To put the problem in perspective, we must remember “works as well” means “works as well per dollar spent.” Let us say our mailing package costs $500 per thousand pieces mailed, including First Class postage of 200 or $200 per thousand. Third Class postage is $0.11 or $110 per thousand. The cost of mailing at Third Class is $410 per thousand. That is a savings of 18%. Thus, a response rate that drops anything less than 18% with the lower postage is more efficient.
In our discussion we must also assume that the mailing is not going out late and has a deadline for response. In that case, it must be First Class or don’t mail.
Mailers who try to gauge mail to arrive a certain day of the week, anywhere except the post office they mailed from, are kidding themselves. I cannot think of a reason to receive mail a certain day of the week. Many people don’t read mail daily because, quite simply, they are either not there or have higher priorities for their time.
Proper planning can control the arrival of Third Class mail within a week, almost anywhere in the United States, except, perhaps, during the Christmas season.
One of the main reasons people new to direct marketing shy away from Third Class mail is that they feel Third Class mail will be perceived as junk mail, while First Class won’t.
This is, in a large part, a misconception because junk mail is only junk if it has no appeal to the reader.
Mailers frequently use metered mail for Third Class mail. It takes a close inspection of the metered area to see if the piece went Third or First Class. Most people don’t bother to look.
Will Third Class business mail get past a secretary? Barring a blanket order of “I don’t want to see any junk mail,” Third Class mail does get through if it is done correctly. Quality of stationery or typed address rather than a label address, have much more to do with it than the postage, if metered. (There is a Third Class precancelled postage stamp you can use if you are really worried about appearance.)
If you have a label address and a First Class stamp, the label may do more damage to appearance than the postage rate does good.
The cost of metered mail or affixing a precancelled stamp is minimal because the mail usually goes through the same machine that must seal the envelope.
About 95% of the advertising mail our organization produces goes out Third Class.
If you still insist on going First Class, you should consider printing the words “FIRST CLASS MAIL” on the envelope to make sure the reader knows you’ve spent the extra money.
Because so many people now respond to or buy by mail, its stigma has been erased. A survey of large corporations reported that over half of all its office managers had responded by mail to an offer within the past six months.
It used to be that the class of mail indicated its importance. Telegrams were first, then Air Mail, then First Class, and finally Third Class. Now it is by interest of the recipient to the product or service offered.