June 07, 2021
Saturation Mailing: What It Is and How to Take Advantage
USPS Saturation mailing is one of those seldom spoken secrets of the direct mail business. It’s readily available via the USPS; they even advertise it. However, I constantly see it as an underutilized component of a client’s direct mail strategy.
I'm here to say that saturation mailing is one of the most effective ways to get your message across, assuming you understand how to best use it, own a business that complements this type of mass mailing and have the know-how to set it up like we do at Bluegrass. Let's start from the beginning.
What is Saturation Mailing?
To put it simply, saturation mailing is an inexpensive way to communicate your direct mail messaging. Exactly as it sounds, you saturate a targeted area with direct mail. Saturation mailings are mailed to all residents within a certain zip code or postal route. In lieu of actual names, the mailing is addressed to ‘Current Resident’. At its core, you get a wider audience for less money. But, don’t confuse saturation mailing with other popular large scale USPS mailing programs.
Saturation Mailing Vs Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)
Every door direct mail, or EDDM, is very similar to a saturation mailing. The biggest distinction between EDDM and saturation mailings is EDDM requires the mail piece to be a flat whereas a saturation mailing can either be a letter sized piece or a flat sized piece. Postage is also a bit higher mailing as EDDM compared to the cost of a saturation mailing.
Saturation Mailing Vs Targeted Mailing
Think of targeted mailings as butterfly nets and saturation mailings as fishing nets. Both are useful; but your choice will depend on your use-case. Targeted mailing can potentially save you money by decreasing the amount of mail you send because the mail you send will be more relevant and focused to your recipients. On the other hand, saturation mailing typically targets “current resident”, so you send more mail to people that may not be interested. However, depending on your message, demographic and type of business you are marketing for, it may be more cost-effective cheaper to use saturation mailing if your efforts are a fit for this wide fishing net approach.
When Should You Use Saturation Mailing?
Saturation mailings are a great fit for any of our clients that have a general product or service offering such as restaurants, lawn service or dry cleaners. We help clients narrow down the most advantageous postal routes and zip codes and let a saturation mailing do the rest.
Be the Right Fit
While I’m a proponent of saturation mailing it has to be the right fit for your type of business. The clients that get the best ROI out of saturation mailing are typically businesses that appeal to the masses. These are places that provide services that almost everyone in a region needs, for example, churches, dry cleaners, and restaurants. No, you might not want to saturate neighborhoods with your taxidermy services. Yet, if you’re advertising something like pest control, then that’s something almost everyone can align with and respond to.
Weigh the Consequences of Cost-Effectiveness
Because the USPS will be delivering your mail piece to every household on the postal route(s) you no longer go through the process of sorting your direct mail by the USPS (remember; no names are on the mail) that means you're saving a considerable cost. I see most postage rates ranging from $0.168-0.191 (yes, USPS loves to go down to three decimals). That's almost 1.5 times less than those of a targeted mailing.
It's still important to factor in the impersonal address on saturation mailings. Some people may not respond well to "Current Resident of" instead of seeing their actual names. However, the volume of mail sent will often make up for it.
How Can You Get Started with Saturation Mailing?
Saturation mailing is easy to implement if you know how to navigate the standard process of a USPS mailing campaign. I break the steps into a simple, high-level process for our clients. I don't want to overwhelm them with the details but it is almost as simple as it looks.
Define a Location
I work with clients to focus and develop a geographical strategy that includes postal routes as well as zip codes. It’s great to start with zip codes that the client recognizes and feels receptive to. From there, we find the USPS routes and develop a saturation mailing campaign that will hit those areas.
Run a List Count
Once we know our locations it’s important to know how many residences are on each postal route. That will ultimately inform the cost of postage as well as the cost of printing the mailers.
Quote the Campaign & Get Started
Once it’s time to quote, we have an incredibly accurate figure to give the client. If they give us the thumbs up, then we start the campaign.
Saturation Mailing is Wide & Narrow Marketing
Saturation mailing isn’t just about bulk mail. I tell clients that we start with everything we can possibly know about their demographic as well as their geographic location. From there, we develop personal and engaging direct mail that will drive engagement. I think of saturation mailing as "wide and narrow". Yes, it's deployed at a large scale but with enough research, it should be arriving in the mailboxes that really matter. At Bluegrass, that's our commitment.