Marketing (Traditional, Internet, Social Media)

First Class, Bulk or Saturation: Which Postcard Mailing Method is Right for You?

A look at the three primary ways to send postcards

April 3, 2013
Trans

Spring is here. You may be thinking of mailing postcards to your clients or select neighborhoods. One of the biggest questions I get from cleaners is, “What is the best way to send postcards?”
 
There are three primary ways to send postcards:
  1. First Class Mail: The standard, conventional way to mail. It’s great for small mailings of less than 200.
  2. Bulk Mail: Best for mailing to your client list and mailings when you have a database of names and addresses of intended recipients.
  3. Every Door Direct Mail or Saturation Mailing: Great for canvassing entire neighborhoods. This is the cheapest option for mailing postcards.
The wrong choice could mean spending a lot of extra money. Plus, it can mean extra time in preparing the mailing. If you’re mailing postcards, you need to know which to use and when. Let’s explore the ins and outs of each. Keep in mind, the postage prices given here could vary, so check with your local post office.
 

First Class

Obviously this is the easiest choice. But you’ll have to pay more for the convenience, as this is the most expensive option. Another plus is that first class mail can sometimes get delivered faster than the other options. As well, direct mail professionals claim that live, first class stamps get a better response because the mailing isn’t instantly regarded as junk mail. However, with a postcard campaign, the reader instantly sees the mailing is from a business. So there may not be any first class stamp advantage when mailing a postcard.
 
If you’re mailing small, 4 x 6-inch postcards, you’ll fall under the first class postcard rate, which is currently 33 cents in the United States. Larger postcards, like 5.5 x 8.5-inches, will require the letter rate of 46 cents. And very large postcards, such as an 8.5 x 11-inches, will require the flat rate, which is currently 92 cents per piece.
 

Bulk Mail

The postage is significantly less than first class mailing. On some types of bulk mailings, you’ll need to sort the postcards by zip code before you take them to the post office. This can be accomplished by sorting your address labels in order of zip code. Additionally, a yearly permit fee of around $200 is required. The fee for the permit will pay for itself if you mail more than 1,000 postcards each year. To send a bulk mailing, you’ll need to send at least 200 pieces at a time.
 
When mailing a 4 x 6-inch postcard, or the larger 5.5 x 8.5-inch postcard, the bulk mail rate is 24 cents.  However, a huge 8.5 x 11-inch postcard is considered a flat, which makes the cost 36 cents per piece.
 

Every Door Direct Mail or Saturation Mailing

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) was created so small businesses could do saturation mailing without buying a bulk mail permit. Generally, EDDM is designed to send larger postcards of a specific size to an entire mail route. Your postcard must be taller than 6.125 inches, longer than 11.5 inches and smaller than 12 x 15-inches. The smallest EDDM postcard size is generally 6.25 x 8.5-inches and the largest 12 x 15-inches. Also, the postcard must be at least .0007 inches thick, which disqualifies paper-thin flyers. A huge plus with EDDM is that you don’t need a mailing list. You simply choose which mail routes you want to canvas. To send an EDDM mailing, you’ll need to mail to an entire mail route, which is usually at least 300 homes. For more about EDDM, see my October 2012 ICS article, “Target Your Advertising With Every Door Direct Mail.”
 
The postage price per piece for EDDM can range from 14.5 to 16 cents. But keep in mind, the postcard must be within the sizes I gave above to get that special rate. Postcards smaller or larger, such as 5.5 x 8.5-inches, will get the saturation rate of 20 cents per postcard. Additionally, to do a saturation mailing outside of the EDDM size parameters, you will need a bulk mail permit. 
 

Tips on Mailing Postcards to Clients

Typically, I recommend sending your entire client list a postcard each month. Most often, a 5.5 x 8.5-inch postcard is ideal because it’s large enough to include an article on one side to make it appear like a newsletter/postcard. Sending these to your clients can cost about 24 cents per piece for postage and as little as 4 cents per piece for full color, glossy printing. So for only 28 cents, you can keep in touch with your clients.
 
When using bulk mail, it’s recommended that you place “Or Current Resident” under the intended recipient’s name. Otherwise, the mail has a strong chance of not getting delivered. When you place “Or Current Resident” on the postcard, your mailing will get delivered to whoever is currently living at that address. Once per year, I recommend you purge your database by sending a 4 x 6-inch postcard via first class mail. The postage should only cost 33 cents per postcard. When mailing first class, don’t use “Or Current Resident.” This way, you’ll get bad addresses returned to you at no extra cost and you can clean up your database.
Stamps don’t need to be used if you are using bulk mail or EDDM. The insignia can be printed directly on your postcards. This alleviates the need for a stamp and saves labor. Additionally, you’ll probably want to print your return address at the top of the postcard.
 
Spend time researching the best printer. Prices vary greatly for printing. One printer may charge $500 for 2,500 postcards, while another may charge only $200 for the same quality. Shop local, but also consider some of the deals you can get from an online printer.
 
Mailing postcards to your clients and targeted neighborhoods is one of the smartest choices you can make in your advertising plan. Do your research and you’ll save time and money.

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