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Reduce Your Direct Mail Costs with Pre-Printed Shells & Variable Printing

Streamowrks Blog

Reduce Your Direct Mail Costs with Pre-Printed Shells & Variable Printing


We are continuing our series on cost reduction strategies with a tip about print production.


Each week's tip will help you develop direct mail campaigns with built-in savings. 


For recurring pieces that share a similar branded format—like a letter, weekly flyer, or newsletter—it may make sense to design and print color "shells." 


For example, you might print a shell newsletter that includes: a full-color masthead, logo, tagline, and any other static information that does not change with each new offer or mailing. The shell would consist of enough white area for you to print—in black toner—customized content or promotions that can be refreshed each week, month, or quarter.


Remember: print pricing is volume-driven—the larger your print run, the lower your cost per piece. There can be significant savings for printing and storing 3-12 months worth of color shells.


With shells, you will still have the ability to target your messaging (in black) for various segments. A significant benefit in doing this allows all messaging to be targeted to the recipient and then presorted into one single mail stream for the lowest production cost and postage rate.


Why consider black over color variable print?

Digital printing costs vary greatly based on whether the image is black or color. The fact is, black toner is a fraction of the cost of a color variable print. The most cost-effective way to leverage the combined benefits of color printing and variable content is to design the color elements into the shell (which prints via offset print) and use black toner when printing variable information. 



A direct mail campaign consisting of 25,000 records, can expect a form savings of 42% by using a color offset shell with double-sided black personalization versus digital color print. Of course, anticipated response and program objectives should be factored into the decision-making process. Still, a 42% cost-reduction is likely worth consideration! 


If you would like to discuss ways to create efficiencies with your direct mail campaigns or are interested in a quote, contact us today. 


Looking for more ways to maximize your direct mail ROI?

Download our free Direct Mail Production Checklist to identify steps that can save time, energy and resources on your next campaign.