Contact Us at 760-480-2323

Identifying the Correct Data and List

We highly recommend using the best data possible. It is better to purchase an expensive list with selects that will target your ideal demographic even if it reduces the amount of pieces you can send. Not only will you be able to target your ideal audience but you will also save money on wasted printing and postage associated with sending information to people who are likely not going to be interested in your offer.

One of the main advantages of direct mail is that it can target very specific demographics. Digital marketing is great at retargeting individuals or targeting individuals who are searching for a specific service, but it is much harder to target an individual who has not heard of your company or service, especially with all the privacy concerns.

Data is readily available for direct mail campaigns, and it is really surprising how many datasets and how specific some of the lists can be. It is best to identify you ideal audience and we can see what type of data is available. We can also profile databases to identify the demographics of current customer databases and target look a like audiences. The possibilities are endless.

When conducting a direct mail campaign, identifying the correct list is the key to the success of your campaign and helping to reduce the amount of waste associated with targeting the incorrect audience.

Best Postcard Sizes

There are a few postcard sizes that are commonly used and the one selected usually depends on the your budget, goals, and preference. Below are a few of the standard options, others are available but they are typically more expensive and may not meet USPS requirements.

4x6: This is typically the smallest size we would recommend. This is the most cost effective, but the real advantage of using a card this is size is if you are sending the card first class. There is a special postcard rates for this size cards that is almost the same as the standard mail rate. These are great for time sensitive notifications, but they are small so it is difficult to put much content on them and they also may get lost in the mailbox.

8.5x5.5: This is the same size as a half sheet of paper. This is the most common size we see as the postcard is big enough to be noticed in the mailbox but the size also allows for cost effective printing.

6x9: This card sticks out a bit more in mail boxes but is quite a bit more costly to print based on the number of cards we can get on a single sheet. The postage will remain the same as a 8.5x5.5. These are often use to stand out from the typical 8.5x5.5 cards.

6x11: These are much longer and tend to stick out even more than a 6x9 but they are even more expensive to print. The 6x11 cards also give you some more space to add additional information to your card. Postage for these size cards is the same.

8.5x11: A full sheet. These qualify for a different postage rate which is much higher. The printing and postage cost is significantly higher. We typically only see these in campaigns where an entire area is saturated, as the postage costs can be reduced, but the printing is still significantly higher.

The size of your postcard should depend on your budget, the amount of content you would like to include, how you would like the card to stand out in the mail box, and how quickly you need it delivered. Typically we see 8.5x5.5 postcards but it all depends on preference.

EDDM Every Door Direct Mail Accuracy

Every Door Direct Mail direct mail is where you select whole carrier routes and the USPS delivers a single piece to every address (door) in the postal carrier route.  One issue is that the USPS provides the number of household and businesses in each route for which the mail will need to be prepared, but these counts are often not 100% accurate.

Many times we see that these counts are inaccurate and either people on the route do not receive the mail piece or what is more often the case there are leftover materials that are recycled.  The issue with this is that you are paying postage and printing for these leftovers that never get to their intended recipient. There is also no address or barcode so the delivery is based on the postal carrier issuing one piece to everyone on their route and there is no way to know way to verify which addresses did or did not receive the mail piece.


The inaccuracies in the Every Door Direct Mail EDDM counts are normally a result of vacancies, no mail receptacles, and multiple addresses with one mail receptacle (that typically get one mail piece but are counted as multiple).  One way to try to get better counts is to use data from data compilers. The USPS sends the address data to compilers who then scrub the data and remove vacancies and multiple address destinations. This is still not 100% accurate but errs on the side of reducing the waste of printed materials and postage.  

Another option would be to address every piece to ensure that is delivered to an address.  This would use the same counts from compilers but there would be a physical address printed on the piece with a barcode.  This will help increase the probability that the piece will be delivered and reduce the waste. There are added costs to addressing a mail piece, as a list is required and the address needs to be printed on each piece, but many times these costs are offset in savings from reducing waste.  There are also postal and print savings associated with the classification of these mail pieces if they are addressed.


EDDM does reduce many costs but depending on your campaign it may not be the best suited and you may not be getting pieces delivered to the entire area you are targeting or you may be paying for additional postage and printing that is being wasted.


Direct Mail Response Rates

We are always asked, "What is the average response for direct mail?” We wish we could give a simple answer to this question but it all depends on the campaign.  


There are so many variables that go into each direct mail campaign that all affect the response rate.  The two biggest factor are the list and the offer. If you send the right offer to the right people they will respond.


We estimate about 1% response rate but we see campaigns with much higher response rates and some with lower.  The Direct Marketing Association estimates response rates at 9% to a house list and 5% to a house list. Yet, the sample size for this study was small and to us it seems higher than what we typically see, but it all depends on the campaign.


We prefer to estimate low when estimating ROI but advise to try to improve the list and offer whenever possible to help increase response rates.  There are many other variables that should be looked into and optimized but the list and offer are the ones that typically affect the response rates the most.  It is also important to evaluate the lifetime value of a new customer when looking at response rates and ROI.

How to use Variable Data Printing to Improve ROI

Variable data printing allows you to print variable information on each printed piece so each printed piece is unique and personalized.  If this is done right it can really make your piece stand out and can increase ROI. Below are a few tips to improve ROI.

Personalize: Include the recipient's name on the piece.  Make sure it is easy to read at a quick glance and it can even be placed on multiple places on the printed material.  People enjoy seeing their name and placing a name on a piece really makes it stand out and grab the recipient’s attention.

Relevancy: Make your variable text and imagery relevant to the recipient.  Use data that directly relates to the recipient and the offer. This can be information about the geography they live in, reference to past purchases or activity, or even images and text customized to their demographic.  The more relevant the text and imagery the higher the response.

Testing: The use of variable data printing is a great way to easily adjust variables and test different messaging and offers.  Test different ideas to see what works best then continue testing and improving your marketing.

Data: Variable data printing is only as good as the data you have.  Make sure data is accurate, clean and contains the variables that will be relevant for your campaign.


Variable data printing is great way to connect with your audience and increase response, but it should be used thoughtfully to increase the return and increase response.

Why print files need bleeds, and what is a bleed?

Bleeds are important for any print file which the artwork extends to the edge of the printed piece. A bleed is an extension of the artwork past the finished size of the printed piece that will be cut off. A 1/8 bleed is recommended on all artwork where the art extends to the edge of the printed piece.

The reason bleeds are needed is that artwork is printed on large sheets and then cut down to size. This is needed to increase efficiencies and reduce cost and because printers will not print to the edge of the paper. When printing and cutting there can be slight misalignments and if a bleed is not included the printed piece can have white space on the border instead of the artwork extending to the edge.

The best way to add a bleed is to ensure your artwork is setup correctly when beginning your design. Most designers should be familiar with how to do this, or give us a call and we can walk you through the process. We sometimes can add bleeds to artwork after they have been created but it depends on how the artwork is setup and the format the artwork is sent as. It is always preferable to receive the artwork with bleeds included in the original design as any manipulations can effect the artwork.

Bleeds are important to ensure that artwork is printed and cut correctly to get the best quality from your printing.

Direct Mail Response Rates

We are always asked, What is the average response for direct mail? We wish we could answer this question but it all depends on the campaign.  

There are so many variables that go into each direct mail campaign that all effect the response rate.  The two biggest factor are the list and the offer. If you send the right offer to the right people they will respond.

We estimate about 1% response rate but we see campaigns with much higher response rates and some with lower.  The Direct Marketing Association estimates response rates at 9% to a house list and 5% to a house list. Yet, the sample size for this study was small and to us seems higher than what we typically see, but it all depends on the campaign.

We prefer to estimate low when estimating ROI but advise to try to improve the list and offer whenever possible to help increase response rates.  There are many other variables that should be looked into and optimized but the list and offer are the ones that typically affect the response rates the most.  It is also important to evaluate the lifetime value of a new customer when looking at response rates and ROI.

How to use Variable Data Printing to Improve ROI

Variable data printing allows you to print variable information on each printed piece so each printed piece is unique and personalized.  If this is done right it can really make your piece stand out and can increase ROI.

Below are a few tips to improve ROI.

Personalize: Include the recipient's name on the piece.  Make sure it is easy to read at a quick glance and it can even be placed on multiple places on the printed material.  People enjoy seeing their name and placing a name on a piece really makes it stand out and grab the recipient’s attention.

Relevancy: Make your variable text and imagery relevant to the recipient.  Use data that directly relates to the recipient and the offer. This can be information about the geography they live in, reference to past purchases or activity, or even images and text customized to their demographic.  The more relevant the text and imagery the higher the response.

Testing: The use of variable data printing is a great way to easily adjust variables and test different messaging and offers.  Test different ideas to see what works best then continue testing and improving your marketing.

Data: Variable data printing is only as good as the data you have.  Make sure data is accurate, clean and contains the variables that will be relevant for your campaign.

Variable data printing is great way to connect with your audience and increase response, but it should be used thoughtfully to increase the return and increase response.

Online Printing

There are tons of online printers available but we at Action Mail prefer to quote and print each job individually to get you the best price and ensure that the printing meets your needs.

Below are some of the reasons to consider using Action Mail as opposed to an online printer

Quality: With online printers sometimes you do not know the quality of the printing you will receive. Action Mail has high quality printers and can select the right technology to use to meet your needs and budget. Action Mail also has an extensive QAQC protocol to check your piece for quality as well as to try to identify any tipos or errors.

Batch Printing: To get the lowest price many online printers will gang up your print job. This means that they will run it alongside other similar jobs to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The issue with this is that in increasing efficiency sometimes quality control is lacking and not enough attention is paid to your specific job

Navigating the Printing Process: Printing is complicated. Depending on the quantity, art, and desired look there are different technologies, paper stocks, and sizes to select from. Having a person to guide you through this process can help save money and make sure the outcome you are looking for is achieved

Shipping: Many times online printers offer low prices but their shipping costs are expensive, as shipping paper products is costly and many times these prices are marked up.

Mailing Requirements: Especially if your printed materials will be mailed it is important at the minimum to have a mailing expert review the specs. The USPS has complicated mailing requirements which if your piece is printed incorrectly (too light paper stock, incorrect orientation, etc) this could be very costly.

Pricing: At the end of the day online printing pricing can be more expensive especially with shipping. Action Mail can usually match any online printing pricing. Action Mail can also help review your needs and select the most cost effective printing option for your project.

Get your USPS Mail on your phone or computer

The USPS can scan your mail and notify you as to what will be arriving in your mailbox. The USPS is scanning most mail and can send a greyscale image of what will be delivered to you email or you can log into a portal to view your mail. The USPS will also notify you of any packages being delivered and provide an option to provide instructions to the carrier.

To access this service sign up at https://informeddelivery.usps.com.

This service is great not just great to see what is in your mailbox but is also a great opportunity for mailers to get their advertisement to you in a different format. Peolpe who have informed delivery will not only see the mail piece in their mail box but will also see if in their email or informed delivery portal. Advertisers can also provide the USPS with full color images to display on this service and can also include links directly to their website. This is a great opportunity to get additional information your target audience and stand out from the crowd.

The service is relatively new but is gaining popularity quickly. Most advertisers do not use the service to add color images and links as many are not aware of the service or think that there is not a high enough adoption rates. Yet, this service is growing quickly and designing your mail piece to be optimized for this service or providing the USPS with specific artwork is a great way to get noticed and help your audience connect with you.

EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) Why you mail use a mail house

The USPS EDDM program also known as Every Door Direct Mail enables you to mail to every household in a postal carrier route without addressing each individual piece. The USPS has a retail version of this program where you can do everything yourself but using a mail house is helpful to reduce cost and make sure everything is done to the USPS standards and regulations.

Benefits of using a Mail House:

Postage: The postage rates mail houses have access to are lower than the retail rates. The difference could be as large as $03.8 less per piece than the retail rates. This typically adds up to cover the mail houses cost.

Flexibility: Mail houses also have flexibility on which post office the mailing goes to, as opposed to having to send these to the local post office where the carrier routes are located

Volume: Mail houses can mail any volume they would like but Retail EDDM is limited to 5,000 pieces.

Printing: Mail houses can do a lot of the leg work as they print the product so when using the same print and mail vendor the costs of them doing the mailing portion is minimal.

Accuracy: Using a mail house will ensure that all USPS guidelines are met. These can often be confusing and complex so having someone to navigate them for you can save time and expensive errors.

Hassle: Understanding the USPS regulations, designing your mail piece, preparing it per the USPS guidelines and delivering and checking it in to the local post office all take time and effort.

Using a mail house will reduce the time and money spent of EDDM campaigns and will allow you to focus on other aspects of your campaign.

Contact one of our mailing experts to get more information on Action Mail’s EDDM service.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds

With the Polar Vortex this month the USPS suspended service to 10 states because of the cold. You may think this may be counter to their motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds ” but in fact this is not the USPS’ official motto but rather was engraved on the James A. Farley Post Office building in New York and has been associated with the USPS ever since. The phrase actually comes from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers c. 500 B.C. 

Nevertheless the USPS prides itself on delivering mail to every home and business in the United States regardless of the weather. That being said there are disruptions to the USPS service, but most do not take very long and alternatives to delivery are often available.

Some situations we see that effect mail delivery are natural disasters like fires, floods, hurricanes, etc. During these situations the USPS will provide alerts as to what post offices are closed and how this will effect deliveries. Many times mail will be held and at another post office for pick up or delivery will be delayed. Each situation is different and the USPS will make a plan depending on the length of the natural disaster, access to homes, and access to USPS facilities.

Action Mail receives alerts during any situation where mail may be delayed due to weather or natural disasters and can contact local post offices to see how mail is being handled in these situations. If you have a mailing going to an area where you think there may be a delay, contact us and we can better determine the situation in the area and how it is effecting mail delivery.

Increase Direct Mail Response

The key to driving a direct mail response is the offer. It is important to send something valuable to the recipient that the will spark interest and drive conversion.

Offer: The offer should be something valuable. Provide a discount, free item, or free consultation. Providing something that will grab the attention of the recipient and drive them to act on the offer.

Target: The message should be targeted to the correct people. if you send a great offer but it is directed at the wrong demographic the response will be low. Current or former customers often have the highest direct mail response rates as they have proven interest in the product. You can also create look alike audiences of your current customers to try to target similar people.

Design: The design should be concise and clear. You only have a few seconds once someone opens their mail to get their attention. Make sure that your artwork clearly shows your offer and how to act on the offer. If there is additional information you would like to convey, it is beneficial to use a self mailer that can be unfolded with additional information.

Timing: The direct mail piece will also need to arrive when the recipient needs the product or service. Some offers are seasonal and can be timed to match up with the season, while others just depend on the individual. Sending out multiple mailings may help get the timing right as well as develop brand recognition.

Nonprofit Donor Acknowledgement or Receipt Letters for Tax Purposes

Nonprofit organizations are required to provide donors with a receipt or acknowledgement of their donation so that the donor can claim the deduction on their taxes. This requirement is for donations over $250 but most organizations send these notice to all donors as a common courtesy.

These acknowledgements can be sent by mail or email and most nonprofits do both to ensure the donors receive this information to claim their deductions. Sending donations by mail helps to ensure that donors have a physical copy to use when filing their taxes and sending the letter right before taxes are filed with all their donations from the previous year helps organize all the receipts into one statement which is especially helpful for recurring donors. Sending statements by mail also ensures that donors do not skim over their emails and miss the letter.

Not only is this a requirement, but it is also an opportunity to thank your donors and cultivate your relationship with them. The statements can include additional collateral including thank you cards, information about how the donations were used, and requests for additional donations. This is a great time to ask for additional donations, because donors are reviewing their taxes and can see the deductions they are receiving for their donations.

These letters can be sent out right after donations are made but need to be received before January 31st. Often times it is best to send a statement for all donations in the prior year in January to ensure that all donations are included in a single statement.

Since this is a statement most times it will need to be sent first class mail but depending on how it is written the USPS may provide approval to use nonprofit rates.

Many times CRM software will generate these statements automatically, but it is best to consult Action Mail prior to ensure that the output file is optimized for the best postage rate and most cost effective processing.

Donor Receipt and Acknowledgement letters are great ways to show your donors you appreciate their contribution and facilitate the redemption of tax benefits to them as well as to cultivate your relationship with your donors and increase future donations.

USPS Price Change January 27, 2019

On January 27, 2019 the USPS will have a rate change. This will effect all types of mail and packages, but the percent rate change will vary between service and classification.

Highlights of 2019 USPS Rate Change:

First Class Mail

  • Price of a First Class Retail Stamp is increasing from $0.50 to $0.55

  • First Class Additional Ounce Rates are decreasing from $0.21 to $0.15

  • First Class Flat/ Large Envelope and Postcard (4.25"x 6" or smaller) rates will remain the same

  • Presorted First Class rates will remain relatively constant with some classifications increasing slightly and others decreasing

Presorted Standard Mail

  • On average Presorted Standard Mail postage will increase by about 3%

Nonprofit Mail

  • Nonprofit rates will increase by 1-3%

First Class Package

  • First class package rates will increase by about 11.9%

  • The USPS is moving to zone based pricing similar to how Priority Mail is price

  • We offer alternatives to first class package service with slightly longer delivery times but significant price saving

Priority Mail

  • Priority Mail rates will increase by about 5.9%

  • Similarly to first class mail we offer alternatives to priority mail with slightly longer delivery times but significant price saving


We are here to help you navigate these price changes and will help you get the lowest postage rate. Please visit https://www.themailbusiness.com/usps-2019-postal-rates for more details. Please call or e-mail us if you need any help or have any questions.

2019 Postage Rates

International Mailing at Discounted Rates

Sending mailings internationally may seem expensive, but Action Mail can help you get discounted rates on international mailings.  Action Mail can ship mail directly into the country where the mail pieces will be delivered.  This avoids using USPS international rates and enables faster delivery at lower rates.

 Rates and delivery time will depend on the country mail is being delivered to as well as the type and size of the piece.  The volume of the mailing will also effect the cost to mail internationally.  Contact an Action Mail representative to learn more about this process and we can provide an estimate based on your volume, destination of the mail piece and the type of mail piece

Invitation Mistakes that Can Cost Thousands in USPS Postage

Creating the perfect invitation for your event is important to publicize the event and create excitement.  Whether the event is fundraiser, gala, meeting, or corporate event the design of the invitation is important in branding the event.  Though there are a few simple steps that could save thousands on USPS Postage and mailing fulfillment of bulk mailed invitations.  Below are a few thing to look out for.

Size: Square envelopes and envelopes with the smaller side being larger than 6.125" have significantly higher postage rates.  Typically it is recommendable to use stock envelope size like A-6, A-7, A-8, A-9, A-10 etc.  This will save on the envelope cost and and postal savings.

Color of Envelope: Many times invitations have color envelopes. The issues with colored envelopes is if they are too dark the USPS cannot differentiate the barcode from the envelope and will not be able to pass the envelope through the USPS automation machinery resulting in higher postage rates.  This happens with metallic envelopes and envelopes on darker colors. There are USPS automation envelopes available or Action mail can review the envelopes and provide them to the USPS to sample on their machinery.

Envelope Flaps: Many invitation envelopes have a non-machinable flap.  This design which has a large flap that has square corners is not able to run on automated inserting machinery.  Selecting an envelope with a small flap with rounded corners will allow Action Mail to use automation machinery and reduce your fulfillment costs.

There are many ways to send a bulk mail invitation and many different price points.  Feel free to contact us and discuss your design plans and we would be happy to provide feedback and steps to reduce costs while still maintaining the branding and look you desire.

 

 

 

San Diego Direct Mail House

For local mailings to the greater San Diego area using a local direct mail house like Action Mail can save money, speed up delivery times and add convenience.  We have been serving the San Diego area for over 20 years and have the expertise and experience to help with your next direct mail campaign.

There are a number of benefits to working with a local San Diego mailer for your direct mail campaigns., which include:

Save Money:

For mailings in San Diego county if mail pieces are sent to the local SCF Post Office savings on postage can be as high as $0.04.  Typically Action Mail delivers most mail to the San Diego SCF post office, but Action Mail will also review your mailing list and let you know if there would be any additional cost savings by delivering to a different post office.

Save Time:

For mailings going to the San Diego area, if mail pieces are delivered to the local SCF the delivery times should be quicker than if they were delivered to another post office.  Mailing locally in San Diego will also reduce the delivery time to the post office and the delivery time of materials to Action Mail's facility

Convenience:

Located in Escondido, Action Mail is conveniently located next to the 15 freeway.  We are always happy to meet with clients and store materials at our facility.

Even if your mailing is outside of San Diego, Action Mail can still assist with the mailing and printing, as we work with many national campaigns and can even ship products directly to local post offices still saving time and money.  Contact Us to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

How to Add Bleeds For Printing

Bleeds are important to add to your print files to ensure that artwork extends to the edge of the printed piece.  Printers cannot print to the edge of a piece of paper so bleeds are created so that printing is done on a large sheet which is then cut so that the artwork extends to the edge of the piece.

To setup your artwork with bleeds you will need to add the bleeds to the document when creating the document.  Typically it is best to add a 0.125" bleed to all sides.  This can be done in the new document screen as seen below.

Bleeds.JPG

It is important that you do not include any artwork that you do not want cut of in the bleed area.  It is also recommended that you leave a 0.125" buffer from the edge of the piece to the further ensure that no important text or images get trimmed.  You will see a white space which indicates the finished size of the piece and then a red line which shows the edge of the bleed.  All artwork that is not to be trimmed should be included in the white space.

Bleed lines.JPG

 

Once you have created your design you will then need to save the file to a PDF bleeds.  On the save menu select Marks and Bleeds.  It is helpful to select Trim Marks (though we can add them after).  You will also need to ensure that the bleeds are exported.  If you have setup bleeds in the document it is best to select Use Document Bleed Settings.  If you have not then you can add the bleeds here, just make sure that your artwork extends past the edge of the finished size.

bleedsave.JPG

Including bleeds in the creation of your artwork will help ensure that printing is setup correctly and that your artwork will not need to be manipulated to ensure that bleeds are included.  Bleeds are essential if you want your artwork to extend all the way to the edge of the piece.

How to Export Files to get the best Print Quality

Print quality starts with the design of the printed piece.  We recommend using Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign.  Most issues that effect print quality are a result of the colors used and the the quality of the images.

It is also important to use high quality images.  We recommend using images that are at least 600 DPI or the highest resolution images you have available.  The use of lower quality images can result in blurry or pixelated images once printed.

It is also very important that the colors used are CMYK.  RGB colors that are used in web design will need to be converted to CYMK to be printed and could be slightly different than expected. It is also important to note that your computer output RGB images so comparing a printed version to the version you see on your computer may be slightly different.

To save your file with the correct color settings we recommend converting all colors to CMYK.  To do so on the output tab of your export menu select Color Conversion: Convert Colors to Destination (Preserve Numbers).  The destination will typically be U.S. Sheetfed Uncoated v2 or U.S. Sheetfed Coasted v2 depending on what material you will be printing on.  Also select do not include Destination Profiles.  If there are spot colors in you art there will be an Ink Manager button.  Select this button then check the box to convert All Spots to Process, which will convert all spot colors to CMYK.

CMYK.JPG

Using these steps to export your files will help increase the quality of you prints and ensure that your colors are setup correctly.  This is the simplest, most basic method to create high quality print files, but there are others you may select if you have a better grasp on the exact output you are looking to create.