tell you no one sends letters anymore and there are some businesses that are buying into that fallacy. But there are still many effective ways to use mailers and postcards for your business. Here are a few:

Coupons
Sure, a lot of coupons are sent online these days but postcard coupons and mailers still convert. In fact, the Direct Mail Association found that the household response rate for direct mail was 5.1%, which might seem kind of low. But compare it to email (.6%) or social media (.4%), that’s pretty impressive. Another impressive thing is that the response rate of 5.1% for direct mail is the highest it’s been since the Response Rate Report came out in 2003.

The other benefit for your business of coupons is that you can very easily track return on investment. As the customer presents you with the coupon, you know where the traffic is coming from, aka the referral source. When it comes to online or social media, that can be harder unless you use specific codes or customized URL shorteners for each platform or ad.

“Thank You for Your Business” Notes
If you’re like most people, it’s rare to receive a meaningful piece of mail. So when you get something that’s not spam, it makes an impression. Use this medium to send thank you cards for the customer’s patronage. You can offer them a coupon code or simply thank them for their loyalty.

You can also tell them about new offerings or products in your business or other news that will mean something to them. The key here is them. Don’t make the news about what you want them to know. Tell them what they need to know that will help or inspire them.

Postcard Announcements
If you have something to announce like a new location or new hours, send a postcard in addition to all of the other ways you are marketing and getting the word out. Some people tend to hold onto paper better than they will an email. If you want to make an impression, send a postcard.

Welcome to the Neighborhood
If you sell something or provide a service that someone who is new to town might need, consider sending a welcome postcard with a coupon code. Invite them for a free tour or consultation but one word of caution. Don’t send it as soon as they move in. Give them some time to settle in, then send it. It’s less likely to get lost.

To “Pitch” a New Area
If you’re opening a new location, you can use postcards to branch out into a new zip code. It’s easy to isolate areas that way. Again, invite them in with a discount or special offer.

Event Reminder
Hosting a fun event? Send a paper reminder. It’s easier to catch their attention with a fun postcard than an email among the sea of emails. (The average person receives 121 emails during the course of the day.)

We Miss You Postcards
If it’s been a while since you last saw them, invite them in. This is one of the few times a discount code or coupon is inadvisable. If you set that precedent, they will simply wait to receive your incentive each time. Instead, give them a reason to come back by telling them more of what they like. If you have customer management software, you’ve tracked their buying history. You can personalize a postcard for their interests based on their past behavior.

As effective as direct mail is, it is only part of the marketing solution. Always think of your marketing activities as spokes protruding from the center of a wheel. All are necessary and all must be balanced for best performance.