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What is variable data printing?

Variable data printing is where each record has different information (text, images, colors, etc) printed based on variables in a database.  This allows you to print personalized information on every single mailing piece.  Variable data printing is essential for personal mailings like statements, open enrollment information, or any other confidential or personalized direct mail pieces.

Yet, variable data printing is also beneficial for direct marketing.  Personalizing your piece will get you direct mail piece noticed in the mail and will increase your ROI.  Tailoring your mailing to data you have collected or data that is available will make your piece more relevant for your end-user and will increase the probability that they will act on your offer.  The possibilities are end-less with variable data printing, as you can customize every aspect of your mailing. 

Some examples of variable data printing include:

Mortgage Mailings: Mailings can include pre-approved mortgage rates or the address or pictures of the home where the mortgage will be used for.

Car Dealership Mailings: Car dealership mailings can include photos of the model that clients have purchased previously as well as information on mileage, services, etc to either generate new car sales or book service appointments.

Statement Mailings: Statement mailing will contain detailed information on invoices outstanding and will need to be personalized for each specific customer

Open Enrollment Packages: Medical insurance mailings will include variable rates, dependent, and plans for each employee, thus each open enrollment package will need to be printed with this variable data. 

What is the difference between a catalog and booklet envelope?

The difference between a catalog and booklet envelope is that the flap and opening of a catalog envelope is on the shorter side of the envelope whereas a booklet envelop has the flap and opening on the longer side.

For most mailings we recommend using booklet envelopes as stuffing the envelopes is much more efficient.  Catalog envelopes are used for aesthetic purposes as some mailers prefer the look and presentation of a catalog envelope as well as the user experience of pulling documents from the top of the envelope as opposed the the side.

  The same catalog and booklet terminology is used for all types of envelopes including 9x12, 6x9, etc, but catalog envelopes should always have their flap on the shorter side of the envelope whereas the flap on the booklet envelopes are on the longer side of the envelope.

  For instance for a 9x12 envelope the flap and opening will be on the 9 inch side for catalog envelopes and for booklet envelopes the flap and opening will be on the 12 inch side.

Before Embarking on a Direct Mail campaign…test it

One of the big advantages of using Direct Mail is that you can easily test an offer or creative before launching a campaign.  By doing this you will be able to see what works before committing to the campaign.

The easiest way to design a test is to use a sample list, code the list, and then divide the list in half and included  a different offer, design, or any other variable on each part of the list.  In most cases, for a statistically valid test you need to get 100 responses. Determine what your normal response rate is and then use that number to figure out how many pieces to mail.  If your normal response to an offer is 2% you would have to mail out 5,000 pieces to get that response. Once responses come in you will be able to determine which list they were mailed from and from there you can see which offer or creative worked best. Once the test is complete, you can increase the quantity of your next mailing utilizing the higher converting design, or you can run another test against a new design. Never stop testing, never stop looking for the little tweaks that can make your campaign more successful.

The right shipping box or package for your shipment

Before selecting a shipping box or package type for your shipment you will need to evaluate your shipping box and packaging requirements as well as the user experience you would like your customer to have.

Below is a brief list of questions which can help evaluate what package type will be best for your shipments.

  • How durable is the product?
  • How much packing material will be needed? 
  • What is the size of the product? Is the size variable or will multiple products be shipped together?
  • Which carrier would you like the package to be shipped through?
  • How secure do the materials need to be?

You will also need to think about the users experience.

  • Would you like you logo printed on the box? Alternatively you can apply a branded sticker or branded tape?
  • Would you like the box to be colored or would you prefer a kraft or white box?
  • Would you like a clean appearance without much tape?
  • Are you looking for a unique appearance?
  • Would you like the box to be easy to open or would you prefer a more secure packaging?

Selecting the correct packaging will effect your shipping costs and will also have a large impact on how your client perceives your brand and product.  Many times outer shipping packaging is overlooked, when this is often times the first impression your client will have of your product.  Selecting the correct packaging will help ensure your product arrives unbroken and at the best shipping  rates, and can also help create a great first impression.

Often times the more intricate the packaging the more expensive, but there are often creative options which can make you package standout while reducing shipping and packaging costs.  Sometimes boxes are not even the best options and other packages will work better to meet your needs.

How to automate shipping and fulfillment

You can automate your shipping and fulfillment straight from your eCommerce site.  Whether you are using Shopify, Etsy or any other platform Action Mail can help automate your shipping to ensure accuracy and efficiency.  The key to setting up automation is to make sure that as much information is included in the back end of your shipping platform as possible.  Sites like Shopify allow you to add information to each product which only be present on the back end of the system.  You should fill out as much information as possible to ensure that your shipping can be automated with this data.  All items should be setup to have unique and consistent SKU which Action Mail can use to identify and fulfill orders.  Action Mail can help you setup the weights, customs information, and shipping rules to ensure your packages are fulfilled quickly and accurately.  You will also want to decide on consistent box and packing materials to expedite the shipping process.

You will also need to setup a set of shipping rules.  You will need to decide how each order type will be packaged as well as which shipment method each order type will be sent as.  You will also need to do the same for shipments with multiple products.  This is not as complicated as it sounds because you can most likely apply the same set of rules to the majority of your products

Action Mail can pull this data from these sites and automatically setup your shipments.  Action Mail will also setup controls to review that shipping rules are working correctly.  Shipping and logisitics can easily be automated but the key is to setup the items, shipping rules, and logisitics properly.  Spending the extra time to setup your eCommerce site will ensure accuracy of order fulfillment and increase efficiency

How to setup your print files

It is very important to design and send your print files correctly to ensure high quality printing.  

Below are a few guidelines for setting up your print files correctly

Bleed:  Include a 1/8" bleed around the printed area.  In other words extend the design of the piece by 1/8" knowing that we will trim that extra 1/8" off the piece to ensure that the design extends to the edge of the printed piece.  This means that for a 8.5x5.5 postcard will have final dimensions of 8.75x5.75 as there will be a 1/8" bleed on each side. It is helpful to add cutmarks as well.  

Safe zone: Do not include any copy or critical images within 1/8" of the edge of the piece.  This ensures that when the piece is cut to size no important text or images are cut in the process

Colors: All files should be designed with CMYK colors not RGB

File format:  We prefer high resolution PDFs to ensure great print qualities.  You can also provide native files and have us export the file to a print ready format.

If you need any help or would like us to assist you in preparing your files please contact one of our customer service representatives.


Append data to your customer lists

Data is what drives decisions and should be driving your marketing.  The more data you have the more nimble and targeted your marketing approach can be.  When collecting customer data it is valuable to get as much information as possible, but this is a double edge sword because you do not want to frustrate your client with surveys and forms.  One solution to this is to append data to your client lists.

  It is possible to take your client list and match this list with publicly available data from credit bureaus, surveys, and other publicly available data sources.  The data available to append to your lists can include email addresses, birth months, income, credit indicators, and many other factors.  If there is a data point you wish you had it is likely that it can be appended to your list.

Appending data to your customer lists enables you to better target your marketing and advertising which will allow you to better present and time your offer.  Increasing personalization will also increase your response rate and help you better connect with your customers.  Appending data will also allow you flexibility to use different mediums like direct mail, email campaigns, and display advertising.  

How to setup variable data printing and mail merges

We often get asked what is the best way to setup variable data printing and mail merges.  Most people like to use Microsoft Word to setup their mail merge, but this is often problematic as mail merges in Word have limitations.  We prefer using a PDF mail merge software which enables us to have greater control of the merge as well as more flexibility.

  The best way to setup a merge is to have us do it for you.  To do this you will need to create a PDF document and clearly label where merge fields need to be included.  The easiest way to do this is to insert the field name ( <<field name>> ), where the variable data field will be inserted.  It is also best to highlight this area to clearly demonstrate where each merge field will be inserted.  It is also helpful to provide a description of all the variable data you would like to include and any special instructions.  This description is helpful if you would like us to create special rules like adding variable images or changing font and text sizes dynamically if the text does not fit in the desired space.

 Once Action Mail has formatted and created the merge we will send you proofs for you to review and to make sure that the merge is working correctly and the correct variable data is pulling into the document.  Action Mail will also review the piece during our QAQC procedures to make sure everything is merging correctly and will check the longest and shortest record.

 Having Action Mail setup your merge will allow more flexibility and control of your variable data printing.  We will also be able to identify and avoid many pitfalls with setting up mail merges and ensure that the correct data is merged into your document and formatting remains as you would like it.


Save Money on Shipping

There are a number of ways to save money on shipping, but they should all start at the planning stage of your fulfillment project.  The first steps is to determine the requirements of your shipments.  You will need to determine the shipping frequency, the size and weight of your packaging, the number of different products you are shipping (and if any of them are shipped together), the locations you are shipping to, how quickly fulfilled products need to arrive, and if there are any other shipping requirements.

Once you have this data you can determine what the best carriers and modes of shipping will be for your products.  Some products may be eligible for different rates on different carriers. It is helpful to be flexible on the carrier you use in order to reduce shipping costs for different products.  There are also opportunities to reduce shipping costs by having the flexibility to reduce packaging as there are substantial costs savings that can be gained by reducing packaging size and weight.  For example if your package weighs under 1lb it will most likely be most cost effective to send the pieces USPS first class package, but as the piece goes over 1lb the USPS shipping costs increase rapidly.  You can also save money by drop shipping or comingling your shipping, but this often adds to the delivery time which may not be an option for your shipments.

It is best to layout your shipping requirements and identify areas like packaging size and weight, shipping time, and carrier service that you have some flexibility to reduce shipping costs.  Once you have  this information there are a number of different ways you can looking at reducing logistics costs and determine how best to manage your shipments.

Why do EDDM through a mail house?

EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) is the USPS' program to allow small businesses to easily mail direct mail campaigns to consumers and businesses around their locations.  The USPS offers resources to help walk businesses through the steps as to how to send an EDDM mail campaign.  Yet, it is much simpler and often more cost effective to conduct these campaigns by using a mail house or mailing agent.

  • Mail houses can get lower postage rates even for EDDM
  • Mail houses can mail more than 5,000 pieces at a time
  • Mail houses can deliver the mail to a number of different post offices and are not required to deliver the mailing to the specific local post office
  • Mail houses can print and prepare the EDDM mailing at the same time saving time and money
  • Mailing agents understand the USPS rules and regulations and can help you avoid pitfalls and navigate the system with ease
  • Mailing agents can also offer alternative options to send more targeted mailings to save money on postage and printing

There are many advantages to use a direct mail house for your EDDM mailings, as they will likely save you enough money to cover their services.  They will also save you valuable time, so that you do not have to navigate the USPS rules and regulations and deliver the mailing to the local post offices so you can focus your time on more important matters.

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

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.


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.


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.