Contact Us at 760-480-2323

Machine Insertable Envelopes

Selecting the correct envelope can save thousands in labor costs.  In order to automate the inserting/stuffing of envelopes they will need to be a certain design, as the machine inserters are only compatible with certain envelope types.

Most envelope manufacturers will brand their envelopes as machine insertable, but below are a few tips in order to identify and select the correct type of envelope.  Additionally, if you are looking for something a little bit different than standard envelopes some can be custom made to be machine insertable.

Size: The simplest envelopes to insert by machine are #10, #9 reply envelopes, 6"x9" and 6"x9.5".  For other sizes it is best to contact us to see the most cost effective way to insert these envelopes, as depending on the piece some envelopes are actually more efficient to hand insert.  You will also need to ensure that there is enough room in the envelopes for your inserts.  Many times people try to insert a #9 into a 6x9 which is just too tight of a fit.

Flap: Typically the flap style is what will determine if the envelope is machineable.  The flap needs to be short (about 1.5") and will need rounded corners with about 0.25" radii.  Below are a few samples of what this typically looks like.

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Envelopes with square flaps like the one below are not machineable.  Many invitation style envelopes are designed like this.

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Seal: Machineable envelopes should be gummed moisture sealed envelopes. Peal and stick as well as press and stick envelopes will not be able to be machine inserted.

These are the basic factors contributing to whether an envelope can be machine inserted, but it is best to contact us to make sure everything is correct.  We can also provide envelopes to ensure they are machine insertable and are the most efficient for your specific mailing. We can also provide color printed envelopes or custom make envelopes for your specific mailing.


Why you should not use word for mail merge documents.

Microsoft word has the ability to create mail merges but we often recommend not using this function as there are a few issues with mail merges in Microsoft Word.  We prefer to use software which allows us to create mail merges within PDF documents.

The problem with word is that the program was not designed specifcally to create mail merges.  Using a PDF software give much more control over the merge and allows for many additional functions.  PDF software allows additional rules to be created, and essentially any rule can be coded into the document.  Some examples are dynamic changes to formatting, change to fit options, variable imagery, etc.  It is also much better to print variable data from a PDF, as opposed to printing from a word file.  

PDF software also allows more options to review the merge to make sure nothing is being truncated or causing unintended changes in the document.  Microsoft word documents often change depending on the settings on each computer.  The alignment and design of the document can also be difficult to control especially with variable data being inserted into the document.

Though we highly recommend using setting up variable data mail merge documents in a PDF software, we can and do use microsoft mail merges for some mailing.  This should only be done for simple merges with address merge and perhaps a variable salutation.  Everything else we recommend using PDF software.  The best way to set something like this up is to send a PDF document with either notes or highlighted fields that indicate the merged field and any other notes indicating special requests.


Proof of Mailing

There are different types of proof of mailings available depending on the type of piece being mailed as well as the how granular the proof of mailing needs to be.

Bulk Mail Receipt: The simplest proof of mailing is a postal receipt.  This can be obtained easily for any bulk mail.  The receipt indicates that the post office received the quantity indicated on the receipt and weight verified the mailing.  This does not provide details on each individual piece

Tracking: Tracking can be added to packages which can then be looked up to see their delivery status.  Tracking can also be added to bulk mailings, but this needs to be done prior to the job being processed, includes an additional fee, and is not 100% accurate as it just indicates that last scan at the delivery post office and many post offices do not have the technology to track every piece.  Bulk mail tracking also gives you an idea of where the mail is in the mail stream and it is difficult to track individual pieces.

Certified Mail: Certified mail will allow you to track the delivery to the post office and receipt of the mail piece.  This is expensive and often not cost effective for bulk mailings.  There are options to certify mailings in bulk but it is still very time consuming and expensive.

Use of Permits: Another way to obtain a proof of mailing is to use your own permit which you will be able to see each transaction on the permit through the USPS dashboard.

Seeds: You can also include seed names in your list so that you know the mail was delivered.  This is a good indicator that your mailing is in the mail stream

For bulk mailings, postal receipts and including seed names should clearly demonstrate that mailings went out, but for some mailings it may be beneficial to include tracking and even certified mail to prove that the mail is in the mail stream and being delivered.  For packages tracking is usually sufficient as all carriers have robust package tracking.

How to reduce shipping costs

The easiest way to reduce shipping costs is by reducing or optimizing packaging.  Depending on the size of the product there are different ways to optimize shipping, but in essence the smaller and lighter the package is the less shipping will cost.  Every ounce matters so reducing packaging or using light weight packaging will have a huge effect in reducing shipping costs.  There are risk involved.  If less or lighter packaging is used this will reduce the integrity of the package and could risk breaking products which will cause losses in product and additional costs to re-ship, as well as an unhappy customer.  Packaging is important for your brand and the customer experience, so it is also important to weigh the aesthetics of the package in addition to the weight and size. It is best to test different packaging types to find a balance of the best packaging to use which will also reduce your shipping rates.  If we are provided samples or even descriptions of the products we would be happy to provide suggestions.

Packing by Hand


Many products are too delicate to pack or insert by machine, so we offer our white glove fulfillment and packing service.  This service can be used for product kitting and fulfillment but can also be used for fulfilling packets, certificates, or complicated mailings.  Sometimes it is even faster and more accurate for us to fulfill by hand.

How to determine if you fulfillment requires hand fulfillment?  Below are a few examples of products that could be hand fulfilled:

  • Delicate products that needed to be packed precisly
  • Products that require a specific presentation
  • Packets or envelopes with multiple sheets of variable information and/or varying page length
  • Folders with variable information or insert inside and outside of the folder
  • Bulky and irregular shaped products or inserts

There are many different situations when hand packing can be advantagous.  It is best to contact us and we can provide the best recommendation for your specific needs and projects.

Next Day Print and Mail

Need a quick turnaround or have a rush job that needs to mail as soon as possible.  Quick turnarounds and next day jobs depend on the mailing type (postcards, self-mailers, letters), complexity, readiness of the artwork and proof approval, availability of postage funds, size of the mailing, among other variables.  The typical turnaround time for mailings is 2-3 days and for printing and mailing is 2-6 days depending on the complexity and requirements of the job, but contact us if you have a rush job, we can see if we can accomadate your needs.  We highly recommend having everything ready for your mailing well in advanced to ensure ample time to review artfiles, check noncassed and moved records, use less expensive postage, and ensure everything is ready well ahead of the scheduled mail date but we understand that this is not always possible.  Rush and next day turnaround mailings are more expensive, but sometimes there is no choice.  If you have a rush mailing and printing let us know when you need the mailing out by and we can see if we can complete the turn around for you.

What are typical prices for Direct Mail?

Effective direct mail should be custom quoted for your specific job, as no two jobs should be the same.  Due to this it is very difficult to provide typical pricing and costs for direct mail.  Though there are different variables which can effect the price of your direct mail piece.  Below are a few examples:

Printing: Size, color, variable data printing, paper type, volume

Lists: Complexity, Business vs Residential, Names Included, Removal of Duplicates, Suppression List

Postage: Size, weight, and design of the piece, urgency, type of mailing

Direct Mail Services: Complexity, design of the piece, number of inserts, requirement of hand fulfillment, requirement of tabbing

For examples of ballpark pricing of differently designed pieces please visit here or contact us to receive a custom quote designed specically for your needs.


Customer Database Analysis: Who are best Customers?

Your best customers are your current customers, but do you know who your current customers are and how to target to similar potenial customers.  In additional to marketing to currrent customers it is beneficial to target to propects that look like you current customers.

 Action Mail is able to take your customer list and analyze demographic indicators of who your customers are.  With this information we are able to generate a report demonstrating the percentage of your current customer database that fall into differnet demographic categories.  These categories include, age, gender, income, geography, vehicle types, education level, net worth, presence of children, just to name a few.  

 With this report you can better understand your customer and target new customer that look like your current customers.  Once this report is created there are a few options, we can pull a list that we can generate using the statistics of your report and target a look a like audience or we can focus on a few of the most relevant indicators and generate a list using these indicators.

 Understanding the data behind your current customers is very helpful in creating new campaigns, and in the long run will save money on wasted printing and postage to individuals outside of your target demographic.  Contact us to learn more about how we can analyse your data and target your marketing

Next Day Flyers, Vista Print, and Other Online Printers

There are many online printers to select from but online printing can often be more expensive and of lower quality.  Working with a local print and mail house like Action Mail is a much difference process than submitting files online and hoping they come out as you wished.  Below are a few advantages of using a printer like Action Mail.

Price: Often times online printers are more expensive than printers like Action Mail.  There are costs like additional services (4 color printing on both sides, paper quality), shipping, etc that increase the advertised cost on many websites

Turnaround: Action Mail can many times have faster turnaround times than online printers.  Especially if the printing is being mailed, Action Mail can help you avoid delays and costs associated with shipping.  Action Mail's printing turnaround is typicall 3-6 days depending on the quantity and piece, but we also have the ability to expedite printing if needed.

File Review: Many online printers will print files as they come, whereas Action Mail will review your files to make sure files are setup to print correctly and we will even have a quick review of the content to see if we can identify any errors like spelling errors, etc prior to going to print.  This is very important especially for direct mail printing, as Action Mail will ensure that your printing meets USPS standards to get you the best postage rates

Support:  Many online printers do not have support that you can easily contact to ask questions.  At Action Mail you can always contact one of our sales representatives for help with your printing and mailing needs.  Action Mail can also provide advice on the best stocks to use for your specific job and ways to reduce your print costs.


Disaster Relief Marketing

When disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more occur the people affected need support, but it is tricky to target and market to those affected.  Many organizations and companies such as law firms, insurance agents, constuction companies, etc can provide much needed services, but it is hard for disaster victims to know about the services they offer. Direct Mail is a great way to provide marketing material for services to support people effected by disasters, as it is easy to to geograohically target individuals effected. 

Below are a few tips:

1. Geographic marketing: From our experience it is often best to target the geographic area where the disaster took place.  Depending on the disaster sometimes list of those effected are available but many times it takes a while to compile and can be expensive.  It is often more cost effective to target a geographical area even though you may include housholds not effected by the disaster.

2. Mail should get to the intended person.  Even if a home is destroyed by a disaster marketing direct mail should get to the intended recipient.  There are many important documents that need to be received by disaster victims, and one of the first thing FEMA will do is set up a forwarding addresses.  Additionally the USPS will hold mail for areas where disasters took place to ensure the recipients can receive their mail.

3. Tailored Messaging. This is a very difficult time for disaster victims and a well crafted message which offers support and a solution to the problems being faced is often times what is needed to help these victims but their lives back together.  Be sure to include credentials, testimonials, and additional proof of service to help set your services apart any scams.

4. Easy next steps: Be sure to make it easy for people to respond to your marketing piece.  Many times disaster victims have little to no resources so multiple ways to seek help will be necessary including phone numbers, addresses to meet in person and webpages.

This is a difficult time but providing your service could help provide support communities rebuild.  Whether you are a law firm, construction company, or any other service provider getting your services to those who need it most is essential.  Direct mail allows you to do so effectively and unobtrosively at this very sensitive time.

Marketing Collateral included Product Fulfillment

Fulfilling and shipping your products are not just a great way to deliver products to clients but it is a great way to market your brand and other products.  Shipping products is a great way to include additional marketing collateral giving clients coupon codes or special offers for purchasing additional products.  It is also a great and many times one of the only opportunities for you to develop your brand because in the digital age this can be one of the few times your clients will physically interact with your brand. 

  Including personalized offers and messages with your products will help you  connect with your clients and help create a more exciting unboxing experience.  Including marketing collateral like postcards, flyer, or notes will also have a lasting impact as often these do not get thrown away and are a constant reminder to the purchaser, friends, and family about your brand and products.  Branding your boxes will also create excitement and envy from friends, family and neighbors, and similar to flyers or postcards boxes typically sit around for a while, need multiple touches to dispose of them, and often get re-purposed.  

The best part about including marketing collateral with shipping your product is the free ride.  You are already paying for shipping so additional collateral will be delivered to your client free of charge by your carrier.

Are Superbowl Commercials worth the cost?

A thirty second Superbowl commercial costs about $5 million, but the advertisements reach over 100 million people.  The cost per viewer is a bargain but the inability to target a specific audience mean much of the advertising budget could be wasted on viewers who do no have an interest in the product being marketed.  Most of the advertisements are for large brands and advertising focuses on brand recognition as opposed to marketing specific services and/or offers.  These advertisers are typically large corporations and their Superbowl commercials are just a small part of their overall marketing budget. 

 These commercials are worth the return, publicity, and brand recognition generated by these commercials but they are not ideal for every business.  Most businesses will see a much higher ROI from targeted campaigns at consumers and businesses who specifically fall into their target demographic.  Targeted direct marketing and direct mail has a much higher cost per viewer, but focuses on a demographic that is much more likely to convert.  

 Another benefit is that Superbowl commericals have a longer shelf life.  The 30 second spot gets played over and over again by news channels, blogs, etc, and they are always a topic of conversation.  Similarly direct mail typically has a longer shelf life as they are viewed by who ever collects the mail then typically sit out for a few days and are perused by other members of the household.

Superbowl commercials are expensive but the cost per viewer is relatively low making the potential ROI high.  Yet, these commercials are only beneficial for products with a national scope whose message applies to the majority of superbowl viewers.  Most companies do not fall into this scope and a targeted direct marketing approach is often preferable and has a higher ROI.


What type of paper should I print my postcards on?

The type of paper for printing your postcards really depends on the look and feel you are looking for as well as your budget.

Paper thickness: The thickness of the paper will need to be at the very minimum 9pt or 0.009" thick, but this is very flimsy and too close to USPS postal regulations so we often recommend using a thicker stock.  For digital printing we recommend an 11pt stock and for offset printing we recommend a 14pt stock.  These hold up will during postal processing and are very cost effective.  Some people prefer a 10pt stock as this is slightly cheaper but the postcard does feel cheaper as well.

Paper Coating: The most common options for paper coating are matte or gloss coating.  These can be applied after printing as well, and we can advise the best options for your specific printing.  Typically gloss coating is used for pieces with bright graphics whereas matte is used for pieces that are more text heavy or with simpler images.  Yet, coating is more of a personal preference based on how glossy and shiny you would like your postcards to look.

Specialty Paper: Some clients prefer specialty paper like linen cover stock, colored papers, waterproof paper, etc.  These are typically much more expensive but do set your printed postcards apart from the rest.  We have the ability to print on practically any stock.  Sometimes printing black and white on colored or specialty paper ends up being more cost effective while also having a look that differentiates your postcard

USPS January 21, 2018 Rate Change

The USPS has announced that on January 21, 2018 postage rates will be changing.  It is not all bad news, there are certain categories of mail that are coming down in price.  Below are a few highlights of the changes to be made, please go to our 2018 USPS Postage Rate Update page or contact us at (760) 480-2323 for more information and help on how you can take advantage of the changes.

Highlights of 2018 USPS Rate Change:

First Class Mail

  • Price of a First Class Retail Stamp is increasing from $0.49 to $0.50
  • Price for a First Class Flat increasing from $0.98 to $1.00
  • International Postage will remain the same

Presorted Standard Mail

  • Presorted Standard Mail is still in the process of being re-branded  as Marketing Mail, but the restrictions on the type of mail that can be sent under this class and all requirements will remain the same.
  • On average Presorted Standard Mail postage will increase by less than 1.6%, although some presort prices are decreasing.  For most mailings postage should increase slightly

Packages and Parcels

  • Rates for  First Class Packages Commercial, First Class International USPS Retail Ground, and Priority Mail will all increase 3.9%
  • First Class Retail Parcels will increase 14.5%

We are here to help you navigate these price changes and will help you get the lowest postage rate. Please call or e-mail us if you need any help or have any questions.





Direct Mail Quick Turnaround

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How quickly do you need your direct mail piece in the mail?  Action Mail specializes in highly complicated quick turn around direct mail pieces.  This varies from highly sensitive open enrollment packets to tax forms that need to be distributed to employees.  Action Mail can also quickly print and send direct mail postcards and letters at the lowest postage rates.  If you have a rush job contact us today and we will work with you to get your piece delivered accurately and on time.

USPS Postage Rate


The USPS announced the possibility of a rate increase for January 2018.  This still needs to be finalized but the USPS provided detailed plans on their proposed rates.  The cost of a first class stamp will increase to $0.50 and the cost of a postcard stamp will be $0.35, a one cent increase.

Below are a few high level changes that the USPS has proposed

  • Commercial products will see a 4.7% increase but this is lower than FedEx's increase of 4.9%
  • Priority Mail is proposed to increase 3.9%
  • Discounts will be reduced for drop shipping mailings to local post offices
  • Discounts will be reduced for postal incentives
  • Bulk Mail (Standard Mail) are proposed to increase 2%

The cost of postage will vary depending on the size of the piece or package as well as what rate category the list qualifies for.

Action Mail will continue to monitor the updates from the post office and will provide updates once the rates are finalized.

Foreign Shipments


Shipping products and mailing to foreign countries can be difficult and expensive.  Action Mail can help reduce the costs of foreign shipments and mailings while ensuring that you meet the requirements of the country you are shipping and delivering to.  Action Mail can ship products or mailings directly into the destination country and have the local postal service deliver them to the final location.  This can save you a lot on postage and shipping costs, but this depend on the local mail system so depending on the country reliability and access to tracking information may vary.

The type of foreign shipping you select will depend on the product you are shipping, the weight, urgency to be delivered, and the country you are shipping to.  There are many different carriers and options all with different price points, delivery times, and reliability.  You will also have to take into account customs fees which will depend on the product you are shipping and the value of the product.

Shipping to some countries can be very difficult depending on how the local mail and distribution channels have been developed.  It is important to receive the address in the correct format and select a shipping option that meets your budget and your customers needs.

Environmentally Friendly Packaging

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The most cost effective, simplest, and one of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of your products packaging is to reduce package size.  Reducing the amount of packaging will save on shipping costs, reduce the use of additional packaging materials, and reduce the footprint of shipping a package.  The smaller the package the less materials, boxes, etc which in turn reduce the amount of waste and environmental impact.

  Apart from reducing the size of your packaging you can also use materials that are environmentally friendly.  Most shippers use corrugated boxes that are 100% recyclable but there are additional steps you can take to ensure your packaging is green.  It is recommendable to avoid the use of plastics and use recyclable and biodegradable packing materials and boxes.  There are packaging options available using boxed made of recycled contents, as well as packing materials made from recycled contents, or biodegradable packing materials.  There are also innovative green packing materials and boxes available but many of these products are expensive and not readily accessible. These environmentally friendly materials may not be as sturdy as traditional packing materials so be sure to test the durability of your packing materials for your specific products.  Using environmentally friendly packaging is fruitless if your product arrives damaged and you need to re-ship and pack a new products.

Selecting the correct box for your e-commerce shipments

Deciding which box to use for your shipments can save you a lot of money.  There are a lot of different aspects that should be considered based on your product, user experience, budget, and fulfillment.

Durability:  The most important aspect in selecting a box should be whether it will protect your product.  Saving money on shipping and boxes is fruitless if your product arrives broken and needs to be replaced and reshipped.  Corrugated boxes are rated on the bursting test (lbs/sq inch required to burst the box) as well as the Edge Crush Test ((ECT) lbs/sq inch required to crush the edge of a box).  Typical standards are 200# for the bursting test and 32# for the ECT.  If you have a heavy weight or delicate product it is better to go with double walled box or a mailer box which is reinforced by multiple folds.  Indestructo boxes are mailers are essentially uncrushable.  Boxes should have a stamp from the manufacturer indicating their rating, which is helpful to determine which box is the best for your product.  Typically 200# boxes should be fine for most shipments but it is best to evaluate boxes for your specific products.

Size:  Selecting the correct size can save you lots of money in shipping cost.  The aim should be to get you products to fit into boxes with as little open space as possible (be sure to allow enough space for padding and protective materials).  Doing so will decrease the cost of shipping as your product will weigh less, and every ounce counts.  Additionally shipping carriers can charge based on the size of the piece as opposed to the weight.  Dimensional or cubic weight calculations vary by carrier but when designing your box you should evaluate which carrier you will use and what are the most efficient size to use.  When shipping multiple products it is best to identify a few types of standard boxes to use that fit within the dimensional weight classifications that will work best for the carrier you will be using.  Depending on the size of the box some carriers have different requirements for the maximum and minimum dimensions and weights.

Design:  There are a few different box designs you can select from which depends on your product, fulfillment and intended user experience.  Some different types of boxes include traditional corrugated boxes, mailers, tab locked mailers, carry cases, etc.  Traditional boxes are the most efficient to fulfill, but are less secure and are less aesthetically pleasing, whereas mailers, tab locked mailers, and carry cases are more time consuming and difficult to assemble and fulfill but are more secure and look much nicer.

In summary you want to get your packaging to be as light and small as possible while still ensuring that your product is secure and protected.  Aesthetics can be added to the boxes but to save money on shipping and fulfillment you will want to decrease packaging as much as possible.