Direct mail is a powerful marketing tool that can be used to great effect, but only if you know how to leverage it. You can’t just send anything you want through USPS — there are some serious rules and regulations you need to follow. Here are the most important direct mail guidelines that you need to know before embarking on your next marketing campaign!
Direct Mail Guidelines Regarding Category and Class
Direct mail is all about postage costs, and those costs will change depending on the category and class of your mailers. These categories and classes include:
Postcards: The Post Office’s postcard requirements include using cardstock that’s a bare minimum of 0.007 inches thick. The aspect ratio of a mailer also needs to be between 3.5″ x 5″ to 4.25″ by 6″ in order to be classified as a postcard. Postcards are additionally unique in that you can also only send them as First-Class mail.
Flats. Flats can be considered mega-sized postcards. They require paper stock thicknesses of at least 0.009 inches, and while there are no specific requirements for aspect ratio, they need to be somewhere between 6.126″ x 11.51″ to 12″ x 15″.
Letters: Letters are larger than postcards in every way. The minimum and maximum thickness requirements are 0.009 to 0.25 inches. The overall size requirements are 4.25″ x 6″ or larger, either postcard-style or in an envelope, and the aspect ratio for a letter has to match that of a postcard but in a larger size as well, up to 6.125″ x 11.5″.
Self-Mailers: A self-mailer is, according to the USPS, a single piece of paper or cardstock that’s been folded in half. Aspect ratio requirements match those of postcards and letters, ranging from 3.5″ x 5″ to 6″ x 11.5″, but there are separate cardstock weight guidelines. If your self-mailer is under 1 ounce, you can use 70-pound cardstock or paper. If it’s over 1 ounce, you need to use 80-pound paper.
Booklets. The largest and weightiest of direct mail categories, booklets are pretty self-explanatory: a number of pages or sheets bound together like the kind of book you would find at a library or bookstore. Minimum weight for the paper stock used for the cover is either 40 pounds or 80 pounds, dependent on design, and aspect ratios for booklets are shared by self-mailers, letters, and postcards, albeit in sizes up to and including 6″ x 10.5″.
Direct Mail Guidelines for Address Labeling
Complicating things further for mail marketers, there are also direct mail guidelines for proper address labeling. As handed down by the USPS in its infinite wisdom, these guidelines include:
For Flats: Your mailer’s address block needs to be on the upper half of the shorter edge of your mailer. The address block itself needs to have the barcode as well as a 4″ x 2″ clear area with no text, images, or UV coatings. Clearance requirements between the address block and the edge of your flat are a minimum of 0.125 inches.
For All Other Mailers: Like with flats, barcodes need to accompany the address, but positioning requirements are different. Address blocks need to be a minimum of 0.5 inches from the right edge of your mailer and 0.625 inches from its bottom edge. Any text and images must be a minimum of 0.125 inches away from the address. The address block itself cannot exceed 3.5 inches from the bottom of your mailer. As with flats, address blocks for all other mailers need to be clear of images or other text, varnish, and UV coatings.
There is a secondary option for non-flat mailers when it comes to barcodes. A “barcode clear zone” exists in the bottom right area, allowing you to separate your barcode from your address block if you so wish. If you want to exercise this option, keep all other text, color, and images out of the bottom 5/8 of your mailer. You can use the rest of the above direct mail guidelines for the remainder of your address.
Turn to Las Vegas Color Graphics To Ensure You Meet All Guidelines
Keeping all these guidelines in mind is a lot to think about, especially when you’ve also got to design the other aspects of your marketing mailer as well! It’s all too easy to get lost in the weeds — unless you’ve got professional help. That’s why you need to turn to Las Vegas Color Graphics for all your direct mail needs.
From prepress and design to printing and fulfillment, Las Vegas Color Graphics has the tools and expertise to kick off your next direct mail marketing campaign without a hitch. With more than 40 years of experience, we know direct mail guidelines inside and out, ensuring that every mailer we send on your behalf will get the green light from USPS. Contact us today and see the LVCG difference!