ASK THE EXPERT: Printed Holiday Cards or Digital Holiday Cards?

As we get deeper into the holiday season, many businesses are wondering whether the tradition of sending printed holiday cards is still relevant or if digital cards are the new norm. 

Up until a few years ago, here’s how companies dealt with holiday cards: 1) designate a person, or team, to create or choose a card; 2) write a message; 3) put together a customer/client mailing list; 4) deliver via postal mail. Today, we have a myriad of options including e-cards or multimedia messages delivered either by email or using social media. 

So, what kind of holiday card should you send? It isn’t as straightforward as you’d think. There are pros and cons to both holiday e-cards and printed cards. Ultimately, the decision will hinge on what is best for your business, and more important, your clients or customers. 

Pros of digital holiday cards: 

There are many advantages to spreading the holiday cheer digitally. 

  • Ease of reach- With the advent of COVID-19, it’s almost guaranteed that all your clients are online and active. Easily reach them with a holiday message through email. 
  • Budget friendly- You won’t have to worry about the price of card stock, envelopes, postage, and the like. E-cards cost a fraction of printed holiday cards. 
  • Environmentally friendly- Going the digital route means less paper, and less paper is always better for our environment. 
  • Streamlined approach- Platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact make it easier to send out emails to a long list of people without the added headache. They can even remove duplicates from your list if it goes unnoticed to the human eye. 
  • Data- Unlike guessing whether or not your client opened your printed holiday card, using a platform like the ones mentioned before can provide you with the information on data points like open rates. This can be good data to leverage for future email campaigns.
  • Added Creativity- Don’t forget that e-cards can provide you with the opportunity to be creative in a way that printed cards cannot. Picture a holiday video message in your e-card when your clients click it open. Don’t hesitate to capitalize on these benefits.

Cons of digital cards:

While e-cards may boast benefits like being budget-friendly and streamlined, they are not without their drawbacks.

  • Impersonal- E-cards don’t have the personal touch of a handwritten note or signature. Depending on the content of your holiday message, this may go a long way. 
  • Email to Spam- Email servers may block your e-card marking it as spam depending on the language in your text. This is extremely problematic since your client may never get your message if it’s stuck in spam.

Pros of printed holiday cards:

Although e-cards are a favorite among many businesses, printed cards remain undefeated in some spaces. 

  • Personal touch- There’s nothing like receiving a handwritten card in the mail during the holiday season. You can liken it to a holiday “gift” for your client.
  • Tangible creativity- While you may not be able to easily include a holiday video message like an e-card, you can include little trinkets with your printed card to highlight your appreciation for your client. Consider personalizing the accompanying gift to truly make your client feel special.
  • Stand out from the crowd- Many businesses are going the digital route with their holiday cards. That means mailing a holiday card in the digital age will help you stand out.

Cons of printed cards:

Printed holiday cards have their drawbacks too.

  • Pricey- Printing a holiday card will cost you significantly more than sending an e-card. Consider the cost of mail these days. 
  • Time consuming- Consider the time it takes to personalize each card, identify mailing addresses, print, mail, and so on. This might not be challenging if you have 20 clients, but perhaps it is with 250+.
  • Delivery issues- You’ll have to make sure you have the right mailing address for your client and make sure you address it to the right person. Plus, you can only hope the card gets there on time and not when people are already on holiday leave. This does not even begin to consider clients working remotely and the best location to mail their holiday cards.

As you can see, deciding whether to go the e-card route or the printed card route this holiday season isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Both have their benefits and their pitfalls. In a perfect world, we recommend doing both. But, if a choice must be made, consider the pros and cons above to help with final decision making. 

Written by: Amber P. Lewis, Executive Advisor (Public Relations & Marketing), The Strategy Group