When considering a dimensional mail campaign, your first thought then may be, “Will it be worth it?” (For the answer, check out this post.) Then you’ll probably wonder, “Wait, what will it cost me?” The short answer is, it depends.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the overall cost of a campaign. That includes the actual item you are sending, the packaging, the weight and size of those packages, the location and number of deliveries, and the length of the recipient list. So if you’re trying to answer the question for a particular campaign, start by giving some thought to what you want to spend per recipient – which could also vary.

To help you get started, let’s review all of the factors that contribute to the pricing of a dimensional mailer.

The Pieces of The Puzzle

The Recipients

First, you will want to understand your recipient list. (Hint: They should tie directly to your personas.) For starters, do all your recipients hold the same value? If not, split the list up. At this point, I recommend you have no more than two tiers. If you have more than this, the third tier and beyond likely do not hold enough value to be targeted directly.

Typically a dimensional mailer campaign is designed to be sent to the highest value prospects. And just as Entrepreneur states: If you let your list get too long, you may extend your budget as well. Being conservative with the number of recipients will also empower you to focus your time and energy on the prospects that mean the most to your business.

Next, decide on the two budgets for each tier – or a single budget, if there is no split. For example, we sent a gift-based campaign of bourbon; the first tier received an $80 bottle, and the second received a $60 bottle. These are general numbers that you would feel comfortable with, but may vary throughout the development of the campaign, especially if you are unsure what item you’re interested in sending.

Which brings me to my next point…

The Packaging

When it comes to packaging, you can either develop a few ideas on your own, or you could leave this to the creatives. Either way, you’ll want to understand the message you are trying to communicate, as well as the rough numbers around what you’d like to spend.

You will also need to consider the layers to the item you send. The most important part is the item the prospects receive, but keep in mind that presentation is essential to a well-received delivery. You will likely spend around $10 to $20 on packaging, depending on the complexity, and possibly more for fulfillment if there are multiple components that need to be assembled.

The Shipping

Next, it’s time to decide how you will be sending out your mailer. If you’re sending them via USPS, UPS or FedEx, you can use their calculation tools to determine the cost.

However, the items you choose are very fragile (like the bottles of bourbon I mentioned earlier), have a specific presentation or need special care I would suggest using a courier service. Typically a courier service will charge based on distance, number of stops, as well as weight and size of package. But it is recommended that you get a quote for this prior to starting the campaign.

The Extras

Finally, if you’re working with an agency, you’ll need to take into consideration the administrative fees associated with their services. You can do some jobs on your own, but to save frustration, time and headaches, it is best to leave it to a person with the working space, the patience and the creativity to complete a job as important as a dimensional mail campaign.

I can speak from experience that a fulfillment job of any size is no part-time endeavor.

Final Thought

In short, there are many factors that will make the cost of the campaign fluctuate. The basis for the campaign cost is the price of the item that you want to have in the package. If working with an agency, they will have the connections that allow you to customize your campaign to fit within your budget and can coordinate tiered campaigns so that you can focus your funds on the recipients that hold the most value while still reaching the entire recipient list.