The Definitive Guide to USPS EDDM
The Every Door Direct Mail program (EDDM) is a discount postage program offered by the United States Postal Service for businesses. The goal of EDDM (not to be confused with EDM, or Electronic Dance Music) was to open up direct mail marketing to businesses looking to reach new customers without a mailing list or mailing permit.
This article will walk you through the types of businesses that can benefit the most from EDDM. It also walks you through EDDM options, the process of setting up an EDDM campaign, tools you can use to help you, time-saving tips, money-saving tips, and tracking and reporting tricks for your campaign.
Who Should Use EDDM?
Small business owners tend to benefit the most from using EDDM. Their target demographic is not quite as specific, and therefore they can target large areas more broadly. They also tend to benefit the most from the postage discount as their marketing budgets tend to be leaner.
Industries that see particular success with EDDM include:
- Real Estate
- Moving/storage companies
- General retail stores
- Auto repair shops
- Car Washes
- Dry Cleaners
- Salons and spas
- All types of service businesses
Businesses that probably won’t benefit from EDDM include those who have niche products or services. Not everyone in your area wants or needs what you offer, and therefore it is hard to get your mail piece in the hands of your target customer base through EDDM. Even if you are saving on postage through EDDM, you will be wasting money by sending to people who are simply uninterested in your business.
Savings with EDDM
When a business is considering using EDDM, one of the main benefits is the savings that can accrue from this method. EDDM postage savings is around 7 cents off each standard letter mail, or 3 cents off 4x6 postcard first class postage. While that doesn’t sound like much when you look at it for individual mail – it can add up to hundreds of dollars if you are sending thousands of pieces.
That being said, the savings may not be worth it if you need to be more specific with your targeting.
Considerations for Using EDDM
The main benefit to using Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is that you get a significantly discounted postal rate. You also eliminate the need to rent or buy a mailing list (and worry about its inaccuracies.)
Every Door Direct Mail is a great option if you have a wide target market and wish to reach everyone in a specific neighborhood or area. However, if you have more specific audiences in mind, targeting may be more effective to get the right edge, and therefore a better use of your money.
You’ll also want to think about your mail piece type. USPS places restrictions on what types of mail can be sent through EDDM.
Another consideration is that USPS does not guarantee delivery dates for EDDM. Most mail pieces should be delivered within a few business days, but it isn’t guaranteed. You should be mindful of sending anything with a strict deadline, or anything time-sensitive, via EDDM.
Options for EDDM Mailing
There are two primary options for every door direct mail, depending on the specifications of your project.
EDDM Retail is an option that does not require a mailing permit. You can only mail Standard Mail flats with this option. There is also a 5,000 minimum for mail entered at each retail facility.
Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) EDDM is another option but does require a mailing permit. It is slightly cheaper than Retail EDDM. You can send Standard Mail flats, irregular parcels, periodicals, and bound printed matter flats with no maximum by using BMEU EDDM.
This table provides a quick reference between the types of EDDM mailing options.
Mail TypeMaximum QuantityMailing Permit Required?Retail EDDMStandard Mail flats5000 piecesNoBMEU EDDMStandard Mail flats, irregular parcels, periodicals, and bound printed matter flatsNo maximumYes
Getting Started with EDDM
EDDM is definitely one of the most affordable ways to do business marketing. However, the exchange for savings means that you’ll need to put in a bit more effort than you might with a traditional direct mail project with a targeted list.
Determine EDDM Mailing Option
The first step in getting started with EDDM is selecting whether you’ll be using Retail EDDM or BMEU EDDM. The reason this matters is because it will determine what type of mailing is available to you, and what quantity you are allowed to send.
Recall that Retail EDDM has a limit of 5000 pieces and only allows for Standard Mail Flats. However, in order to use BMEU, you will need a mailing permit. Don’t let the need for a permit stop you, though – just visit the main local post office. You’ll need to fill out an application and take it the Post Office. You will need to pay a permit application fee, as well as an annual mailing fee (if your application is approved.) However, the discount on BMEU EDDM postage should help recoup those costs, especially if you know you plan to do several mailings throughout the year.
Choose a Mail Piece Type
If you’ve decided to go with Retail EDDM, then your only option will be Standard Mail flats. “Flats” refers to large envelopes, newsletters, and magazines. It does need to be able to bend, so it can run through the sorting machines. It can also refer to postcards. Keep in mind that postage will be the same regardless of postcard sizes when utilizing EDDM, and therefore, you should choose a larger postcard so that your piece has more opportunity to stand out.
If you are sending via BMEU, then you have more options for what you send. You can choose any of the options that you can with retail, or you can even send irregular parcels and periodicals.
EDDM Route Selection
The next step in the process is to determine how many pieces you want or need to send. When you discuss this with your printer, you may have a target number in mind because of price breaks that the printer offers. If you are sending via Retail EDDM, then you will be limited to 5000 pieces.
Once you have a goal number in mind, you can start selecting mail routes to get you to your number. The USPS offers a tool for this, or there are some third-party tools that can help with this process. We’ll go into more detail about those tools in the next section.
Keep in mind that with EDDM, you lose the option to specify targeting. Your mail piece isn’t even printed with the customer’s name or information – or even their address. Therefore, it may be significantly easier for potential customers to ignore your message because it may come across as spammy marketing.
That being said, even though specified targeting is not an option with EDDM, you can still check that the general areas you are choosing fit your target demographic. This means you’ll want to make sure you are researching the demographics for your product and for the neighborhoods you are targeting, ie your "target areas". You want to make sure your mailer is hitting audiences that are most likely to convert. If your product or business caters primarily to families, for example, then you’ll want to make sure you aren’t sending to a bunch of neighborhoods filled with primarily elderly or college students.
How to Bundle for EDDM
The first step in bundling EDDM pieces is making sure they meet USPS regulations. EDDM bundles must contain between 50 and 100 mail pieces. Instead of counting each bundle individually, you can use weight. This means counting out one stack, and then weighing stacks after to make sure they match the weight from the first bundle.
If you don’t have a scale, you can also try stacking by height. Here you would stack up the appropriate amount of mail pieces, and then measure every stack’s height to be the same as the first. Keep in mind that bundles cannot be higher than 6 inches tall.
You might also consider asking your direct mail printer whether they can bundle your pieces for you to meet USPS specifications. Many can, and this can save you some time and energy if they are already done for you.
Each bundle will also need to contain an EDDM Facing Slip. There are a few shortcuts you can use to make filling these out a bit quicker, and we’ll cover those in the time-saving tips section.
Drop Off Mailings
Once your pieces are printed and bundled, you’ll need to drop off your mailings. If you are using Retail EDDM, you can drop them off at your Post Office. If you are using BMEU EDDM, you’ll need to drop them off at a large USPS mail processing center. When you apply for your permit for BMEU, you’ll want to check with your Post Office regarding where BMEU EDDM pieces are dropped off for mailing.
There are several tools available to help you get the most out of your EDDM campaign through targeting – as much targeting as you can with this method of mailing. Each have pros and cons, but using one or two of these tools can help increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.
The United States Postal Service EDDM Tool
The USPS offers an EDDM site to help make EDDM mailing simpler for businesses. The site has tools for defining and viewing delivery areas. It does feature some information such as average age, income, or household size depending on the area you are looking to target. It is great if you are planning to send a regional or nationwide campaign.
When using the USPS tool, you can type in your address (such as your business’s) and then you can see all of the carrier routes within a one-mile radius. From there, you can take a look at each route to see any demographic data. This is really a great tool to help you figure out which carrier routes are going to be the best options for your business.
The USPS tool also allows you to search across multiple zip codes at the same time. You can also organize the results in order of which ones best match your demographic criteria. If who sees your campaign matters a lot more than where they are located, the USPS tool can definitely help you find the right audience.
Lastly, you can start selecting postal routes through the USPS tool, and it will help you keep a running tally of how many mailers you are sending. This can help you hit a target number, or stay below the 5000 threshold, if you are using Retail EDDM.
Once you’ve selected the best routes for your EDDM project, you can copy the zip codes and route numbers into a spreadsheet. Then you can send that spreadsheet to your printer, or simply order printed items to yourself and you’ll have everything you need to fill out those EDDM Facing Slips.
Satori Software is another tool businesses can use for EDDM. Satori Software allows you to select which routes you wish to target. You can see which routes are available in each ZIP Code, and then select which ones you’d like to hit. The software will update with a total count, so you will know when you’ve reached your target amount. Satori Software also allows you to choose whether you want to send to residential only, or residential and businesses.
EveryDoorDirectMail.com is a good tool for smaller, local campaigns. Staples also licenses this tool for use. The EverydoorDirectMail.com tool has a bit more specific information than the USPS tool, such as how many children live in a home.
There is also a heat map option. The heat map helps you find the neighborhoods that best match your criteria specifications. This can be an excellent visual aid if you are short on time, or are just a more visual person.
There is also a Drivetime filter, which can help you determine who is actually closest to your business. For local businesses, proximity matters a lot – so this filter can definitely come in handy.
The EDDM Experts tool has significantly less income level breakdown than other tools. So if income level factors into your target audience a lot, you should probably use another tool. That being said, the EDDM Experts tool does have a more specific age breakdown, so if age is a big factor – you should take a look at this tool.
The EDDM Experts tool also has a heatmap, but the tones are so similar to each other that it can be difficult to determine which area actually makes the most sense for you.
Each business will find a different tool that meets its own unique needs. If income is a big factor for your business, the EDDM Experts tool will likely not be the right fit. However, if age is more important, then this tool could be great for you.
Most of these tools are provided by printing companies who tout a one-stop shop for both your EDDM targeting and printing. While this may seem like a great, convenient option, it is often more expensive. If you are really looking to save money on your campaign, especially if this is your first EDDM campaign and you’re testing the waters, it can be a better idea for your to use a targeting tool to find the zip codes and route numbers that best fit your target audience on your own. Then you can send that information to your preferred printer.
EDDM Time-Saving Tips
Even with the best tools, EDDM can be a bit of a time-consuming process. These tips and tricks will help you save some time on the process.
- Photocopy Your EDDM Facing Slips
Each bundle of mail pieces will need its own EDDM Facing Slip. If you are sending 5,000 pieces, and they are in bundles of 100, that means you’ll be filling out 50 slips! However, a bulk of the information will be the same for every slip such as:
- Company Name
- Post Office of Mailing
- Delivery Type
This information may be the same for every slip, or several slips:
- 5-Digit ZIP Code
- Route Number
- Total number of mail pieces per bundle
This information will change for each and every slip:
- Total number of bundles (i.e. 2 of 50)
You can photocopy any information that will remain the same for all of your slips, or several of them. Then you only have to fill out the information that changes, rather than filling out all of the information for every bundle.
- Choose a Direct Mail Printer Familiar with EDDM specifications
Like we touched on previously, some direct mail printers can bundle your pieces for you. This will save you a lot of time if this step is already taken care of. Working with a direct mail printer who is already familiar with EDDM specifications can save a lot of time (and money) in other ways too. For example, you will be certain that your pieces meet the strict USPS specifications for EDDM pieces. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about wasting money on printing mail pieces that USPS won’t accept for EDDM.
- Use a Tool to Help Build Your List
Rather than manually selecting every neighborhood, consider one of the tools that allows you to sort by demographic information. This will help you build a list much more quickly.
EDDM Money-Saving Tips
EDDM is already a money-saving initiative because postage is significantly cheaper, especially when mailing to large quantities. That being said, there are a few other ways you can save money with EDDM.
- Shop Around for Printers
Don’t just choose the first print vendor you research. There is a wide difference in cost between vendors, so it is critical to do your research.
- Choose a Less Expensive Ink or Paper Stock
If this is your first direct mail project, consider multiple ink and paper stock options. It may be possible to choose one that is less expensive without sacrificing on overall quality and appearance. Once you’ve narrowed down to a couple of printer options, you can ask them for some samples of various options, and choose the option that provides the impression you’re looking for at the lowest cost.
- Provide Your Own List
As we mentioned before in the Tools section, it is often cheaper for you to create your own EDDM list, and only use a vendor for printing. Vendors who do both lists and printing may not have the best, most up-to-date lists available, or they may be significantly more expensive than vendors who only focus on printing.
- Print Many, Mail Multiple Times
If you could target more than 5,000 addresses, but you don’t want to have to deal with the BMEU specifications, simply split up your mailing time frame across multiple days. This can allow you to print an even larger quantity, which can save money.
Tracking and Reporting on EDDM Campaigns
As with any type of marketing, reporting and tracking on the success of your campaign is important. It can seem impossible with any direct mail campaign, but it is actually more possible than you might think. These tips will help you track and report on your EDDM efforts.
- Custom codes
If you have a coupon on your mailer, you may want to include the route number as part of the code. This will help you keep track of how many redemptions you receive from different areas. Then, when you do a second EDDM campaign, you can target the neighborhoods that had a lot of good results for you, and you can also look for other routes that have similar demographic information.
- Use Custom URLs
Similar to custom codes, you might send custom URLs to different neighborhoods, and see which garners the most traffic. The downside is that many customers may just type in the root of your URL and leave off the tracking information. So this can be an effective tracking method, but it may not be as reliable as a coupon code.
If you aren’t offering a coupon or discount, you may want to consider a brief survey asking new customers how they heard about your business. This can be a good way to measure the effectiveness of multiple types of marketing, not just direct mail. That being said, marketing studies have shown that it often takes multiple touchpoints before someone decides to convert – so they may have seen your social media post, your newspaper ad, and your direct mail piece – but they only may recall the social media ad.
The Final Word
If you are new to direct mail marketing, or just want a more cost-effective way to reach customers through this channel, EDDM may be a good option for you. However, there are some limitations when it comes to targeting through EDDM, which keeps it from being effective for every business type, especially niche businesses.
EDDM can also be rather time-consuming, especially if you are working with vendors who do not understand the USPS specifications, or if you are trying to do everything yourself. However, there are definitely ways to use EDDM to save yourself time and money.
Direct mail is a very effective marketing channel, and can help you expose your business to new customers. The cost savings EDDM provides can definitely open it up as a channel for your small business, especially if you are working with a smaller marketing budget.
Have questions about direct mail? Scout is your full service direct mail partner. Call or email Jordan or chat with him by clicking the button (bottom right). He’s our postcard marketing expert and he’ll be able to answer any question you might have.