Direct Mail Tips & Insights

USPS Guide to Direct Mail (That's Useful)

 

When you’re planning your direct mail marketing, you need more than a mere printer to partner with. You need a full-service company that can help you develop customized solutions to get your mail into the U.S. Postal Service system while also saving you money and time.Attachment-1.jpeg

In fact, it may be best to think of the USPS as another vital partner that can help you achieve great ROI on your direct mail. It has a vested interest in your success, and fortunately has the tools that your service provider can use to make that happen.

Remember, the USPS is one powerful institution. It receives no tax dollars for its operating expenses. It processes and delivers over 154 billion pieces of mail a year to 156 million residential and business addresses across the country. If it were a private company, its revenues would qualify it to place high up on the Inc. and Fortune 500 rankings. And thanks to over 200 federal laws, the Postal Inspection Service ensures that the mailstream is secure for both mailers and customers.

At the same time, wringing inefficiencies from the postal system (and reducing costs) has been an important factor, like never before, in driving how mailing campaigns are now being designed and implemented. To keep up with these changes, it’s smart to reach out to vendors that have printing expertise, outstanding customer service, and extensive experience working with marketers of all sizes and budgets.

5 Ways USPS Expertise Can Improve Your Direct Mail

Let’s face it: postal regulations are complicated, and not without good reason. After all, they give marketers a nice amount of flexibility in offering products and services to both consumer and commercial customers.

But you’ll need someone that can help work with you and your mail to get through the postal system and to your customers’ mailboxes. Look for a company, for example, that offers extensive bulk mailing services, including on-site USPS verification. Their strong relationship with the USPS means a smoother entry of your mail, discount pricing, and better monitoring, all of which improves your marketing budget’s bottom line, among other things.

1. Direct Mail Design 

Vendors should be experts at direct mail design and how it can be maximized to flow through USPS’s processing equipment. For example, folders self-mailers (FSMs) must meet some challenging tabbing requirements in order to pass muster. For more specifics, please refer to this helpful guide to tabbing.

2. Managing Your Data

Postal savings can also be achieved by carefully and constantly managing your data. It can’t be said often enough: without accurate data, your campaigns will not be successful. Again, a variety of tools can be used to make sure you’re proceeding with the best possible lists. Here’s an introduction to CASS-certification, pre-sort, and de-duping, and their crucial role in your data processing.

3. USPS Pricing 

With the changes to USPS rates that became effective on January 21, 2018. Many mail classifications saw price hikes but there are many opportunities available for marketers to save money. This quick guide to rate changes includes a few ideas on how to take advantage of the new pricing with your direct mail.

There are other steps you can take with your vendor to deal with your direct mail budget concerns. For example, you can ask for multiple quotes on a project.

You can also look at how you can send your mail. First Class mail is, in most cases, the most expensive option. However, for small campaigns, or ones with nonmachinable characteristics, it may be worth it.

4. Commingling and Co-Palletization

The USPS also encourages two good workshare methods that can help meet your cost challenges: commingling and co-palletization. Mailing campaigns that get prepared by either program get processed more quickly by the USPS, which means that they arrive in-home sooner.

5. Your Direct Mail Drop Date

Another important consideration is your direct mail drop date. If there are any hitches or delays, the value of your campaign, especially if it has a time-sensitive offer, can be lost. You’ll have to plan carefully for every stop of the process to stay on schedule.

USPS Marketing Mail 

Seven products make up USPS Marketing Mail - Letters, Flats, Parcels, High Density and Saturation Letters, High Density and Saturation Flats and Parcels, Carrier Route, and Every Door Direct Mail. Formerly known as Standard Mail, this broad category covers many types of direct mail pieces, like flyers, circulars, brochures, newsletters, and catalogs.

It works well because it promises lower rates with only a 200-piece minimum requirement for a campaign. But your mailpiece’s size and shape should be taken into account when weighing the differences within this class as well as when comparing with First Class mail.

Your direct mail vendor should know what the advantages are for each class from both a design and cost standpoint. Their experience with USPS direct mail pricing and regulations will come in handy in determining which option is likely to produce the best results for your company.

Ideas In Action

  • Another tool, Informed Delivery, provides end-to-end mail tracking information for letter and flat pieces, bundles, handling units, and containers.
  • Your direct mail campaign can be turned around more quickly with on-site USPS verification.
  • Experts – all under one roof – can save you time and money in choosing a partner that can help shepherd your mail through the USPS ecosystem efficiently, while using best practices and saving money.

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