‘Every Door Direct’ Not for Every Mailbox

For approximately the past year, the U.S. Postal Service has offered an innovative program called “Every Door Direct” that is designed to convince more small businesses to use direct mail for household geo-targeting. I love it. While social and mobile are all the rage—so, too, is “local”—and direct mail marketing, among other channels, is a powerhouse for local advertising. Mail pieces may be addressed to “Our Neighbors at Fill-in-the-Address”—as are some of the offers I receive from larger mailers—but “Every Door Direct” mail is relevant to me since, for the most part, they represent businesses close to home, in the neighborhood where I do 90 percent of my shopping.

For approximately the past year, the U.S. Postal Service has offered an innovative program called “Every Door Direct” that is designed to convince more small businesses to use direct mail for household geo-targeting.

I love it. While social and mobile are all the rage—so, too, is “local”—and direct mail marketing, among other channels, is a powerhouse for local advertising. Mail pieces may be addressed to “Our Neighbors at Fill-in-the-Address”—as are some of the offers I receive from larger mailers—but “Every Door Direct” mail is relevant to me since, for the most part, they represent businesses close to home, in the neighborhood where I do 90 percent of my shopping. Thus, I receive it, I read it, and I make an informed decision what to do with the information. (And my take-out menu drawer is filling up.)

Now, that’s my opinion.

Some people don’t want to receive direct mail at home. These individuals may turn to the Direct Marketing Association’s long-standing and free consumer service DMAchoice (formerly the Mail Preference Service) to indicate a preference not to receive direct mail offers from companies and organizations. Consumers, by using DMAchoice, can choose to turn off most all their direct mail at once (some of us call this the “nuclear” option), or by mail category (credit card offers, catalogs, magazine offers, for example), or by single companies and organizations by name. It really works well.

From the marketers’ perspective, DMAchoice saves money—mail is not sent to those persons who have chosen not to receive it. DMAchoice also provides mailers with a “resident/occupant” suppression option when using the all-categories opt-out portion of the file. By subscribing to DMAchoice (which is available to both DMA members and non-members) and its resident/occupant suppress option, mailers can prevent in advance resident/occupant mail from being sent to any consumer who has signed up for the off-all-lists option. To implement the resident/occupant mail suppression, DMAchoice relies on letter carriers, according to their route, to actually handle the non-delivery so each consumer’s choice can be honored. (Typically, the letter carrier has a printed list of suppressed addresses along the daily route which tells the carrier which addresses to skip delivery of the resident/occupant mail piece.)

National mailers who use resident/occupant mail (also known as Saturation Mail) have been using this suppression capability for years. Now the Postal Service is using Every Door Direct to make it easy for local businesses to “one-stop” shop and distribute direct mail pieces by local geography. Except there’s one important component now missing from this “one stop”—honoring previously expressed consumer choices to not receive mail.

A solution is on its way for local mailers who use this USPS program.

Discussions are underway that would enable DMAchoice to be accessed and used by local printers who support Every Door Direct across the country. Thus, these printers, who apply an address on each Every Door Direct mail piece on behalf of the local advertiser, could use DMAchoice to honor consumer choice to opt out at an address-specific level before the printing even takes place, or to provide the “do not deliver” request to the local post office. It may take some time to work through all the details of how this will be executed, but the commitment is there, wisely, to honor consumer choice.

Certainly, the Postal Service is very much aware of how important it is to honor “do not mail” preferences of consumers. It’s good for advertisers, too. (By the way, 2012 marks the 41st anniversary of DMA’s consumer suppression file.) I only wish Every Door Direct had been designed to have available name suppression such as DMAchoice applied up front. Just because it’s easy to toss a direct mail piece in the trash or recycling bin, doesn’t mean “every door” of Every Door Direct should be delivered. That will be remedied shortly.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

10 thoughts on “‘Every Door Direct’ Not for Every Mailbox”

  1. We print and/or process Every Door Direct Mail – Retail (EDDM-R) for ourselves and our customers. This particular option is the one you keep seeing on tv as ‘do it yourself or find a local printer to help you’ …

    Since it’s inception, the bundling forms have provided the ability to manually list addresses on the carrier route that should be excluded from the delivery. But it is not mandated to complete that section.

    Because no addresses are required for this particular product, if it becomes a mandatory process to honor the opt-outs, then USPS may have to re-think the "do it yourself" strategy… most very small businesses would not be able to afford any technology that links carrier routes to self-requested "do not deliver" databases.

  2. EDDM mail is "unaddressed", how can you suppress names or households from unaddressed mail? EDDM is garnishing leads from legitimate mailers who do saturation mail using a "real" label – it is by far, one of the most underhanded tactics in use by the USPS today and EDDM should be put back into the hands of the mail service industry, where’s it’s been for 50 years, while the government stays out of private sector marketing.

  3. I agree with bulk mailer. I am not happy about all the marketing the USPS is doing of EDDM which encourages my customers to bypass using my mailhouse. We have been the hand that feeds them for over 20 years and now they are biting off my fingers.

  4. Do you realize what EDDM has done to professional mailers or lettershops? Why come to me to mail those cards when you can bypass a 30 year old business who has all the deliverable addresses, and for just the cost of postage alone do your own mailing? No need to pay for a permit, no need to put an address. The philosphy of the USPS is no one should make any money in the mailing business except the USPS! I charge $0.065 each plus applicable postage to inkjet address directly on to the mail piece, postal prep and documentation, mail monitoring(confirm) and delivery of mail to post office. What is your feeling about the professional mailer? Where is our presence with EDDM?

  5. Ditto to bulk mailer! You can not suppress names and addresses of unaddressed mail! The writer in this article doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It could only be done by the carrier, and I doubt that even happens! Not withstanding, I find EDDM to be too confusing for the typical mailer, or they’re unaware of it, and as such hasn’t hurt my business. According to my local BMEU, the only pieces that can use EDDM are oversized pieces that must be processed as flats. I was furious when I found out about EDDM, but as my friend at the BMEU said, “don’t expect anything rational to come from an irrational system”. Perhaps that’s why they’re loosing 28 million dollars a day!

  6. It seems that applying the DMA suppression list for EDDM would best be done at the point the marketer (or their printer) is developing the counts for their project on the EDDM web site. The marketer can decide to add or remove neighborhoods from their selection based on the actual number of households that will be receiving the piece, instead of the total number of addresses on a carrier route. Otherwise the response metrics could be skewed – especially if the local business is attempting to track by neighborhood.

    Understanding details like these can be an argument in favor of leaving project planning and mail services in the hands of experienced professionals.

  7. EDDM is another in a long string of the USPS sticking its nose into the business of direct mailers while enjoying the protection of monopoly in using the mailboxes to reach prospects. Ten or so years ago, they offered design/mailing services online for postcards, thus taking business away from many small- and mid-sized mailers. The PMG’s mantra that part of the solution to the USPS woes is to "explore alternative revenue sources" should put the industry on warning: there is more of this to come.
    As a side note, I find it intriguing that the USPS begins pitching shotgun direct mail at a time when household demo- and psychographic info is more powerful than ever. Why would I want to shotgun when I can target?
    And do we really think a mail carrier is going to honor the lists to suppress simply because they are listed on a bundling form? That is utopian.
    The USPS does not seem to realize that mailing firms have begun the process of diversifying: getting into printing, fulfillment, multi-channel marketing, creative, etc. As these progressive firms grow, their revenue from mailing services will become a smaller percentage of their total revenue; as this occurs, they will not be so desperate to sell direct mail as its main product. As this happens, the USPS will find itself with fewer allies in the industry pushing direct mail. Instead, smaller, targeted mailings will simply become another increment of the multi-channel campaign. We will advise clients on other media. So, in the long term, I hope the USPS is ready to become an island as we become multi-channel experts.

  8. The EDDM concept is not new as Chet stated – Carrier Route Saturation mailings have been around for forever. I think this is a resurrection of a program that flopped before because of no marketing by the USPS. On the flip side, their current marketing efforts seem to be working as we are getting a lot of requests to print and mail EDDM pieces for B-to-C clients. If you partner with the Post Office instead of bashing them, you may see additional revenue from this program. I get the fact that targeted, relevant mailings are effective – we do a ton of them – but you have to educate the customer on what is out there, give them the facts and let them decide on what they think will work best for their business once they have the facts. For the Direct Mail houses out there complaining about this program, I understand your bitterness but the post office is attempting to drive more printing and mailing with this program – not a bad thing for an idustry that has seen dramatic decrease is volumes for years. Just as sucessful printers have done for the last 10 years, you need to diversify your business. Get used to it and embrace change – complaining will not business back.

  9. As has been stated, EDDM is not addressed mail so the writer of this article has his facts mixed up I think. EDDM has been a hot button topic in the mailing industry since its inception. I do not see it as the great evil that some industry folks see it as and I do not see it as the ‘easy to do self service’ product that the USPS is making it out to be. The mailing still has to be prepared and folks with no experience will find it difficult- the only thing good for them is they do not have to have a permit. And most likely a printer will print the pieces up and they would be in a prime position to offer the EDDM service. I have already seen EDDM work in a variety of businesses so I do not think it is unworkable for the right business type. I think we must be open minded on this- there may be opportunities for us to do an EDDM mailing for a client or by doing EDDM a dormant client or a non-mailing prospect may realize the mail is a good way to market their business. If NOTHING else, it has people talking about direct mail again which is a GOOD thing….

  10. Update, August 16, 2012, from DMA 3-D: "DMA BOLSTERS CONSUMER CHOICE WITH EXPANDED OPT-OUT SERVICE. DMA today announced the expansion of its suppression tool that allows consumers to exercise greater choice over the mail they receive. DMAchoice.org, DMA’s longstanding online tool that helps consumers manage their mail preferences, is now available to marketers using the Postal Service’s new product, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). In July, The US Postal Service introduced its Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) — a service that lets businesses deliver advertising mail within specified zip codes without having to supply names and addresses — thus allowing postal carriers to deliver promotional mail to every patron on their route. To ensure that consumers’ suppression choices continue to be honored within this system, DMA has launched an easy, cost-effective suppression service for EDDM to honor consumer choice to opt out of EDDM. Consumers who do not wish to receive mail addressed to all residences/businesses on a postal route may opt out by placing their names on DMA Choice or DMA’s EDDM opt-out list. Businesses seeking to subscribe through DMA’s service provider can subscribe online or download the subscription agreement."

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