Written by Chris Lambrinides
CHAPTER 15 - EDDM
In the beginning, we put out flyers, and the flyers were good. After a few years, that evolved into an in-house program of mailing to special lists we created. We recorded the addresses of the most desirable areas and mailed into them on a regular basis.
After a year or two on our in-house program, we changed to saturation mailings. With those, we were able to mail to a whole zip code for a much-cheaper postage rate. This was an interesting method, and it brought in a whole new element of affordability. We could instantly contact twice the number of people for half the price. But it lacked the quality of laser targeting; it was too broad. We wasted a lot of money dumping mailers into areas with addresses unlikely to use our services. In comes EDDM to save the day.
What is EDDM?
EDDM stands for “Every Door Direct Mail,” a program run by the US Postal Service. It allows you to mail large volumes of big postcards for an affordable price. The best part is that you don’t have to mail to the whole zip code at once to get the volume discount.
Here is how it works:
Every zip code has different routes within it, and every address in a zip code gets assigned to one of the routes. The post office uses these routes to process and deliver all the mail that goes through the system.
When you mail someone a letter, it goes to the post office and gets sorted into one of the different routes. The address on it dictates what route it goes into. A route is nothing more than a subsection within a zip code based on location. The post office breaks a zip code into these separate routes for efficiency purposes. Every mail carrier is assigned different routes.
The EDDM program reveals to you on a map the locations of these different routes. Using the website, you can see what street gets tagged to what route. The program then allows you to mail to the individual routes one at a time or in groups for a discounted price. You have to meet a couple of conditions to use the system, and I will discuss those below.
This is powerful because it allows you to get the benefits of saturation mailing. This provides mass delivery at a discounted rate while allowing you to be selective about where and to whom you are mailing.
We used our market research report to niche down and identify the top zip codes and towns to target. The EDDM program allows you to take it a step further and niche down within the preselected zip code.
We can segment in and mail to only the most desirable areas or routes within any given town. You can hit all the best areas and exclude the undesirable ones. You can cherry-pick the routes with the awesome houses and omit the ones with the apartments and low property values.
The cost of postage on a normal 4 × 6 postcard is thirty-five cents. Postage is only one part of the cost, though. Look at this breakdown for a 4 × 6 postcard, and then we will compare it to an EDDM piece. The analysis assumes this is a five-thousand- piece mailing.
4 × 6 cost breakdown:
1) Printing: $122.
2) Delivery to you: $47.
3) Address preparation: $100.
4) Stamping: Time or cost investment.
5) Database information: $600.
This assumes you are buying a list. Remove this cost if you already have a database of addresses to use.
6) Postage: Thirty-five cents per piece = $1,750. You can get this down to around twenty-six cents a piece by using a mailing service.
Approximate total cost: $2,619.
8.5 × 11 EDDM cost breakdown:
1) Printing: $418.
2) Delivery to you: $117.
3) Address preparation: $0.
4) Stamping: $0.
5) Database information: $0.
6) Postage: 18.3 cents per piece = $915.
Approximate total cost: $1,450.
As you can see, it is about half the cost to do an EDDM-style mailing in comparison with a standard, old-school 4 × 6 delivery.
Eight Reasons You Should Consider EDDM
Yes, your average print price is higher because of the increased size of the card. But your big savings come in on postage. When you see that you can deliver a large 8.5 × 11 postcard for just eighteen cents in postage, it makes a lot of sense. The savings comes in because you are handling some of the legwork. You do the paperwork and take it to its final destination: the post office. This saves you money and the post office time.
2) Ease of use
The usps.com/eddm website makes it easy to select exactly where and when you want the mailings to happen. It also provides demographic information to help you decide where to mail.
3) Effortless to track and measure
If you are testing and measuring all your marketing efforts, as we recommend, you will appreciate how easy it is to gauge the success or failure of your campaigns.
It is easy to keep track of the price of a mailing on a per-town basis. After a couple of runs, you can tell which ones are profitable and which ones are not. You can experiment with areas and double down when you see that they are working. You can also bail out of an area if it’s a failure with little risk.
4) Levels the playing field
Get your message into your prospectives’ mailboxes for the same price as your competitor. You can mail to the same people they do for the same price.
5) Entry to untapped markets
It’s easy to break into hot, new neighborhoods. You can experiment in new areas from the comfort of your office. If they have a mailbox, you can get to them. There are no more exclusive neighborhoods or areas; everyone is accessible.
6) Automation, speed, and scale
EDDM is easy to systemize. Everything from the route selection to delivery can be automated. It’s easy to refine to a handful of winning areas and then to rinse and repeat over and over again.
The system is replicable, and it scales. Someone dispatching flyers or door hangers could maybe put out a maximum of three hundred to four hundred per day. With EDDM, you could mail to five thousand people per zip code per day.
7) Routing and dispatching
Workload distribution and planning becomes more manageable. It’s easier than ever to control the areas you work in. By mailing strategically, you can dictate where and when your crews work. Clustering your advertising in set areas helps control when and where jobs get done. That helps control costs and minimizes drive time. The less time your crews spend driving from job to job, the more time they have in the day for revenue-generating work.
With other methods of advertising, you are bound to be driving around all over the place from job to job. Staff can rack up hours of paid drive time. Spend that time working instead of driving.
8) The size advantage
Look at the size comparison of a 4 × 6 and an 8.5 × 11. You get all this extra real estate. When it’s delivered, it’s not lost in the mail; it’s supporting the mail. It’s so big that when the mail carrier delivers the mail to your prospective customer, they will usually use this large postcard as the base for the rest of the mail. This means that your piece will be looked at last, rather than blend in with the rest of the mail. This is what you want. You can’t miss it, and your potential client will notice your piece.
How to Launch Your First EDDM Campaign
Section 1—Budget and Repetition
Consult your marketing budget and decide how much you are going to allocate. I would look at this from a quarterly perspective. Do the math, and decide on an amount to spend over the course of a twelve-week period.
While budgeting, keep repetition in mind; it’s one of the key factors to success. Prospective customers have to see your message repeatedly before they will respond in droves. On your first mailing, there is a chance that you will get zero responses; although it’s not likely, it is possible. With each mailing into an area, the likelihood of a higher response rate increases.
I had areas that we would mail into a couple of times a year, and then I had other areas that we would mail into ten times a year.
Don’t get discouraged if your first mailing doesn’t receive an amazing response; it’s normal. If you go in expecting just to do one mailing and see great results, it will fail. It doesn’t work that way. If I can’t budget to mail to a route more than one time, I won’t do it. It’s a long-term strategy.
Section 2—Research the best areas on where to focus
Our initial market research data that we collected helped us pinpoint what towns to focus on. Now we will focus on what areas of those towns are best to mail to. Take your initial market research report and combine that with data available at eddm.usps.com. Then, add real-life local knowledge of the area or research using Google Street View.
Using that formula, you can come up with a great list of locations to target. This list of prospective areas in your service area will be the most responsive to your service and offers. The goal is to strategically create a list of people who are the most likely to respond to your offers.
Follow these steps:
Step 1) Get your list of top towns from the Market Research Report.
Step 2) Navigate to eddm.usps.com.
Step 3) Enter your best zip code. We will work one town at a time first.
Step 4) The website will show all the individual routes in the zip code shaded in over the map. Move your mouse around, and you will see different routes highlighted.
Step 5) Click on individual routes and numbers. Prices will start to calculate for you in the right-hand column. You will see the number of pieces required for delivery in that route, and it will display your total price.
Step 6) Under the search bar, it will also display extra demographic information to you. This is important information to assist you in segmenting the data. With a couple of clicks, you can determine the best and worst areas to mail within that town. You can filter by a few different attributes: route number, residential or business, total count within, average recipient age, and income.
Step 7) Select: Show Table: The top-left corner of the map will reveal all the information within that zip code in an easy-to-use virtual spreadsheet. Sort all the available attributes from high- est to lowest. Give the most attention to income and age range. People with the most disposable income are likely to be those most likely to use your service.
Step 8) Note the different route types. You have PO Box, City Carrier, and Rural.
Step 8.1) PO Boxes: You know what they are. You find them inside the post office itself. Chances are, you will want to skip them.
Step 8.2) City Carrier Routes: These are typically loaded with apartments and business locations where the delivery person can walk from stop to stop. These people will be less likely to take advantage of your service.
Step 8.3) Rural Routes: This is where you will find the most desirable areas. You won’t know for sure, though, until you tear through each route and select the best ones.
Yes, your zip code might have a median home income of are routes that bring that average number up and ones that bring that number down. The big, fancy houses in the exclusive subdivisions drive the number up. The lower income apartments behind the shopping center bring it down.
Keep in mind that identifying where not to mail is just as important as identifying where to mail. Be a ninja, or better yet, be a sniper expertly targeting where to and where not to send mail.
Step 9) Bring your knowledge of the zip code into the process. This is your area; you know what’s up. You know where the good houses are and where the bad houses are. In my best zip code, we never mailed to the whole thing. We segmented out the routes that contained apartments and businesses.
When I mailed, I took it a step further and segmented out a specific route in an older part of town. This area had mostly storm windows and lots of screen burn. With those two factors, we were never able to be super efficient there. Because of that, I segmented them out and cut my budgeted amount in half. I used the savings to mail to the other awesome houses in the area an extra time. We cut out the crap and doubled down on the gold.
If you don’t have local knowledge of a zip code you’re considering targeting, check it out in person. Print out an overview map from the route selector, and go take a look. Take a drive around to look at the homes. Confirm they fit into the mold of your most ideal service area.
You can also do this via Google Maps and Google Street View, but you will pick up more details and info to help you make better decisions by seeing it in person.
Step 10) Keep your eye on the price calculation in the right-hand column, and remember to spread your budget out over a period of twelve weeks.
Once you have selected the routes you would like to mail to, hit the blue “Continue” button. If you are not signed in, the website will prompt you to at this point. The next page will display an order summary. It will show the routes selected and the total number of delivery addresses in each.
At this point, save your work. The site will keep all the details of the order saved in your account. Log out for now; we will be back!
Section 3—Select your piece
Decide on the size
To qualify for the EDDM program, your mailer must meet these size conditions. The USPS says:
“Your mailer must be more than 10.5 inches in length and 6.125 inches in height. Cannot be more than 15 inches long and 12 inches high.”
Keep in mind that the price you pay on postage does not fluctuate based on size. The price of printing is the only thing that will change with size. That’s good news! You can mail a really big piece for an affordable price. My experience tells me bigger is better with mailings. Get the size as big as you can afford.
Popular sizes of EDDM
6.25 × 11 | 8.5 × 11 | 6.5 × 9 | 7 × 10 | 12 × 4.5
All these will qualify for the same postage price. I have experimented with most, and by far my favorite is the 8.5 × 11. Yes, you can save a few bucks on your printing by shrinking it. But your postage will be the same no matter what size you choose.
I believe it’s worth it to go with the 8.5 × 11 size because it really stands out in the mailbox. It’s the size of a full sheet of paper but thicker. When it gets delivered, it’s always the biggest thing in there. The mail is often delivered wrapped in the piece itself.
Look at this picture—you can’t miss it. The likelihood of the mail recipient seeing it goes through the roof. There is no way it’s going to be missed.
If you create your own design, be sure it conforms to all the postal regulations.
Will it get read, though? That’s the question.
The decision of where to send your card is of equal importance to the quality of card you decide to send. Our response rates doubled when we switched from homemade cards to professionally designed ones.
Shameless plug alert
At TheWCRA.com are hundreds of professionally designed templates in all different sizes you can use. You can download a template and add in all your own information. Every part of them is completely editable. You can change the text, the colors, the images, and the logo. If editing isn’t your thing, we have an affordable service that will take care of the whole process for you.
No matter what you decide to send, make sure the message it delivers lines up with the town you are sending it to. Confirm the message is appropriate based on the demographics and what you know about the area.
Personalize it whenever possible. I would put the name of the town I was sending to on the card whenever possible. The more you can personalize it to your target area, the better the results will be.
Section 4—Prepare your plan: how many to send and frequency
Schedule it on your marketing calendar. Think about the spring season; you have three months and twelve weeks. Take your budget numbers on how much you can spend for the quarter and distribute it over a twelve-week period. Try to set it up to distribute as evenly as possible.
Follow this example scenario, and I will show you how I would spend my budget. For the sake of simplicity, I will illustrate this in simple numbers; adjust it up or down based on your own budget.
Let’s say you have $6,000 to spend over a three-month period.
How many to send
Pick one design to use for the twelve-week period, and spread it out over four towns. That includes four completely different zip codes.
Using @Cost Printing, I can get twenty thousand 8.5 × 11 postcards printed and shipped to my door for $1,824. The postage price on delivery of twenty thousand pieces would be $3,660. After those two main costs, I’m left with about $550 to process and put together my mailings.
Frequency and repetition
From there, I would take the twenty thousand pieces and either split them in half or thirds. I could mail to ten thousand people twice or to 6,666 people three times in a twelve-week period.
My goals and experience with the area would help me decide which way to go. If I were in the exploratory phase of testing out new areas to mail to, I would likely mail twice to ten thousand people. If I had winning areas that did well in the past, I would definitely mail to them three times each.
Remember, my numbers are just for the sake of example. Please use your budgetary allowances and goals to determine how many you send.
The important things are repetition and even distribution. Spreading your mailing out over a twelve-week period will bring you a steady workflow. It becomes predictable, and you will start to know how many calls you will receive in advance of the mailing.
You will soon realize that you can increase the workflow by increasing the number of cards sent. It becomes like a faucet. Turn the faucet one way (send more cards) to increase the workflow. Turn the faucet the other way (send fewer cards) to decrease it.
Plan it out as best as possible on your marketing calendar. On the website, you can always shuffle around the arrival date to the post office if you have to.
Section 5—Ordering your card
Your ordering options
1) Order it, and have it delivered to you for preparation.
2) Order it, and have it delivered to your own mail service for preparation.
3) Order the card from a printer that will also prepare your mailing and deliver your pieces to the post office for you. If you are interested in learning more, look for a company that offers full- service EDDM. At Cost Printing is one of them. They can print your pieces and send out the mailing for you.
For this writing, we will assume you are going to pick option number one. I picked this option so you can understand all the steps involved. Feel free to outsource this if you like. But I do believe it is helpful to have some understanding of how the whole process works.
Per USPS regulations, to qualify for the EDDM program, your mailers must arrive bundled in groups of fifty or one hundred— no more, no less.
Bundled? Yep. Look at this picture, and take note of the string:
You can order your print prebundled from some printers if they have the special machinery. You can save a few bucks by doing this yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are going to do it yourself, I would suggest using a scale. Dividing them by weight is quicker than counting them out.
Watch the mailing area
Further postal regulations talk about the EDDM mailing area. They say all EDDM pieces must have the mailing label on the top half of the tall piece. The orientation of the label doesn’t matter. The shortest end will always be the top half of the piece. It has to say “Local Postal Customer.”
Your label has to be in this area and say “Local Postal Customer.”
This is an Indicia.
You have to have it on every piece, and it must be in the appropriate mailing area.
This is what it looks like in the mailing area.
Please note that all templates from this book and TheWCRA. com come with the proper Indicia by default. It should be right on your template and be added on as it gets printed.
Better safe than sorry!
Reference before your first order.
You can also pull a fresh version down from the USPS website. I would recommend doing so, as they could update it at any time.
Confirm your card is in total compliance before you order. With the recent influx of EDDM to the post office, the guidelines have been becoming stricter. The post office inspects it at check-in; if it doesn’t meet all the specifications, they will not accept it for delivery.
Section 6—Complete your EDDM order
Head back to the USPS website
Get your saved order, and complete the transaction. You can pay online or at the post office that day. The website will then prompt you to save your order again.
The final page
Here, you will get your order summary. You will be prompted to double check your sizes and remind you to prepare your mailer in bundles of fifty or one hundred.
Print your forms. You will need to have one separate facing slip for each bundle you create. Take note of the quantities. If my mailing has 1,572 pieces in bundles of fifty, I would need thirty- two facing slips or sixteen facing slips in bundles of one hundred. Either is acceptable.
The website will prompt you to give a nickname to your order. Do so, and make it as descriptive as possible. Every order allows for a unique nickname. Naming it in a descriptive way will come in handy in the future when you are deciding on where to resend to. Consider a consistent naming structure like this: Dirty Card—Sparta—Version 1.
You reference the town, the card, and the version of the card. It is important always to note the version for your “testing and tweaking.”
You can name it any way you like, but just keep the future in mind.
Print your forms!
You can download all the forms you need with one click on one page. Print the mailing statement and front-facing slips. Or just hit the big blue button “Print All Forms At Once.” And you are finished!
Section 7—Post office delivery day
Your semiflexible weekly delivery day
Remember in the previous step we scheduled the drop-off day. You want to lock into stone the act of doing a mailing each week. You don’t need to be as rigid with the day of week that you deliver it. Allow for a little flexibility.
We would always try to deliver our EDDM every Tuesday. We made it a standing appointment on our marketing calendar, so we always made it a priority. I recommend you do the same, but don’t forget to build in some flexibility. Although you will want to schedule it every week, leave room for change. Consider factors such as weather, holidays, and time of month. They will all affect the way it all comes together. Do your research, and be flexible.
If I had set to deliver on a Tuesday, I would assume that it would hit mailboxes on Wednesday or Thursday.
If I saw rain in the forecast, I would push the drop-off date out to Wednesday, assuming that the weather forecast said we would have a sunny Friday. Sunny days are the best!
You can apply the same theory to other things happening in the week. Work around any current events that could affect the effectiveness of the mailing or things that would distract people from calling.
Don’t forget the bundles
I’m hoping you ordered your cards prebundled in stacks of fifty or one hundred. If not, you will have to handle it.
Add the paperwork.
Take your printed paperwork and your forward-facing slips and affix one slip per bundle. You can tuck them in under your bundles’ string.
Off to the post office!
Pack them up, and deliver them to the appropriate post office.
If you get to the post office in the morning, there is a chance your postcards will go back out the door the same day. I wouldn’t count on it in your planning, but it is possible. They also have the possibility to sit around the post office for a day or two. If you get them there on a Friday, they are going to sit there till Monday. Sitting around for a day or two is a safe bet.
Section 8—Analyze and review
EDDM is very trackable. It’s a cinch to gauge, analyze, and adjust based on observable feedback. The costs are cut and dried, and it’s no trouble to pin a call from a customer to a campaign. What you perceive as an acceptable return depends on your growth goals. Watch the numbers, and don’t go over budget.
If an area isn’t getting any traction after two mailings, consider changing routes. Or maybe you need to try a whole new location. Start small, and test new areas. Don’t forget: fire bullets and then cannonballs.
Section 9—Rinse and repeat
The website eddm.usps.com saves your past orders for easy re-order in the future. It also allows you to mark individual orders as a “favorite.” Just click “Order History” and put a heart next to any of your best mailing areas. With two clicks, you can instantly repeat any past order. Remember to give an accurate nickname when you order; it will be much easier to analyze and track in the future.
Once you get in a groove with EDDM, it becomes very easy to automate. You can streamline and document all the processes involved, everything from selecting your card to ordering to final delivery. When done right, this can be your company’s number- one money-making system.
Common Reasons EDDM Fails
- Lack of repetition
- Poor planning