Another big difference is that First Class mail offers a return service, while Standard mail does not. Let's say you send 1,000 postcards, but 150 of them have bad addresses. With First Class mail, you would know this because the bad ones would be returned to you (at no extra cost). The post office will also try to forward the postcard if the recipient has moved.
But if you sent those 1,000 postcards by Standard mail, you wouldn't know about the bad addresses because Standard mail doesn't return to sender. In all likelihood the 150 postcards with bad addresses would wind up in the trash.
A Postcard Revelation
I once knew a broker whose agents had been mailing their farming postcards by Standard mail. The office later switched to First Class mail for faster delivery, and they were shocked by the number of returned postcards.
"We never got returns like this before," the broker said to me. "So why now?"
In truth, their deliverable rates probably didn't change much. They just didn't know about the bad addresses before because Standard mail doesn't get returned. So they assumed all the postcards were reaching their destinations. Switching to First Class was an eye-opener.
Which Class of Mail is Right For You?
So which class of mail should you use? Well, that depends. If it's important for you to know about your undeliverable postcards, First Class is your option. If speed is a factor, again, First Class is your choice. But if you're on a budget, I recommend using Standard mail.
Undeliverable Postcards are Common
Here's something to remember when you send out your farming postcards. Even with the most current mailing list possible, some of your postcards will be undeliverable. My research and experience shows that the average undeliverable rate for direct mail is about 8%. So no matter what you do, you're going to have some postcards that either come back to you or wind up in the trash. There is no such thing as a 100% deliverable postcard mailing.
With that said, you should try to maximize your deliverable rate by using fresh data. By using a reputable list provider, you can easily keep undeliverable mail below the 10% mark.
* Copyright 2006, Brandon Cornett. You may republish this article if you leave the hyperlinks active, and also retain the author's note and byline.
About the Author: Brandon Cornett is the author of "Real Estate Postcard Marketing," an insider's guide to using real estate marketing post cards. Agents, you can increase your postcard I.Q. by visiting http://www.realestatepostcardbook.com