The goal of any direct marketing piece is to get into the hands of its intended recipient. The goal of any marketer is to discover who that intended recipient should be. There are a few options to choose from when it comes to direct mail marketing. The type of mailpiece and its intended audience help determine which of these options will be most effective.

There are two main factors that officially categorize a mailpiece. The first factor is the mailpiece’s physical attributes. Mailpiece attributes are divided into three categories: letters, flats, and parcels. Letters include any mailpiece sized between 3.5” x 5” and 6.125” x 11.5” and less than 0.25” thick, with automation letters weighing no more than 3.5 oz. Postcards are a subcategory of letters and must be less than 4.25” x 6”. Though many letter-sized Marketing mailpieces are referred to as postcards, true postcards are only applicable as First Class mail. Flats are any mailpiece that exceed one or more of the attributes of a letter with a max size up to 12” x 15” x 0.75”. Automation flats can weigh no more than 13 oz. Parcels exceed one or more of the attributes of a flat with a maximum size of 108 inches as measured by length (longest size) plus girth (distance around thickest part). Automation parcels can weigh no more than 16 oz. and machinable parcels no more than 25 pounds. For more information regarding physical standards for commercial letters, flats, and parcels, see the USPS Quick Service Guide.

The second factor is the class of mail. Commercial mail generally falls under USPS® Marketing (formally Standard) or First Class mail. Though there are many different sub-classes of mail such as bound printed matter, customized market mail, or periodicals (these often coincide with the physical attributes or frequency of the mailing) most direct mail marketing efforts fall under basic USPS Marketing mail, First Class mail, or EDDM® (Every Door Direct Mail).

Mail classes indicate the delivery priority and services provided for a given mailpiece. The U.S. Postal Service sets different delivery time standards for each class of mail. First Class mail has faster delivery time standards and it is given priority over other mail if necessary. First Class mail also includes return service. Any undeliverable pieces are returned to the sender. USPS Marketing mail and EDDM have a lower priority when it comes to delivery time and they do not include return service. Any undeliverable pieces are discarded. Nonprofit mail (a sub-category of USPS Marketing mail for registered nonprofit organizations) includes the same priority and services as USPS Marketing mail. A map of average delivery times can be found here: USPS Service Standards.

EDDM is a mailing method of a USPS Marketing flat. It involves a flat-sized mailpiece with a simplified address that is delivered to every mailbox on a given route. A simplified address does not include a street address or person’s name. The piece is addressed as “Postal Customer” with just the city, state and zip code. Postal routes can be found using the EDDM Mapping Tool. 100% of a given route must be selected. Pieces can be delivered to both residential and business mailboxes or just residential mailboxes. The biggest benefits to EDDM are that there is no need to purchase a list and it most likely that every resident on a route receives the mailpiece.

Letter-sized pieces can be mailed to every resident as a saturation mailing, but each piece must bear a full street address. Delivery saturation on a given route must be 90% or more to qualify for saturation postage rates. This type of mailing is not as common since it involves purchasing a mailing list, the cost of which often outweighs the postage or printing savings. The benefit of purchasing a mailing list is being able to use qualifiers to target certain demographics that best fit your ideal audience.

Let’s consider a basic oversized postcard-type mailpiece and two different businesses. One business is a local pizza restaurant. The other business is a local private school. The pizza shop has a product that appeals to everyone, assuming the majority of people eat pizza or other items the restaurant offers. Therefore, an EDDM mailing would be fitting for this business. The business could mail a flat-sized postcard (say 6.25” x 11”) to every residential address on postal routes within a certain mile radius of the restaurant. There would be no list to purchase and every person within close proximity would receive the restaurant’s advertisement.

The private school, however, offers a product that does not appeal to everyone. This business’ product is only relevant to households with children, likely within a certain age, and perhaps only to households with a certain level of income. In this case, an EDDM mailing would not be a good fit. Purchasing a list of local residents that is qualified by household income, the number of children in the house, and the children’s ages, would be a better choice for this type of business. The school could mail a letter-sized (6” x 11”) or flat-sized mailpiece to a targeted audience. The advertisement is more likely to be relevant to each household on the mailing list. This results in a more effective and efficient marketing effort, justifying the cost of purchasing a list.

Another thing to consider is the particular advertisement. If the pizza restaurant were to host a family night then their audience would not be so broad. In this case, they may consider a targeted mailing to families only.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a direct mail marketing method. By looking at the benefits and relevance of each factor you can choose the method that is best for your business and particular advertisement. Phillips Printing is here to help. Contact your salesperson today for a free consultation, and to help answer the question, to EDDM or not to EDDM.