THE EDDM GUIDE FOR AUTO REPAIR SHOPS
After speaking with quite a few auto repair shop owners across the country, I noticed that many were referring to their direct mail as “every door direct mail” (EDDM), when in fact, they weren’t using the USPS EDDM program. I have seen this across many other industries as well, not just auto repair.
Therefore, I want to clear the air once and for all and bring some transparency to this subject. The information in this guide will give you the ammunition you need in order to ask more strategic questions from your direct mail partner. You will also be able to make a much more educated purchasing decision as to whether EDDM is the right solution for your shop’s direct mail marketing.
What is EDDM?
EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) is a program created by the United States Postal Service, which was intended to make direct mail simpler, more accessible, and more affordable for small businesses. There are two specific ways that the USPS EDDM program was designed to help make EDDM easier and more affordable:
1. No mailing permit requirement
The EDDM program doesn’t require a mailing permit, which was an approximately $220 expense. This is now replaced with a free, generic EDDM indicia in lieu of a paid mailing permit. We’ll explore the different options below.
2. Mailing list no longer needed
There is no requirement to have EDDM mail pieces physically addressed. Therefore, you no longer need to purchase a mailing list. We’ll explore how these labels must look later in the article since it is different for the two EDDM options.
If you are considering the USPS EDDM program to market your auto repair shop, it’s important that you understand the difference between the two available EDDM options offered by the USPS, which are EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU (Business Mail Entry Unit), as well as the pros, cons, and limitations of each option for you. This will help to determine if either is a viable option for your shop.
What is EDDM Retail?
EDDM Retail is a do-it-yourself program that the United States Postal Service created to make it easier for business owners who are first-time mailers to target prospects with stand-alone direct mail marketing. The program works by targeting prospective customers within specific carrier routes, which are a further break down of a zip code.
With EDDM Retail, you, as the business owner, are responsible for ordering the printed mailers, having them delivered to you, and then physically taking them to the specific post office or offices that will be responsible for mail delivery in the carrier routes you are targeting. This process takes the place of utilizing a print or direct mail company to mail them out for you. You are then responsible for paying the postage directly to the post office at the time of delivery.
Components of EDDM Retail and their limitations
Mailing label and permit indicia
The label for all EDDM Retail mailers should simply say “Local Postal Customer”. They keep it simple for small businesses trying to reach their local prospects and customers. The permit indicia is a simple, and free, permit provided by the USPS. It doesn’t include the standard city and state or a permit number. It simply has “EDDM Retail” at the bottom.
Source: USPS EDDM Quick Reference Guide
You will need to visit the USPS EDDM website and choose the specific carrier routes that you want to target. A few quick notes regarding carrier route selection: The USPS website provides an average income demographic that I do recommend using. As a rule of thumb, you will want to ensure that you target carrier routes with the higher average income values.
Consumers with more disposable income spend more money to maintain their vehicles. This is our suggested strategy for most shops and is supported by some of the latest consumer research from Mintel. Most importantly, it has been validated by results from auto repair shops we work with.
However, the USPS website does not offer demographic data that shows the percent of vehicles per household, which we recommend using to help include or exclude potential routes. The more vehicles per household, the more potential repair orders. This is an important demographic detail to be aware of.
Paperwork & Bundling
Your mailers will need to be physically bundled in groups of 50 to 100. You will then need to print and complete all the necessary paperwork based on the carrier routes you have selected. Each bundle will need a corresponding piece of documentation and one facing slip for the entire group of bundles. This paperwork is what instructs the USPS where and to whom to deliver your mailers.
Delivering your EDDM mailers
You are responsible for physically delivering the mail to the local post office that oversees the specific carrier routes you are targeting. Therefore, depending upon where these carrier routes are located, you may have to travel to multiple post offices.
Paying for postage
As of 1/1/2020, the EDDM Retail postage cost per piece is 19.1¢. You can either pay online when using the EDDM mapping tool, or you can simply pay at the post office at the time you deliver your mail.
EDDM Retail maximum daily limit
There is a maximum daily limit of 5,000 mail pieces per zip code per day. You will need to plan accordingly if you are attempting to drop a larger quantity than 5,000.
Do you have the time and what is that time worth?
Keep in mind, with EDDM Retail, it is going to take some time to complete all the necessary requirements in order to meet the EDDM Retail mailing criteria. For example, the time it takes to select the carrier routes, design and print the mailers, print and complete the paperwork, and bundle all your mailers. These are all steps that need to be accomplished in order to meet the requirements for EDDM Retail, which can be time-consuming. In addition, you are going to have to physically stand in line at the post office to deliver your mailers. Depending on the areas you are trying to target, you may have to visit multiple post offices.
Here’s an example
Many companies do offer the service of handling the paperwork and bundling for you at an additional cost. However, either way, it will need to be done.
You must determine how much time you have and what your time is worth. All too often, clients order EDDM Retail mailers and then get too busy to mail them out. If you feel like this is you, then EDDM Retail is not the best option, and you should opt for a full-service mailing, allowing your direct-mail partner to handle and deliver the mail for you.
Now that you understand EDDM Retail, it’s important you understand the second EDDM method offered by the USPS, EDDM BMEU.
What is EDDM BMEU?
EDDM BMEU (Business Mail Entry Unit) allows another business, such as your printer or direct mail company, to send out direct mail on your behalf via the USPS EDDM program, taking advantage of not having to include a physical address on the mailer.
With this method, a third-party printer or direct mail company handles the entire mailing for you by shipping the pieces to a specific USPS BMEU, which is a post office destination that accepts EDDM mailers from third-party companies.
Your print or direct mail partner will handle going to the USPS website and select your preferred carrier routes. They choose, print, and complete the required paperwork, bundle your pieces, and ultimately deliver them to the post office for you.
Components of EDDM BMEU and their limitations
Mailing label and indicia
The EDDM BMEU mailing label and permit indicia look a little different than the EDDM Retail mailing label requirements. The mailing label must be more specific than “Local Postal Customer” depending on who you are targeting. For a mix of businesses and residences you would label the mailers “Postal Customer”, for residential you would use “Residential Customer”, and the city, state and 5-digit zip code are recommended, but not required. The permit indicia will be the EDDM BMEU bulk mailing permit of your printer or direct mail partner, and they must include “ECRWSS” in the label or near the permit.
Source: USPS EDDM Quick Reference Guide
No daily limit
EDDM BMEU mailings do not have a daily mailing limit like there is with EDDM Retail.
Not to confuse the matter, but you, as a shop owner, could technically execute an EDDM BMEU campaign in the event you need to mail out more than 5,000 mailers per day.
EDDM BMEU is not solely for print and direct mail companies. It is simply a method used to send out direct mail. The difference is that you would need to take them to the USPS business mail entry unit instead of your local post office. For quantities less than 5,000 it is not the best option. Printers and direct mail companies are required to send these mailers to the BMEU, which is why they choose this method. They are not able to send your mail directly to the local post office for delivery.
Is EDDM BMEU a good option?
If you are opting to have a company send out your direct mail for you, it’s critical to understand that EDDM BMEU is not the only method. Furthermore, I think it is the WORST method for auto repair shops compared to the alternative.
A better method is to have your direct mail partner acquire a list of the addresses in each carrier route that you want to target and use that list to physically address each of your direct mail pieces. Not only does this create more accountability, but you can now remove your current customers as well as any type of dwelling unit you choose, thus maximizing your ROI.
If that’s the case, why do companies offer EDDM BMEU to auto shops?
Quite simply, EDDM BMEU allows any printer to send out direct mail. Since this is an option that anyone can offer because it does not require any postal software or addressing equipment, it is pitched to you as the best solution.
Unfortunately, what they are not telling you is that there is a better option, which is a fully addressed mailer. The ONLY reason a vendor wouldn’t tell you about this is that they simply don’t have the capabilities that a traditional direct mail company has, and if they did tell you, you would most certainly choose an alternate option.
For both EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU there are several requirements that must be met for the USPS to accept and deliver your mailers. In addition, there are some important things that you will want to be aware of. You can read more about this information in our comprehensive article about EDDM requirements.
Is either EDDM option right for you?
EDDM Retail is cost-effective
EDDM Retail is the most affordable way to send out direct mail, the reason being that you are executing the mapping, bundling, and delivery of mail to the post office, thus removing the cost of a third-party service doing it all for you.
EDDM Retail Is “mail as you go”
One of the benefits of EDDM Retail is that you can deliver your mail to the post office at your convenience, any day and time you want to. Just remember to stay on top of this. For example, be mindful when including seasonal specials and/or expiration dates. You’ll need to make sure you deliver all your mail in a timely manner, so your clients are able to utilize your specials or offers prior to the promotion’s ending or expiring.
EDDM BMEU is not cost-effective
Because you need to work with a printer or direct mail company to print your pieces, and then do all of the paper work and bundling, then ship them to the BMEU, there are added fees for BMEU that make is more expensive, offsetting any savings. There are often comparable full-service mailing options that will provide better response rates and better ROI for your cost.
No make/model/VIN targeting
EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU are sent out by carrier route, targeting every address within a specific area. Therefore, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU are not viable options for any Euro, Asian, or specialty shops. These types of shops should only be doing targeted mailings to the specific makes and models that they service.
Can’t remove current customers
Because EDDM mailers do not have physical addresses on them, you are extremely limited with any data hygiene capabilities on the mailing as there quite simply isn’t a mailing list. Essentially, you are not able to remove any specific addresses from an EDDM mailer.
For shops that want to utilize direct mail for new customer acquisition, but do not want to send the same direct mail piece to their current customers, EDDM is not the best option. Shops that want to remove their current customers are better off doing a full-service mailing where a mailing list is acquired, and each piece is individually addressed. In doing so, you will be able to remove your current customers from your mailing.
Can’t remove specific residential dwelling unit types
Within every carrier route, there are many different types of dwelling units. Dwelling units are simply specific types of residential addresses. For example, within each carrier route, there is the potential to include the following types of dwelling units.
- SFDU (Single-family Dwelling Unit) homes
- SFDU trailers
- MFDU (Multi-family Dwelling Units) apartments
- College addresses (off-campus)
- Seasonal addresses
The inherent issue here is that, in many cases, shop owners will want to remove college addresses, trailers, and seasonal addresses, which they will not be able to do with either EDDM option. With EDDM, you must mail to 100% of all residential addresses in each route. The only addresses you can remove are all businesses and/or all PO Boxes.
Cannot be used for database mailings
If you are looking to send a mailer to your current customer database, whether to current active customers or lapsed previous customers, EDDM is not a viable option. There is no ability to target specific addresses or people.
Hold your direct mail partner accountable
Now you know the difference between stand-alone direct mail and EDDM, as well as the options available within EDDM, and you are armed with the knowledge to hold your printer or direct mail partner accountable for the type of mailing they are doing for you. Here’s the magic questions for your full-service mailing vendor:
- How are you mailing my pieces?
- Do they have a physical address on each piece, or are you using the EDDM method?
Are you an auto repair shop looking for pricing to send a direct mail or an EDDM campaign? If you need help navigating the confusion of direct mail or EDDM and its costs, give us a call or contact us today.