Mailing Made Simple

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Here you'll find information to help you prepare your pieces for mailing and submit your mailing list. Questions? Just call us toll free at (888) 282-8764


Steps to Develop an Effective Direct Mail Campaign

Our Direct Mail experts can advise you on how to plan your direct mail program. By working with APi-marketing to deliver your marketing message, customers will notice, remember and buy from you.

  • Review Your Marketing Plan
    Make sure you know what you want to accomplish with your campaign. What are you selling and who you are selling it to. When and how often you should mail and how you will track response.
  • Build/Buy A Targeted Mailing List
    Much of the success of your direct mail campaign will depend on your mailing list. Review your current in-house list to determine if they are the right customers based on your marketing plan. Consider purchasing a list to combine with your current one to expand your reach.
  • Pick a Promotion
    Consider what offer your customers will find meaningful for them to respond. Remember, every mail piece should have a Call-to-Action telling your prospect what to do, how to do it and when to do it by. Be sure to make it easy for customers to contact you.
  • Create the Mail
    Piece A mix of compelling copy and powerful design will grab your customer's attention. Great copy needs to be quick and to the point. Highlight the key benefits that differentiate your business or product. Powerful imagery should be relevant to your message.
  • Select Your Mailing Services
    There are various options for delivering your mail piece. The least expensive service, Standard Mail, takes 10-14 days. First-Class costs more, but your mail arrives in 2-5 days. With 500 pieces or more, you can presort for quicker, less expensive service. Non-profits with permits save even more.
  • Track Effectiveness
    Compare your complete costs for mailing versus the revenue generated by your campaign to determine the "return on investment" (ROI). Just take your revenue and divide it by your total cost. Knowing how well your direct mail works will enable you to improve your next mailing for even better results.
  • Be Consistent
    The most effective direct mail programs are consistent and frequent. Consider your sales cycle, market trends, customers' purchase histories and your marketing budget to determine the best time and frequency to mail.

Postage Rates

The Postal Service offers discounted postage rates for mailers that do some of the work. Usually, the more up-front mail preparation you do, the lower the postage rate you will pay.

Rates are also based on a number of other things including class of mail, size and shape of mail piece, weight, distance to travel, quantity, nonprofit status, speed of delivery and mail entry point.

In addition to paying postage, bulk mailers are required to obtain a mailing permit and pay an annual mailing fee for each class of mail. It may be more cost effective to send your mailing with a service bureau as compared to the time and hourly cost you would expend doing it yourself.

Different Classes of Mail Affect Your Postage Rates
The USPS divides mail into different services, called classes. Each class of mail has different features, service levels, postage rates and presort requirements.

Mailing Class Comparison

First-Class Mail Presort Standard Mail Presort
Delivery Time 2-5 days 5-14 days or longer
Minimum Quantity 500 pieces for discounted rate 200 pieces or 50 lbs for discounted rate
Forwarding & Return Service Free Additional fees required
Rate 50% higher (or more) than Standard Mail Lower than First-Class

Mailing Class Details

First-Class Mail Presort
is your best choice for time-sensitive mail. It includes postcards, letters, large envelopes and packages that weigh 13 ounces or less.If getting your mail there fast is your top priority, use First-Class Mail. First-Class Mail postage rates are the same regardless of how far the mail travels and includes forwarding and return services. Delivery of First Class Mail is typically within 1-3 days in California and 3-5 days nationally. First Class delivery is consistent throughout the year.With First-Class Mail, the USPS automatically forwards your mail for 12 months. For the next 6 months, the Post Office will return the pieces to the sender and indicate the new address on file. This allows you to update your list for future mailings.First-Class Mail offers a lower Postcard rate that applies to the Standard size card. Larger sizes, like our Jumbo cards, mail at the regular First-Class letter rate.
Minimum Quantity to Mail at Discounted Rates: 500 pieces.

Standard Mail Presort (US Bulk Rate)
offers lower postage rates but has a longer delivery time. Standard Mail used to send printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins and catalogs.Delivery of Standard Class mail typically take 4-6 days in California and the Southwest, and may take up to 10-14 days nationally. The Postal Service does not guarantee delivery times for Standard Mail and it can take considerably longer at peak mailing periods. Standard Mail is not recommended for time-sensitive campaigns, such as events.Standard Mail is not forwarded or returned unless you request it with an Ancillary Service Endorsement. Forwarding and return services may result in additional fees or postage.Unlike First-Class Mail, there is no separate Standard Mail card rate (cards are mailed as letters or flats/non-letters).
Minimum Quantity to Mail at Discounted Rates: 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail.

Tip: Many mailers use a service called “Priority Mail drop shipment” to speed up the delivery of their Standard Mail. You mail your trays or sacks of Standard Mail via Priority Mail to the postal facility nearest the final destination of your mail. This is a very cost effective way to get your message to your customer sooner.

Non-Profit Organizations Qualify for Lower Postage Rates
Non-Profit groups can apply to the U.S. Postal Service for approval to mail at special Non-Profit postage rates. This class of mail is a lower priced Bulk Mail rate with the same delivery timeframe.

Actual Postage Rates
Postage is based upon the geographic concentration & quantity of actual pieces mailed. Example: 15,000 pieces mailed to a concentrated area in your own city will pay a much lower rate than 550 pieces mailed to a list of widely scattered rural areas.


Mailing Services

Postal Processing
With printing and mailing services all under one roof, APi-marketing offers our printing customers a fast, affordable and convenient way to professionally mail your direct mail pieces.

Our state-of-the-art postal presort and CASS certification software ensures that your list meets Postal Service standards and you receive the postage discounts that are available. Mailing services include:

  • Processing of a single list
  • US postage, first-class, standard (bulk) or non-profit rates
  • Custom inkjet addressing
  • Postal presorting for faster processing
  • USPS on-site verification for efficiency

CASS Certification
Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) improves delivery of your mail piece and maximizes postage savings by adding Zip+4 codes to your mailing list where possible. The CASS Certification process also helps determine some address problems and standardizes addresses to Postal Service formatting. The correct Zip+4 allows us to apply postal barcodes to your mail pieces, thereby qualifying your mail for Presort discounts.

Zip+4
This system enables the Post Office to sort and dispatch mail quickly and accurately. The first 5 numbers of the zip code identify an area of the country along with the Post Office where the mail will be delivered. The additional 4 digits identify a specific range of delivery addresses.

Printing the Barcodes
Postnet barcodes are the small vertical lines in the lower right on your mail piece. The lines represent the Zip+4 codes. Barcodes enable automated processing of mail, which lowers mail-processing costs. Savings in processing costs at the Post Office are passed on to you through lower postage rates.

List Services
Experts say that over 40% of your direct mail success depends on your mailing list. Targeting the right prospects and using quality mail lists can get your message to the businesses or consumers that are ready to buy.

Although it is very important to maintain a clean and current house list, mailing to outside lists is necessary since you are bound to lose customers each year - people move, businesses close or buy elsewhere, and your current customer base can only buy so much.

Our in-house experts can help you find the right list for your marketing needs and put you in contact with prospects matching the demographics of your ideal customers.

  • Customized Business Lists
  • Targeted Consumer Lists
  • Occupant Lists for Businesses and Consumers
  • List Processing & Verification

Mailing List Formats
When submitting your mailing list, we will review it for basic format and to ensure it can be processed through our system. Lists not meeting our specifications may incur additional costs and delays.

Although you can save list files from a number of different programs, to expedite your order, we prefer lists to be submitted as PC based MS Excel, Tab-delimited (.txt) or comma delimited (.csv) files. If you submit your list in a different format, it may need to be converted which could result in processing delays and additional costs. MS Excel Multiple worksheets within a single file will be processed as separate lists.

Note: We do NOT accept Cheshire labels, self-adhesive mailing labels, tapes, tape cartridges or DAT tapes.


List FAQ’s

Q: How and when should I send my mailing list?
A: It is important to remember that without your list, we cannot begin the mailing portion of your job. Therefore, you should send it to us at the same time as your printing order if at all possible.

Q: Do I have to compress my mailing list before sending?
A: No.

Q: What fields must I include to make sure my mail is delivered?
A: For proper addressing, your list must include a recipient’s name (or generic name such as “Current Resident”), street number and name (include apt #, PO Box, or suite #), city, state and zip code. Business lists should include Company names and may optionally include Title & Department fields.

Q: Is there a minimum quantity you can mail?
A: Postal regulations require a minimum of 500 pieces to qualify for 1st Class Presort postage savings. A list with less than 500 mailable records will be sent at the single-piece 1st class rates and a separate fee will be charged for our services. Bulk mail requires a minimum of 200 pieces.

Q: I have been gathering my list for several years and I know some people have moved. Is there some way to update it with new addresses?
A: Yes, National Change of Address (NCOA) processing incurs an additional charge.

Q: What type of security and protection do you provide for the confidential information contained in my mailing list?
A: We will take reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality, safekeeping and protection of confidential information contained in a Customer’s mailing list. At all times it is Customer’s or Customer’s list vendor’s responsibility to maintain a duplicate copy of their mailing list(s).