EDDM® vs. Full-Service Direct Mail: Saturation Mailing Comparison & Report Card

If you offer a product or service that appeals to a broad audience, it’s important to cast a wide net. You want to get your marketing message in front of as many people as possible, right? The best way to do that is with a saturation direct mail campaign, which allows you to target everyone within a certain geographic region. There are two main saturation service options to choose from: Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) or full-service saturation through a printer or direct mail company.

To help you make the best decision for your business, we’ve put together a report card comparing full-service saturation and EDDM® based on a number of important factors. You’ll also find explanations of what those grades mean below. Choosing the right type of saturation mailing has a significant impact on the measured response rate and ROI of your direct mail campaign, so let’s get started.

Report Card Comparison

Grading Key: A = Excellent | B = Good | C = Average | D = Poor

Click on each feature for a detailed comparison of the two services.

Full-Service Saturation Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®)
Variety of Pieces A B
Expertise A B
Reliable Delivery A B
Custom Design A A
Affordability B A
Convenience A D
Audience Segmentation B D
Consistency A C
Total Overall Grades: A C

Variety of Pieces

Full-Service Saturation: A

USPS sizing requirements state that only pieces that qualify as flats can be mailed via EDDM®. Most direct mail companies and printers have come up with creative ways to allow you to mail almost any piece either full-service saturation or EDDM®. Regardless, you should still be aware of the regulation that EDDM® mail must be mailed as flats rather than letters.

EDDM Size Spec Diagram


Full-Service Saturation: A

Direct mail isn’t rocket science, but executing a successful campaign that drives results requires a complete understanding of direct mail strategy, design, ad copy, and offers. If you choose full-service saturation, you’ll work with a direct mail company or commercial printer that can provide you with their expertise in those areas.

EDDM®, on the other hand, is often advertised as a quick, do-it-yourself option. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. DIY means you need to become an expert on those topics yourself, or you need to consult with experts who can help you. The USPS’s expertise lies in mail, not direct mail strategy, so your best bet is to work with a full-service printer or direct mail company from the start.

Ultimately, if you don’t work with a direct mail expert, you’re probably going to run into costly and time-consuming issues. Here’s a story from a DIY EDDM® user who encountered problems that could have been avoided had she worked with a full-service mailer or printer.

Reliable Delivery

Full-Service Saturation: A

Unlike a full-service saturation mailing, EDDM® doesn’t require you to purchase a mailing list. Instead, every piece is addressed to “Local Postal Customer” and grouped together by carrier route. Each EDDM® bundle has a facing slip on top telling the carrier which route those pieces should go to. But if the facing slip is missing or damaged, carriers have no way of knowing where to deliver that bundle of mail. This can lead to hundreds of pieces not being mailed and wasted money on postage.

With full-service saturation, there’s a physical address on each mail piece. And in many cases, they’re already sorted with each household’s mail beforehand. While EDDM® also has a high likelihood of being delivered, it’s important to remember that a physical address on mail pieces almost guarantees successful delivery.

Mail Piece with physical address
Mail Piece without physical address

Custom Design

Full-Service Saturation: A

Regardless of whether you choose full-service saturation or EDDM®, it’s possible to get a great design for your piece. You just have to make sure the direct mail company or printer you work with understands the importance of professional, high-quality design and the impact it has on your campaign. And if you do use EDDM®, make sure your printer is up to date on the size requirements.


Full-Service Saturation: B

There’s no doubt that if you’re just looking at postage costs, EDDM® can be more appealing than full-service saturation. How much does Every Door Direct Mail® cost? The current rate is 18.7¢ per piece. But many are fooled by this number and think it’s the only cost incurred with an EDDM® campaign.

Don’t forget that you still have to pay to have your pieces designed and printed, take the time to pick where you want to mail them, bundle them (or pay someone else to), and deliver them to the post office. Usually when these extra costs – plus all the time and effort – are factored in, the EDDM® cost savings are quickly eaten up.

Full-service direct mail companies like Mail Shark take care of these details for you, so you can focus on running your business. They also receive postage discounts, so you get the same low (or lower) rates than EDDM® without the hassle. For example, many full-service saturation mailings qualify for a 5-digit postal sortation discount. That lowers your postage to 15.5¢ per piece, which is 3.2¢ less than the current EDDM® postage rate.

Here’s a comparison of a full-service saturation campaign with Mail Shark versus a DIY EDDM® campaign:

Full-Service Saturation Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®)
Quantity Mailed 5,000 (500 Per Week) 5,000 (500 Per Week)
Design Cost Free Free
Printing Cost Included in Per Piece Rate $640
(Estimate Based on Online Printer’s Published Rates)
List Cost Included in Per Piece Rate Free
(Using USPS EDDM® Tool)
Bundling/Sortation Cost Included in Per Piece Rate $760*
(4 Hours/Week Over 10 Weeks at $19/Hour)
Postage Cost Included in Per Piece Rate $935
Final Cost $2,025**
Upfront: $0
Per Week: $202.50
Upfront: $640 (Printing Cost)
Per Week: $76 (Bundling/Sortation Cost) + $93.50 (Postage Cost) = $169.50/Week

*Your bundling and sortation costs will increase based on the number of pieces you’re processing.
**Based on 2019 Mail Shark rates for 5,000 5.5″ × 10.5″ Oversized Postcards.
*Final cost for EDDM® does not include the cost to ship the printed products to your location, which is extra and must be quoted based on your shipping address.

At a difference of $310, a full-service saturation campaign costs nearly the same as EDDM®, but with better targeting and no legwork. If you want to compare saturation and EDDM® pricing for Mail Shark’s products, check out our products page.


Full-Service Saturation: A

As a business owner, your time is extremely valuable. Spending time bundling mail, filling out paperwork, and waiting in line at the post office may not be worth the postage savings of EDDM®. Remember that do-it-yourself doesn’t always mean saving a ton of money.

EDDM® can work well for companies that have employees with time on their hands, but most business owners don’t have the time to do EDDM® consistently. And if you’re targeting multiple zip codes, keep in mind that you may have to take your bundles to several different post offices. On the other hand, a full-service direct mail company handles every aspect of your campaign, which ensures consistent mailings.

Audience Segmentation

Full-Service Saturation: B

EDDM® is designed to reach every door along a specific carrier route or within a particular zip code (hence the name). There’s no mailing list, which means you can’t target specific addresses or segment your list (other than removing business addresses and PO boxes).

But with a full-service saturation option, you can remove business addresses, PO boxes, and even some residential addresses (like apartments, drop addresses, or seasonal dwellings). Removing unwanted addresses from your mailing list improves response rates because you’re avoiding addresses you don’t want to target.

Regardless of whether you choose EDDM® or full-service saturation, it’s important to work with a direct mail expert to determine which strategy is right for your campaign.

audience segmentation diagram


Full-Service Saturation: A

Direct mail is a powerful tool for many businesses, but you have to do it the right way. A well thought-out direct mail strategy helps you consistently reach your audience, which increases the chances they’ll choose your products or services. But the time-consuming nature of EDDM® can prevent business owners from mailing consistently, which can negatively affect results.

A good direct mail company will make your full-service saturation campaign easy for you. They’ll take care of all the details for you and should follow up with you after your mailings to help you execute more consistently.

Overall Grades

Full-Service Saturation: A

We strongly believe that in most cases, when all the above factors are considered, full-service saturation mailings are the best way to drive results without spending all your time on marketing. While EDDM® offers an affordable, do-it-yourself way for any business to advertise with direct mail, the extra costs and time required more than outweigh the postage savings.

As you saw earlier, you get more bang for your buck when you choose full-service saturation. Say you run an HVAC business. You spend $2,335 on an EDDM® campaign mailing 5,000 postcards to several carrier routes in your area. But 800 of those addresses are apartments, PO Boxes, and drop addresses – all people who probably can’t use your services or won’t get your ad in the first place. That means 800 of your pieces are wasted and won’t get a response.

If you spent the same amount of money on a full-service saturation campaign, you could have removed those bad addresses from your mailing list. In turn, the revenue and ROI for your campaign would be higher. Plus, you wouldn’t have spent any of your valuable time and energy on your mailing.

If you’re willing to put in the time to learn how to execute direct mail campaigns and find your own design and printing companies, EDDM® may be a good choice. But if you’re like most business owners, you don’t have time for that. That’s why you should work with a direct mail company like Mail Shark that offers both full-service saturation and EDDM® so they can help you choose the service that’s best for your business.