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Direct Mail Service Options

Navigating postal regulations and marketing your business with direct mail can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Fortunately, a little knowledge can go a long way toward demystifying the mélange of mailing service options for successful marketing campaigns.

Making Cents out of Direct Mail

mailing house equipment The good news is you don't have to tackle the mailing process on your own. Many of the tasks can be accomplished with state-of-the-art mailing service production equipment and software. And the best news is that it can actually save you time and money to get expert help with your mailing project.
From securing a target list to personalizing your greetings, mailing services go beyond just addressing and delivering your pieces to the post office. Professional print and mail houses can do the bulk of the execution on your mailing, leaving you to concentrate on the target market, messaging and timing of your direct mail campaign. To make it even easier and faster, find a printer like us that also mails for a one-stop shop.

You'll find the following types of mailing services available to help make your mailing a breeze:
  • Mailing List Rental - Rent a list of names and addresses for single or repeat mailings
  • List Processing and CASS Certification - This service cleans up the duplicates and identifies any potentially undeliverable addresses in your mailing list. Learn more in our related article about address quality and why a clean mailing list is the foundation of a successful mailing.
  • Addressing - Tired of messing with address labels and licking stamps? For just pennies a piece, we can ink-jet the destination address, return address and mailing indicia all at once using high-speed addressing machines.
  • Variable data - Customize your mail pieces with personalized greetings, offers or sequential numbering either during or instead of the addressing process.
  • Inserting and tabbing - The latest technology makes it easier than ever to insert cards, letters or multiple pieces into envelopes and tab or seal folded brochure mailers.

Postal Services Simplified

Have you wondered just what the difference between First Class and Bulk (or Standard) mail really is? It's more than just the cost of the postage and speed of delivery. Your local post office is a blur of industrial automation. To make it easier to handle and sort your mail, the USPS offers incentives for making your mail piece machine-friendly and waiting a few extra days for delivery.

 First Class MailFirst Class Pre-SortedStandard Mail (aka Bulk Mail)
CostMost expensiveDiscount off First Class because the sorting step is done ahead of time.Discount off First Class Presorted because the USPS has more flexibility on delivery speed.
SpeedDelivered in 1 to 3 days nationwideDelivered in 1 to 3 days nationwideMost pieces delivered in 2-9 days, with some stragglers.
QuantityAny quantity500 piece minimum200 piece minimum
Mailing Panel Design RestrictionsNo specific restrictions but the USPS will add an ugly bar code, unless it is applied in the addressing process.Requires open space for the printing of the address and bar code so that it can be read by a sorting machine.Requires open space for the printing of the address and bar code so that it can be read by a sorting machine.
Price A Mailing
Learn about the new lower cost, no-mailing-list-needed Every Door Direct Mail service from the USPS.
For help with laying out your mailing piece to comply with postal regulations, see our U.S. Mail Layout Guides or give us a call today for a free consultation at 800-930-6040.

Mailing Service Endorsements Serve You

While the term may not be familiar, the concept should be. Service endorsements are instructions to the USPS on what to do with your mail if it can't be delivered. Two of the most common endorsements are:
    US mail
  • Return Service Requested - The mail piece will be returned to the sender with a sticker showing the new address or reason for non-delivery
  • Temporary Return Service Requested - The undeliverable mail piece will be forwarded to the new address if the recipient filed a temporary change-of-address request
There is no charge for these services if you mail with either First Class option. For Standard or Bulk Mail, you'll receive the returned piece and pay a First Class rate plus a nominal charge for the service. If you want to reach more of your recipients and keep your addresses updated, these endorsements will serve you well.

Size it Right for the Best Postage Rates

Size matters when it comes to sorting mail with machines. The USPS has grouped mail into four size types. While there are complex calculations used to determine the size of your mail piece, here are a few guidelines that relate to most business mail:
  • Postcard Rate - 4 ½ x 5 ½ and 4 x 6 postcards qualify for this postage rate
  • Letter Rate - at least 3 ½" high x 5" wide but not more than 6 ⅛" high x 11 ½" wide
  • Large Envelopes and Flats - bigger than a letter but not more than 12" high x 15" wide
  • Packages - for everything else. If your mail piece isn't a postcard, letter or flat, then it's considered a package.
Thickness and shape also factor into mailing service rates. If you're using an especially thick paper or non-standard shape, your piece may not qualify for lower rates. Discuss your needs with our mailing services team to ensure that your design will meet your mailing budget.
Need more info or help with a direct mail project? Call our mailing experts now at 800-930-6040.