Contact Us at 760-480-2323

New Mover and New Homeowner Mailing

New movers and new homeowners are great leads for local businesses.  New movers have just arrived in a neighborhood and will be looking to establish their new lives including finding local restaurants, laundry services, grocery stores, and dentists which if they are pleased with the services will use for as long as they live in their new home or apartment.  This is a great opportunity to create a lifelong customer.

In addition to searching for local businesses new movers and homeowners will be more likely to use services like home repair, new installations, cleaning and gardening services, furniture, etc.  There are a lot of expenses associated with a new move and new movers spend about the same amount of money in the first 6 months of their move as most Americans spend during the whole year.

The good news is that it is possible to identify addresses that have just moved and target them directly.  Targeting households with a direct mail offer right as they move into their new home is a great way to welcome them to the neighborhood and introduce your business.  Not only are households looking for local restaurants and stores to try but they are also excited to explore their new home and check their mailbox daily.  This is a great opportunity for marketers to directly target potential new clients.

Integrating your Direct Mail Marketing

Action Mail can integrate your direct mail marketing with your overall digital marketing campaign. To improve your marketing return on investment (ROI) all of your marketing efforts must work together. With an integrated approach you can maintain a consistent value proposition and ensure that the effect of each individual marketing channel is multiplied by the other channels being used simultaneously.

Direct mail marketing can be a significant portion of your integrated approach. The power of mail marketing can be enhanced by combining your mail with your online efforts. Including Personalized URLs (PURLS), and/or personalized QR codes on your mailings will allow for a more integrated marketing approach. The following are the major benefits gained by bringing your offline mail campaigns online:

1.       Tracking

One of the biggest challenges with direct mail marketing is tracking your success. By integrating your direct mail campaigns with your online marketing activities you can easily track responses. With custom landing pages and PURLs you can track the response and conversion of every piece of mail sent.

2.      Personalizing

By including PURLs and personalized QR codes you can now customize the direct mail experience for every recipient. Personalized landing pages with pre-filled forms improve the overall customer experience. You can combine the customer targeting of direct mail with the interactive capabilities of the internet.

3.      Coordinating with Other Channels

By tracking your mail you can trigger emails or other marketing campaigns to coincide with the delivery of the mailing to reinforce the marketing message. It is important to keep your value proposition fresh in the customers mind. Marketing messages can be triggered based on customer responses, helping customers move closer to a decision to convert.

4.      Improving Response

Combining the power of direct mail with the real time data and coordinated marketing efforts will help to increase your return on investment across all marketing channels.

5.      Improving Customer Experience

By coordinating your marketing efforts the customer experience is improved. Each customer feels the personal touch and each marketing message they receive is integrated with the brand, value proposition, and overall marketing campaign.

Please contact us today for a free consultation on an integrated direct mail marketing campaign for your business!

Envelope Sizes

We often get questions from clients about what size different envelope types are or what are the names or numbers of different envelopes.  For instance many clients ask, “What are the dimensions of a #10 envelope?”  Dimensions and naming is often confusing but below is an envelope size chart with the type, dimensions, name, and use of the four most common envelope sizes.

 

Type Dimensions (inches) Name or Number Use
Regular 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 #10 This is typically used for letter mailings where the letter is tri-folded. These included statements, or correspondence
Reply 3 7/8 x 8 7/8 #9 These envelopes are inserted inside a #10 envelope and are used for respondents to send a reply to the mailing
Announcement 6 x 9 1/2 A-10 These are typically used for invitation mailings or mailings that have a 8.5 x 5.5 half sheet of paper insert
9x12 9 x 12 9 by 12 (#10- 1/2 for catalog #9 booklet) These are used when unfolded 8.5x11 letter size sheets are to be inserted without any folding

 

These are the most common size envelopes, but many other envelope sizes are available and we can even custom make envelopes for your specific mailing.  We can also add windows, security tints, and color variable data printing to your envelope.

Each envelope type will effect the production and handling of your mailing so be sure to contact us to help select the best envelope for the look and feel of you mailing as well as which envelope will save on production and postage costs. If you have questions about additional envelope sizes give us a call at 760 480 2323 or drop by our San Diego offices at 230 Market Place, Escondido, CA 92029.

How do I know if my bulk mailing was mailed?

There are many ways to receive proof that your bulk mailing was mailed.  The easiest way it ask your mail house for a postal receipt.  When bulk mail is delivered to the post office the postal clerk will examine the piece make sure it meets the postal standards and weight verify the delivery to ensure that the quantity matches that in the postal statement.   They will then issue a mailing transaction receipt acknowledging that the mail has been delivered and is now in the hands of the USPS.  The postage statement will also detail the postage paid.  Many post offices are now sending these receipts electronically and they should be accessible for mail houses to distribute if there is a discrepancy.

Bulk direct mail can also be tracked.  The mail house can add information into the barcode of the mail piece which will allow the USPS to track the piece as it moves through the mail stream.  Your mail house can then provide a report indicating where in the mail stream the pieces are.  Tracking goes as far as the last scan from the last post office prior to delivery, but does not track when the piece is actually delivered to the recipient’s mailbox.  Furthermore, tracking is not 100% accurate as some pieces are not scanned and depending on where the mail is going some USPS post offices do not have the technology to track all types of mail.

In some cases the two aforementioned methods will not be available like for some first class, non-automation, comingled, or international mail.  In these cases the best way to track whether the pieces have been delivered to the post office is to add a seed name into your data.  A seed name is often times an address included in the data used for purpose of verifying that the mail has been sent.  It is best practice to include seed names in all mailings, not just to verify mailing but also to get an idea of when recipients have received the mail.  Seed names are helpful in ensuring the piece is in the mailstream, but if you are sending first class, comingled or international mail and need proof that your mail was delivered to the post office please advise your mail house prior to the mailing so they can either certify the mail or ensure all necessary documentation is available.

Identify you Target Audience Before you Launch Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail is a great marketing medium for targeted messages because you can be very specific in the characteristics of your target customer.

Identify your target audience for marketing success

Spending money on a marketing campaign that does not reach your target customer can destroy your return on investment (ROI). A significant part of planning your campaign should focus on who the target audience is. Narrowing down the characteristics of your target market may be a challenge at first because it is hard to know where to start. Below are ways to identify and narrow down the characteristics of your target customers.

1.       Identify key customer characteristics: Work to identify the demographics that you will use to segment your target market. Aspects such as geographic location, income level, and interests may help narrow down your target audience. First identify what these characteristics are, as we move down this list you will identify the specific characteristics of your target customer.

2.      Look at your current customers: Identify who your best customers are and note the similar characteristics of those customers. It is highly likely that your best targets have similar characteristics to your best customers.

3.      Imagine a perfect customer: This will take some brainstorming. Work with your team to build an imaginary perfect customer. What are the characteristics of a perfect customer?

4.      Look at your competitors: Observe what markets your competitors are focusing on. It is likely that similar markets are strong candidates for your marketing messages. However, keep in mind the differentiating factors between you and your competition, just copying their moves will always leave you two steps behind.

5.      Test your hypothesis: Once you have established the demographics of your target market test your theory. Deliver marketing messages to that audience and track your response rate. You should never be satisfied with your results and you should always be looking to hone in on the specific audience that will take your business to the next level.

Contact one of our representatives today to see what marketing list characteristics we can obtain for you. Give us a call at 760-480-2323 or email us at action@themailbusiness.com.

Traditional Carrier Route Mailing vs EDDM

Is it better to mail Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) or mail a traditional mailing where addresses are inkjet printed onto the piece?  Even though the EDDM program has been designed to make mailing more affordable and accessible it is often easier and more cost effective to mail using a mail house to process a carrier route mailing as opposed to an EDDM Mailing.

Cost Analysis

The cost of an EDDM mailing will most likely be greater than that of a carrier route mailing, but there are different costs associated with each type of mailing.  One of the requirements of EDDM (Every door Direct Mail) mailings is that the printed piece is larger than traditional a postcard.  This does help get your piece noticed and allow more space for messaging but printing larger pieces usually costs about 10-40% more.  The additional costs can be exponentially higher if the piece is a booklet or magazine.  Postage will also be higher for EDDM pieces with the retail rate being $0.177 per piece and a rate of $0.156 per piece if processed and mailed by a mail house, compared to $0.155 per piece of a carrier route saturation mailing.  Note that to get these postage prices you will need to deliver the EDDM pieces to the local post office whereas the carrier route pieces will only need to be delivered a central post office that handles all mail for the first three digits of a zip code.  When mailing to large areas this caveat could save thousands of dollars in delivery costs.  EDDM mailings also require that you mail to every address in the carrier route.  This can cause you to mail outside your target audience and waste money on printing and postage of pieces that will be sent outside your demographic.  Additionally you will be mailing to vacant homes and ones who have requested not to receive mail.

  Carrier route mailings will require that the address be printed on the piece whereas an EDDM piece can be printed with the same address panel for each piece.  The variable printing of addresses on carrier route pieces will result in additional costs, but sorting the mail off an inkjet printer is much more efficient which will offset some of the costs.  Additionally if you will need to purchase a list of addresses for carrier route mailings and this gives you some flexibility to target only the people you are interested in targeting saving money on postage and printing. You will still get a postage rate lower than EDDM if you select to mail to more than 90% of the residences or more than 75% of the total addresses in a carrier route.  Ultimately the costs for mailing EDDM vs carrier route will be quite similar with carrier route mailings often times being less expensive due to the reduced cost of printing.  Below are some comparisons of EDDM and Saturation mailings

Ease of Production

EDDM allows anyone to process and sort the mailing, but for both EDDM and carrier route mailings it is much for efficient and cost effective to have a mail house process the mail for you.  For mail houses carrier route mailings are typically processed faster as the sortation can be automated.  Additionally the ability to deliver carrier route mailings to a central post office often reduces delivery times.

Personalization

Carrier route mailings allow you to add personalization to the piece.  List can be purchased with or without names, but even a list purchased without names can be used to add a personal touch.  Many mailers address their piece by using a generic term associated with their target audience like “To our neighbors at” or “Current Voter” etc. This salutation coupled with the actual physical address of the home or business will help differentiate your mailing from mail entitled “Postal Customer”.  With Carrier Route mailings you can also purchase names where available and address the piece to a member of the household and even add personalized taglines.

Design

EDDM pieces are typically larger than carrier route mailings so they allow more space to include additional designs or messaging.  EDDM pieces also have more flexibility of where the address block can be placed and are require a smaller address block.

Each mailing is different to contact us at 760 480 2323 and we can help you determine which type of mailing is best for your project.

How to create the best customer database

Big data is the new buzz word, but often time’s small data is much more important and valuable.  Customer and donor information is crucial to understand and re-engage key clientele. Targeting proven customers will dramatically increase your ROI, help develop customer loyalty, and in turn help generate new leads through referrals. Below are a few tips on how to maintain your customer database

1.        Collect as much relevant data as possible.  The more data you have the more flexibility you will have to tailor your marketing to your specific clientele.  Do not just focus on collecting as many contacts as possible, but also concentrate on collecting other relevant data points that could take your marketing to the next level.  Variable data printing allows you to personalize each piece, so be sure you have enough relevant data so you can design your marketing specifically to your target audience. Examples of some of these data points could be gender, purchase types, purchase frequency, etc.  Be careful not to overload either the consumer or yourself and focus on collecting relevant information that you can use in your future campaigns.

2.      Ensure accuracy.  Sending misspelled or inaccurate personalized marketing pieces will most likely negatively affect your relationship with your client.  Ensure data collection and entry are accurate and take the extra time when collecting data to make sure everything is spelled and entered correctly.  One strategy that may help reduce errors is to have your customer directly enter their information into your CRM through an online form, questionnaire, rewards program, etc

3.      Regularly update and clean your database.  Make sure your database is up to date with correct addresses and customer information.  Remove or flag all inaccurate or irrelevant data points and entries.  Regularly updating the database ensures better customer insight and allows you to pivot your marketing plan based on your data.  Cass certifying and running your lists against NCOA National Change of Address, will ensure that your data is relevant and clean.

4.      Organize your data.  Once data is collected it should be stored in an organized manner.  The database should be uniform and data points should be clearly labeled.  Clean, organized data will save you time and money analyzing your data and preparing marketing campaigns. Data should be periodically de-duped (duplicated removed) and irrelevant data should be removed.

Small data is your key to understanding you current clientele and marketing towards them or similar individuals.  Make sure you maintain an accurate and relevant customer database, and put it the test by implementing personalized marketing campaigns to your customer base.

Once you have your in house database you can use the data you collected to find lists of similar individuals or businesses.  Action Mail can even help you append additional data like email address or demographics to you current list and find new lists with similar characteristics.

 One of your most valuable resources is your customer list.  Be sure to create and maintain a list that is accurate, informative, organized and relevant.

Should I print online?

Online printing (web to print) can be a viable option but it is often better to discuss your printing in detail with a print shop or mail house and have them print the piece for you.  Many times online printing is more expensive than working with a local print shop and printing online can lead to expensive errors.  When you print through a direct mail and print shop they can review the piece to ensure that the design meets all the postal regulations and that the artwork is properly formatted.  Additionally print and mail shops can offer alternative ways of printing which can save time and money. A small error in the paper thickness, print orientation, or folding can lead to thousands of dollars in additional postage.

Printing is quite complicated and it is helpful to have an expert guide you through each step of the process.  Having someone to guide you on the paper type, finishing, paper weight, paper size, print type can be helpful to get exactly what you want.  Often times printers can make recommendations like adjusting the size slightly in order to get better pricing and faster turn around times.  Additionally variable data printing is very complicated and should not be printed online, as the files need to be setup correctly to ensure the mail merge is run accurately and the formatting is consistent. Printing at a mail house also eliminates shipping costs and increases efficiency.

Sometimes it is much easier to print online, but doing so may lead to crucial pitfalls that could affect the look, feel, and price of your print job.

How much does it cost to mail a postcard?

 The short answer is that it costs 34 cents to mail a first class postcard.

 Yet, if postcards are presorted then they can apply for bulk mailing rates ranging from 25.3 cents to 28.4 cents apiece depending on the distribution of the mailing list.  Postcards are only eligible for first class mailing rates, and thus can only be presorted if there is a minimum of 500 postcards.  The USPS also has a very specific definition of what a postcard is.  The USPS defines as postcard as having a maximum height of 4.25 inches and a maximum length of 6 inches.

Many mail agencies prefer to mail larger “postcards” (for example 9 inches by 6 inches), which the USPS classifies as letters and we will refer to as “large postcards”.  Some advantages of mailing “large postcards” is that these will stick out in the mail, be more noticeable, and provide more opportunities to add cover or images.  These “large postcards” also qualify for marketing mail postage rates which makes the cost of mailing comparable and sometimes even cheaper than mailing small postcards at first class rates.  The cost of mailing a “large postcard” at marketing mail letter rates ranges from 28.8 cents apiece to as low as 15.5 cents apiece.  Additionally non-profits are only eligible to use their non-profit rates on marketing mail so first class small postcards are ineligible to be mailed at non-profit rates.  Non profit mailing rates range from 17.1 cents apiece to 8 cents apiece.

Many other factors may affect the price of postage on a postcard including the quantity mailed, distribution of the mailing list, weight, dimensions, and thickness.  It is best to discuss and plan your postcard with a mailing house in order to get the most bang for your buck out of your postage.

Get your mailing noticed

  The key to a direct mail piece is to get your target audience’s attention.  Whether you are sending a marketing piece, financial statement, invitation, or other communication it essential that the piece is noticed when it is collected from the mail box.  To be effective, direct mail needs to stand out from the “junk mail” and get the attention of the target audience. Below are some tips to make sure your direct mail piece gets noticed.

Size does matter:  If you are sending a postcard, send a large postcards.  The most effect sized post cards are 9”x6” or 8.5”x5.5”.  These larger sizes do not cost much more to mail, but really stick out in the mail.  They also allow for more room for messaging, and provide enough space so your message is clear and highly visible

Taglines: Including a tagline in a letter helps ensure that it gets opened.  Taglines are short messages that are printed directly on the envelope.  They should grab the target’s attention but leave enough mystery so that the envelope is opened. Additionally using different color envelopes or branding envelopes will help them stand out in the mail.

Self-mailers: Self-mailers are great ways to add draw the attention of the recipient while still being able to provide sufficient information. 

Personalization: adding personalization, whether it is in a tagline on an envelope or directly on the piece will dramatically increase response rates.  With variable data printing you have the ability to print personalized information throughout your mailing.

Clear messaging: Clear concise messaging on the portion of the piece that the recipient will see is essential. Similarly to an elevator pitch you will only have a few seconds to get the respondents attention.  Make sure your pitch is clear, easy to read, relevant, and enticing.

Target Audience:  Selecting the right demographic and audience to send your direct mail piece to is essential.  If you target the right group, your message should speak directly to the recipient and your message will be more relevant and peak their interest. 

Whatever you decide be sure that your piece gets noticed, opened, and read.  You will have just a few seconds while someone is looking through their mail to grab their attention, make sure you take full advantage.

Qualifying for Bulk Mail Postage Discounts

One of the benefits of using a direct mail house is the ability to take advantage of commercial pricing on bulk mail postage. There are many factors that come into play when determining if your mailing qualifies for postage discounts.  Utilizing a direct mail house will not only save money by qualifying your piece for postage discounts but will also help navigate the United States Postal Services rules and regulations ensuring your mail piece qualifies the lowest postage rate possible. Below are explanations of the key factors necessary to qualify for postage discounts.

  • Quantity: The number of pieces you plan on mailing is a major factor in determining if you qualify for postage discounts. Quantity is key because you must meet the minimum quantity requirements to qualify as bulk mail and therefore qualify for a postage discount. Below are the minimum quantity requirements to qualify as bulk mail for each different mail class:
    • First Class: 500 pieces
    • Standard: 200 pieces or 50 pounds
    • Parcel Select: 50 pieces
    • Parcel Select Non-presort: 50 pieces or 50 pounds
    • Media Mail, Library Mail, and Presorted or Carrier Bound Printed Matter: 300 pieces

 

  • Presorting: For mail to qualify for postage discounts it must be presorted. This means that the mail must be prepared so that the addresses are sorted by zip code. This is an essential aspect of bulk mail discounts because it reduces the amount of work that the post office needs to do. The post office passes the savings on to you with a decrease in your postage cost. Direct mail houses have capital equipment and processes to efficiently and cost effectively presort mail.

 

  • Mailing Permit: You or your direct mail house must have a mailing permit. Direct mail houses such as Action Mail have permits that you can utilize for your mailing at no additional fee.

 

  • Postage Payment: You must pay the postage with pre-canceled stamps, a postage meter, or a permit imprint. You should discuss with your direct mail marketer which postage method is the best for your mailing.  

Please contact us today at 760-480-2323 or action@themailbusiness.com to discuss how you can qualify for postage discounts.

Direct Mail Quality Control

The importance of quality control in a direct mail campaign cannot be overstated. The upfront cost of postage makes it essential that all aspects of your mailer are checked and double checked. Once the mail is out the door there is no bringing it back.  Below are the areas to focus on when ensuring that your piece is mailed correctly:

  •   The mailing list: It is important to make sure that the list that you are mailing to is appropriate and accurate. Appropriateness refers to the fact that the list is targeting the correct demographics for your direct mail campaign. You want to make sure the mailer is going to the right people and you must have your list checked for duplicates. Accuracy refers to the list containing the correct information. For accuracy your list should be checked with the National Change of Address database (NCOA) to ensure the addresses are up to date and should be run through Coding Accuracy Support Software (CASS) to ensure the addresses are coded correctly. Your mailing house should perform these two tests for you.
  •  The mailing piece: Having multiple people proofread your mailing piece can help avoid printing and/or mailing something with a spelling or grammar mistake. Checking with your mail house on the postal specifications of your piece is also important. It may be necessary to have the mail house check with the post office to make sure you can mail at a specific postage rate. Checking on postage rates and regulations can help you make decisions prior to printing and mailing that can save you money on postage. In addition, make sure that you sign off on a proof from your printer or mail house prior to printing commencing.
  •  Matching: Some direct mail pieces require matching the envelope with the insert(s). When matching is taking place make sure that your direct mailer has an audit procedure in place. Quality control may entail auditing every 10th piece or auditing all of the pieces.

At Action Mail we understand the importance of quality control from the start to finish of your mailer. We run our own extensive quality control and assurance procedures to check you piece again prior to it being mailed.

New Mover and New Homeowner Mailings

Every year over 35 million households move within the US.  New homeowners and new movers are great marketing targets for local businesses.  New homeowners and movers are often times just getting to know the area where they have moved and will be looking to establish themselves in the community and select local businesses to support.  Most households first select where they would like to spend their money based on convenience.  For example most households will go to grocery stores, gas stations, dentists, and restaurants within close proximity to their home. Additionally moving is quite an ordeal and there are many services that recently moved households will be looking for.   Many new movers will be looking to fix up their house and will be looking for painters, hvac companies, landscapers, window and blind installations, handymen, and many other services to fix and prepare their home to live in.

One of the best aspects of direct mail is how data driven direct mail marketing can be.  It is possible to get databases with all new movers in a specific area.  These databases can be updated monthly, so it is possible to continually target people moving into specific neighborhoods.  This allows marketers to specifically target this promising demographic of new homeowners and movers shortly after they have moved.  Direct mail is also more effective when targeting new movers, as many times normal mail has not been set up to forward yet but households are excited to explore their new homes and get their mail every day.  The ability to target this specific demographic of new movers and homeowners can focus marketing budgets on a very profitable demographic which can help acquire customers for life.   

What is a Mail Merge?

A mail merge is the integration of data contained in a spreadsheet, into a template which could be a letter, address block of an envelope, postcard, or booklet.  A mail merge enables you to merge variable data so that each printed piece is personalized and customized based on your dataset.  This can be a very powerful tool to directly target individuals or print and mail personalized and confidential information.

  Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are popular tools to run mail merges, but when using them there are often issues with spacing and organization of the merge and Microsoft Word mail merges also have their limitations.

At Action Mail we prefer to use PDF mail merge software which allows much more control over the merge.  Our software enables us to add variable images, change the format based on the data, include variable phrases with multiple variable data, format the artwork so that all art and text fits into one page, ensure that variable text does not truncate, and the possibilities are endless.  

Once the data has been integrated and merged the mail merge and with variable data can be printed.  Action Mail offers variable data printing in both color and black and white and the variable data can be printed on a number of substrates and media.

Mail merges are typically used for letters but we run mail merges for postcards, envelopes, flyers, and letters as well.  The use of a mail merge allows content to be personalized to the specific recipient which dramatically increases response rates.

Some examples of the mail merges including, merging statement data, personalizing letters, customizing non-profit donations requests based on previous giving data, customizing offers, personalizing the content letter based on previous purchase data.  The possibilities are endless.  If you have the data Action Mail can create a dynamic personalized letter, postcard, envelope or flyer for your next campaign.  Even if you do not have the necessary data Action Mail can help append data for you.

Personalizing your direct mail campaign will make your campaign relevant, enticing, and eye catching which will drive response and return on investment.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Direct marketing email campaigns are a great way to engage current customers, but they can also be helpful in recruiting new ones.  Due to legal constraints it can be difficult and costly to purchase a list of email addresses of your target market, though a simple cost effective work around is to append email addresses to a mailing list or to rent a list of email addresses. The way email address appending or e-appending works is that the name and mailing address of a mailing list is matched to databases of email addresses that have opted in to recieve marketing emails.  The match rate is typically about 20% but can depend on the quality of the mailing list and availability of email addresses. 

 Once you have an email list the next step will be to design an attractive email.  Most notably you want your subject line to be enticing so that your target audience opens the email.  You will also want to avoid wording that makes emails sound like spam, so it is not flagged by spam blockers.  A good rule to follow is that your email should add value for your target audience and be something that they will want to open.

  You should use a trusted server to send out these emails.  Using your own server to send out marketing email campaigns could get your server blacklisted as sending spam.  Additionally online platforms like Constant Contact and MailChimp often prohibit using purchase lists on their platforms.

One effective way to increase open rates would be to send a direct mail piece to the address either right before or after the email campaign.  With USPS tracking software it is possible to have an email triggered by the delivery of a direct mail piece.  This mutli-channel marketing approach will help the end user recognize your brand and increase the likelihood that they will open your email or read you direct mail piece.

Once the email is opened it is important to ensure that the offer is easy to act on.  Links should be easily accessible and take the end user directly to a web address where they can act on the offer presented.  Personalized landing pages are often helpful in aiding the target audience to act on the offer.  It is also important that links are mobile friendly because the majority of respondents will read the email on their phone or tablet. 

Email marketing can be an effective tool to drive new business or communicate with your existing clients, but with so many emails and spam blockers emails can often be overlooked.  Ensure your communication reaches your target audience ensure that the email address you are using have opted into receiving marketing emails and you are sending the email from a trusted server.  Additionally, using a multi-channel approach and making it easy for your audience to act on the offer.

What are the best sizes for postcards

Size makes a big difference in the rates you pay for direct mail.  It can be a bit confusing given the number of choices you face.   In this article we will be focusing on postcards and letters.

There are multiple takes on size for postcards.  Here are a few:

  • Smaller size faster more cost effective printing and delivery – You can mail a postcard that is no larger than 4.25”x6” and no smaller than 3.5”x5” at first class postcard rates that are similar in price to standard mail letter rates.  The minimum quantity for first class bulk mailing is 500 pieces.  Delivery normally takes 1-3 days, and printing is less expensive, but there is much less space for your message.  These smaller size postcards are best for simple notifications that need to be delivered as soon as possible.  
  • Large postcards – Pieces up to 6.125”x11” are considered “letter mail”.  The full first class rate is 49 cents, but standard mail rates are much more affordable and are around $0.27.  Typical effective postcard sizes are 8.5"x5.5" (the equivalent of a half sheet of 8.5"x11" paper), 6"x9" or 6"x11"
  •  “Jumbo” postcards – These are postcards that are too big to qualify for letter rates, typically 8.5”x11” or as large as 12”x15”, which is the maximum size.  These are termed “Flats” by the U.S.P.S. and postage rates are usually around $0.54.  If you saturate an area and mail to everyone in a postal carrier route you can get similar postage rates as letter size pieces.

Each postcard size has it advantages and disadvantages.  For your direct mail campaign it is helpful to weigh the pros and cons of cost, presence in the mailbox, and speed of delivery to select the best postcard size

Email Address Lists

Selecting the right target audience for an e-mail campaign is crucial for ROI, but it is also important to avoid legal implications.  Ultimately you want to send relevant emails that will be useful to recipients, whether this be a coupon or relevant information that will help the recipient.  For email campaigns the best list to use would be a customer opt in list where current customers have opted in to receive emails from your organization.  If you have not developed this list or you would like to market to new clients then there are a few options. 

The first option is to append email addresses to a current mailing list.  This can be done with a mailing list you may already have or we can help you purchase a new mailing list.  If you elect to purchase a new mailing list you can include the specific demographics that you would like to target ensuring that your email is relevant to your audience.  Once we have the mailing list we will use the information in the list to find email addresses from various sources who have agreed to receive marketing emails.  This can be done with both consumer and business lists.  Usually we are able to find email addresses for 10-15% of the addresses on the list, but this varies greatly from list to list.  You will then own the list of emails and can use them as many times as you would like.  We can also setup the email campaign for you with the correct formatting and provide analytics or you could create your own email. If you use these email addresses yourself be sure to include opt out options and to regularly update the list, removing all email addresses that have opted out.

The other option is to rent a list.  The way this works is that you will select a demographic you would like to target and provide Action Mail with an html version of your email.  You will also need to provide seed names as well as the time and date when you would like to have the email sent.  We will setup your campaign and send out the email blast.  We will also provide you with analytics associated with the blast.  This option is ideal for email campaigns looking to send out one or two emails to a specific demographic.

Acquiring a list of emails is a tricky task, as there a quite a few legal implications. Contact us to learn more about list acquisition and how to best develop your next email campaign.

How to dedupe a list

There are many options to dedupe or remove duplicates from a list.  Before removing depulicates and cleaning your list list you will need to define what a duplicate is for the particular mailing you are deduping the list for.  A duplicate could be defined as records with the same address, records with the same name, records with the same last name and address, or any other criteria that you would like to exclude if records contain the same information.  You can also instruct your mail house as to how strict you would like your duplicate identification to be.  You can only exclude exact matches or dedupe based on close matches.  For instance if you had the following two addresses and you were deduping by address: 101 Main St., San Diego, CA 92129 and 101 Main Street, San Diego, CA 92129, if you request to only remove exact matches the two addresses will be mailed.  If you instruct the mail house to dedupe the list with close matches then only one of the address will be included in the mailing.  You will also need to instruct the mail house which is the master list which no records will be removed from and which is the list that will have the duplicates removed from.

Removing duplicates can be more complex as you can include multiple lists and can even change how data is presented if duplicates are found.  For instance if there are duplicates with the same address and the same last name you can remove the duplicates and change the name associated with the address to be the last name followed by the word Family.  The possibilities are endless, and duplicate removal can be tailored for you specific need.

Deduping list is important in saving postage and printing costs while also providing a professional product to recipients. When deduping your lists, be sure to be clear with exactly what you would like removed, and how you would like your mail house to go about deduping your lists.

How to select a mailing list?

We can help you select the best list for your direct mailing, but nobody knows your customers like yourself. To select the most effective mailing list we recommend that you profile your ideal customer or target audience.  It may be helpful to look at current customers for characteristics or visualize an ideal customer.  We recommend collecting as much data as possible from your current customers to get a better idea as to who they are and how to find people like them.  The next step will be to document all the characteristics that defines who they are.  Write down everything and think outside the box.  This can be as simple as their location and income and can be as complex as there interests or personality.  These do not necessarily need to correlate to the customer purchasing your product or service, but should be indicators of the audience you are looking to target.  

After you have created your profile rank each attribute according to how important each characteristic is.  This is helpful because lists become more expensive with the more selections and criteria you add.  If you can focus on the most important characteristics or select criteria that are indicators for multiple characteristics you will be able to get more value out of your list.

Sometimes characteristics may seem to be mundane and irrelevant but could be very useful.  For instance if you are a dentist and you notice that all your clients drive convertibles, selecting a list with people that drive convertibles may be the best list for your businesses.  Even though convertibles are irrelevant to the dentistry industry they may be an indicator of a specific demographic (age, income, interests, habits, gender, etc) and it would be more cost effective to target convertible owners than targeting the age, income, habits, and gender that are represented by convertible owners.  

When thinking of characteristics do not just include characteristics that you think are selects on mailing list.  You will be surprised at how many options are available for mailing list selections including interests, hobbies, activities, and the list goes on and on. 

It is often best to provide your characteristics and rankings to a mail house for review so we can help you get the best list.  It is also helpful to provide a description of your businesses to your mailing agent.  We see lots of different lists and strategies from all different companies and it is often helpful to get an outsiders opinion.  With your rankings and description we can also look for a list that is both effective and falls within your budget.  In most cases it is beneficial to spend more on a targeted list, because you will be saving money on wasted postage, printing, and processing if you mailed to a more generic list which included recipients who do not fit your customer base.

Should I print my postcard Glossy or Matte?

It most depends on personal preference but there are a few pros and cons associated with printing glassy or matter postcards.

Glossy

Glossy postcards have a smooth and shiny finish and look very polished.  This coating allows for a crisper looking image, especially when the card is filled with vivid imagery.  Glossy cards are great for postcards that have lots of colorful images.  Glossy postcards will also be processed through the United States Postal Services’ machines with less damage.

Matte

Matte cards have a subtle shine and offer a more professional look.  Matte postcards are more commonly used in cards that are predominately text based or where text is the focus of the card.  The matte finish allows high contrast between text and images and increases the readability of the card.  This finish also enhances white space within the card.

Ultimately the choice is yours and you cannot really go wrong with either, yet the subtle differences between a matte and gloss could give your postcard the perfect look and feel that will grab the recipients attention.