Category Archives: usps standards

What Is Saturation Mail?

Saturation Mail
Saturation mail is a type of mailing that reaches most addresses within a given geographic area. The USPS post offices offers a discount up to $.09 off the Basic Standard Mail rate for properly prepared saturation mail.

With this discount, direct mail becomes an even more attractive way for marketers to reach local communities. For under a quarter each, businesses can mail their promotional offers to counties, Zip Codes, neighborhoods, or even a single carrier route.

For the maximum discount, the Post Office requires that your mailing follow the 90/75 Rule. This means you must be reaching at least 90% of the residential addresses in each Carrier Route you’re targeting, or at least 75% of the combined residential and business addresses available.

Also, your mailing must be sorted in the same order that the postal carrier walks the route — the “Walk Sequence.”

The requirements to mail at the Basic Standard Mail rate also apply. These requirements include: 1) a Standard Bulk Mail permit, 2) mailing piece needs to qualify as a letter, card or flat, 3) addresses need to be accurate and follow the Move Update Standard and 4) the mailing needs to be at least 200 pieces.

Most list brokers offer special mailing lists they call ‘Occupant’, ‘Resident’ or ‘Saturation’ lists that provide all addresses, in Walk Sequence, for any postal carrier route.  And typically, the cost to rent these lists is nominal: a couple cents per address. Lists are available addressed either to “Current Resident” or with the head of household named (ie. “Mary Smith”).

Now, if you’re trying to reach a certain demographic audience, for example, retirees or pet owners, you might be better off looking at special consumer or business lists, and mail at the regular Standard Mail rate.

But if you’re making a general announcement — like a Grand Opening — or if your service has a wide appeal — like an Urgent Care provider or a pizza shop — then a saturation mailing could be the best way to help attract new traffic.

For marketers who need to reach a localized audience, saturation mail should be in your marketing toolbox.


Addressing Tip: Handling the Secondary Unit

The USPS has done quite a bit to help mail get through quicker and easier.  The most obvious improvement is using a ZIP code to help direct mail to particular areas of the country.

But providing an uncomplicated, standardized address on the mailing piece can go a long way to making mail move faster.

What can make many addresses complicated is the secondary unit — the apartment or suite number that is added to the address line.

Granted, the secondary unit is usually essential for getting the mailing piece to the recipient.   Without an apartment number, many items would be undeliverable.

The USPS suggests positioning the secondary unit at the end of the address line (ex. “123 Main St Apt 10”).

But when you don’t really have room to do that, they suggest adding the secondary unit above the address line:

Bob Smith
Apt 10
123 Main St
New York, NY 10000

The Post Office also suggests not using the # symbol if you’re using a word followed by a number (like Apt or Ste).

But do use the # symbol if you have no word (like Apt or Ste) before the number.  And when using the # symbol, put a space between it and the number (ex. 123 Main St # 10).

There are a lot of descriptors for secondary units (Room, Apartment, Suite, etc), and many abbreviations that go with them.

The Post Office suggests you select from their list of abbreviations, if abbreviations are necessary:

Description – Abbreviation

Building – BLDG
Department  – DEPT
Floor – FL
Front – FRNT
Hanger – HNGR
Key – KEY
Lobby – LBBY
Lot – LOT
Lower – LOWR
Office – OFC
Penthouse – PH
Pier – PIER
Rear – REAR
Room – 
Side – SIDE
Slip – SLIP
Space – SPC
Stop – STOP
Suite – STE
Trailer – 
Unit – UNIT
Upper – UPPR

There are two things worth noting about the suggested abbreviations: 1) they’re capitalized, and 2) they do not include periods or other punctuation.

Some of the abbreviations require a number to follow (ex. APT), but some do not (ex. REAR).

By standardizing the use of secondary units, you can help ensure your mail is delivered quickly and efficiently.