Over 41 thousand ZIP codes  in the US enable the United States Postal Service to track mail pieces and collect useful geographical statistics. Besides, the country is divided into over 300 area codes that can also be used for targeted advertising. Mailing ZIP code is just one of multiple ways to deliver direct mail. You can also use Every Door Direct Mail, adopt direct mail marketing campaigns based on data enrichment, implement mail automation, and more.

To help you pick the most suitable option, Inkit has completed an overview of all the most popular mailing approaches. Check our comprehensive guide to learn:

  • Area code vs. zip code mailing: recommendations for your business and industry
  • Every Door Direct Mail campaigns vs. mail data enriched & mail verified campaigns
  • Automation in direct mail services.

Area Code vs. ZIP Code Mailing: Top Tips for Businesses

The question about the difference between area code vs. ZIP code is quite a common one for businesses about to launch their first mailing ZIP code campaign. So let’s start with area code vs. ZIP code comparison.

Basics: Area code vs. ZIP code

Area codes were born out of the need to speed up phone dialing on rotary phones. The shortest number codes like 212 or 312 were given to the places that got the most long-distance calls. This was convenient and simplified the lives of callers. Although the area coding system has lost its practical use today, the US is still divided into hundreds of area codes.


On the other hand, ZIP postal codes represent geographical locations. These are standard five-digit ZIP codes: the first three digits stand for a sectional center facility. The fourth and fifth digits signify a group of delivery addresses within the selected area. There are also extended ZIP code versions called ZIP+4 codes used to indicate a specific delivery route. ZIP+4 codes are more precise than basic ZIP codes since they help narrow down the mailing list and focus on a single carrier route.

Simply put, area codes are all about phone numbers, whereas ZIP codes are used for direct mail.

How it works: Area code vs. ZIP code mailing

Through area codes, you can detect the location of your target audience. This provides you with insights into their way of life, social characteristics, and preferences. Note that area codes cannot be used to deliver direct mail since they cover broad areas, but they are a great asset to enrich information about your customers. Contrarily to area codes, mailing ZIP code communications is possible. You just need to get ZIP code mailing lists or use a free ZIP code lookup, print mail pieces, and bring them to the post office for delivery.

Who will benefit from area code vs. ZIP code mailing

Area code vs. ZIP code mailing may benefit small and medium businesses aiming to connect with local consumers. If a company cannot afford to invest in highly targeted direct mail marketing, mailing ZIP code-based communications is a great alternative. For example, mailing ZIP code may be an effective business solution for a flower shop about to open or a dentist’s office targeting people in a specific neighborhood. Although such marketing materials aren’t customized, they can attract additional attention to local companies and generate offline visits.

Every Door Direct Mail Campaigns vs. Mail Data Enriched & Mail Verified Campaigns

Every Door Direct Mail and data enriched/verified campaigns are different at their core. Whereas Every Door Direct Mail is 100% USPS service, data enrichment and validation gives you space for creativity and customized marketing. Find more details about other differences below.

Basics: Every Door Direct Mail vs. data enriched/verified direct mail

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a bulk mailing option provided by the United States Postal Service to enable small businesses to deliver marketing materials along the selected routes.

Campaigns based on the enrichment and validation of mailing ZIP codes, street addresses, or other critical details are usually carried out through third-party tools. They are much better targeted and effective than EDDM but require the combination of data enrichment and verification software.

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How it works: Every Door Direct Mail vs. data enriched/verified mail campaigns

For Every Door Direct Mail, USPS provides an online mapping tool where you can schedule mailing, pick the nearby routes, and check out demographic data from related census reports (e.g., age range, average household size, and income). The pricing is fixed (from $0.164 to $0.191 per mailpiece), and the personalization capabilities are limited.

Data enrichment is the process during which your existing customer information is used to lawfully obtain additional details. This helps you learn more about consumers and tailor marketing direct mail. For example, you can learn a street address from latitude and longitude or vice versa. Data verification is the procedure taken to make sure that the address is mailable and correct. Data enrichment and validation are usually performed by integrating third-party tools that enable marketers to run data-driven personalized campaigns.

Who will benefit from it: Every Door Direct Mail vs. data enriched/verified mail campaigns

When it comes to Every Door Direct Mail, businesses have two options to choose from, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU. EDDM Retail is preferable for small businesses, realtors, restaurants, local political campaigns. EDDM BMEU requires a mailing permit for bulk delivery and, therefore, is recommended for large volume mailers.

retention mailer example

As to data enriched/verified mail, this approach is suitable for mailers that handle critical communications and need to ensure regulatory compliance. Financial institutions, utility companies, and other organizations that depend on mail accuracy and need to reach a specific person should consider using enriched and verified mail.

Automation in Direct Mail Services

Mailing ZIP code-based communications or EDDM postcards may not be enough for your business needs and marketing aspirations. If you seek targeted, cost-effective, and easily manageable direct mail, automation is the right choice. Inkit’s offline communication automation services automate the whole direct mail fulfillment cycle, from document rendering to automated delivery and tracking. You won’t have to visit the post office, take care of the printing, and complete many other mailing-related routines. Inkit also includes robust data enrichment and validation capabilities that help you clean and update your mailing lists.

Besides, unlike Every Door Direct Mail, automated mailing reaches out to specific recipients. You can even deliver postcards based on triggers, including online behaviors (e.g., the abandoned cart) or events (e.g., holidays). Such marketing and business communications are highly relevant and reach recipients when they are ready to take action. The advanced targeting allows you to avoid wasting money on mailing ZIP code and EDDM campaigns that are too vague.

The thing businesses value in automated direct mail most is that it’s universal. Inkit can deliver a single personalized postcard and run large-volume mailing campaigns. This makes it suitable for companies of any size and industry, be it a tech startup or a world-renowned bank.

Need advice on automating your mail? Contact our team to talk about your case.

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