10 Tips for the New Direct Mail Climate

Since the post office has announced that the next postage increase will be in July 2022 followed by an increase in January 2023 then July 2023, we need to start planning on ways to save postage as well as increase responses. Direct mail is very effective at driving responses when done correctly. As long as we keep the costs down, direct mail can efficiently increase sales or donations. So, moving forward we will break down savings methods and response rates.

5 Ways To Save On Postage:

  1. List – Clean your list to remove bad addresses and update addresses when people move. You only want to spend money on people who have a good address.
  2. Size – Use letter size pieces so that you pay the least amount in postage. The maximum size allowed will depend on the type of material you are mailing. You can go to 6.125 x 11.5 if sending a card or envelope. If you are sending a folded self-mailer your max size is 6 x 10.5.
  3. Lumps – Automation compatible mail must be regular in shape and thickness. Avoid enclosures such as pens, pencils, or loose keys or coins that cause the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven. Clasps, strings, staples, buttons, or similar closing devices are also prohibited.
  4. Color – Avoid dark paper stock or printed images in the address area. Make sure they are light enough to meet USPS reflectance standards. Postal OCR machines must be able to discern the barcode against the background or you pay more postage.
  5. Layout – Make sure that you layout your mail piece so that your address block falls in the OCR read area and your aspect ratio (length divided by height) is from 1.3 to 2.5. Mail pieces that fall outside those ratios could cost twice as much.

5 Ways To Increase Response Rates:

  1. Targeting – Sending the right offer to the right person is critical to increase response rates. Make sure that you are using only a segment of your data that the offer applies to.
  2. Offer – Create a clear and concise offer with an expiration date to motivate buying. If you can give something away for free that is a powerful motivator, if not, try $30 off or something that is meaningful based on the price of your product or service.
  3. Size – If you’ve always had reasonable success with a 5.5 x 8.5 postcard, test a 6 x 11 card and see if it catches more attention. What it cost you in dollars, you could get back in response. We would recommend staying in the letter postage rate size category to keep your postage costs down.
  4. Frequency – If you are mailing four times a year, test a series of six mailings. It keeps you in front of customers more often and gives you more opportunities to get a response. Tests have shown that a second mailing of the same piece to the same list usually generates 50% of the response of the first mailing. Of course, do not saturate them with mail; it will only have a negative effect.
  5. Response – Provide multiple ways to respond. Include a phone number, email, text number, website, QR code, and anything else you have available. Make them easy to find. Consider including a business reply card. Even in this day when people may respond by telephone and internet, business reply cards improve response rates. Their very presence communicates that a response is requested.

In the new direct mail climate, it is important to pay the least amount of postage and get the highest response rates possible. These 10 tips will help guide you to more effective direct mail. The more effective you are the more sales you will generate. Don’t be tempted to drop mail altogether in favor of a digital only strategy. Many have tried this and found out that direct mail is still a big key to driving sales. Combining your marketing strategy between channels gives you the most lift so make sure you are not just doing direct mail either. Are you ready to create more sales in this new direct mail climate?