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July 24, 2018

5 Ways to Lower Direct Mail Costs



Even as digital marketing continues to command more of corporate america’s marketing budgets, direct mail is proving its staying power with record response rates—especially among millennials (12.4%)!


Still, certain digital tactics like digital ads and email still beat direct mail on overall ROI due to their lower implementation costs. So how can companies keep the direct mail marketing gravy train going without blowing their budget?


Below are a five cost-saving tips to help lower direct mail production costs:

1. Use Templates
Rather than designing new direct mail pieces from scratch with every campaign, consider developing a few templates you can reuse again and again. By setting up a few postcards or mailers with standard parameters for art, headlines and offer areas, you can easily update and refresh those pieces with each new campaign without spending extensive time and money on design.


In addition, logos, contact info, taglines and other selected elements remain constant from piece to piece, reducing the chance for error or incongruous branding. In time, you’ll find your initial investment in this plug-and-push template approach pays for itself many times over.

2. Print More, Mail More
Printing higher volumes can drop your cost-per-piece dramatically. So instead of printing short runs for targeted campaigns, consider printing higher volumes and storing the overages for later mailings.

3. Check Your Specs
This can be an easy one to forget, but overlooking small details can throw a wrench in your budgets and cause deadlines to be missed.


Common direct mail production mistakes include:

  • Choosing envelopes that aren’t machinable
  • Using paper that isn’t laser compatible (if the direct mail campaign will be personalized)
  • Failing to check to ensure your mailing and printing vendors’ equipment can run your stock

A few phone calls or emails at the beginning of your project can save money and wasted time in the end.

4. Clean Your Data
Dirty data is a money waster than can easily be avoided. Mailing to records that are old, invalid or incomplete means you’re paying to mail a piece that will never reach its intended recipient.
At the very least, you should perform basic list hygiene before each mailing such as CASS address validation, NCOA (national change of address updates) and duplicate removal.


In fact, the USPS requires that all first class and standard mail lists be run through their NCOA database at least once every 95 days to receive automated postal rates. If you aren’t running your mail lists through the NCOA database, you run the risk of not only mailing to outdated addresses but paying a postal surcharge.

5. Be Flexible with Size
The more you can fit on a press sheet, the lower your printing costs will be (this holds true for both offset and digital printing). Tweaks in size as small as a quarter inch could mean the difference between being able to print four versus three up on a press sheet. A change that small will most likely not make a difference to the aesthetic or impact of your direct mail piece but (in this example) could yield a savings of 25% or more in your printing costs.


Plan Your Next Campaign 

Download our handy 12-page direct mail planning guide to have everything you need to plan your next campaign at your fingertips!


USPS Postal Rate Guide/Direct Mail Planning Tol


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in February of 2016 and has been updated with fresh content. 


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