Postagram, the mobile app from Sincerely that turns your photos into postcards you can mail from your phone, just received its first big update in over a year, with the most notable change being the addition of free postcards. Previously, users would pay 99 cents to mail these personalized cards in the U.S., or $1.99 to ship worldwide, including the cost of postage. But now the company is introducing a set of free postcards, whose cost will be paid for through advertisements.
The first two partners in the deal are Coppertone and Hyatt House, which combined will offer Sincerely’s user base hundreds of thousands of free cards. These companies see the deal as a way to get their brand in front of consumers through direct mailings, except this time, instead of seeing their message immediately discarded in the trash, their ad is placed directly beside a personal photo and greeting from a family member or friend.
It’s the offline equivalent to what brands are doing today on popular photo-sharing networks like Instagram or Facebook, for example — co-opting user-generated content people enjoy viewing, in order to associate themselves with the same warm feeling such content provokes. Direct mailers have never really had the opportunity to do this before with users’ photos, outside of previous one-offs and experiments that Postagram has run before, such as the Bing-sponsored postcards at Sundance, or the tests with Gap last fall, for example, which were capped at around 20,000 cards per month.
But this time around, the plan is to continue to offer free, sponsored postcards in Postagram even after these first two brands max out their contractual requirements in terms of the number of cards offered.
“When you receive a Postagram in the mail, it’s such a joyous thing. We want everyone to be able to experience that,” explains Sincerely CEO Matt Brezina. “And these brands are saying they want to be a part of that emotional connection in the real world,” he adds. “This is a world they’re already used to — direct mail is a $14 billion dollar business, so they can kind of think of it in that bucket.”
In Hyatt House’s case, the company is putting printed Postagrams in 10,000 hotel rooms across 60 locations around the country, which will direct users to download the Postagram mobile app.
The nice thing about Postagram’s cards is that, though these new cards may be sponsored, recipients can still pop out the photo as always in order to save it before throwing out the card. And for those who really don’t want their cards bogged down by advertisements, the option to pay for Postagram’s traditional postcard is still available.
Brezina says he’s confident that Sincerely can continue to fill the pipeline with more postcard sponsors as they move forward, but for now the app will support only one ad-supported card at a time. Though deal terms can’t be disclosed, the revenue generated per card is about the same, except now Sincerely will also save on payment-processing fees.
In addition, as the startup is forging relationships with big-name companies, it may be able to further develop deals to bring similar options to its other applications, which include the greeting card app Sincerely Ink and mobile gifting service Sesame. “Those conversations are absolutely happening,” Brezina confirms.
The free postcards are launching first on iOS, with plans for Android support in the near future. Later on, the free postcard option will also be made available to Sincerely’s API partners, whose over 200 iOS photo applications have a combined reach of around 50 million consumers.
The updated Postagram app is live now, here in iTunes. The app also includes Sincerely’s new “Thoughtfulness Engine,” a recently added feature that helps remind users of upcoming birthdays and other special occasions.