7 Mailing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Mailing campaigns may seem old school or simple, but they are neither. A single error can be harmful and mailers must attend to a long list of details to avoid disaster. Some errors will cost you extra money right up front; others will take their toll on your campaign ROI when it’s too late to do anything about it. Either way, knowledge, preparation and prevention are the best strategies for executing a successful campaign. Here are a few items mailers frequently overlook.

Poor Quality List

Nothing kills campaign performance quicker than problems with the mailing list.

If your list provider hasn’t cleansed the data, a good portion of the file might be undeliverable. Poor data gathering or data extract errors, such as missing apartment numbers, can lower deliverability. Another factor is data freshness. Unless your list was recently processed for change of address, individuals and businesses may have moved out of your geographic target area.

Forgetting to include important list criteria, such as income level or dwelling type, results in marketing to unqualified households. You’ll pay for the list, the production and the postage but will have little to show for the effort.

If the data is bad, response to your mailing will be disappointing—maybe even zero!

Mailing Only Once

One-shot campaigns, particularly for companies attempting to launch in a new market area or lure customers from well-established competitors, don’t produce outstanding results. It takes time to establish name recognition and awareness. You will profit more from planning a series of modestly priced mailings than from blowing the whole budget on a single, lavish mail piece.

Mailing Flats Instead of Letters

The US Postal Service has strict regulations about the size, shape and other characteristics they use to classify mail as letters. The Postal Service will classify pieces that exceed the letter specifications as flats, which have much higher postage rates. Save money on postage by modifying the size and weight of a catalog or brochure such that it fits the USPS specifications for letters.

Postal Surcharges

Along with the specifications used to separate mail into letters, flats and parcels are other rules for aspect ratio (length vs. height), address placement, folds, stiffness and sealing. Accidentally violating any of these items will trigger expensive non-machinable surcharges.

Overweight Mail

Most marketers send direct mail campaigns under the USPS Marketing Mail classification (formerly known as Standard Mail). Marketing Mail can include heavy materials, but the US Postal Service computes postage exceeding certain weight limits by the pound instead of the piece. Anyone designing letter size mail pieces weighing over 3.5 ounces or flats greater than 4 ounces may want to consider the postage-saving benefits of reducing the weight.


Duplicate mail pieces are 100% expense and 0% benefit. The most common cause of duplicates is acquiring data from multiple sources. If you intend to mail different versions of a mail piece or stagger mail drops according to data sources, duplicates may never appear in the same file and deduplication software will not purge them. Remember duplicate definitions can change depending on the application. Sometimes, it may be necessary to mail to every member of a household. In other cases not.

Obscured Information

This problem usually occurs with self-mailers sealed with wafers or tabs. Poor document design can diminish campaign effectiveness if placement of the tabs, dictated by USPS requirements, obscures important information or messaging on the front or back of the mail piece.

You can avoid these seven mailing mistakes, and others, by consulting with the mailing professionals at EarthColor throughout the planning and design phases of a campaign. Delaying expert reviews until you make all the decisions can be costly.

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