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Direct Mail Marketing Postage Costs: Tips to Keep Them Low

How to Reduce Direct Mail Postage Costs

Direct mail marketing, often perceived as a traditional approach, offers remarkable results, especially in an increasingly digital world. Surprisingly, the most significant chunk of your direct mail costs isn't the eye-catching designs, the quality printing, or even the targeted mailing lists—it's the postage costs.

Postage will consistently make up most of your direct mail marketing cost. Whether you opt for bulk mailing, non-presort services, or leverage Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), understanding and managing postage costs can dramatically influence your campaign's overall effectiveness and return on investment.

Reducing postage expenses can be tricky for small businesses and marketers with limited marketing budgets. Yet, it's the key to transforming your direct mail strategy from costly to a cost-effective, successful campaign.

In this blog, we'll dive into some of the most effective strategies for reducing direct mail postage costs, ensuring that every penny you invest works harder for your campaign. These tips aren't just about figuring out the cheapest way to send direct mail—they're about intelligent marketing and getting the most out of your direct mail campaign.

Tips For Reducing Direct Mail Postage Costs

Clean Up Your Direct Mail Lists

In direct mail marketing, your mailing lists are valuable tools. They consist of your target audience, including potential new customers and loyal ones. 

Postage Costs and How to Get Discounts

It's important to keep those lists uncluttered and "clean." The more mail you send to non-existing or incorrect contacts, the more money you waste. Make a point of periodically removing duplicates, individuals no longer interested, or past customers who have moved away, resulting in an incorrect address. List hygiene, or updating and cleaning your mailing list of contact records, is one of the most valuable ways you can save money by ensuring every direct mail piece you send out will reach your intended recipients.

Nearly three-quarters of businesses that use direct mail say they trim their lists at least twice yearly. And many mailing list companies, compile new data monthly to keep information up-to-date and relevant.

The USPS can help match your list to the NCOA (National Change of Address) list to clean up your data. Plus, many direct mail providers, like Conquest Graphics, offer NCOA and Deduping as an added service when you upload or create a mailing list. By selecting Dedupe, your direct mail provider will remove any duplicate addresses or names and addresses for you, ensuring your mailing list is free of any duplicate recipients. In addition, when you select NCOA, your provider will compare the names and addresses in your mailing list to address change data, and any record found in the move data will be automatically updated to the correct address.

Whether you have your direct mail provider clean your list or handle it yourself, it's critical to remember this step of the direct mail process in order to reduce your postage costs.

IdentityLogoStrokeWhen configuring your printed mailer with Conquest Graphics you can use your own mailing list or build a new one using our mail list compiler, and then you can choose to automatically run your list through the NCOA database to clean it up and/or dedupe your list by names or addresses.

Plan Ahead To Avoid Mistakes

When you advertise or post a blog article online, it's easy to go back and fix mistakes. But it's not so easy with direct mail. If you make a mistake with your direct mail, you'll have to pay to recreate it before sending it. If you've already sent it out, you may need to resend a corrected version to a new set of recipients. These mistakes can be costly and could ruin your return on investment.

Planning ahead gives you more time to catch errors and prevents them from happening in the first place. Even though you can approve your direct mail design before it goes into production to be printed and mailed, you must review your design and mailing list several times to ensure you don't need to purchase your materials and postage again.

Another critical consideration to keep in mind is that your mailer aligns with your existing marketing strategies, including your online advertising. An inconsistent mail piece can be off-putting and push customers away by making them question their perception of your brand. Ensuring that your messaging aligns with your marketing strategies and includes consistent branding beforehand will prevent potential brand confusion among your recipients.

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Target The Right Audience

Reaching the wrong audience results in a lot of wasted printing and postage costs. Instead, you want to reach only those who matter most for your goals.

Targeting the right audience eliminates the risk of sending direct mail to uninterested and irrelevant recipients. By targeting based on demographic, location, interest, or buying activity, you can send direct mail to fewer people who are all likely to respond. This reduces the price of postage and increases your ROI.

Size Matters With Direct Mail

Postage costs are often based on the size and weight of each piece being mailed. Before deciding on a specific direct mail piece, you should check the rates on the different sizes. A postcard costs less to mail than a catalog, and a smaller envelope will likely cost less than a larger envelope.

While size is important, you should still consider what your goal is. Do you want your audience to order directly from your direct mail piece or visit your website to place an order, or learn more? The fewer components there are to your direct mail, the cheaper it will be to send. For example, mailing a catalog that displays this season's products will be more expensive than a postcard with a QR code leading to your website where those products are displayed. Just make sure you're not sacrificing a more expensive option that doesn't deliver the same value as the cheapest direct mail options. For example, you could use the cheapest direct mail postcards with the smallest size and thinnest paper stock available. However, your postcards will not be as durable and may not represent your brand and message in the most effective way.

When in doubt, take a sample piece to your local post office and ask about the mail rate. Or go online to USPS.com to calculate postage in advance.

Presort For Direct Mail Postage Discounts

Save Money on Postage

USPS offers bulk mail discounts for specific quantities (200 mail pieces for Standard Mail and 500 for First Class Mail) and if you presort your direct mail. When you presort, you create less work for the post office so that they can pass the savings to you. One way to use presorted mail is to print IMBs (Intelligent Mail Barcodes), allowing automation discounts. To use IMBs, you simply place the barcode in the address panel of your direct mail piece or the barcode clear zone.

You can also presort by separating your mail by ZIP code, delivering bundled items directly to postal distribution centers, or combining multiple mailings into single pallets. There are many different ways to save money by sorting your mail. It may be worthwhile to use a mailing service company, like Conquest Graphics, who have an in-house mailing center, where they know the best ways to optimize your mail and how to get the best discounts and can even provide mailing fulfillment, so you don't have to worry about any of the heavy lifting.

Commingle Your Small Mailings

If you have a small mailing list of less than 200 addresses, you don't qualify for bulk mailing postage discounts and would typically have to pay costly single-piece postage.

Luckily, there is a solution called Direct Mail Commingling.

For this direct mail solution, you can send as few as one 6" x 9" postcard that follows the commingled postcard guidelines while still taking advantage of bulk mail postage discounts. When you take advantage of commingling services, your small mailing will be grouped with other companies' mailing to obtain bulk mailing discounted postage rates.

Allow Direct Mail Recipients To Unsubscribe

Even though you want your direct mail to connect with your customers and prospects, you don't want to waste resources trying to reach people who are not interested. Sending repeat mail advertising pieces to residents who will throw them in the trash wastes your money. Although multi-drop campaigns generate greater success for new audiences, some companies send out two different mailings. For example, a full catalog for frequent shoppers and a postcard for less frequent shoppers.

Saving Money On Direct Mail With Reduced Postage Costs

When you allow recipients to unsubscribe, you let them fine-tune or clean your list for you. It's not good for you or the recipient if they're not interested in your mail, yet they're getting it anyway. The money you save on unsubscribes can even be used to target a new audience who is interested.

To collect the addresses and recipients whom you should eliminate from your list, simply provide a short URL on the mailed piece that links to a webpage that provides an easy form for the recipient to submit their name and address so you can build a suppression list for your next mailing.

Stay Within USPS Regulations To Reduce Postage Costs

There are a lot of mailing options available with the post office. Staying within their guidelines can be confusing. But, if you know how to navigate their regulations, the mailing process will be smoother, and you'll be able to save on postage costs. Here are some general guidelines to help you stay on track and get an idea of USPS rates for direct mail:

  • Letter size is inexpensive: You'll find savings if you stay within the 3" x 5" to 6" x 10" range. Above that, they become "flats," which can increase how much direct mail postage costs. For example, 8.5" x 11" direct mail flyers cost more than 6" x 9" postcards.
  • Address tri-fold and other folded mailers correctly: To qualify for automation discounts, your folded direct mail pieces must be addressed in a specific way. Check out our direct mail templates to get an idea of where the mailing information needs to be.
  • Make room for the address: You must leave clear space on your mail for the address and barcode. You should be okay leaving a 4" x 2" space open. You can have an image in this area as long as it's light enough in color to meet the USPS direct mail postal regulations.
  • Fold it correctly: The final fold should be below or to the right of the address for folded pieces. Other layouts may be acceptable, but additional costs may be applied.
  • Keep the weight down:
    1. Mailers under an ounce only require 70 lb paper and one-inch tabs or wafer seals.
    2. 1 to 3-ounce mailers require at least 80 lb paper and larger tabs.
    3. 3+ ounce mailers require an envelope
  • Watch for inconsistencies: For automation discounts, your pieces must have consistent shapes and thicknesses. That means all mail within a single mailing needs to be the same size and weight. You must also stay away from bumps in your mailers. Bumps could be from pens, keys, coins, or even paper clips and string.
  • Stay away from wrapping: Any wrapping or cover you add to your letter-sized mailings will earn an additional charge.
  • Don’t go too thin: Although it seems counterintuitive, the post office will charge you more if your mail is extremely thin. You'll avoid extra costs by keeping your paper thickness at 0.009 inches and above.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and they may change. To be sure you're getting the lowest costs possible, call USPS or your mailing service representative.

Decrease Direct Mail Postage Costs For Incredible Results

Decreasing postage costs in your direct mail marketing campaign isn't just about cutting corners. It's about strategically analyzing your goals and distributing your resources to maximize your campaign's impact and ROI.

Follow USPS Requirement to Save on Postage

Overall, to reduce the cost of direct mail postage, you can:

  • Clean up your mailing list
  • Plan ahead to avoid costly mistakes
  • Target the right audience
  • Choose the right mailer type, size, and weight
  • Presort and use bulk mail services for postage discounts
  • Use comingling for small mailings
  • Allow direct mail recipients to unsubscribe
  • Stay within USPS regulations to reduce postage costs

The effectiveness of direct mail marketing lies within its tangible, personal approach, and by reducing postage costs, you can designate your resources to enhance your direct mail campaign through more impactful designs, targeted approaches, and more to generate even higher response rates and sales.

At Conquest Graphics, we not only offer affordable and top-quality printing services, but we also offer direct mail services, and our team of experts is here to help you every step of the way, including exploring the best way you can save on postage based on your goals and budget.

Have questions or need help finding the direct mail printing costs and direct mail advertising costs that fit your direct mail budget? Contact Conquest Graphics at 800-707-9903 today.

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