What Qualifies for Bulk Mailing?

How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost? 

Bulk mail is a discounted mailing service offered by the USPS for those who prepare and send large quantities of mail. If you regularly send out standard-sized mailings in an amount equal to or greater than the numbers below, you may be able to save money but working directly with a printer. They can offer direct mail production and distribution rather than taking your pre-printed pieces to the post office. 

Usually, your bulk price mail is cheaper than a regularly priced single piece of mail. Single piece means you’re paying full price for a standard piece of mail.

So, how many pieces do I need to send to qualify for bulk mail?

Below is a list of exactly how many verifiable pieces you need to send in order to qualify for bulk mailing discounts. If you’re sending as much or more than this, it can be more cost effective apply to a bulk mail program or work with a direct mail printer. 

You’ll need to send at least:

  • 500 pieces for First-Class Mail
  • 200 pieces (or 50 pounds of mail) for Standard Mail
  • 50 pieces for Parcel Select (also known as Standard Post)
  • 300 pieces for Presorted or Carrier Route Bound Printed Matter
  • 300 pieces for Library Mail
  • 300 pieces for Media Mail

How do I get a bulk mail discount?

First, you’ll need a mailing permit, basically an allowance to send large amounts of postage from a single facility. You can apply for this at your USPS Business Mail Acceptance Unit, which is also where you will drop off your bulk mail. Then you will have to pay the annual mailing fee.

Next, you pay for your postage using one of three ways:

  • Precanceled Stamps: these are stamps that are set aside for presorted First Class and Standard Mail. You pay a much lower price for them upfront and then only pay the difference when/if you use them.
  • Postage Meter/PC Postage: this is best for home-printed postage. You can save time and money when you’re printing your own postage.
  • Permit Imprint: this is ideal for high bulk mailings; however, the items have to be the exact same weight to qualify. You’ll also must have an “advanced deposit account” from the specific post office you’ll be using. You prepay for your postage, then use their postage indicia for your permit imprint rather than a printed stamp and they deduct it from your account.

Do I need to presort bulk mail?

Lastly, you have to presort your work. This requires going through and ensuring all of your mail is presorted by zip code. This is the key reason you get cheaper prices -you save the post office time which means you save money.

Often businesses find this goes beyond what they’re willing to spend time doing, but if you can afford the extra time it can save a significant amount of money on high volume shipping. 

Using Bulk Mail to Market your Business

Now that you know what qualifies for bulk mailing, how much does direct mail marketing cost? Data continues to show that consumers respond favorably to direct mail. When done strategically, direct mail is a great way to increase revenue for your business.

Before reviewing costs, it’s best to figure out what type of direct mail piece is most effective for your brand. While research from the Data and Marketing Association suggests the response rate is usually highest for oversized envelopes (versus something like a letter-sized mailer), you’ll still need to determine what will work best for your campaign goals.

Which is right for you is going to vary and depends on a few different things:

  • What’s your budget? – Oversized mailers and catalogs are more expensive to design, print and ship because of their increased weight. 
  • What are you selling? – If you sell a serious product, like insurance or tax preparation, you most likely will want to send a traditional letter. If your offer is more fun and creative, you can create a colorful and eye-catching postcard.
  • Who is your campaign targeting? – If you’re nurturing past customers who are already familiar with your company, you won’t need to give them as much information and a letter or postcard can suffice.  If you’re targeting cold leads, you may need to send a bigger brochure so they can learn more about you.

If you’re interested in the more expensive direct mail pieces, it’s a good idea to do testing on a smaller group so you can measure how well it converts before going wider with it. Working directly with a direct mail printer can be a cost-effective way to A/B test, and even save on campaign costs depending on your campaign specifics. 

Direct Mail Costs

Direct mail pieces costs can range anywhere from 30 cents to more than $10 per person, depending on how much you spend on design, copy writing, mailing lists, printing, and distribution. Some companies do much of this inhouse and wind up only paying for printing and mailing or you can find printers that also offer design services in addition to fulfillment and distribution. 

Let’s break down these individual cost factors:

Design Costs ($0 – $100)

When it comes to designing your direct mail piece, there are several options:

    DIY – If you only need something basic, like a renewal letter, you should be able to create something suitable in Microsoft Word.

    Use a template – You can find a number of websites that sell templates that cost $10 on average.

    Hire a professional – If you need creative help, your best bet is to pay a professional print designer. You can someone local in your area, find a freelancer online, or see if your printer offers design services.

Marketing Copy Costs ($0 – $100)

If you have a tight budget, you may have no other choice but to write your own marketing copy. However, if budget allows you can hire a professional copywriter. Your copy has to be persuasive and there is an art to getting it just right. Copywriters are trained to write content that hooks the audience and gets them to buy.

Mailing Lists Costs ($0 – $0.30 / record)

Free mailing lists can be generated by gathering data you already have on your current customers, or by doing a trade of your info with another business in your industry.

If neither of these options are a possibility, you will pay between .02-.30 cents on average per record. The cost will vary based on the quality of the list, how many records you buy, and how many times you can send to the list. 

Printing Costs ($0.03 – $2.00 / person)

Printing costs will vary based on the following:

  • Paper quality
  • Black and white vs. color
  • Paper size
  • 1 sided vs. 2 sided
  • Number of pages
  • Quantity

Visit an online or local printing business to find out exact printing costs for your campaign.

Distribution Costs ($0.25 – $2.00 / piece)

Of course, the final cost to consider is mailing costs. Prices fluctuate and are dependent on the current postage rate, the quantity you send, and how much all of that mail weighs. Keep in mind, the larger the pieces, the heavier the order, and the more you’re going to pay.

Bulk mailing and direct mail, if done right, can be both an effective and cost-effective way to market your business.

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