The following are basic questions we often hear from folks needing guidance on the many terms used in the direct mail business:
Q. What is a Standard Mailing?
A. Standard Mail is the new lemony fresh name for Bulk Mail. The Post Office introduced this change several years ago. It is now mandatory and strictly enforced on all mailing pieces… you can no longer mail using a bulk rate permit.
Q. What does Automation Compatible mean?
A. The Post Office purchased high-tech equipment that can read bar codes that sorts the mail automatically instead of the old manual method, vastly enhancing the efficiency of direct mail. Therefore, a properly designed direct mail piece includes a barcode. On your postage statement the Post Office requires the specific date the CASS was performed to receive your automation discount.
Q. My art director designed a mailing piece that was 6″ by 6.” Is there a problem with this layout?
A. A square piece can be mailed; however it is subject to a non-standard surcharge. When designing odd shaped mailers, it is always a good idea to call on the printer’s and mail house’s expertise early in the design stages. This, of course, will avoid costly mistakes and delays.
Q. What is the minimum amount of pieces that I can mail and qualify for a Presort Standard Mailing?
A. All you need is 200 pieces or 50 pounds for Standard Mail.
Q. My mailing list is on my computer; how can I give it to Didit DM?
A. Simply use the export or save as command in the software program. The most common formats are ASCII, Excel and Access. After the export process is complete you may email or send it on a disk to us. If you have any trouble, we’re always available to walk you through the process.
Q. What is CASS Certification?
A. It’s like giving your mailing list a bath. One of the post office’s current goals is to clean up all addresses in the United States. This standardization will ultimately result in more accuracy and faster delivery of all mail through the system.
Technically speaking, the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) was designed to check the integrity of addresses. CASS is not concerned with the specific people who live at these addresses, just the correctness of the delivery address. When an address passes through the CASS process, it is verified against a national database containing every delivery address in the United States.
The address is matched, then cleaned if necessary and four digits are appended to the end of the five-digit zip code. Two extra digits are added to a separate field created in the database in order to prepare a barcode for automation mail discounts.
With automation of direct mail, you get faster delivery of the mail at considerably lower postage rates. The CASS certification is mandatory to take advantage of barcode discounts offered by the USPS.
Q. Does the size of the mail piece matter?
A. Absolutely! The Post Office has established many direct mail categories according to size and thickness of mail pieces. The following types are the most common; however you can mail many other sizes as well.
• Postcards – 4 ¼ x 6 maximum
• Letters – 6 1/8 x 11 ½
• Flats – Over 6 1/8 x 11 ½
Q. I want to send a letter, coupon and a business reply envelope for the cheapest rate, which is Presort Standard, right?
A. Yes, Presort Standard is the lowest rate assuming your outer envelope is automation compatible as well as all the response vehicles enclosed. You must have FIM Bars and a Barcode preprinted on you BRE or BRC to mail at the lowest presort rate. The Post Office provides the artwork for FIM and barcodes free of charge.
Q. My postcard measures 4 1/4″ by 6″ and I have 5,000 names on my list. Is Presort Standard mail the cheapest postage rate?
A. Surprisingly not… it’s one of the Catch 22’s in the Post Office’s regulations you can benefit from. If you can fit your message on a postcard sized mail piece no larger than 4 ¼” by 6″, it is cheaper to mail at the 1st Class Postcard Rate. Your piece will also be delivered faster by first class mail.
Q. My mail piece currently measures 5 ½” by 8″ and I need to make it larger to get my message across. If I change it to 8 ½” by 11″ will it cost any more to mail?
A. Yes. A flat will cost more to print and process as well as require higher postage rates.
Q. Why is the cost of the exact postage not communicated until the very last minute?
A. We can only estimate the postage after the final presorting is done on your file. A standard rate mailing may have five different postage rates for the same mailing. A guesstimate is provided in advance so you can cut a check, and the final figures and monies will be reconciled on you invoice.
Q. Why do I have to put on two wafer seals and other times I only need one?
A. A one page 8 ½” by 11″ self-mailer folded down to a number ten size requires either one or two wafer seals. Basically the rule states that if you mail piece is opened on the top, it will require one wafer seal. If it is opened on the bottom, it will require two wafer seals. It is important to set up the address panel and mailing permit correctly before printing the mailer.
Q. Someone told me that if I mail Presort Standard my mail would not be forwarded to the new address, as it would be with First Class mail.
A. That’s right. However, the Post Office has a list of approved vendors that will correct all of the names in your file that have moved in the last three years. This updating process is known as NCOA or National Change of Address and is an invaluable tool used by Type-A-Line.
Q. Can we change our 5 ½” by 8 ½” piece by rotating the 8 ½” by 5 ½” so the address reads left to right on 5 ½”?
A. The Post Office will accept either design. However, the 5 ½” by 8 ½” design is considered a letter while the 8 ½” by 5 ½” is a non-letter and will cost more in postage.
Q. I can’t seem to find the rates for Non-Profit Presorted First Class mail.
A. That’s because there are no discounted rates for non-profit groups for First Class; it is only available for standard mail.
Q. I would like to send all my customers a free pen. Can I send it through the mail?
A. Yes, you may send it first class or presort standard. However, according to the new regulations, there is now a surcharge for the irregular shape. Add 4 cents per piece for standard mail and 12 cents per piece for first class mail.
Q. I have a question that you haven’t answered in the Direct Mail FAQ. What can I do?
A. Didit DM is here to help. Please contact us and we’ll be happy to walk you through other questions you may have about the direct mail process.