Frequently Asked Questions
Why use direct mail?
Direct mail is the most powerful advertising medium available, returning on average $13 in sales for every $1 invested (DMA). There are several reasons for these results:
Reach: The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers to every household and business in America. There are no SPAM filters to highjack your message. A recent study showed that more than 30% of even "legitimate" email traffic is never delivered. On the other hand, it is a federal crime to interfere with the delivery of the US mail.
Demographics: The demographics for direct mail lists are very well developed and sophisticated. In fact, you can tell a tremendous amount about the socio-economic status and buying habits of a direct mail recipient just from their zip code. If you want to reach veterans in San Diego who are homeowners with two kids and an annual income of at least $50,000 we can easily find that list. Are you doing mortgage marketing and interested in only reaching people who meet you're underwriting criteria (FICO, BK, late payments, revolving debt ...) - we have access to that list too. No other media gives you access to so much detail about your prospects - none.
Customer Acceptance: Several research studies have confirmed that if consumers have to receive advertising they prefer to receive direct mail. Direct mail is not only an accepted part of American culture, but those who receive it also feel in control - they decide whether to read it or not and when.
Legal Considerations: Almost 90% of the households in American are now listed on the Do Not Call Registry. New laws in the United States prohibit Spam (unsolicited email) - it is also universally despised. Federal Communication Commission regulations make it illegal to send Fax advertising to a recipient without their signed permission. Direct Mail remains a legal and very effective way to reach your prospective customers.
What is hybrid mail?
This is a term coined by the US Postal Service and Zairmail in 1999. Hybrid mail is the marriage of digital documents and traditional postal mail. Documents are created in a digital format, submitted and routed electronically, and then automatically printed and mailed on high-speed commercial printing equipment. By leveraging digital print-on-demand technology, high-speed communication links, and automated digital tools, hybrid mail drastically reduces the time and expense required to send any type of postal mail. Of course, as the pioneer of hybrid mail, Zairmail is the leading provider of short-run hybrid mail solutions.
What is the best direct mail tool available?
The process of launching a direct mail program is daunting for first-time direct mail users and universally despised by even the most experienced direct mailers. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association reports that, on average, it takes three weeks to launch a direct mail campaign. Small businesses can trim some time and complexity by producing direct mail in-house. However, these businesses pay more in postage, consume time that could be used on higher value added tasks, and generally have lower response rates (based on production quality).
Zairmail gives you the ability to launch direct mail campaigns in minutes. Just upload your mailing list, upload your direct mail document, and approve the online preview - we do the rest. Your direct mail campaign is automatically printed, folded, inserted, addressed, and presented to the USPS for delivery. Your campaign is in the mail fast - same day mailing is available. We also track delivery of your campaign and retain a complete history of your campaigns, documents, and targeted mailing lists.
Zairmail also offers targeted consumer or business mailing lists with low minimums - including credit score data for those who qualify; free direct mail design templates with high resolution artwork; free direct mail design and mailing list consulting services; toll free numbers; telesales follow-up calls; educational content; a free monthly newsletter full of business tips; and timely special offers. In short, everything required to grow your business using direct mail.
Zairmail is faster, easier, and costs 50% less than using traditional small business tools.
How popular is Zairmail
Zairmail has been in business since 1999. Over 12,000 business customers have recognized the time and cost savings of using Zairmail and have become registered users.
Is Zairmail a "commercial printer?"
Zairmail is a technology-enabled service provider with a distributed production network. Production is handled by certified and long-established print production partners. Zairmail collects many direct mail campaigns and submits them to large-scale commercial production partners. The end result is a higher quality product at lower prices, with no single point of failure, and unlimited production capacity. This also allows Zairmail customers to avoid inflated regional retail price points. You always have access to the best quality and lowest prices no matter where you are located.
Does Zairmail offer volume discounts?
Yes. Our list prices assume short-run production of standard products. We welcome the opportunity to quote your larger direct mail jobs or custom direct mail formats. Volume purchase agreements based on monthly or annual direct mail volume are also available.
How can I be sure I'm getting the lowest direct mail price?
Zairmail always offers a low price guarantee. We will meet or beat the pricing for any comparable direct mail product of targeted mailing list (details).
Online Affiliate Program
What is an affiliate program?
An affiliate program typically pays a referral fee (often a percentage of the business referred) to partners who provide new business.
Does Zairmail offer an affiliate program?
Yes. Zairmail has more than 30 online affiliates including the US Postal Service, Microsoft, and Marketo.
Click here to learn more about how you can earn referral fees for sending us new business.
Private Label (Direct Mail) Marketing Portals
Does Zairmail offer private label marketing portals?
Yes. Zairmail has launched over 50 private label portals (Zairmail capabilities, plus more, with your logo, branding, and marketing materials). Zairmail marketing portals are designed for organizations that sell through "channels". These organizations typically have distributors, dealers, franchisees, direct sales people or retail stores, spread across multiple locations. They use the marketing portal to post all their corporate approved templates for direct mail, business cards, logo items, presentations, banners, print ads, training videos, and all other marketing materials. Channel partners can access the portal anytime (24 x 7) to market aggressively using corporate approved materials.
Of course, portal activity is also tracked in real-time so you can easily monitor and manage the marketing activity in your channels. This means that limited staff is required even with the largest programs.
There is no more powerful solution for channel marketing automation - and, of course, you get all the leading edge automated direct mail features you would expect from Zairmail.
What is included in a channel marketing portal?
- A custom landing page with your branding (look & feel)
- Custom headers and footers with your branding in the portal
- Customizable catalog of all your direct mail and marketing pieces
- Support for most common payment options (credit/debit card, PayPal, invoice, ...)
- Superior quality and FAST production through Zairmail
- Access to custom landing pages and toll free numbers
- Private label shipping for products that require it
- Real-time monitoring and reports
Click here to learn more about marketing portals, and to see portals we've done for some of our clients.
Does Zairmail offer a special marketing portal for mortgage marketing?
Yes. Zairmail offers a private label mortgage marketing & compliance portal. This version of the portal contains all the features that are in the channel marketing portal; plus some specialized features for mortgage marketing such as access to credit score data, real-time call tracking, and custom/trackable landing pages. This is a complete turn-key system for mortgage marketing that assures compliance and drives greater loan volume. Give us a call to learn about all the features and details.
Can we customize other aspects of the channel marketing portal?
Yes. We own the software so we can customize absolutely anything. However, this often requires additional Engineering expense and more time to launch. We always recommend starting with the base channel marketing portal feature set. Once you have actual experience with how your team uses the portal then we can work together to design a more customized solution that meets your exact needs.
Can we get a channel marketing portal for free?
This really depends on production volume. In the case of low volume portals, there is an initial fee for software licensing, setup, and customization. There is also a monthly fee for hosting and maintenance.
However, high volume users can qualify for a FREE channel marketing portal. That's right, if your volumes are high enough, we provide the private label portal at no additional charge to you. Give us a call to see if you qualify for a FREE private label channel marketing portal.
How long does it take to create a channel marketing portal?
Once artwork has been provided a private label direct mail site can be available within 24 hours.
Click here to learn more about marketing portals, and to see portals we've done for some of our clients.
Direct Mail Lists
How important is the right direct mail list?
There are three key elements to every direct marketing campaign: the list, the offer, and the creative. Experts seem to agree that the single most important element is the list. In fact, the rule of thumb is that the relative ratio of importance is: 70% list, 20% offer, and 10% creative. This is a little ironic, because most small businesses and creative agencies spend the bulk of their time on the artwork when having the right list is far more important to the success of a campaign.
How do I find the right direct mail list?
If you are prospecting for new customers you will probably not have their names. However, to buy a mailing list it is essential to know what your best prospective customers look like. That's where your house list comes in handy. Scanning through your house (existing customer) list you can identify the traits that are common among your best customers. For example, you may find that your best customers live within five miles of your business and have incomes less than $50,000. These demographic clues will help you purchase a list of customers that will buy.
Click here to visit our Articles page which includes a complete mailing list primer.
How can help me find the right mailing list?
Zairmail offers targeted consumer direct mail lists and business direct mail lists online. Just put in your specific criteria and Zairmail will run counts and allow you to purchase the list electronically. If you don't see what you need online just let us know. We are an authorized list broker for several other sources of data, including credit score data, and we have access to literally thousands of other specialized lists.
How many times can I use a direct mail list that I purchase?
This depends entirely on the list that you purchase. Many vendors limit your use of a purchased list to a single mailing. In fact, some will just send you labels for a single use. Many seed (add special names) to the list so they will know if you use it more than once.
All the lists purchased through the Zairmail can be downloaded right from your Zairmail account and they come with the right to use the list for an entire year. Given the frequency that people move you will probably want to refresh your list more often than this. However, it is nice to know that you have the option, and this is an important question to ask before you purchase a direct mail list from anyone.
What is the difference between a compiled and a response direct mail list?
Compiled mailing lists are comprised of information from public records and sources such as the phone book, courthouse records, bankruptcy filings, mortgage deed records and more. On the other hand, response mailing lists consist of individuals who have responded to an offer either through the mail, phone, television, or through other means of mass communication (e.g. a magazine subscription list, a catalog mailing list, etc.).
Compiled list are ideal for those businesses that need special demographic selectivity to target a well-defined market, for instance targeting auditing companies specializing in bookkeeping, manufacturers with 50 or more employees, or families with household incomes of $50,000 who live within 10 miles of your store. All of these examples are likely to do better with a compiled list than a response list. This is good news if you understand the demographic profile of your customers since compiled lists are generally less expensive than response lists - costing between $40 and $70 per thousand versus $90 to $125 per thousand for response lists.
Response lists are the best choice if you need to cover an entire market of prospects with similar characteristics. For example, if you want to offer a specialized tax audit tool to every Certified Public Accountant in the State, there are lists available from publications that serve these markets. Often information is even available on how frequently these prospects typically respond to offers they receive. Response lists, especially among those who are shown to respond, can produce higher response rates - thus justifying the higher price.
Both types of lists are not always available for all audiences. So a little research may be required to determine what is available for your target market. Please contact us directly to determine the best list for your campaign objectives.
What types of direct mail lists are offered through Zairmail?
The lists offered through the automated count system on Zairmail come from two sources. Consumer lists are provided by Acxiom - the largest and most accurate consumer database in the United States. Business mailing lists come from Dunn & Bradstreet - the definitive source for U.S. business data. We also have access to thousands of other specialized lists - including credit score data. Give us a call to learn more about all the options that are available.
Click here to order your targeted direct mail list today.
What direct mail list formats do you support?
We accept mailing lists in .csv format - comma delimited text file. This is the most widely supported industry standard for direct mail lists.
What if my existing direct mail list is not in .csv format?
Most popular contact management or spreadsheet programs provide an option to save a file in comma delimited text format. For example, in Microsoft Excel you can use the "Save As" option on the "File" menu and then specify .csv in the "Save as Type" box at the bottom of the pop-up box.
When in doubt consult the manual for your specific application. We also offer custom list design and list formatting services for those who want to delegate this task or have special list formatting needs.
Click here for a free consultation to help you with your direct mail design or with creating your targeted mailing list.
What kind of direct mail results can I expect?
There is no guaranteed level of returns with direct mail. Still, industry experts tend to use 2% as a rule of thumb. We have seen results much higher than this (30% to 40% in some cases) and much lower as well. Your results will depend heavily on the quality of your direct mail list, your offer, and the amount of attention you grab with your design.
What can I do to boost my direct mail results?
The single most important thing you can do to boost direct mail results is to improve the quality of your direct mail list. Put the right offer, in the hands of the right person, and good things will happen. Understand who your best customers are and then find more prospects just like them - they will be the most likely to buy.
Test your offer/message often. Break a piece of your list into pieces and try a slightly different message or offer with each piece. Track the results. Then use the version that "pulls" best on the rest of the list. Continue to test and refine with every mailing.
If you are using black & white try switching to color. Research has shown that color can boost response rates by as much as 50%. Compare the extra cost of color with the extra sales you expect to receive and see if color makes sense for you.
These are just a few of the many techniques you can use to improve response rates.
Click here to visit our Articles page for a wealth of other ideas to boost your results.
What types of postage does Zairmail support?
Zairmail currently supports First Class postage, Standard A postage (previously Bulk Rate), Non-profit postage, or G10 (Government).
What type of postage is right for my direct mail campaign?
First Class postage provides the fastest and most reliable delivery for direct mail. Most research shows it also produces higher response rates and the postal service returns undeliverable mail so that you can update your mailing list. However, if you have a very large direct mail job the cost benefits of using Standard A (~$.10 per letter) can be substantial. Standard A does require minimum quantity of 200 pieces and you will need to allow 7-10 days for delivery.
If you are sending a standard postcard (4.25 x 5.5 or 4 x 6) the good news is that First Class postcard rates are actually lower than Standard A postage. This means that it is always best to send a standard postcard using First Class mail. In addition, it is always best to send a time sensitive direct mail (e.g. invitation, time-limited offer, etc.) using First Class mail.
If you are sending a jumbo postcard, a letter, or a self-mailer, we still recommend First Class mail (based on speed, delivery reliability, and enhanced response rates). However, if you are sending a large direct mail campaign that is not time sensitive you may want to consider experimenting with Standard A to see if the cost savings makes up for the added delivery time and reduced response rates.
Discounted Nonprofit rates are available for organizations that qualify. If you have been approved by the US Postal Service for Non-profit rates all you will need is your Nonprofit ID number and city of original authorization. We will then request authorization on your behalf to submit mail with your ID through our Business Mail Entry Units.
G10 is a special mailing permit available only to government organizations.
How do I qualify for Nonprofit postage for my direct mail?
The guidelines for qualifying for Nonprofit rates are available on the US Postal Service Web site. If you have not been approved, but feel you may qualify, you can file PS Form 3624, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates with the postal service. Click here to visit the USPS site to learn more.
How long will it take to deliver my direct mail piece?
Our goal is to print and mail all direct mail campaigns in 48 hours - overnight mailing is available. The United States postal service usually delivers local First Class mail overnight - three days nationwide. You should allow 7-10 days delivery for Standard A. But, it could be longer - no guarantees with Standard A direct mail. Mail deliveries can take significantly longer from Dec. 10-25.
If you have a time sensitive mailing, please allow plenty of time for delivery and let us know so that we can help you track it.
What types of direct mail does support?
Zairmail accepts standard postcards, jumbo postcards, double postcards, 8.5 x 11 letters, 8.5 x 14 legal size letters, self-mailers, and snap-packs (pressure sealed mailers) directly through the Web site. You can also request a quote for any other custom direct mail piece you can imagine. Zairmail also offers other types of commercial printing (business cards, letterhead, envelopes...). No job is too big or too small. We are always here to help with all your printing and mailing needs.
Can Zairmail handle my catalog printing & mailing needs?
Yes. Please contact us for more details.
Can Zairmail provide solutions for dimensional mailing?
Dimensional mailing refers to direct mail that has an unusual shape or an enclosure - the latter sometimes referred to as "lumpy mail." Yes, Zairmail can handle all of your dimensional mailing needs. Please contact us directly for a custom quote.
Can help with gift cards?
Yes. Zairmail has a number of gift card solutions for direct mail. Please contact us directly for more details.
Can Zairmail print on my letterhead or special stock?
Yes. We can arrange to use your letterhead or a stock that you specify. Additional charges may apply depending on the source and availability of the materials.
Can Zairmail help non-profit organizations?
Yes. We have completed direct mail campaigns for the US Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the National Restaurant Association, Special Olympics, and the Boy Scouts of America; among others. We can also help with political campaigns. We understand the special direct mail needs of non-profits and we are here to help. Please contact us with your non-profit direct mail campaigns.
What document formats does Zairmail support?
Zairmail supports Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF documents through the Web site. We also support native Microsoft Word mail-merge. We have found that most other graphic design applications contain an option for saving files as PDF. Adobe also provides a free tool on the Web for converting files to PDF. Thus, these two file formats serve 95% of the documents we encounter.
If you have special needs beyond this please just let us know. Our direct mail design and list consulting services can usually find solutions for your special needs. We are always here to help you.
How can Zairmail help me design winning direct mail campaign?
We maintain a staff of direct mail design and list consulting specialists. We offer 30 minutes of free design/list consulting service as part of our basic service. We can also offer custom quotes or enlist the help of more specialized agency partners for larger direct mail projects that require more time.
What forms of payment does accept?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express (through PayPal), PayPal, wire transfer, cash, or a business/personal check. Got something else to trade? We'll look at that too.
What is the minimum size direct mail campaign I can submit?
Zairmail places no restrictions on the minimum job size - you can submit a job as small as one piece. However, there is a minimum charge of $79.95 per order.
Are there any setup charges, plate charges, upload or download charges?
No. All the prices we quote are "in the mail" and include processing, printing, inserting, addressing, mailing, postage, and tracking. We also provide a UV (thin plastic) coating on all postcard orders at no extra charge - most printers don't even offer this as an option. There are never any additional setup fees or hidden charges. We give you the best value for all your direct mail and printing needs.
What is the difference between Web images and printed images?
The clarity of a digital image is best expressed in terms of dpi (dots per inch). A digital image displayed on a computer terminal can look very clear in as low a resolution as 75 dpi. However, when images are enlarged, or they are printed on paper, they require higher density to remain clear. Printed images look best when they are 600 dpi or better.
How can I tell the clarity (resolution) of my image?
There are plenty of tools available on the Web that can give you this information. Microsoft Paint is pre-installed on most PC's and can give easily give you this information. When in doubt, print a copy on paper or contact our design/list specialists. We are here to help you produce the best quality direct mail piece possible.
What about the indicia?
The indicia serves a couple purposes. First, it tells the US postal service which account to charge for the mailing. By using a postal indicia and pre-sorting the mail instead of using stamps we are able to send mail at lower postage rates and pass those savings along to you.
Second, it does serve to assure the receiver that they are receiving a high quality direct mail message that is bio-hazard free - the sender never touches a piece of mail sent using Zairmail.
Finally, the distinctive branding also captures attention bringing your postcard or letter to the top of the pile. The brand name is one more element we use to maximize your results. Soon we will be adding several other brand related features that will further increase your message impressions, capture email addresses, and create excitement. You will be pleased with what we have planned.
How can I minimize direct mail returns?
The best way to minimize the amount of returned mail is to have a very clean mailing list. Remove any unintentional duplicates in advance of mailing. Zairmail offers automated tools in your account to remove duplicates from your list. In addition, in order to get the best possible postage rates we are required by the USPS to submit every list to the NCOA (National Change of Address) and CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) databases - this assures maximum deliverability.
Another technique used to maximize delivery is to add the phrase "or current resident" to the address directly below the recipient name. That way if your prospect has moved, and you have a geographically specific audience, the current resident gets your message.
Some returns are inevitable with any direct mail campaign (using First Class mail). Remember to remove the returned addresses from your database. No need to pay for a mailing to the same address to be returned more than once!
What if I don't want to deal with any direct mail returns?
The United States Postal Service currently requires a return address on any First Class mail that is sent. By special arrangement with you can use our return address and we will deal with any direct mail returns for you and report back the results.
How can I make sure my direct mail was delivered?
Zairmail provides a real-time status (process, printed, & mailed) directly in your account history. This allows you to monitor the status of your direct mail job. In addition, we also provide tracking reports for letter mail or snap-packs. We always recommend seeding (adding your name & address) the mailing list so that you will know exactly when it arrives and what the finished product looked like.
How does Zairmail assure my privacy?
We work hard to maintain your privacy. We do not sell customer information. Period.
How does Zairmail assure the privacy of my mailing list?
Your mailing list belongs to you. We only store the copy of your list(s) that you ask us to retain in your account. We do not share or sell customer names or mailing lists. The safety and privacy of your information and your list(s) is top priority for Zairmail as your trusted partner.
Does Zairmail send direct mail to international locations?
Yes. We frequently handle mailings to Canada and other countries from the United States. There is a slight uplift in pricing to cover the additional postage. We can handle other special direct mail projects internationally through a network of partners. Please contact us directly to learn more about what we can do to meet your specialized international mailing needs.
Do you offer environment-friendly direct mail solutions?
Yes. We have a number of environment-friendly direct mail solutions such as recycled paper products. Many of these can be selected as an option when you place your direct mail order. Please contact us directly if you have special eco-friendly needs. We are always looking for additional ways to help save the planet.