Priority Mail: Market Effectively with Every Door Direct Mail

As customers have turned their attention to social media and Web-based communication for marketing, direct mail has been an increasingly tough sell for mailing services providers. Businesses that relied heavily on direct mail have shifted some their direct mail dollars to Web-based media, and businesses that haven’t yet tried direct mail are less inclined to risk the money it takes to run a good direct mail campaign.

Enter the USPS program Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), which debuted in March 2011. Initially viewed with skepticism by commercial mailers, EDDM seems to be proving itself. According to Paul Vogel, USPS president and chief marketing/sales officer, as of January 2012 EDDM mail was approaching the one billion mark and had generated $270 million in revenue in 2011. While there is no way to know how much of this volume is new mail and how much is diverted from addressed presort standard, anecdotal evidence from mailers indicates EDDM can be a good service to offer customers and prospects—especially those who have been wary of trying direct mail marketing because of cost.


Helpful Tools

To help make EDDM a success, the USPS heavily promotes directly to businesses by using mailers, Grow Your Business in-person presentations, online seminars (such as the one sponsored by Quick Printing, which is archived at, sales calls by USPS personnel, and a comprehensive website emphasizing do-it-yourself.

Initially this raised the ire of mailing services providers, particularly since it was alleged that the USPS used the ghost permits of commercial mailers to decide which businesses to target for EDDM. The USPS denied the allegations and now encourages businesses to use a local printer and mailing services provider on the EDDM website. The USPS has also started including local printers and mailing services providers as part of the Grow Your Business presentations.

Printers and mailers who have been most active with EDDM report that it is particularly successful for smaller, local businesses offering a product or service to consumers and whose geographic sales and service area is a neighborhood. Some examples include restaurants, dry cleaners, beauty shops, auto service shops, pharmacies, department stores, banks, and real estate firms. The target audience could be a residential neighborhood or a mixed residential and business area (for services that workers might use before and after work or during lunch).



A print-and-mail package is an attractive way to sell EDDM—a single price that combines the cost of design, printing, mail preparation, and postage. To use this method, offer a limited menu of design and size options or provide a template so customers can do their own design work.

Be prepared to provide customers with the required wording for indicia and simplified address format (available at the USPS EDDM website) as well as counts by carrier route (also available at the USPS EDDM website or via online counts from mail list providers). Postage costs will vary depending on where the mail is entered.

A variation on the print-and-mail package for a single business is to offer a co-op mailing featuring several businesses that are targeting an audience in the same carrier route but who don’t compete with each other—a beauty shop, dry cleaner, and fast food restaurant, for example.

EDDM can also be used for community service or other legal notices when the object of the mailing is to reach a specific home or business rather than a specific individual.


Choose Wisely

There are two versions of EDDM—Retail and BMEU—and mailers can offer either version to customers. Both are saturation mailings (at least 90 percent of the deliverable addresses in a carrier route receive the mailing) using the simplified address format (sometimes called “Postal Patron”), which uses just the simplified address designation and the city, state, and zip code.

The EDDM mail piece must be a flat so it avoids having to be sorted in line-of-travel order like letter mail. Effective in May 2012, the USPS also began allowing an additional size for EDDM of at least 10.5 inches, but no more than 15 inches long, and a height of between 3.5 inches and 12 inches, with the restriction that the length must be greater than the height. This allows for an EDDM mailer of 8.5 inches high by 11 inches long.

Retail does not require a mailing permit, allows the mailer to enter mail at the retail counter of the destination post office, and to pay postage with cash, check, or debit card. Retail is limited to 5,000 pieces of mail per day, per destination post office. Retail is a good choice for price-sensitive customers because the package price does not have to include delivery to the post office or postage—the customer picks up prepared mail, takes the mailing to the destination post office, and pays at the retail counter.

BMEU requires a permit, must be entered through a bulk mail acceptance unit (NDC, SCF, or DDU), and postage must be paid via deposit into the permit account. There is no limit on the number of pieces in the mailing.

Although EDDM is most often used for small local mailings, it also has potential for mailings that are regional or even national in scope due to the USPS Priority Mail Open-and-Distribute (PMOD) option for delivering the prepared mail to the destination post office. After preparation for bulk mail acceptance, the mailing is put into a USPS-approved container, marked with a special barcoded label, and entered at a bulk mail entry unit (NDC, SCF, or DDU). PMOD postage charges are based on the weight of the mailing (excluding the tare weight of the container) and the standard Priority Mail distance-based pricing.

For customers and prospects worried about “do not mail” requests for simplified mailing, the USPS contends that market research indicates such requests are minor, and offers a way to opt out of such mailings. The recipients who do not wish to receive mail with simplified address notify the mailer who in turn notifies the local delivery unit using the same processes as for rural routes.

One limitation of EDDM is that it cannot be used for business-only mailings. This is mainly because a saturation mailing requires 90 percent of the addresses in the carrier route must be delivered, and there is a minimum of 200 required in the mailing. It is rare for a route to consist of 90 percent businesses.


Nancy DeDiemar is a former chairman of NAQP and Printer of the Year. She is the co-publisher of Printips (, a newsletter subscription service for printers. Contact her at