Navigating the World of Postage

A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Options

When it comes to performance-driven direct mail, understanding the nuances of postage is essential for success and optimized ROI. From marketing mail to first class postage and everything in between, there are numerous postage options to consider.

So, whether you’re a novice getting ready to launch your first direct mail campaign or seeking confirmation on your current choices, this blog will help demystify the various types of postage and enhance your postage savings and optimization.

Defining the Different Types of Postage

When it comes to direct mail, there are two main postage types that require consideration: marketing mail and first-class mail.

Marketing mail is commonly used for bulk mailings of advertising materials, giving businesses and organizations a way to send non-urgent, promotional, and informational materials to a large audience at discounted rates.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that marketing mail consists of two primary types: non-profit mail and standard mail. Non-profit mail is used by organizations holding tax-exempt status like charities, religious groups, and educational institutions, aiming to raise awareness, garner support, or advocate for a cause. In contrast, standard marketing mail refers to promotional material sent by other businesses to potential customers, often highlighting products, services, or special offers to drive sales and foster brand loyalty.

First-class mail, on the other hand, offers expedited delivery for letters and postcards, with a discounted option called presort first-class that streamlines processing by bundling first-class mail by zip code, ensuring prompt delivery without compromising on quality.

Understanding Timelines and Strategies

Understanding timelines and predicting in-home dates is crucial for direct mail campaigns. For example, if you’re sending postcards with coupons or letters with urgent announcements, opting for first-class postage ensures prompt delivery, capturing your audience’s attention when it matters most.

General timelines to keep in mind when selecting postage types include:

  • Standard Marketing Mail: 5-14 business days
  • Non-Profit Marketing Mail: up to 20 business days
  • First Class Mail (including presort first class): 3-5 business days

However, it’s important to remember that packages take priority over letters, especially during peak seasons, where ideal in-home dates significantly affect campaign effectiveness. As a rule of thumb, starting November 1st, switching to first-class postage is advisable to ensure timely delivery, while tax season represents another busy period requiring careful consideration of postage options.

Postage Pricing Considerations

While direct mail is a powerful marketing tool, we know postage costs can be substantial. Selecting the correct postage and working with a direct mail partner that uses proven strategies like saturation, trucking, and co-mingling to lower postage costs are imperative, regardless of your marketing budget size.

Standard marketing mail typically costs $0.39 per piece for letters (prior to potential discounts), with non-profit organizations potentially benefiting from rates as low as $0.21 per piece (prior to potential discounts), provided they have a corresponding classification number registered with the post office.

In the realm of first-class mail, various postage options entail different pricing structures. Presort first class typically costs $0.58 per piece, but to qualify for this discounted rate, all print components such as mailing addresses and barcodes must be properly printed on the piece. Mail pieces using meter postage, which involves printing and timestamping the postage using a postage meter, incur a cost of $0.64 per piece. Conversely, first class mail with a stamp or indicia—a printed marking indicating prepaid postage—costs $0.68 per piece. 

Finally, first-class postcards that are 6”x9” or smaller mail at a lower rate of $0.39 per piece, making it a cost-effective, yet still impactful alternative.

Important Requirements to Keep in Mind

Each type of mail carries specific guidelines for postage requirements.

To qualify for marketing mail postage rates, USPS mandates a minimum of 200 pieces, though aiming for 250 allows for addressing inaccuracies and duplicates. Additionally, each piece can weigh up to three ounces before added postage fees are incurred.

For non-profit organizations, obtaining non-profit postage pricing needs registration and acquisition of a corresponding classification code from the postal service.

Finally, first-class presort pricing requires a minimum of 500 pieces, although we recommend 550 to accommodate inaccuracies, with each piece allowed to weigh up to three and a half ounces before incurring added fees.

Final Thoughts

Mastering the art of postage and cost-saving strategies can make or break your direct mail campaigns. By understanding the nuances of each postage choice and collaborating with direct mail experts like Strata to implement strategic approaches to timing and cost management, you can unlock the full potential of your campaigns and achieve impactful, performance-driven results.

Looking to strategize your next direct mail campaign and select postage options that work best with your goals? Contact us today to connect with an expert.

Back to Blog

Stay Up-to-Date With Our Latest Posts

Subscribe to Our Blog
CONTACT US

Let’s Make Smart Happen Together

Ready to put our people, processes, and technology to work for you?

Get In Touch