Problems With Direct Mail
Avoid These 15 Problems With Your Direct Mail
After 25 years, we have seen many companies make mistakes in their direct mail. Direct mail can be a great way to grow your business or it can be a real problem. Here are some common problems we see and how to avoid them:
- No call to action: If you do not give people a reason to respond to your offer, then they won’t and you just wasted your money. Tell them what to do and give them an incentive as well as a timeline to create urgency.
- Wrong offer: You need to target your offer to the right people. It is no longer ok to send one offer to everyone. You need to send the right offer to the right people.
- Bad list: How current is your list? How well do you know your customers? Keeping as much information on each customer as possible as well as keeping it current is extremely important, not only for postal delivery but to send the right offers to the right people.
- Size: The post office requires that letter size mail have an aspect ratio of between 1.3 and 2.5. To calculate the ratio, you divide the length by the height when looking at the mail panel. If you are out of ratio you will pay non-machinable postage.
- Shape: The post office requires that letter size mail be rectangular. Do not make special shape die cuts on your direct mail. You will be forced to put them in an envelope.
- Not enough room for the address and barcode: When there is not enough room in the addressing area for the address and the barcode, you will have to pay the non-auto postage rate.
- Folding: The post office requires that the final fold on a self-mailer be either to the right of the mail panel or below the mail panel. If the folding is wrong you will have to put them in envelopes or pay the non-machinable postage rate.
- Address panel in the wrong spot: Both letter size and flat size mail, have requirements on where the address panel can go. If your address panel is in the wrong spot you will have to put the mailer into an envelope.
- Return address too low: When your return address is in the OCR (optical character reader) area your mail will deliver to the return address instead of the addressee. All the money you spent on print and mailing will have been wasted.
- Coating on the address block: When you coat the postcard or mailer to give it that glossy finish, make sure to mask out the address block. In many cases the coating causes the ink of the address and barcode to not soak into the paper and not dry. When this happens you will spend more money to have labels affixed instead of inkjet on the mailer.
- Different paper stocks: Many times printers run short on a stock in the middle of a print run. They then switch to another similar stock that they have in house. This is a real problem for the post office since they weight verify all mail. Weights are different from stock to stock. When a mailing weighs differently it may be rejected or you may have to pay more postage.
- Dark address panel: When you use a dark color in the address panel, the OCR machines cannot read the address. You will need to use a label or put them in an envelope. Keep in mind that even red is a problem.
- Print count matches mail count: When you print the exact number of mailers that you need to mail your mailing will end up short. You will have to go back on press to print more and a short run will cost you. 10% overs is a common standard for machine spoilage. That can be adjusted up or down depending on the total quantity.
- Incorrect indicia/permit printed on piece: Make sure that when you a checking your printer proofs you are looking at the indicia as well. The wrong permit number or wording will require a stamp or label to cover the incorrect information.
- Nonprofit Authorization: In order to mail at nonprofit rates, you need the USPS to authorize you. The IRS tax filing is not the same as a USPS authorization. You will pay more in postage when you can’t mail at nonprofit rates.
The 15 items listed above are the most common mistakes we see, that is not to say they are the only ones we see. If you are planning a mailing, send us a PDF to look over and we can help you spot potential problems before you print. If you have any questions call us in San Diego at 619-448-6111 or email email@example.com. We are glad to help!