In a previous post, we talked about how much time it takes to get rid of unwanted mail. Unlike email marketing, direct marketing via postal mail is expensive as they have printing and postage costs.
Email marketers still have to pay to acquire a list of email addresses and to design the email, but largely, the cost of email marketing is carried by the recipients (READ: you and me) in evaluating that email’s value. By charging marketers for your time, many marketers will refine the messages that they send.
But what makes us think marketers will pay? We think they will pay for your attention because they already do.
US Postal Service
I get a lot of mail in my (snail mail) mailbox every day. Usually, our small mailbox is stuffed full of mail. And most of that mail I didn’t request.
Typically, I get 3 kinds of unwanted mail:
- Grocery store inserts
I was curious about how much marketers spend to reach me, so I started doing a little research online. Poking around a bit on the USPS website, I discovered their rate calculator for sending commercial mail. They divide commercial mail into several categories.
Standard mail is the mail that doesn’t seem like mail at all. Standard mail is typically composed of loose fliers from grocery and other local stores, letters sent to “Resident” or any piece of mail that you receive that isn’t addressed to a person. Standard mail is big business for the USPS as it made up almost half of their revenue last year.
Using the USPS’ handy bulk postage calculator, I determined that it costs about $.16 for a 1.7 oz grocery store flyer via standard mail. Naturally, this doesn’t include printing costs, so this isn’t a total cost, but it is a good basis to work from.
Standard mail indiscriminately targets neighborhoods, cities and regions and isn’t targeted beyond the geographic boundaries.
By comparison to standard mail, catalogs are very expensive. By using the same calculator, I calculated my recently received catalogs of 6, 10 and 14 oz in weight, cost $.44, $.51 and $.57 respectively to send. Again, this doesn’t include printing, but where the grocery store flyer was printed on newsprint and unbound, the catalog from the furniture store was printed on high quality glossy paper, which is substantially more expensive.
Catalogs are more targeted, so in theory, the recipient might buy more from that retailer.
So, how much are you worth?
So, what does all this mean? By calculating one cost, bulk rates for direct mail marketing, we’ve established that marketers are willing to pay to get some of your attention. From my own non-scientific study of my mailbox, those marketers are paying somewhere in between $.16 and $.57 for each piece of mail sent.
While we aren’t planning on opening a direct mail division any time soon, we think some of that money ought to be going to you.