Direct mail is the new clutter cutter. We’re now bombarded by so many emails and digital messages that mail is enjoying a big comeback. Its permanent, tactile nature makes it enticing to hold, and far more memorable than the 50 emails you just deleted from your overflowing inbox.

Direct mail is an effective way to engage your audience, and leaves a more positive impression on recipients than digital messaging. But how much does direct mail cost? Direct mail pricing is surprisingly reasonable, with a strong ROI. We’ll explore how to maximize your budget and what you can expect to spend.

Types of Direct Mail

Postcard

A postcard mailer is very common. Standard sizes range from as small as 3.5” x 5,” to 4.25” x 6,” to as large as 5” x 7.” Atypical sizes cost more to mail, so stick with standard sizes when possible. A postcard is a self-mailer, meaning it doesn’t require an envelope. When designing postcards, leave room for the addressee’s information, a stamp, business-reply-mail permit, and a nonprofit bulk mail permit number or indicia at the top right corner.

Be prepared to send multiple flights over the timeline of your campaign. The higher the frequency of direct mail drops, the more likely you are to see action.

Self-Mailer

This direct mail piece folds to become its own envelope, usually by using both sides of one piece of paper to reduce costs. Use a standard large size sheet that folds into a standard mailing size to further cut costs.

Standard Letter in Envelope

For letters with enclosures, this format fits the bill – and can save money with window envelopes that eliminate the need to print names and addresses. Standard sized envelopes are #10 (4 1/8” x 9 ½”); these fit #9 envelopes (3-⅞” x 8-⅞”). Keep the size of your design slightly smaller than these dimensions.

Invitations

Nothing builds the anticipation for a party like a paper invitation. It usually includes the card itself –  flat or folded, along with the envelope, any informational inserts, a reply card, and a reply envelope. You can ramp up the fanciness with print embellishments or special quality paper too.

Related POST: What is the ROI of a High Quality Print Piece

Booklets or Brochures

For a marketing piece that informs and inspires, a multi-page brochure or booklet is highly effective. You’ll find a vast array of binds, finishes, folds, shapes, and sizes.

Catalogs

While emails and online advertising can drive sales within abandoned shopping carts, catalogs offer customers a higher quality, easier way to see products - usually on glossy, ultra-thin paper stock.

Classic Package or Parcel

Personalized promo products or gifts are a unique and powerful touchpoint. If your direct mail piece is not the size of a letter, postcard, or flat, then it’s a package or parcel (the UPS name for a package). To control costs, stay within the standard size dimensions and consider the weight.

Direct Mail Costs

Creative/Design Time: 

Designing the piece is the first step. High-quality copywriters and designers typically charge between $75-$125 per hour, and their marketing expertise pays dividends. Ironmark has a large, experienced creative department, so if we’re producing your piece, be sure to ask about our writing and graphic design services.

Expert Tip: For a 12-page brochure, budget between a half-hour and an hour per page, which would cost approximately $900-$3,000.

Print Production: $.10 - $2.00 Per Piece

To arrive at production costs, printers consider a number of different factors, including paper stock, paper size, page count, number of sides, ink, finishing, and binding.

Expert Tip: Commercial printers have “house stock” that is more reasonable. Specialty papers cost more, and economy paper will be less. You’ll also be able to choose thickness, brightness, and texture; so be sure to consult with your graphic designer.

Related: What Your Printer Needs for a Quote

Mailing Lists: $0 to $0.30 Per Record

Mailing lists range in price as well. If you have your own contacts, you’ll pay nothing. If you need to purchase a list, the cost depends on how many records it has, how clean the data is, and how many times you’ll use that list.

Envelopes, Labels, Postage and Fulfillment: $0.25 - $2.00 Per Piece

This is typically where you can save the most money. Talk to us about minimizing your spend here, and calculate your business price for the following options:

Standard Mailing Sizes

 

Minimum

Maximum

Thickness (min//max)

Standard Letter

3 ½ “  x 5”

6 1/8“ x 11 ½“

.007” //  ¼ “

Postcard*

3 ½ “ x 5”

4 ¼ “ x 6”

.007” // .016”

Large Envelopes and Flats**

6 1/8” x 12”

11 ½ “ x 15”

¼ “ // ¾ “

Parcel

3” h x 6” w x 1/4 “ thick

27” h x 17” w x 17” thick

 

*Postcards over this size are charged at standard letter size. Postcards over standard letter size are charged at Large Envelope pricing.

** Large envelopes exceed one or more of standard letter size maximum dimensions.

How much does it cost to print and ship direct mail? It depends on how you combine the factors above. But whatever you spend, a direct mail campaign, executed well, is always money in the bank – and in your business. If you would like help getting your direct mail campaign off the ground, Ironmark’s experts are ready to help. Contact us today and make your next mailer a success.

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

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