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Cassie Viele | Print

A Complete Guide To Understanding EDDM

If you’re like most people, when you hear the term “EDDM,” you’re grasping at straws attempting to place what it means and what each letter stands for.

Believe it or not, you’ve almost certainly been on the receiving end of an EDDM mailing.

Those business postcards and more that seem to magically appear in your mailbox with the designation of “Postal Customer,” “Residential Customer,” or “PO Box Customer” and your address – foundational EDDM!

what is eddm

What is EDDM®?

According to the United States Postal Service®, “Every Door Direct Mail® (or EDDM) is an affordable targeted advertising technique that lets you map your marketing mail audience by age, income, or household size.” In other words, when you use EDDM, you can select the postal route(s) that serve people that best fit your ideal customer/demographic. You can also use EDDM to tailor your marketing materials to better connect with each route.

How Does it Work?

With EDDM, you generate a printed marketing mailer that meets the specifications laid out by the USPS. You then can utilize their EDDM Mapping Tool to get a visual of the routes you have to choose from (and their demographic info) in a given city or ZIP Code, along with the estimated mailing cost, but more on that later.

Expert Tip: The Postal Service has a set of steps to follow when it comes to preparing and dropping off your outgoing EDDM (you can read their description or check out my list of start to finish highlights below).

Your standardized mailer is then delivered by the carrier to every stop on his/her route (hence the “postal/residential/PO Box customer” address naming convention).

Why Use EDDM?

EDDM gets your business in the front door (or at least the mailbox!) of far more homes than you could reach otherwise. It also allows you to zero in on households that may be most likely to find your business or special offer appealing, all without a mailing list. The size limits give you all kinds of room to share your message or upcoming promotion and even coupons with your recipients. Best of all, EDDM mailers can qualify for a lower per piece rate than a standard postcard.

Who Benefits from EDDM?

Almost any business can benefit from utilizing direct mail, however, don’t just take our word for it.

New York Times best selling author, Neil Patel, wrote an eye-opening post in which he highlighted the 13 Reasons Why Direct Mail Isn’t Dead. His post is absolutely filled with solid research to support his claim and will give you the confidence to press on!

Spoiler alert: Direct mail isn’t dead!

direct mail response rate

Some businesses benefit more from direct mail than others. Obvious benefactors include:

  • Retail businesses such as department stores, boutiques, hardware stores, grocers, machinery implements, auto dealers, restaurants, florists, and more.
  • Service businesses such as law firms, accounting practices, hair salons, medical professionals, auto repair shops, banks, real estate agencies, and more.

Understanding EDDM – Key Specs:

All EDDM mailers are considered a “flat.” They must be rectangular, no more than 15” long x 12” high x.75” thick, with a minimum of at least one of the following:

  • Length of greater than 10.5” OR
  • Height of 6.125” OR
  • Thickness of .25”

They cannot exceed a weight of 3.3oz.

For complete details, see the USPS Quick Reference Guide.

Shipping Cost
Utilizing EDDM for your postcard mailings can provide you with a significant savings from the standard First Class mailing rates. As of January 26, 2020, the First Class mailing rate starts at $0.35 for a postcard and only goes up from there. Compare for yourself:

  • The EDDM Retail USPS Marketing Flat rate is currently $0.191 per piece.
  • The EDDM BMEU USPS Marketing Mail rate is currently $0.164 per piece.

Postage rates change frequently – get updated EDDM rates here.

Design Requirements
The USPS lays out strict guidelines for placement of mailing label, postage/permitting information, and other mailing features. MyCreativeShop’s EDDM templates already include everything your mailer will need to be compliant, but if you’d like to review the details yourself (which we recommend), check out the USPS Quick Reference Guide.

As far as supported design categories, the USPS allows for postcard-sized mailings and even tri-fold menus.

Bundling Requirements
The USPS also employs guidelines for how your stacks of EDDM mailers are to be delivered to them.

  • 50-100 mailers per bundle.
  • Each bundle cannot exceed 6 inches in height.
  • Keep your bundles consistent (i.e. 538 postcards can be grouped in ten bundles of 50 and one bundle of 38 or five bundles of 100 and one bundle of 38, depending on the stacked height).
  • Follow USPS requirements on labeling each bundle

Understanding EDDM – Start to Finish:

Choose the right account type based on your needs.

If you’re not planning to send more than 5000 mailers per ZIP Code in a given day, the USPS EDDM Retail Account is right for you. Get a closer look with the USPS’s EDDM Retail® Fact Sheet.

Planning to make a BIG splash? 5000+ mailers per ZIP Code per day moves you into USPS BMEU (Business Mail Entry Unit) Account territory. It will also require you to purchase a separate postage permit. More details can be found in the USPS’s EDDM BMEU™ Fact Sheet.

  • BMEU Accounts differ significantly from a basic EDDM Retail Account, so make sure to read through the requirements in the Fact Sheet thoroughly.

How the EDDM Mapping Tool Works

The most obvious characteristic of the EDDM Mapping Tool is that it is an actual map.

eddm mapping tool

This map shows the existing USPS carrier routes in a given area, grouped by ZIP Code to make the selection process a bit easier.

You can give the Tool a specific geographical area by using an address, city/state, or set of ZIP Codes, or you can let it pull up a map of your actual location and work your way out from there.

Choosing your route(s) requires that you either have a specific physical area in mind (i.e. all homes and businesses within an X block radius of your location) or a certain demographic (residents aged 20-35 in a 2-3 person household earning $60K+ annually) within a general geographic location (one ZIP Code, the greater metro area, etc.).

The route selection process can require a bit of brainpower and/or patience on your part, as you may have to click through several routes before you find the one(s) that meet your criteria (I’d blame the unusual layout of routes on gerrymandering, but there don’t appear to be any political parties involved).

Expert Tip: The EDDM hall monitors may require you to select a minimum of 200 mailers per ZIP Code, so keep an eye out for that if you’re looking to cherry-pick some smaller routes.

There are two choices you must make before selecting your specific routes that will narrow down the routes displayed:

Route type (they simply refer to this as “Route” – pick one or more):

  • City
    • Routes within city limits are shown.
  • Rural/Highway
    • Routes outside of city limits are shown.
  • PO Box
    • PO Box routes are shown.

Address type (again, they shorten this to “Residential” – pick one):

  • Business & Residential
    • Selecting this option will reveal a separate tally of the total number of residential and business addresses on the selected route.
  • Residential Only
    • You will only see a count of the number of residential addresses on the selected route.
  • Age:
    • Select a desired target age range of anywhere from 19-85.

Clicking once on a route will highlight it and give you the details of those addresses (percentage within your age range designation, average household size, and average annual income) along with the total number of delivery addresses and the estimated cost of making those deliveries.

Clicking again will “select” it and add it to your list of routes.

The overall details (total routes selected, number of post office drop-offs, total delivery addresses, and estimated total cost) will keep accumulating on the right sidebar under “Order Summary” (i.e. your shopping cart), so that you can keep an eye on your tab.

Expert Tip: Once you’ve mapped out your chosen ZIP Codes, click on the “Show Table” dropdown in the upper-left of the map to see a quick (selectable!) breakdown of the demographic details for each route – no eagle-eyed map-clicking required!

Finalize your routes and determine what your total cost will be, then move on to the next step.

Get it Done

Now that you’ve come through the Mapping Tool unscathed, it’s time to schedule your delivery dates, get your mailers to the Post Office, and ensure that your postage is paid. Let’s start with scheduling (we’ll also touch on payment options and delivery).

  • With your routes selected, move to the “Select Drop-Off Date & Payment Options” screen.
  • Choose your drop-off date, then select “Pay Online” to pay with a credit card or “Pay At Post Office” to pay at the Post Office (imagine that!).
    • If you choose to pay online, you’ll get a proof of payment receipt to present at the Post Office when dropping off your mailers.
    • If you elect to pay at the Post Office, your order info will reflect that your payment is still due. At drop-off, you can pay with cash, credit/debit card, or check.
  • Bundle your mailers in stacks of 50-100, not to exceed 6″ in height, and ensure that each bundle is labeled with the appropriate USPS form(s). Bundles must include a facing slip and a per piece count.
  • Drop off or ship your bundles to the designated drop-off Post Office(s) determined by your route selection and/or account type.
    • BMEU customers must drop off their EDDM mailings at the Post Office that holds their permit.
    • Retail account holders must drop their EDDM mailings off at the Post Office(s) laid out in their route selection.

Final Thoughts

EDDM is an accessible, universally-beneficial marketing method that really can work for just about any business. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the process can give your advertising campaign a key edge over the competition. Give it a try – it could end up being your new best friend!

Quick Reference Links: