Direct mail is a valuable, successful tool for both customer acquisition and retention, so it’s essential for marketers to stay abreast of any pricing and service changes made within the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Last year, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved the latest USPS proposal to increase postage rates, and new prices took effect earlier this year. First Class mail postage increased from 47 to 49 cents per mailing piece (including the price of the popular First-Class Mail Forever stamps), as well as the cost of Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services also increasing.

While the overall postal rate increases were within 2 percent, certain rates did decrease while others went up significantly, which is why it’s important to think about the class, weight, zone and density of your mailings to understand the true impact to your marketing budget. Here are a few things that our team of Direct Mail experts in Ivie Sourcing evaluate to balance rate increases with your budget.

Ivie & Associates Direct Mail

Paper weight & size: When it comes to print and mailing costs, size matters. Any direct mail piece larger than 11-1/2 inches long or more than 6-1/8 inches high weighing more than 3.5 ounces (depending on format) must be mailed at a higher Flat Rate cost. Simply adjusting the size of the piece can reduce your cost. Our direct mail specialists often make size or paper adjustment recommendations if needed to help get your direct mail piece to qualify for a lower Letter Rate cost.

Mail File saturation: Postage cost for a project is affected by the ZIP code saturation in the mail file. For all direct mail projects that qualify, we run a postal analysis to determine the best way to sort the mail file and determine how the saturation will affect our USPS entry plan. The higher the saturation in the mail file, the more opportunity we have to enter the mail further into the USPS mail stream. This allows us to control the mail further into the process and achieve postal discounts from the USPS. To increase these efficiencies, our specialists also make targeting recommendations based on a client’s house list to better achieve these saturation discounts.

Maximizing Postal Discounts: The USPS offers postal promotions that provide a discount on postage within certain time periods throughout the year. Typically, these promotions revolve around new technology in the industry and are meant to help bridge the gap between printed direct mail and digital. For example, the USPS has previously offered a two percent discount on postage during certain months for all direct mail pieces that include a QR code that takes customers to a mobile shopping experience. We work with our clients to keep them informed of these types of opportunities while illustrating what a piece would need to look like in order to qualify for one of these special discounts whether it’s strategic planning for an upcoming campaign or for a mailer that’s already in the works.

A good direct mail piece can thrive as a key component of a marketing campaign, working hand in hand with digital approaches to provide the tangible touch in the customer journey. Ivie Sourcing understands how important postage is for a client’s overall direct mail budget, which is why we monitor postage rates and rules, plan ahead for how these changes could impact costs, and proactively discuss campaigns with the USPS to explore opportunities to drive savings.