The Domestic Mail Manual of the U.S. Post Office is over 700 pages long, so an understanding of their rules and regulations is daunting. A professional mailing service will pay for itself over time with information about proper mail preparation for maximum postage discounts. Consider us your experts for dealing with the Post Office—just like a good CPA can help you navigate the rocky shoals of tax codes, so can CPC’s mailing service help you achieve maximum discounts with minimal hassle. Some rules apply: design, data, format, and language can make all the difference between a mail piece that goes for the least amount of postage and one that is rejected.
The following is not a comprehensive guide, but should point you in the right direction. With 700 pages of rules, there is room to maneuver and many pitfalls, so contact your CPC sales rep to get additional information.
- The name of the game is automation: the more your direct mail piece can be processed by the Post Office’s automatic equipment, the more discounts you get.
- The mailing panel must have adequate room for the inkjetted address and a barcode.
- There cannot be extraneous information interfering with the OCR (optical scanner reader) in restricted areas, including type, graphics or colored background (must be 30% or less reflective background)
- The mailing indicia and all endorsements must be properly worded
- The aspect ratio must be within standards (image); in other words, the piece must be the right shape.
- The weight must be correct for the class of mail or surcharges apply.
Classes of mail:
- First Class presort (500 piece minimum)
- Standard presort - aka Bulk Mail (200 piece minimum)
- Other classes of mail exist and we mail them; ask your salesperson
Shapes of mail:
Letter sized mail must fit a specific aspect ratio to get discounts.
- Aspect ratio: Length divided by height
- Aspect ratio must always be between 1.3 - 2.5 for automation discounts.
- Letter sized mail must be ¼” maximum thickness or surcharges apply, and flat sized mail must not exceed ¾” maximum thickness.
Odd-shaped pieces can mail, they just incur surcharges (think square, die-cut, lumpy, etc.)
Sizes of mail:
- Postcards: 5 x 3.5 minimum, 6 x 4.25 maximum; single sheet (no folds)
- Single Sheet Letters: over 6 x 4.25 up to 6.125 x 11.5 maximum; single sheet (oversized postcard) or folded piece
- Booklet Letters: 6 x 10.5 maximum and requires 3 tabs
- Flats: square shapes and anything over 6.125 x 11.5 up to 12 x 15
Weights of mail:
- Postcards must have a micrometer reading of 7 points (.007 inches thick)
- Standard presort (letters or flats) must be at least .009” thick, be 3.3 ounces or under; otherwise surcharges will apply
- First Class must be under 1 ounce or surcharges will apply
Sortation of mail:
The more names you have in a geographic area, the deeper your discounts. A mailing of 5,000 that goes to only two zip codes will pay less postage than the same quantity mailed to a list spread across the nation.
Clean data is a must. We preflight all lists and flag any problems for you to fix, or we can help you clean you data for a nominal charge.
- We accept MS Excel, csv, and text files
- Organize data so that each record is on a single row, with each column as a separate field.
- Name, address, city, state and zip are the basics. Additional information can be used (salutation, address 2, organization, title, etc.)
- Discuss duplication with your sales rep: Dr. Jon Smith will be recognized as a different person than Mr. Jonathan Smith at the same address, and Dr./Mr. Smith could get two pieces of mail. Duplication issues can be especially problematic when multiple lists are involved, consult your sales rep for the best way to avoid multiple pieces to the same address or person.
Anything that falls outside of the above guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean the piece isn’t mailable, it just means it can’t be automated and costs more to mail.
Postage is always paid in advance.
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