The Direct Mail Association (DMA) reports that 79% of households read or skim through their direct mail. In addition, response rates for direct mail have held steady over the past four years. This information secures direct mail’s status as a highly effective mode of marketing communication for generating a very positive ROI. This is good news for marketers. But if you are just slapping a stamp on a mail piece, you could be missing out on substantial postal discounts that can often cover the entire costs of printing and mailing.
Whether you prefer first class or bulk mail, USPS offers discounts on postage if you follow certain guidelines. Essentially, the less the USPS has to physically interact with your mail, the more savings that is passed on to you. A few simple modifications can make your direct mail piece “machinable”, which is post office terminology for being fully automated. By tweaking a few basic design characteristics, you can ensure that your direct mail campaign has benefited from optimum discounts.
1. Dimension and weight of the piece (postcard, self-mailer, letter, flats)
2. Design features
o Fold style/orientation (horizontal, vertical, bi-fold, quarter fold)
o Location of address block and address placement
3. Closure methods
o Tabs (wafer seals)
· Sizes (1, 1 ½, 2”)
· Quantity and placement (top, trail edge, lead edge)
o Glued (continuous glue lines or glue spots)
o Minimum of 500 pieces for first class (estimated 2 to 3 days for delivery)
o Minimum of 200 pieces for bulk (standard) mail (estimated 2 to 9 days for delivery)
Mail regulations can be complicated and often seem open for interpretation. For this reason, we recommend building a relationship with your bulk mail center. It is best to call ahead to find out the most convenient time to pay them a visit. Bring a sample of your mail piece and solicit their advice on the best way to achieve postal discounts. They will usually provide you with a “take home” package containing templates and other pertinent information.
To achieve even further discounts, it is best to partner with a direct mail house that has capabilities in both Intelligent Barcode, and postal/courier route presorts.