Numerous direct mail articles emphasize upgrading to first class postage rate from presorted standard for your mailing campaign. The reasoning for this typically boils down to three elements:
First class mail is reliable, fast, and appears personal. If money is not an issue, first class mail is best. But I don’t want to suggest presorted standard mail lacks these features, and while it will never be as good as first class, by doing some simple things, presorted standard mail can be close to first class mail.
Like I said, if you have the money, go for first class mail. It IS the best type of mail. It is the most premium service of the post office. It is the Cadillac of direct mail.
But presorted standard has its place; you just need to make it more reliable, faster, and look attractive. The main reason for presorted standard mail is cost. It is FAR cheaper than first class, and that can make all the difference.
Let’s go through each of these obstacles.
Is Presort Standard mail reliable? Yes, it is in general. But these are a few things to keep in mind here. The post office will dispose of any presorted standard mail with an invalid address. Contrast that with First Class mail, where they will return the mail to the sender, given a return address exists on the mail piece.
But just because first class mail is more reliable it doesn’t mean presorted standard mail is not reliable at all. To help, there exists a software called Track N’ Trace, which encodes additional tracking information into the USPS barcode. When the post office scans a mail piece, they upload the data onto their server, and that data includes information like the time and location of the scan, as well as the name on the mail piece. A customer can then access that information in the form of reports via a website. This is a great way to keep tabs on your presorted standard mail and rest assured the post office is taking due diligence with your direct mail. This a painless process, and if you’re interested, reach out and we will get you on board.
Does Presorted Standard mail have a slow delivery time? Yes… in a sense. Let me shed some light on this vague sentence, and the best way to illuminate this is through an example.
As you know, our company conducts business from Wichita, KS, nearly smack-dab in the middle of the United States. If Jean from Cookie Karma wishes to send a postcard to residents in Boston, MA, with a call to action to order cookies from her website, and her budget only allows for presorted standard, she can expect to wait 10 days before her cookie-craving prospects have their postcard. That’s dreadfully long, especially if you’re coming from an email marketing background. Direct mail is just inherently slower than email.
But don’t lose hope. Like Track N Trace there is another service that boosts the speed of presorted standard mail. It’s called drop ships. To take the above example, drop ships allow us to ship all of Jean’s postcards via a truckline (eg, Fedex or UPS) and ship the whole mailing to the area of the recipients. There are a few nuances and restrictions to consider, but this is the gist of the process. Once the truckline has delivered the mailpieces, the post office distributes the mail to the recipients. In short, the delivery time drops from ten days to five!
Does presorted standard mail have to look cheap and ugly? Nope, not at all! Unfortunately this stereotype has been a challenge to break with our own customers. We are used to seeing mail pieces that have been produced with little effort. These are useless mail pieces, and unless it’s the intention to produce an ugly postcard or envelope mailer (sometimes it works) then you are wasting time and money in doing so.
But how do you make a presorted mail piece look better?
One way is to move the USPS barcode to the bottom right corner. We recommend this strategy to almost all of our customers because the barcode looks like it was printed from the post office instead of the mail house. This also leaves the address by itself and allows for more freedom of expression by changing the font color and the font size.
Another strategy is avoid using a permit (sometimes called an indicia). Use a stamp instead. The postage cost is the same, and while the labor cost to apply a stamp might be more than a permit, the ROI in most cases offsets this.
Still another is to use a hand font. Recall the direct mail you received in the last few days? How many of those pieces used a font like the one with which I am writing this blog? Do something else! There are literally hundreds of unique fonts that you can put to use.
Along this line, try using one of our Biznotes machines to write to “hand write” an address for you.
These are just a few items to consider with sending direct mail.
- Use Track N Trace to track your mail
- Use Drop ships to speed up the delivery times
- Perform simple tricks to boost the appearance of your mail piece.
At the end of the day, the mail piece that gets opened is the piece that wins. So like a lot of things in life, direct mail is a balancing act between spending risk and reward. But there are some things you can do to mitigate the risk, improving the reward.