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.

Is it the Right Option for You?

In a recent blog, we went over what Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is, some of its positives and negatives, as well as some alternatives. Today, we’re diving a bit deeper into EDDM’s pros and cons so that, when you’re ready to launch your next direct mail campaign, you’re able to choose wisely.

What is EDDM Again?

Every Door Direct Mail, (better known as “EDDM”) is a blanketed mailing approach sent through USPS to potential customers near your business (aka – all of your “neighbors” nearby). You can use USPS’ provided mapping tool to select a geographic area, while viewing some demographic data based on census reports such as age-range, household size, and income. With this data in mind, you can choose what mail routes you’d like your piece delivered to – and, you guessed it, your mail gets delivered to every door. You can schedule this delivery whenever you’d like, within the parameters of the postal office.

With EDDM, you have the option of either creating the mailer design yourself, or working with a company (like Strata) to create a design that’s effective and professional. And – when using EDDM, you have two options, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU.

What’s EDDM Retail?

EDDM Retail is a good option for small businesses, restaurants, realtors, and local political campaigns. With this choice, you can create an account, send 200-5,000 pieces per day, per zip code, and simply drop your mailings off to the post office. You don’t need a permit with this option, and you can easily pay online or at the post office. The cost is currently $0.20 per piece.

What’s EDDM BMEU?

EDDM BMEU, on the other hand, is a good option for larger volume mailings, as there’s no volume limit and you may send to several different zip codes. As you can imagine, it’s slightly more involved than retail. You’ll need to make a Business Customer Gateway account, acquire a bulk mailing permit, and drop off your mailers to a BMEU – a large USPS mail processing center. The current cost for EDDM BMEU can be “as low as $0.168 per piece.”

The Pros of EDDM

Now that you know your EDDM options, we’ll go over the pros and cons. First – the pros. If your marketing budget is low and you’re looking for something that won’t put much of a dent in it, EDDM mailing can be a worthwhile choice. You can avoid high postage rates, generally, and postage discounts are available for most. Additionally, if your mailing is small and you’re not too concerned about a wide geographic area, you can again save on postage by opting for EDDM.

EDDM can work well for general awareness campaigns – such as showcasing a small business’ grand opening, letting people know you’re running for office, hosting a special event at a restaurant, introducing yourself as a realtor…the list goes on. If you want the general public to know about you, EDDM can help you do just that. Just make sure your business and/or brand is apparent by using quality branding and imagery, your logo(s), memorable colors and fonts, and other elements that people will take note of and will recognize if they see them again. If you’re not sure how to do this or what to include, give us a call.

The Cons of EDDM

Although EDDM is a good service that works for a lot of use-cases, it has its downfalls. With EDDM, you’re unable to really target a specified audience based on significant data, such as interests and hobbies, life changes, environment, age, income, and so on. Yes – you can find an area where many of the people meet some of these criteria, but with Every Door Direct Mail – it’s sent to exactly what it sounds like – every door. You don’t have the option to add people in or take people out if they’re in the selected demographic area and on the chosen mail routes. Therefore, you’re likely wasting paper, production, and money on people who have zero interest in your product, service, or event. You could be reaching out to people who fail to check their mail regularly, see your mailer and throw it out immediately, read it over and have no need or interest, or worse, are offended by your offering or service. What do we mean? Here are a few examples of what we liked to call “fail mail”:

  • A BBQ restaurant flyer sent to a house of vegans
  • A retirement home postcard sent to a couple in their twenties
  • A daycare service mailer sent to someone single with no children
  • A car dealership flyer sent to an eco-friendly bicyclist

Whether the “potential customer” doesn’t see it, throws it out, doesn’t want it, or is offended by it, the mailer was a waste of time, printing, and money.

On the other hand – maybe your mailer will actually interest most of your audience and you’re sending it to a large target area. Awesome! But – if your EDDM campaign is too large, you risk offsetting postage cost savings with extra production processing. Plus, paper costs right now are higher than normal due to the shortage, which could mean that printing and mailing to every door could cost you more than the response is worth.

Finally, EDDM does not provide the option to truly personalize your mailers. And, if you’ve read any of our other blogs, you know that personalization is a large part of direct mail success. In fact, a personalized CTA has been found to increase conversions by 78.5%. Without including a name, interest, favorite product, specialized offer, or personalized URL and QR code, your response rate is likely to suffer. If the mailer isn’t linked to anything else and doesn’t lead them anywhere personally specific, it’s not nearly as enticing or effective.

Next time you’re looking to send a mailer out to potential customers, fans, voters, guests, and so on, you may want to use EDDM (depending on your budget and needs), but as experts in the industry, we can say that there is often a more targeted strategy, like new mover marketing or multichannel marketing, that may work better. If you’re ready to get started on your next direct mail campaign, we’re here to help. Simply get in touch.

What You Need to Know

In today’s world of marketing, we’re constantly surrounded by buzzwords – both old and new. As we evolve and keep up with the newest technology and trends, these buzzwords evolve as well. Yet, some buzzwords – like “Every Door Direct Mail”, otherwise known as EDDM, have stood the test of time for quite a while. In this blog, we’re breaking down this buzzword, walking you through its positives and negatives, and explaining when your company should or shouldn’t use it.

What is EDDM?

Every Door Direct Mail (better known as EDDM) from USPS is a blanketed mailing approach sent to potential customers near your business. USPS utilizes a mapping tool that holds demographic data based on census reports, such as age-range, household size, and income. Factors like these can help your company choose the routes you’d like to deliver your mail piece(s) to. Additionally, you can schedule that delivery for any time mail gets delivered.

You may create the mailer yourself, but it’s recommended you work with a company (like Strata) to help you design both professionally and effectively. The USPS website states, “Based on your unique business needs, either create an EDDM mailing yourself or get help with any part of the mail design, printing, preparation, and drop-off process using USPS affiliate vendors or find a local printer in the USPS Printer Directory.”

What Does it Cost?

The cost of EDDM varies, but it’s usually a lower cost option for marketing mail (which we’ll go over later on in this blog). You first have to choose between two options, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU, which you can read more in-depth about, here. The costs associated with these options are as follows:

  • EDDM Retail® USPS Marketing Flats – $0.20 per piece
  • EDDM BMEU USPS Marketing Mail Flats – as low as $0.168 per piece

What’s Good About EDDM?

EDDM is a good option to have if your marketing budget is low. It’s also possible to use it as a marketing test-run to see what audience members are most likely to respond to your communication (especially if you don’t have the budget for reporting).

It’s most often used for generalized, non-specific marketing awareness or brand campaigns. If you simply want to get the word out there – to anyone and everyone about your business, EDDM is an option to consider. Using EDDM can help you to avoid high postage rates, as long as you have a smaller print job in one geographic area.

Why Should I Consider Not Using EDDM?

EDDM definitely comes with its trade-offs. With it, you’ll lose the ability to target individuals based on very specified credentials, and won’t have as much leeway when it comes to time-to-market. Additionally, if your EDDM campaign is too large the cost savings you’d get with postage would be practically meaningless due to the increase in production processing. Lastly, EDDM doesn’t give you any options in terms of personalization – which, if you’ve read some of our blogs, you know is important in direct mail campaign effectiveness and ROI.

What are the Alternatives?

Before using EDDM, think through other ways you can get your message across, and who you’re trying to get that message to. Instead of using a blanketed geographic approach, you may want to try a more specified campaign like our SmartMove services (personalized, multi-touch mail that’s sent specifically to new movers). This way, you can better pin-point your audience, and provide a better experience to those who receive your mail.

Or, maybe the best marketing strategy for your company isn’t even mail at all, or is mail that includes a digital touchpoint. A more multichannel campaign could be your answer.

EDDM isn’t for every company and its marketing strategy – but as experts in the industry, we can say that it works for some companies. Yet, there are many times a more targeted strategy, like our new mover marketing options, will work better. Wondering how you can get started on your next direct mail or multichannel campaign? We’re here to help. Simply contact us whenever you’re ready.

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. 

Our Alternative

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. 

Conclusion

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.