The U.S. Postal Service® offers many postage options for direct mail. The best choice for your business depends primarily on the size and frequency of your direct mail campaigns and how quickly you need them delivered.
5 direct mail postage terms to know
Before selecting the right postage, you need to understand the terminology. Here are the essentials:
- First-Class Mail.® It’s quicker than most other large mailing options, and comes with an advantage: Mail sent with bad addresses is returned to you so you can update your database.
- Presorted First-Class Mail. This option offers you a price savings over First-Class Mail. To receive the discount, you must have 500 or more pieces in the mailing and sort (or group) the mail by ZIP Code.™
- Standard Mail.® Formerly known as “bulk” mail, Standard Mail costs less than First-Class Mail, although it doesn’t provide address correction services. A minimum of 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail is required.
- Sorting. This can be as simple as categorizing by ZIP Code or as advanced as by carrier route. The more you sort, the less postage you pay because you’re saving the Postal Service™ work.
- Annual mailing fees. These apply to marketers mailing at discounted rates. Each postage category has its own fee, so if you mail both Presorted First-Class Mail and Standard Mail from the same post office, you must pay two annual fees.
3 types of discounted direct mail postage
There are three ways to pay for discounted postage:
- Pre-canceled stamps. These add a personal touch and give the impression that your piece wasn’t mass mailed.
- Postage meters. Meters allow you to prepay the postage and meter your own mail. You can use meters for all types of mail, including Presorted First-Class Mail and Standard Mail.
- Permit imprints. Also known as “indicias,” permit imprints are preprinted on your mailings. You deposit money into an account at the Post Office™ and the postage for the mailing is deducted from the account when the mailing is processed.
Should you handle direct mail sorting in-house?
How much of this posting and sorting can and should you do in-house? That depends on the volume and frequency of your direct mail campaigns.
Many businesses large and small prefer to outsource this function to a lettershop with the knowledge and equipment needed to secure the lowest postage possible. Some of these specialists can also combine your mailings with those of others to get you even more postage discounts. Before undertaking any posting and sorting yourself, talk to local mailing houses about how they might be able to help.Direct Marketing 101, Small Business