Quick and Easy Direct Mail Campaigns for Maximum Results

Tips & Tricks

Marketing Mail vs. First Class: Basic Qualification Rules
Before you print...
5 ways to save
Increase response

Marketing Mail vs. First Class: Basic Qualification Rules

Here are the basic rules representing the conditions under which mail containing personal information qualifies for the Marketing bulk mail rate and when the more expensive First-Class postal rate must apply.

MARKETING MAIL:
All personal information must relate directly to a solicitation or a sales pitch. For more details, click here.

FIRST-CLASS MAIL:
Personal information used in the mail for any other purpose – examples would be a warranty notice, a receipt of a donation, a statement of account or a billing statement.

Hand written mail can only be mail via first-class. For more details, click here.

CAUTION: If your mail piece has a dual purpose including one that would only qualify for first-class rate, you probably will have to send it first-class.

EVALUATION: At the planning stage of your campaign, and to make sure your pieces does qualify for marketing mail, for profit or not for profit, we do recommend that you e-mail us your artwork or sample message so we can get proper evaluation directly from the postal service.

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Before You Print...

Before you print anything, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR MAIL-PIECE MEETS POSTAL SERVICE REGULATIONS!

You will save on immense costs and frustration by taking extra time to design a mail-piece that qualifies for postcard-letter-flat size postal status, automation compatibility or any other possible tricky rules. When you work on the design, communicate with your Account Manager. At Direct Mail Center, we'll assist you in the best of our abilities with regulations by giving you our opinion. However, the postal employees are always the one that will sign off on it.

Here are the names/numbers of the key personnel at:

San Francisco General Mail Facility
1300 Evans Street
San Francisco, CA 94188

POSTAL REGULATIONS: (Hours: 10am - 4pm)

Annie Young
415-550-5750
Fax: 415-550-5770

MAIL-PIECE DESIGN ANALYST (MDA) Support Team:
855-593-6093
Email: mda@usps.com

You will find additional assistance also by contacting our office.

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5 Ways to Save Money...

At Direct Mail Center, our goal is always to minimize the total spending of a mailing campaign. For this reason, we have identified 5 ways where you can easily reduce cost without affecting quality.

  1. Design the labeling panel of a self-mailer for postal automation
    The biggest expense in most mailings is postage. When designing a letter-size self-mailer, the last fold has to be at the bottom of the labeling panel and the previous fold on its right side; the top edge will be tabbed by Direct Mail Center. The area to the right or below the address should be clear of any graphics to allow for accurate reading of the barcode by the post office scanners. This will qualify your self-mailer for automation postal processing and save postage.
  2. Design your mailing pieces for letter-size postal rate
    The minimum mailable size is 3.5"x5" (0.009" thick) and maximum letter-size is 6.125"x11.5" (0.009" thick). Width divided by height must be greater than 1.3" and less than 2.5". Keeping your mailing piece within these parameters will allow you to take advantage of the letter-size postage rate. For more information about postal specifications, refer to the Post Office connection links or contact your Account Manager at Direct Mail Center.
  3. Choose letter-size envelopes with commercial flaps
    Non-letter size envelopes or envelopes with square flaps need to be hand inserted, which is more labor intensive and will increase cost. Regular #10, #11, or 6"x9" envelope (booklet style - open side) can be machine inserted, sealed & metered simultaneously and therefore reduce labor cost dramatically. Work with your Account Manager at Direct Mail Center when designing your package to make sure your envelopes & inserts are perfectly insert-machine compatible.
  4. Preprint a postal permit indicia
    Having a postal permit indicia preprinted on your mailing piece allows for inkjetting and sorting mail-pieces to be done simultaneously on our machinery, which keeps labor cost down. Make sure to use the proper indicia for the corresponding class of mail. When you use Direct Mail Center for your mailings, you have access to our selection of postal permits at no charge. Click here for our postal permit indicia.
  5. Choose paper stock that will inkjet, automate and mail
    Materials need to be compatible with post office and mailing facility equipments.

    Varnish coatings will not accept inkjet addressing without smearing; tell the printer to leave an addressing area that is not varnished. Or it would require applying a more expensive pressure sensitive label;

    White stock is preferred for the addressing panel; most colored stocks may interfere with the barcode reading and you will need to supply Direct Mail Center with a sample to verify scanning capability;

    Mail-pieces weighing over 3.5 ozs. increase postage and processing cost considerably;

    Round edges are not mailable at all by postal regulations. Mail-piece corners have to be square.

For more information regarding the design of your mail-piece, contact your Account Manager (staff) or e-mail us when you start your project.

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Increase Response...

Direct mail marketing requires a delicate balance of testing and understanding your target audience, the mailing list, the graphic design, the development and the timing of your campaign. Direct Mail Center will help you through this complex process.

Take a few minutes and read the following information. It will be a tremendous assistant in your future mailing campaigns.

Identify your prospective buyer
Consider income, educational level, interests, profession, age, gender, geographical area and ethnic background. This is your base target audience.

In some case, you may need to know more. Thorough list analysis is provided by Direct Mail Center where your house file is compared with a national demographic detailed data base. The sampling needs to be at least about 100,000 records. At the end, you will know exactly who your actual client is. From this exact definition, the list selecting process for a new direct mail campaign becomes quite easier. This process may be costly but helps dramatically.

Do not select a list by price alone
The quality of a list should be evident in the response traffic it generates and the conversion of responses into actual sales. By sending your mailing to higher prospects in the first place, your closing ratios will generally increase as well. Most marketers find that the closing ratio is more significant than the overall response received. An outrageously expensive list or a list that is given away may not be right for your campaign.

Make the mailing list your priority number one. There are thousands of cataloged list sources at the tip of our fingers. But first, we need to gather any information you can provide in regards to product, offer, client definition, etc. After analysis of your needs and comparing it with list availability, we will present you with suggestions.

Timing is important
Establish frequency of mailings and seasonal trends. If you mail too infrequently, response suffers. Lack of recognition can be deadly and your house list looses its value. Different markets, products or regions operate on different slumps and swings. When history is incomplete, these are important testing criteria.

Three essentials of response creativity…making it work!

  1. The offer invites the prospect or customer to respond. It selects and involves the prospects who read or view your offer. The greater the number of prospects involved, the greater the number of your respondents.
  2. The market determines the medium (i.e. list, magazine, direct mail, television) with which you communicate. Knowing your target market and the size of the audience helps you select the medium.
  3. The creative treatment of the offer, product or service determines the quality of customers responding. Tones of voice and visual dramatization are different for each market. The idea is to avoid telling a full story. You want to arouse the prospect's interest, indicate why he/she should act and then ask for immediate action. The tactic is “see how” and “find out how.” You don't want to give too much detail. The strategy is to tell as much as possible within the economic constraints of the medium you are using.

Structure a strong offer
The offer connects your mailing list to your objectives. Determine if you want to develop sales leads, raise funds, or close a sale. Then, structure your mail-piece so that it focuses on the features, advantages and benefits of your product or service. Incentives such as free gifts, information, estimates, training or technical assistance rewards the reader for responding. You can reduce the risk of responding by building in a discount, a free trial period or a money back guarantee; and encourage an immediate response by setting a response time limit.

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