Getting There First: Standard Mail vs First Class

USPS First Class Mail Standard Mail Comparison

With all of the problems the USPS has been facing, it hasn’t changed the fact that direct mail is still one of the best ways to market a business or service according to a study by the Direct Mail Association and referenced in this article by Ad Age.

The political/internal/financial battle happening within the United States Postal Service has affected delivery times and in recent news, California Representative Darrell Issa suggested in a bill that the USPS will no longer deliver mail directly to your door. Only to curbside mailboxes and cluster boxes similar to those found in apartment complexes. You can pay a fee to keep the to-your-door service if you don’t mind paying for it and exceptions will be made for the elderly and those who can prove physical disability.

Although the USPS  is changing and will keep changing, what most matters is that your target audience gets their mail pieces in a timely fashion and convert into customers.

The Differences in Bulk Mail Classes and Mail Delivery Times

Bulk mail is processed by the mail house before it gets to the Post Office saving the USPS time and money. The mailer typically has a mailing permit that must be printed on to each piece identifying the postage class and the account of the mailer who performed the mailing.

Presort software is used to connect to the USPS to presort the addresses, qualify the quantity and mail piece cost from your mailing list, add barcodes, check for duplicates and verifies address accuracy against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. Planning ahead with delivery times in mind will help your direct mail campaign to be more effective and you can save money as well.

Standard Mail

Standard Mail Permit IndiciaStandard mail is the least expensive and slower class of bulk mail for for printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs, and small packages. Deeply discounted, Standard mail costs less because your mailing company or mail house does most of the processing for the Post Office and those savings are passed on to you in the form of a postage discount. With Standard mail, any pieces that are undeliverable are not returned to the sender which is also saves the USPS time and money.

What do you need to qualify for Standard Mail discounted postage?

  • Standard Mail Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 200 pieces or 50lbs of mail
  • Maximum weight of 16 ounces
  • Domestic Mail only

First Class Mail

First Class Mail Permit IndiciaFirst Class Mail is the faster of the two and if the address printed on the mailpiece is undeliverable, the USPS will automatically forward it to the correct address (if it’s on file) or return it to the sender. This ensures that the recipient receives the mailpiece or at least you can remove them from your mailing list saving you money on postage costs on the next mailing.

Depending on your budget and time-frame, the extra cost for First Class Mail can be worth it and it’s still less than the cost of a regular single-piece stamp.

What are the requirements to qualify for First Class discounted postage?

  • First Class Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 500 pieces
  • Maximum weight of 13 ounces
  • Must be rectangular in shape

Note: A 4.25 x 6 Postcard is mailed First Class by default at a special Postcard Rate.

First Class and Standard Mail Postage Costs

First Class and Standard mail are considered Unzoned Mail. Meaning you pay the same price without regard to where the mailpiece goes (within the U.S.). Nevertheless, there are differences in the cost of each piece depending on mailpiece type (postcard, letter, flat or parcel – each mailpiece type has its own size restrictions), weight and traying sequence (5-digit, 3-digit, AADC and mixed AADC) which is determined by the mailing software used by your mail house.

  • The United States Postal Service offers a handy Business Price Calculator to give you a good idea of what your postage costs may be per piece.
  • Download our convenient Envelope Size Chart to learn about standard envelope sizes and differences.

 For other types of mail classes, the price is determined by the distance the mailpiece travels to arrive at it’s destination. The further it has to travel, the more postage paid for that piece. The distance is established by the use of zones.

[note color=”#FFCC00″] You may still have questions regarding your direct mail campaign.Give us a call at 1877-mmprint to speak with a mailing service professional about your project or visit our mailing services page for more information and to request a quote. [/note] [divider top=”1″]

 

USPS Folded Self-Mailer Regulations Update 2013

Effective January 5, 2013, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is revising the regulations governing the Folded Self-Mailer Standards. The final rules were published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2011 and can be found in the Federal Register / Vol. 76, No.231 / Thursday December 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations [PDF]. Continue reading USPS Folded Self-Mailer Regulations Update 2013

USPS Retail Postage Rate Increase for 2013

 

The United States Postal Service (USPS), a “Self-supporting government enterprise”, has announced a retail postage rate increase effective as of January 27, 2013.

The Postal Service funds its facilities and operations with the sale of postage, different products and services. It does not receive tax money from the US government for its operating expenses.

The USPS can only make postage increases that reflect the rate of inflation.

2013 USPS Postage Rate Increase Presorted Stamps

First Class Mail Postage Rate Increase – Retail

  • First Class Single Piece Letters (up to 1 oz.) will increase from 45 cents to 46 cents, up a penny
  • The additional cost per ounce for Letters over 1oz. will not increase the cost of 20 cents
  • Postcards will increase 1 cent from 32 to 33 cents

Priority Mail Retail Flats Rate Increase – Retail

  • One ounce or less Flats will increase from 90 cents to 92 cents
  • Flat Rate Envelopes new price $5.60
  • Legal Flat Rate Envelope new price $5.75
  • Padded Flat Rate Envelope new price $5.95
  • Small Flat Rate Box new price $5.80
  • Medium Flat Rate Boxes new price $12.35
  • Large Flat Rate Boxes new price $16.85
  • APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box new price $14.85
USPS Global Forever Stamp 2013
USPS Global Forever Stamp 2013

New Global Forever Stamp

The USPS will introduce a new Forever stamp to be used with First Class Mail International 1oz. letters or cards to any country around the globe.

The cost is a flat rate of $1.10 for any letters or cards under 1oz. and can be used to send a 2oz letter to Canada

International Forever stamps have a round shape and say “Global Forever”.

Art director for the US Philatelic William J. Gicker selected this depiction of Earth by Italian artist Leonello CalvettiGreg Breeding designed the stamp.

The USPS is the only existing delivery service that reaches every single address in the United States. That is over 151 million residences, businesses and PO Boxes. The postage rate increase is another consecutive year of rate increases for the USPS which may reflect heavy decreases in profits over the past few years.

 

3 Easy Steps To Every Door Direct Mail Success

Every Door Direct Mail Retail is incredibly easy to prepare and mail.

The following steps will show you how to take your E.D.D.M. from concept to delivery.

Before you continue reading, please make sure you have familiarized yourself with E.D.D.M. by reading  5 Reasons Every Door Direct Mail Will Work for You and then come back to see how it's done in 3 easy steps.

1. Discover Your Surroundings

Every Door Direct Mail Delivery

The USPS offers a very useful tool on their website where you can enter data about the area of your mailing and it returns detailed information about that area:

  • Number of residences in a route
  • Number of businesses in a route
  • Number of total routes
  • Approximate cost of Postage
  • Local Post Office for each route

There are various ways to select the areas where your Every Door Direct Mail will hit:

  • By City
  • By County
  • By Zip Code
  • By radius around a specific address

You can choose the type of routes served:

  • City
  • Rural/Highway Contract
  • PO Boxes

You can select from two delivery types:

  • Business and Residential
  • Residential Only
Once you have made all of your selections and have a final count of the area and routes that will be covered, you can continue by clicking "Next" to generate all of the paperwork required when delivering your EDDM prints to the Post Office. Don't forget your postage check! But don't fret, they also take cash and credit cards.
 

2. Bundle Your Advertising

 
Every Door Direct Mail Bundle Facing SlipThis is the most labor-intensive step of completing your E.D.D.M. mailing, but it's simple!
The USPS requires that you bundle your Every Door Direct Mail pieces into stacks of 50-100. The reason for this is that the Mailman takes these bundles and places them in his bag or cart and delivers one to each mailbox on his route. Please be considerate! Don't make the bundles too heavy.
 
One of the forms that the system generates for you is the Facing Slip. This form needs to be on the very top of every bundle, so make copies before you fill in all of the information.
I recommend that you fill the Date, Company Name and Post Office of mailing before making copies so that you don't have to fill it in every time.
 
These are the required fields you must complete on the Facing Slip:
 
  • Route Number
  • Date
  • Number of Pieces in Bundle
  • Total Number of Bundles
  • Company Name
  • Post Office of Mailing

3. Delivery to the USPS

 
Postage Stamp Special Delivery EDDMOnce steps 1 and 2 are completed, the final and easiest step is your delivery to the Post Office. One of the forms generated by the E.D.D.M. system, the "Facility List", is a summary of the entire mailing.
For your convenience, the form will list the address of each Post Office you must deliver the bundled mailers to, the hours of operation and contact information.
You will also find a table listing the Carrier Routes selected and number of mail pieces for each route and at the very bottom, the total postage cost (number of mailpieces x 14.5 cents)
 
The number of Post Offices listed will usually only vary if you selected more than one Zip Code.
 
That's it! Your Post Office representative will review your paperwork and mail pieces, process the paperwork in the register and accept payment for your Every Door Direct Mail.
 
Your mail pieces will be delivered within the Standard Mail delivery time.
 
If you have any questions or would like a quote, please visit our E.D.D.M Page.

Is there anything you have noticed that can make Every Door Direct Mail even easier or more efficient?

 
 
 

 

5 Reasons Every Door Direct Mail Will Work for You

Every Door Direct Mail Mailbox

E.D.D.M.- Every Door Direct Mail

Recently released by the United States Postal System (USPS), the purpose of Every Door Direct Mail is to enable mom and pop shops, small businesses and corporations to send a direct mail piece to every mailbox in a specific area. The area of the mailing can be specified by zip code or radius around an address and further defined by selecting routes within the results. Get Every Door Direct Mail For Your Business Now

Every Door Direct Mail is Not for Every Type of Business

If your main customers are businesses (B2B), E.D.D.M. is really not for you. Every Door Direct Mail requires that you mail to residences. If your product or service caters to a very specific demographic, targeted direct mailwould be more beneficial to your campaign, not E.D.D.M.

Who benefits from Every Door Direct Mail?

If your product or service serves your local community and appeals to both individual consumer households and local businesses too, E.D.D.M. is a great and inexpensive way to make your presence known and can lead to an increase in foot traffic and phone calls if you plan it out well. Every Door Direct Mail works great for local businesses:

  • Pizzeria
  • Laundromat
  • Deli
  • Diner
  • Lawyers & Accountants
  • Tax Service
  • Taxi & Limo Service
Don’t forget, franchises do most of their marketing at a local level…E.D.D.M. Win!

Why Every Door Direct Mail Will Work For You

1. Marketing at a Local Level

Local deals, local search, local , local, local!A perfect example is the announcement of a new pizzeria in town. Let’s say the owner is not a marketer or just doesn’t have the time to put together a marketing campaign. Yet, naturally he knows that his target market is every home and business in the surrounding area of his pizzeria. Every Door Direct Mail would be the quick and efficient way for the pizzeria owner to let every home in say, a 2 mile (or more) radius know about the grand opening of the new pizzeria. Simple and inexpensive.

2. No Mailing List or Permit Required

So, you’re a Franchisee and you own 3 stores that each serve their own local communities. Your main marketing objective is to make sure that everyone in the local vicinity of each store knows about the store, letting them know the address, contact information and hours of operation. Since Every Door Direct Mail service does not require an address list, you can send a direct mail piece to every single residence in the town of each store for a measly 14.5 cents each in postage. No requirement for a Postal Permit also saves your out-of-pocket costs in application and yearly fees.

3. Like Sending a Billboard to Every Door

Every Door Direct Mail requires that the size of your mail piece falls within the USPS “Flat” dimensions. A common size is 6.25 x 9 which is a huge amount of real estate to cover with big graphics of your products or services, coupons and anything else that makes sense to include in the direct mail piece. You can go all the way up to 15 inches. You can also mail folded prints as long as they fold down within the size restrictions: Full color custom Calendars give you 12 months of continuous marketing and fall within the “flat” dimensions.

4. Easy Coupon and Specials Distribution

With the low cost of distribution, E.D.D.M. is a great tool to use to give out your coupons, announce specials and event sales. Spruce up your marketing and offer “neighborhood only” coupons. Sure, you can always use a Valpak type of service but with 1700 other coupons in the same envelope, will your coupon even get noticed ? (See #3 above)

5. Setup is a Breeze

Besides being cost effective, Every Door Direct Mail only takes a few simple steps to put together. Have your E.D.D.M. postcards printed, band them into bundles with a facing slip and a rubber band and then deliver them to the Post Office with your payment for postage. That’s it. Too busy? Your preferred printer can do everything for you, all you have to do is bring it to the Post Office with your postage payment.   Every Door Direct Mail Facing Slip USPS


One of the reasons the United States Postal Service created the Every Door Direct Mail program is to help local business grow (and to try to get back on track with it’s own revenue of course). But when used correctly, it really is a great opportunity to expand your marketing efforts.

Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket

E.D.D.M. doesn’t necessarily need to be your only means of advertising; Use it to augment your web, TV and radio marketing campaigns and remember to add QR Codes to connect the offline with the online.

Have you used Every Door Direct Mail for your business? What was your response like?

Envelope Size Chart Quick Guide

It’s easy to get confused when selecting the correct envelope sizes for invitations, business letters or Direct Mail pieces… A2, A4, A7, #10, #9, #10 Window…

So we decided to build this common envelope size chart with the goal of providing a sort of cheat-sheet or quick reference for envelopes for our customers and anyone who can use it.

If you find it useful or know someone who could use it, please share it!

You can also download a High Resolution Print Ready Version of the Envelope Size Chart Quick Guide [PDF].

or view the large version on your browser [JPG]

 

Envelope Size Chart Quick Guide Cheat Sheet

 

This envelope size chart is provided as a quick reference when selecting the proper envelope size for your projects. If you have questions or are in need of an envelope size not listed in the envelope size chart, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us right away!

 

 

A Holiday Greeting Card to Remember

 

With the holidays in proximity, we begin the yearly cycle of gift buying, long lines, figuring out who’s hosting Thanksgiving dinner, making sure those gifts are in the mail by a certain date, and all the other craziness that comes with the holiday season. For businesses it’s not so much the case, but appreciation is due to those who keep you in business and those who help your business thrive.

Calendar and Invitation Greeting Cards

 

Holiday Greeting Cards Expectations

With every gift or even as a gift in itself, a holiday greeting card is expected. It could be for your employees, your clients, your suppliers or even your competitors, a greeting card with a nice big THANK YOU! in it can make a big difference in the year to come. Some may argue, but appreciation breeds motivation and loyalty.

 

2012 Greeting Card Printing

 

Sometimes Thank You is not Enough

Sure, having custom holiday greeting cards printed and mailed can be perceived as thoughtful and polite but if it lacks substance, your efforts might just go to waste. A greeting card should be endearing, yet it still serves great purpose as a marketing and/or branding piece. The message you have printed on the inside can leave a lasting impression, so make it a good one.

Holiday Greeting Card with QR Code

 

It’s not a Sales Pitch or a Coupon

Well actually a discount coupon might not be such a bad idea but that depends on your line of business and who you’re sending it to. Your brand logo or company name may be the single most important part of the holiday card; If the recipient doesn’t know who is wishing them happy holidays or thanking them for their business, then it’s just as good as not getting one. Even if the card is blank on the inside, you still have your brand in their face and in their hands.

Would it make sense in your line of business to give your customers blank holiday cards so that they can use them and send them out to their customers?

 

 

Saving Money on Direct Mail with QR Codes

Although QR codes are quickly being adopted by major companies and industries, adoption is moving slowly throughout the small business sector.

In an effort to promote Direct Mail and create awareness of the benefits of using QR codes in Direct Mail, the United States Postal Service is offering a special postage discount during the months of July and August 2011:

Direct Mail marketers and mail houses can save 3% on their First Class Presort Mail and Standard Presort Mail postage simply by including a QR Code that must be easily visible on the outside of the mail piece. Simple as that.

 

Although the savings can be substantial, it is important to keep in mind that if your Direct Mail campaign is not thought out thoroughly and optimized for success, then all of your efforts and cost of printing and postage will go to waste.
On the bright side, you can always learn from your mistakes.

Direct Mail is about trial and error and consistency; improvement and repetition. I don’t think any one Direct Mail campaign can be the one or the best one for that matter.

 

Printing and Mailing Services Banner

 

If you are thinking of taking advantage of the 3% postage discount and this would be your first QR Code Direct Mail campaign, the following paragraphs will help you begin with an advantage.

Incorrect Use of QR Code QR Code Malpractice

Creating and Reading QR Codes is easy and FREE! But the biggest issue lies with what happens after the QR Code is scanned.

Obviously (or maybe not obvious enough), a QR Code is scanned with a smart phone which typically has a screen size between 2 to 4 inches. This being the case, wouldn’t you expect to be taken to a mobile-friendly website that is compatible with your smart phone’s screen size?
Well, believe it or not, this is a very common mistake made by marketers that makes the whole Direct Mail/QR Code campaign a complete failure.

Let’s say your Direct Mail piece is a postcard that promotes a new product that you are selling and the customer scans your QR code. The customer lands on a mobile friendly page that contains a great description of the product but does not have a Buy Now! button anywhere on the page. The purpose of your Direct Mail piece is to offer a product that you sell, yet a way to purchase the product is not easily made available. This Direct Mail campaign can pretty much be considered a lost sale opportunity.

QR Code Best PracticesQR Code Best Practices

A complete Direct Mail campaign using QR codes must include a mobile landing page where a call to action is the main focus of the page. Whatever the purpose of your Direct Mail campaign is, it should reflect in your mobile landing page.
If your QR Code directs the user to a video preview, make sure the video is formatted for mobile screens and should start playing right away.  The purpose of a smartphone is accessibility and convenience – No downloads!

 

The following are a few key rules to follow to create a successful Direct Mail QR Code campaign:

  • Use a vector QR Code in your artwork to make sure that it prints clear and works 100% even on low megapixel cameras. I find BeQRious lets you generate vector QR Codes you can download in PDF format easily
  • Test your QR Code on at least 4-5 different QR Code scanning apps and different smart phones before printing the whole run
  • Include information on how to scan the QR Code
  • Your QR Code should direct the user’s mobile phone directly to the landing page
  • Your Landing Page must load quickly, keep images to a minimum
  • Include Call-to-action buttons or links such as “Buy Now!”, “Sign up here!”, or “Call us now!”
  • Keep the focus of the page on the purpose of the campaign and the Call-to-action buttons/links
  • Make your QR Code link using a link shortening service such as goo.gl or bit.ly (free versions) so that you can track the number of scans and other analytics

How have you used QR Codes in your latest

Direct Mail or Marketing Campaign?

Please share any lessons you have learned when using QR Codes in Direct Mail campaigns below…

3 Key Marketing Tips for the Modern Real Estate Agent

In today’s fierce Real Estate market you have to stay on your toes. Marketing your open houses, agency, available properties and yourself as a Real Estate agent is a key component to drive business, sales and changing that For Sale sign into a Sold! sign.

As a printing company we get to see what is new and what is working across different markets using different strategies. Here are some key marketing tips inspired by what we have seen work best for real estate agencies and agents in their marketing efforts:

Content is King

1. Apply the Content is King Concept to your Real Estate Marketing Efforts

To begin with, most home buyers want to know what they are getting and how much it costs; They peruse through the property listings on your website and find a few pictures, a list of features and a few bullet points with a sales price which gives them the skinny on the property. But where is the value?

Content is King is a phrase well known to today’s internet marketers, SEO gurus and social media experts. It’s a very successful concept on the web and has been for years, these days even more so. Content adds value to a product beyond its functions or assets. Is there a positive story behind the property, the street or the town? Did someone famous or worth mentioning live there at one point? Content can give a property personality; transforming a house for sale into a home for sale. Words can influence, that’s why Content is King.

 

For Sale Sign with QR Code 2. Modernize your Real Estate Marketing Materials

With the sharp increase in consumer purchases of smart phones, it is a big mistake not to consider incorporating mobile into your Real Estate marketing.

As a home buyer, I can remember the frustration caused by seeing a beautiful house with a for sale sign outside as I drove by and saying to myself: “I can’t wait to get home and look up the listing on that house!”
By the time I got home I had forgotten the address, the Real Estate Agency that was selling it and of course, I didn’t stop to write down the phone number on the sign.  For the Real Estate agent this meant a lost sale or a lost lead at the least.

Behold, the QR Code. It began as a special barcode to track car parts and has evolved into the connection between offline and online marketing. The QR Code can be scanned with a smartphone to display information or initiate an action on the mobile phone.

A For Sale sign with a QR Code on it can lead a person who is interested in the home to a mobile friendly website where they can view pictures and contact the seller or Real Estate agent. QR Codes can also store contact information directly into the mobile phone’s contact list simply by scanning the code. QR codes are open for personal and commercial use. Here is a list of free QR Code readers and generators.

 

Personalize Communications Variable Data Printing VDP3. Personalize Communications

Real Estate agents and agencies have access to a vast amount of data about potential customers and their interests. Too often, this data goes unused to its full potential when in reality, it is bursting with value.

There is a little hidden gem that doesn’t seem to get the exposure it deserves…yet! Only the big ad agencies and corporations seem to be using this technology to their advantage. The printing industry is currently experiencing a digital evolution and from it we have the birth of Variable Data Printing, also known as VDP.

Variable Data Printing is the personalization of each individual piece in a print run. Let’s say you have a database of 5000 potential home buyers and in that database you have details about the type of homes these potential home buyers are interested in purchasing: Cape, Colonial, Ranch, two family, etc.
In your magnificent database of real estate information you also have access to all of the listings of homes for sale that have these features.

Now tie it all together. A printing company with Variable Data Printing capabilities can take your database information (usually in MS Excel format) and customize each printed piece with information pertaining to the recipient such as their name and information related to their home buying interests such as images and open house dates.

Here is a sample Postcard with Variable Data Printing

 

Real Estate Variable Data Printing VDP Postcard

 

Here are the Variable Data Fields:

 

Variable Data Fields in Real Estate PostcardVariable Data Printing is a remarkable technology will absolutely increase your read rate. Most generic postcards are glanced at and discarded. If the recipient sees their name on it, they have a higher probability of reading all of your content and contacting you.

 

 

Have you used QR Codes or Variable Data Printing in your Marketing? What other technologies are you using in your Real Estate Marketing Campaigns?

Please comment below

Measuring Direct Mail Response and ROI

I recently came across a direct mailing group post that caught my attention and received mixed responses from group members. The person wanted to know where to find statistics on how many people actually open and/or read their direct mail in order to justify statistically, the advantages of direct mail in both B2B and B2C environments.

Statistics vs. Results

Although many responders provided statistics based on surveys and published statistics such as those found in the Direct Marketing Association’s 2010 Edition Statistical Fact Book, the general consensus was that ROI in a direct mail campaign is best measured by response rates.
There are too many factors that affect the open/read rate of a campaign to measure in detail: design, copy, mailing objective, targeted audience, etc.

Return On Investment

In my last post I wrote about the USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode Requirement which is taking place in May 2011 (update). Though in recent news we learned that the United States Postal Service took big loss, they have also implemented a combination of useful tools for direct marketers. These new tools allow for Direct Mail to be tracked from start to finish, sender to recipient.

Tools for Measuring Direct Mail Response

This information, whether regarding individual pieces or entire mailings, will be available online 24/7. Many new measurement aids like delivery dates, automatic address change and mailing list updating will reduce the amount of undeliverables. Business Reply Mail with payments or offer responses can be tracked on their way back to the original sender for response and cash-flow forecasting.

Direct Mailing Services

I am sure there will be more ingenious uses for the analytics Intelligent Mail Barcodes will provide, – and we will visit those uses in the future here on this blog – but what also must be mentioned is efficiency.
The efficiency of a direct mail campaign also affects ROI.
When calculating the return on investment, one has to factor in the cost of the campaign vs. the response; in monetary figures, this would then give us the amount of return, obviously.

Until now, direct marketers have used the practice of targeting mailings directly to interested parties as an alternative to static mass mailings in order to increase response rates and reduce campaign costs. Variable Data Printing gave us Personalized Mailings and USPS tools like N.C.O.A (National Change of Address) help to clean out lists as much as possible. Intelligent Mail Barcodes can be combined with these methods to further reduce the amount of undeliverable mail (which would throw off averages if measuring open/read rates).

ROI should be measured by first testing with targeted and relevant copy and design. With all the data centric tools made available, the ROI and efficiency of your direct mail campaigns should increase when these tools are used to your advantage.

Do you have any tips for measuring direct mail ROI or increasing results?

Please comment below..