USPS Mail Classes for Direct Mail Campaigns

Designing and launching a successful direct mail marketing campaign means understanding the different classes of mail and how to use their strengths to your campaign’s advantage. Generally, it’s a question of first class versus standard class mail. Each mail class has its pros and cons; these pros and cons determine whether or not a particular class of mail best suits your mailing campaign. This guide will provide a simple rundown of each mailing class, giving you the knowledge you need to make the best decision when designing your direct mail marketing campaign.

First Class

First-class is a mail class often used for letters, postcards, flyers, and small packages and is the best fit for pieces under 13 ounces. In regards to direct mail marketing campaigns, first class is a faster option than standard mail, as it’s given priority over other classes of mail. The delivery time for first class mail is 1-3 days locally and 2-5 days nationally. In addition, it includes return and forwarding services at no additional charge.

Most people are familiar with first class mail as this is the class of mail used when you mail a card to a friend or a letter to a company. By default, 4” x 6” postcards mail as first class as they’re offered a special discounted rate over letter size pieces. This special discount is limited only to postcards of that size, but its benefits make it the most sensible option for those specific mailing pieces.

Presorted First Class Mail

Presorted first class mail, or “first class presort” is an option for mailings that exceed 500 individual pieces, which makes it a great fit for bulk direct mail campaigns. In order to have your mail “presorted,” it requires using the mailing services of a company like U.S. Press to process your mailing list (to make sure it is NCOA updated and CASS certified), group your mailings by ZIP code, and bundle them accordingly. By doing so, though, you can receive a lower postage rate than regular first class mail pieces.

Standard Mail

Standard mail lives up to its name as a good standard for affordable, effective mailing. It won’t ensure the same speedy delivery as first class, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in cost-effectiveness. All the same, even if standard mail isn’t the best option for time-sensitive pieces, most pieces mailed this way will arrive, on average, within about five business days locally and within ten days nationally. It’s a great middle ground between cost-effectiveness and speed of delivery.

To mail your pieces under the standard mail (bulk mail) class, you must mail at least 200 pieces that are less than 16 ounces each. In addition, your pieces must be NCOA updated, CASS certified, presorted, and bundled by a mail house like U.S. Press. 

Non-profit mail

Non-profit standard mail is not a unique mailing class; It’s just standard mail with a lower postage rate. This rate is only available to those who have non-profit status with USPS, so it isn’t for everyone, but it offers some cost-saving benefits for those that are eligible. In order to receive the non-profit rate, you must apply for a non-profit mail permit from USPS

Which one is right for me?

The answer to that depends on the mailing campaign, but the two are easy to compare. First-class mail is a faster option, but unless you’re mailing a 4” x 6” postcard, it’s more expensive. Standard mail is cost-effective, it will just take a little longer to get there. Considering that postage costs are the most expensive cost of a direct mail marketing campaign, most marketers choose standard class mail, unless there’s a special need to get something to customers in a hurry.

What is EDDM?

EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) is a targeted mailing service option offered by USPS. It requires you to use entire postage routes or ZIP codes instead of tailored mailing routes, and its sizing options are more limited. However, it’s a great option for direct mail campaigns that need to reach a high number of potential customers within specific geographic areas, regardless of demographics.

These are the sort of options that marketers have available to them when preparing their direct marketing campaign. Determining which one is best suited for a specific campaign will depend on the goals of the campaign, but the pros and cons of each mode of mailing will always affect the decision. You can count on your U.S. Press account manager to help you sort through any more details or answer any questions you may have.

Learn more about one of the biggest challenges of campaigns and how to create stopping power with your direct mail campaigns.