There isn’t a simple numerical answer to the question “How much does direct mail cost?” When creating a campaign, a number of factors impact the price per piece and total cost, including:
Type of Mail Piece
The type of mail piece you choose significantly affects the total cost of your direct mail campaign.
A folded self-mailer is typically developed with heavier stock than a letter, due to postal regulations. A letter package is a bit larger and may call for additional pieces, such as reply envelopes or affixed Post-its, as opposed to a postcard, which is a single, double-sided card.
Although cost may play an important role, it’s vital the kind of mail you choose accurately conveys your message. If you’re marketing high-end goods or services, you’ll want to communicate the luxurious appeal using a letter package with the addition of a brochure.
The higher the paper quality, the greater the cost. You can choose from various text grades with different finishes. The quality of your marketing tool is an important way to express the value of your product.
If you’re selling a high-ticket item such as furniture, you’ll want to ensure your mail piece is on a heavy stock with a glossy finish, making your photos pop. If you’re marketing everyday grocery items, you may want to choose a thinner paper stock without finishings. This may be delivered to homes more frequently than a furniture brochure, and advertises lower-priced goods.
The smaller the size of your chosen direct mail piece, the less costly. It’s important to choose a size that fits your message—if this requires longer-form text and more graphics, you may have to choose a larger size.
Postcards are commonly available in four sizes: small (4.25” x 6”), standard (6” x 9”), jumbo (6” x 11”), and extra large (9” x 12”).
Check out our blog, “Choosing the Perfect Postcard Size for a Successful Direct Mail Campaign,” to learn more.
A standard 8.5” x 11” letter, which is used by every vertical to make an individualized and personal correspondence, is more economical than an extra large 8.5” x 14” letter, which provides commercial mailers with space to nest a reply device at the top of the letter.
The most common three-panel folded self-mailer is 8” x 15”, while a four-panel self-mailer measures 8” x 20”. Both fold (trifold, bifold or oblong) down to 8” x 5”. A self-mailer offers more room for your message than a postcard.
Graphics & Copy
The graphics and copy should be calculated when budgeting your direct mail campaign.
Will you be using custom photographs or stock images? If you’re using your own photos, you’ll have to hire a photographer to actually take the pictures. If you decide you want to use stock images, you’ll have to budget for related expenses. Are there other logos or graphics you’ll have to license or get permission to use? Will you be using an in-house artist or commissioning a designer? If you have a graphic designer on staff, it will be less costly than contracting one for specific projects.
Similar questions arise regarding copy: Will you have to hire a copywriter for the campaign or do you have an on-staff writer or editor? Contracting a copywriter requires additional time and cost. How much personalization do you want expressed in your copy and graphics? Formatting personalization for duplex or simplex will also determine cost.
There are two types of lists: An in-house mailing list and a purchased list. An in-house list contains contacts and data your company has already collected, while a purchased list is one you must shop around for because it contains new contacts you’ve never reached out to.
The kind of list you use for your campaign depends on your goals. If you’re trying to market to a new consumer base, you will incur the additional costs of purchasing a list. However, if you’re sending mail pieces to current clientele, there won’t be extra expenses.
Learn more by reading our blog “How to Find the Perfect Targeted Mailing List.”
The number of mail pieces you need printed and mailed will determine the overall cost of your campaign. A 50,000-piece run will cost more than a 20,000-piece run, but it will have a lower unit cost.
As technology has evolved, the price of personalization has decreased with automation.
While the use of variable data printing is more expensive than a static run of the same volume, the return on investment is always much higher than a standard run, enabling your company to easily recuperate the increased greater investment. Plus, your response rate improves—and recently some marketers report by more than 100 percent.
You can attempt to lower variable data printing costs by reducing run frequency, using a lower-cost format or mailing to a smaller list.
Learn more about customized direct mail in “Variable Data Printing: Drive Direct Mail Success With Personalized Campaigns.”
In today’s environment, data security and management is critical to a direct mail campaign's success. It's important to make sure that your partner is highly certified with as SOC 2, Type 2 certified with HITRUST mapping. We can ensure that your data is securely handled. It's also essential that the vendor can manage your data effectively, so you can get the most out of your lists and other data. These partners may cost a little more, but are well worth the security and confidentiality.
Design Distributors offers custom database management solutions that helps our customers keep their lists updated and organized. Plus, we can develop other custom programming that fits your organization’s needs. Because we’re SSAE16 certified, HIPAA compliant, and SOC 2, Type 2 certified with HITRUST mapping, we can ensure your data is always protected.
Your order may incorporate non-machine insertable items, such as premiums or gifts, which can lift your response rates. You may also want to set up a pick and pack system to react to responses as they come in, rather than aggregating them. This requires a lot of expertise and hand work. Although it can add to the cost, the benefits clearly make it worthwhile.
Having a direct mail service company complete your entire order from start to finish, including packaging, fulfillment, and mailing, can substantially cut down overall cost, time, and paperwork. Plus, adding certain services can increase response rates, improving returns on investment.
Design Distributors provides an array of services, in addition to printing. A one-stop shop, we offer fulfillment and inventory management, lettershop, and mailing, so we can help you develop your campaign from inception to mailboxes.
Postage rates are the largest necessary cost of direct mail campaigns. Postage rates change each year and vary greatly depending upon the concentration of your mailing list. The 2020 price of a letter-sent marketing mail starts at 19.1 cents, while a flat starts at 22.4 cents.
There are a number of methods to reduce postal costs. Logistics is a crucial tool to minimize costs and manage delivery. The postal service offers discounts based on how far into the postal system you can deliver your mail. If you can concentrate your mail enough, you can drop ship to a sectional center facility (SCF), which gives you the maximum discounts. If you don’t have the mail density, then many mailers use a commingler to attain a 95 percent SCF saturation. There are other methods to bring down the price including co-palletization, which combines small pallets of mail to maximize efficiency and decrease costs.
Your Design Distributors’ representative can help you reduce your postal rate costs. For latest rates, download a free postal service rates chart today. Calculate your Postage Costs here.
Prices can also drop when using a direct marketing service that takes care of the mailing for you. We work with our customers to create an ideal postage optimization strategy. DDI’s Postal Optimization and Mail Consolidation Program provides postal discounts including commingling and consolidation options that we pass onto our customers. This process combines mail from more than one company to meet USPS minimum quantity requirements to obtain a discount.
We also offer drop shipping and tracking services, so customers know when their packages have left the plant and arrived in mailboxes. Designs Distributors can help you save time and money on the largest factors impacting cost.