It’s Holiday Card season! But my hand hurts just thinking about addressing all those envelopes, and I can’t remember the last time I bought stamps…let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Fortunately, I happen to work for a company that sends direct mail programmatically. Many developers integrate with Lob using one of our SDKs in their preferred programming language, but we recently launched our low-code Campaigns and I thought I’d give it a whirl.
The following is a step-by-step tutorial so you too can create your own full-color 6”x9” holiday postcard (to be printed and mailed by Lob) for under a dollar each.
Here is a sample of the card we will create.
Choose two of your favorite photos: one landscape (for the front), one portrait (for the back). Use your photo editing tool of choice to format each correctly; I used Preview on my Mac.
To ensure they print at the highest quality they should be :
(If you are snagging photos from your iPhone, see the Appendix for a cheat sheet.)
Label each clearly FRONT and BACK. You will then need to host your images somewhere; I used a free account at imgbb.com.
1. You will then need to snag the HTML for the front and back of the postcard (we’ll use it in a later step).
2. Next, you will prep your address data. Make a copy of this spreadsheet and input your data:
3. Download your address file as a .csv.
Now you are ready to create your postcards in the Lob dashboard.
1. First, you will need to sign up for a free Lob account.
2. Once you have registered you will be taken to the dashboard. In the Developer tier there is no cost to test out the Print & Mail APIs, but if you want to send live requests—and have a postcard printed and mailed—it will currently run you $0.896 a postcard (inclusive of printing and postage). Payment information will need to be entered here: Your name (top right) -> Settings -> Payment
3. Create & save HTML templates for the Front and Back of your postcard
** Make sure you see both templates are listed when Live is highlighted before proceeding.**
On the left menu bar, navigate to Campaigns; click on “Create Campaign”
1. Enter a Name and Description
2. Campaign Type: Marketing
3. Mail Type: Postcard; Size: 6x9
4. Postage references: Return address is not required; Select postage: Up to you, note the listed expected delivery times
5. Cancellation Window: This is set at 5 minutes; you will not have the option to edit on a Developer plan
6. Campaign-Level Metadata: Optional
1. Upload your CSV file (created during prep stages), or drag and drop it into the dashboard
2. Map required address variable: These are mapped automatically, click Next Step
1. Under ‘Postcard Front’, select the HTML Template you created from the dropdown menu (note the previews will not show your images or messages as they are not mapped yet)
2. Under ‘Postcard Back’, select the HTML Template you created from the dropdown menu (note the previews will not show your images or messages as they are not mapped yet)
3. Connect your creative to your audience:
If something is not correct, click ‘Previous Step’ to edit. The free Developer tier does not allow you to edit cancellation windows. That said, once you place your order, after 5 minutes, the live request will be sent to Lob; your postcards will be created and mailed, and you will be charged.
If all looks correct, click ‘Place Order’ and your holiday cards will be on their way! You can view your postcards under Campaigns or Postcards (Live) in the Lob dashboard.
Lob was started by two developers who needed to solve a problem, and direct mail APIs were the answer; the goal was to make sending mail just as easy as sending an email. This is a fun personal use case, but Lob is meant to automate direct mail—postcards, letters, checks, self-mailers, and more—at scale. Just like email, each mailpiece can be highly personalized, and automated. For advanced tiers, Mail Analytics is available for each mailpiece to track each postcard along its journey to delivery (and if you included a QR code, you could even track open rate). Contact us if you want to learn more.