Anyone looking to increase response rates for a solicitation, or R.S.V.P. should consider investing in a Business Reply Permit. Simply stated, a business reply mailer allows someone to respond to an offer without having to affix a stamp or spend any money on postage.

What kind of organizations should consider getting a Business Reply Permit?  Nonprofit organizations are probably the best candidates for a Business Reply Permit, although businesses that consistently engage in bulk mail, and need to collect responses or payments via mail may be good candidates as well.

Keep in mind, there are fees associated with setting this up, so it generally only makes sense if your organization has substantial bulk mail volume.

How exactly does it work?

An organization that gets a Business Reply Permit only has to pay postage on mail pieces that are actually mailed back. For instance, if 10,000 pieces are mailed out, and there is a 3% response rate then postage will be due for only the 300 pieces that were mailed back-not for the entire 10,000 pieces.

What are the benefits?

Clearly, the largest benefit is an increased response rate. In the scenario where a person sincerely intends to mail in a charitable donation, but doesn’t have or cannot locate a stamp, using a Business Reply envelope makes a lot of sense.

Statistics show that the challenge with direct mail is that response rate drops dramatically if people do not act shortly after opening their mail. Studies done using a control group with a Business Reply envelope consistently have slightly higher response rates than those requiring respondents to affix a stamp.

Additionally, a business reply envelope facilitates a quicker response because of the fact that the address is already converted into a USPS approved intelligent mail barcode.

How much does it cost? There are 2 types of Business Reply Mail: standard and high volume.

The standard version has a much lower annual investment of $240 and is the appropriate choice for the majority of organizations, particularly for smaller organizations.

The high-volume version requires an annual investment of $965 The larger investment, however, leads to a substantially reduced per piece cost.

While the high-volume permit has a per piece cost of regular first-class postage plus 0.93 cents, the standard permit has a per piece cost of regular first-class postage plus 85 cents. This means that for a standard first class sized letter, postage using a standard business reply would be (55 cents + 85 cents) $1.40 apiece. Some quick math shows that organizations expecting to receive 961 or fewer responses in a calendar year should opt for standard Business Reply Mail.

What about Business Reply postcards? If you aren’t soliciting a donation, or don’t actually need to get an envelope returned to you, then you should consider a Business Reply postcard which has slightly lower postage than a Business Reply envelope.

Does a Business Reply Permit make sense for my organization? To determine if a Business Reply Permit is merited, the organization doing the mailing needs look at both the costs associated with using the permit and the dollar value attributed to the increased response rate.

How can I get a Business Reply Permit? A knowledgeable mailing industry professional or the Business Mail Unit of a local U.S. Post Office are resources for assistance with getting set up with a Business Reply Permit. A more detailed description of the costs and other details associated with getting a Business Reply Permit is listed on Form 3615 https://about.usps.com/forms/ps3615.pdf

Additionally, the application can be printed directly from the official USPS website, and completed in advance or filled out with the assistance of the postal staff at a local Business Mail Unit.

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