checklist to keep postage costs down

Keep Postage Costs Down: Commercial Mailing 101

You already know postal rates are on the rise. But do you know the most common direct mail postal mistakes that can add to your mailing costs due to surcharges? Machineability is key to getting your marketing mail into the hands of prospects with speed and affordability. Any mail that must be hand processed at the USPS will incur a surcharge—which can be .042 cents for nonmachinable standard mail. Here’s what you need to know about reducing your postage costs with USPS Marketing Mail.

What Constitutes Marketing Mail?

Many different types of commercial mail can qualify for USPS Marketing Mail (also known as third-class or bulk mail), including advertising, newsletters and solicitations—and the USPS provides discounts for high-volume mailers. For example, USPS Marketing Mail starts at $0.190 per piece for commercial mailers, and every door direct mail starts at $0.187 for flats up to 3.3 ounces.

To qualify for postal savings, you must meet USPS minimum requirements for Marketing Mail. For example, there must be at least 200 pieces and it must contain explicit advertising for products or services for sale or lease—or be a solicitation for a donation. Not sure if your mail qualifies? Check out this USPS decision tree to determine if your promotion is eligible for Marketing Mail rates.

Watch Your Weight

Beware of the minimum mailing requirements and weights per piece that must be met to qualify for USPS Marketing Mail discounts. Bound and printed promotions, such as catalogs and booklets have a 300-piece minimum per mailing, a 15-pound weight maximum per piece. If your mailing qualifies, savings can be substantial. Direct mail advertisers can save 41%-73% over the cost of retail First Class rates while periodicals, magazines and newspapers can save up to 51% – 89% with marketing mail rates.

Pull Your Permit

Mailing permits allow commercial mailers to mail with a precanceled stamp, postage meter, or permit imprint. To qualify for USPS Marketing Mail discounts, you will need to acquire a mailing permit and pay a mailing fee at every post office where you enter and pay for commercial mail. If you’re mailing with a permit imprint account, you must do a commercial mailing at least once every two years to keep your account active or pay a reactivation fee.

Address Correctly

To ensure that postage machines can read outbound addresses, the USPS has specific requirements for addressing. For example, font size must be at least 10-point. Addresses should be left block aligned. Since postal machines read from the bottom up, nothing should appear below the zip code line. Avoid the use of patterns or dark ink on a dark background that makes text hard to read by automated mail processing machines. The inclusion of a bar code ensures that your pieces can be tracked and routed by the USPS with automation price breaks. And always ensure your address block appears within the optical character reader (OCR) image areas.

Simplify Your Format

Automation is the key to commercial mail processing and postage savings. Yet problems with your mail size and shape can result in unexpected expenses if they must be hand processed. It’s best to avoid oddly shaped mailers that are processed manually and (in the case of squares) come with postage surcharges for aspect ratio. Also problematic is inserting large items such as pens into flat envelopes. The bulk of the pieces makes them nonmachinable.

The USPS 2019 promotions and incentives can help you save up to 2% on postage rates if you produce pieces that have tactile, sensory, interactive, emerging or advanced technology elements or if you include a mobile shopping promotion.

At Upper Valley Press, we have onsite USPS postal verification to ensure our clients’ success. We can help you design and mail with affordability and postal compliance. Contact us to learn more about our direct mail services that include design, print and distribution.