If you’re not already aware, the U.S. Postal Service is ringing in the new year with a postal rate increase. Beginning January 27th, the price of a first-class stamp will go from $.50 to $.55, the largest jump since 1991, when the rate went from $.25 to $.29.
This, of course, translates into higher expenses for businesses that use mail for marketing and fulfillment. Credit Suisse estimated Amazon will experience some $1 billion in added expenses attributed to the 2019 postal rate increase.
How can you ensure the postal rate hike doesn’t derail 2019 direct mail marketing plans? While you can’t stop the rates from going up, there are some things marketers can do to keep direct mail postage costs in check.
1. Understand “class” differences.
There are two classes for bulk mail: First Class and Marketing Mail (previously called Standard Presort Mail). Each class has specific requirements and benefits. So, consider the specifications when creating your direct mail campaigns.
First Class mail is delivered within 1 to 3 days (not including Alaska or Hawaii). For direct mail, you will pay the full first-class rate ($.55 beginning Jan. 27) for up to 499 pieces. If you have more than 200 pieces, you can print an indicia on your mail piece, saving you the time and effort of stamping each piece. At 500 pieces your mail can be presorted, earning a discount bulk mail rate, as low as $.383 per piece, depending on a range of factors
If your direct mail campaign can accommodate a longer delivery window, then you can consider Marketing Mail, which the USPS states is delivered in 3 to 18 days. This discounted rate requires sorting and a minimum of 200 pieces.
Use the USPS’s Domestic Business Price Calculator to calculate your costs in advance, based on type, size, weight and other specifications.
2. Quantity counts.
Whenever it makes sense, aim to have a minimum of 500 pieces for First-Class Mail, or 200 pieces for Marketing Mail to ensure the best rate. It is possible to save even on smaller quantities by using a meter or printing your postage online, in which case you’ll pay $.50 for first-class versus $.55.
3. Size and weight matter.
Aim to stay within maximum size requirements for various types of mail. The maximum size of a first-class letter is 6 1/8” x 11 1/2”. And, watch the weight of your piece. Try to stay at one ounce or less. Every ounce you add increases your postage cost.
Consider standard size postcards (4 ¼” x 6”) to get the postcard rate versus letters and larger postcards which can add to the cost as well.
4. Stock up on Forever Stamps before January 27.
If your business routinely uses first-class stamps, purchase as many Forever Stamps as you can afford before January 27 and save $.05 per stamp. As the name implies, you can use these stamps now or anytime in the future, even if the first-class postage rate rises.
5. Consider Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®).
Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) is an even lower cost option for certain situations. If you are targeting geographically to saturate a specific area, without regard to other demographic information, you can shave quite a bit from your postage cost.
6. Work with knowledgeable direct mail partners.
Make sure your direct mail partners – from graphic designers to mail houses – understand all the factors that contribute to postage cost (size, weight, dimensions) so that you end up with a designed piece that meets your marketing objectives without breaking the bank because it is outside of the standards that provide the most cost-effective rates.
7. Make sure you have good data.
One of the easiest ways to save on postage costs and ensure the most successful direct mail campaigns possible is to start with a clean, updated mailing list. Executing a mailing with bad data is like sending money down the drain. And the evidence is undeniable when the piles of returned mail land back in your office.
In the end, how much you save on business postage comes down to planning and attention to details. The little things may only add pennies to each piece, but those pennies add up to a big expense for direct mail marketing campaigns. When it comes to direct mail postage, it pays to sweat the small stuff.