The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing First-Class mail postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the postcard rate of $0.40. But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual.
The USPS Update: The Facts
You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing first-class postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the first-class postcard rate of $0.40, 30% less than before the change! But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual.
The $0.40 per postcard price is the price you pay for simply dropping a card in the mail (no sorting necessary). However, if your quantity of cards exceeds 500, you’ll save more if you sort your cards. Why? Because the post office gives you a discount for doing some of the work for them. For first-class presort, you’ll pay between $0.30 and $0.35 per postcard, depending on how your mail sorts. The higher the density, the lower the price.
You sort standard-class (bulk) mail the same way you sort first-class mail – and if you do, the cost for the same 6” x 9” postcard will run between $0.245 and $0.31. Again, the cost heavily depends on the density of your distribution. For instance, if you’re sending 500 postcards to one neighborhood, it will cost less than sending 500 postcards to several different areas around the country.
Sorting your mailings and sending them standard-class will save you an additional 15% over the comparable first-class rate, a substantial amount for any large mailing.
So, what does this all really mean for you, and what is the best choice for your mailing?
The Perks & Problems of First-Class Mailing
So, here’s the “perks” of first-class mailing. With first-class, you can send impactful postcard mailings at an affordable price – to anywhere. There’s no 500-piece minimum, and there’s a 30% discount on regular first-class mail. You’ll know exactly what your postage rate is going to be at – $0.40 each.
Quantities larger than 500 can be sorted and will likely get to your regional audience faster than they would with standard-class mail. You’ll pay roughly a 15% premium over the cost of standard mail to do so.
With that said, the post office has yet to fully recover from issues related to the pandemic. Although we’re hopeful this will change over time and that it will return to its prior state, the possibilities are always in flux. Without knowing when things will return to “normal”, it’s hard to depend on mailing delivery times. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve experienced delivery time issues with first-class mail. For this reason, we’re recommending a “wait and see” approach with the post office as it applies to estimating delivery dates.
Counter intuitively, for a company whose in-home date is important – the idea of first-class can be a bit of a trap, and even more so with pre-sorted first-class. The post office will often handle it in the same way as pre-sort standard-class. If in-home dates are important to your campaign and your mailing is large, then there are better ways to get more predictable in-home delivery and save money.
Since we’ve found some pitfalls in this new update – we’d like to share a little about Strata’s tools and tactics. For large mailings, we’re able to use standard-class mail and predict the delivery date plus or minus one day, in most cases. How? After years of experience, we’ve come to use alternative methods and have taken out several variables. These methods are not allowed by the USPS for first-class mail – only for standard-class mail. Therefore, most of our customers are better off sticking to standard.
We don’t see us ever recommending this new program for large mailings. Standard mail will always cost at least 15% less, allows you to send many mail formats including even larger than 6” x 9” sized postcards for the same postage, and provides in-home date that will always be more predictable when using our methods.
If you’re a local company and want to send out mailings in your region or have quantities of less than 500 – this sizing and pricing update is something you may want to take advantage of.
If your in-home dates are somewhat less critical and you’re mailing regionally, then you may be able to get faster service at a somewhat higher postal rate and, again, may want to try this program.
If you have non-critical in-home dates and your mailings are at quantities of more than 500, standard-class is always going to be less expensive, and you won’t see much difference in delivery times.
For large mailings, first-class is less predictable and more expensive than optimized standard mail. Strata has standard down to a science for these bigger quantities. In all cases, standard service will still save you at least 15% and will provide you the option to send even larger cards and mail formats at the same rate.
Consider this guidance when you’re thinking about taking advantage of this update in USPS services and deciding if it’s right for you.
Interested in working with Strata to ensure your mailers get in-home when you expect them to? Give us a call.
The Proof is in the Numbers
At Strata, it’s pretty obvious that we love (and believe in) direct mail and its marketing power, and think it’s an important touchpoint in any multichannel campaign. We could go on and on about why we think it’s great, but we understand that sometimes it takes some hard facts and solid numbers to seal the deal and make you believe in direct marketing, too. You’ll see – the numbers simply speak for themselves.
- For every 36 emails you receive (on average), you get 1 piece of mail in your mailbox.
- The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days.
- 59% of US respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products.
- Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails.
- Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.
Source for stats above: Compu-mail
- 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read or review the information at their leisure.
- 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
- 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them that catalog.
Source for stats above: Bolger
Sealing the Deal
More generally, we believe in direct mail because it’s:
Everyone opens mail. Even if you don’t have access to television, internet, or a cell phone, as long as you have an address, you’re reachable through mail. Opening mail is a part of the daily routine for many, and neglected by very few. Direct mail seamlessly integrates into our lives and rituals, so we see it as welcomed rather than intrusive.
With direct mail, you can target by geographic location and send your piece to all residences within your selected zip code(s). You have the ability to organize your mailing list by demographics, such as age group, income level, parenthood, pet ownership and more.
There are never-ending possibilities when it comes to organizing and developing your content in an effort to present your message to your target audience and lead them to take action. You can use your pieces to inspire immediate purchases by including limited-time offers and copy that conveys a sense of urgency.
Incorporating a special offer, online promotional code, or even a website questionnaire into your campaign can make it easy to track responses and measure success. After all, direct mail is proven to be one of the most quantifiable advertising platforms.
The Bottom Line
Direct mail is effective because of its seamless integration into our lives, yet strong presence on our counters. It catches our attention while giving us control as to what we’ll do next as a current or potential customer. That’s why we think, well…we know it’s one of the most effective marketing tactics for reaching large groups of consumers.
Ready to get the most out of your direct mail? Contact us to create a highly successful marketing campaign that incorporates the latest direct mail tricks and trends.