The Direct Mail Marketer’s Guide to Postage Increases and Delivery Delays

August 28, 2021

A playbook for the proactive mailer ahead of the holiday season.

The Postage Increase News:

We’re just a couple of days away from the August 29 postage increases, and while we’ve all been planning for this since early Spring, it’s still pretty painful…

If you’re like me, you might still be in denial that it’s happening. And, maybe you’re also tired of being that voice of doom and gloom on your team or client calls. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with all the important news and changes right here, all in one place.

Here’s a quick overview of what average postage CPPs will look like for campaigns mailing after the 29. Individual campaigns could see pricing shift higher/lower slightly, but these are middle-ground guidelines we can use:

Mail Speed News:

We’ve been talking about this for a while now as well, while experiencing it up close and personal. Mail speeds across all mail classes are slowing and anticipated to continue at a reduced pace as we head into the holiday season.

  • First class mail speeds are ~2-6 days, where they used to be 1-3 days.
  • Marketing mail (commercial/nonprofit) mail speeds are ~4-18+ days, where we used to only need to allow a max of 10-11 days to reach final destinations.

This is happening in part, due to a shift in delivery methods, as mail and packages rely less on air travel than ever before. With more mail traveling via water, trains, trucks and bicycles, already congested ground routes are facing additional strains. While the USPS has made statements on the topics of additional processing plants, more processing hours, etc., we continue to see facility closings, shortened shifts and stressed/overworked employees.

I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open as we move into Q4, so stay tuned for any updates on any anticipated changes or lengthening in the windows for delivery. If you haven’t already been talking with your teams about modifying timelines to allow for meeting in-home windows, now is the time to start.

Materials, Press Availability and Supply Chain News:

Still waiting for the skateboard or mattress that you ordered probably months ago, and the only answer you’re getting is “sorry we’re having supply chain issues”? There are even supply chain issues with chicken wings! Unfortunately, supply chain issues are also affecting the paper market in a large way. Common stocks that plants could have on the floor in a few days are now becoming harder and harder to procure. Some stocks are on backorder with 3-month waitlists. Sourcing paper has become a chess game of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ proportions.

Additionally, print vendors and mail shops themselves are reaching maximum capacity for accepting new work. Q3/Q4 has always been peak time for printing, but this year has seen a super-influx of work, and some shops are turning new requests away.

Postage + Format Good News!

If you are wondering what’s so special about the First-Class Postcard shown in the postage grid above, prepare to be wowed!

Typically, we have been able to mail postcards that are sized 4.25” x 6” max at an almost-marketing mail postage rate, but it would travel at first class speeds (~2-6 days travel time vs. ~4-18 days standard travel time). This has been great for campaigns that needed that extra boost of speed to reach homes, but not so great for content, as it doesn’t leave a lot of room for design/messaging. (Here comes the wow!) Starting Aug 29, the max postcard size will be increased to 6” x 9”. Postcard paper stock will need to be a minimum of 9pt, which is typical, but marketers and creative teams everywhere will rejoice in the sheer amount of extra real-estate now available! You’ll able to use a font size larger than 8pt! You could even fit a QR code on the piece! The possibilities are endless!

What Does This Mean for Mail Marketers?

  • If you’re a commercial business and you like the postcard format, mailing a 6×9 piece will cost ~$0.3180 per piece in postage and your pieces will be in homes in approx. 2-6 days. You won’t face the up to 18 days that we are seeing for marketing mail in general, and you won’t need to break your budget paying first class postage rates.


  • For nonprofits that use the postcard format, mailing a 6×9 piece will cost ~$0.3180 per piece in postage and your pieces will be in homes in approx. 2-6 days. This is a higher postage rate than the nonprofit per piece rates, but not as high as the first class per piece rates. These also won’t face the up to 18 days that we are seeing for nonprofit mail in general. It’s a middle ground “win” for nonprofits, but something that is interesting.

Start the Conversation:

Long story short — if you aren’t already talking with your teams or agency partners about planning Direct Mail campaigns through year end (and into Q1), now is the time to start. The further ahead you can get, the better positioned you will be to overcome some of the hurdles and headaches that might be coming your way!




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