5 ways to be a postal optimization superhero for your direct mail customers

While most direct mail marketers will look to offset rising postage costs by cutting circulation, bigger opportunity lies in optimizing postage discounts.

Wed Apr 22 09:09:05 EDT 2015

When we see the next (inevitable) USPS rate increase, you can expect at least one of these responses from direct mailers: Cuts in circulation volume, reductions in production value quality, no change, they’ll just absorb the costs, or improved optimization for postage discounts.

Which makes the most sense as a business decision? Why, it’s optimizing for postage discounts, of course. While the majority of marketers will look to offset the rising cost of postage and retain sales revenues by cutting circulation and reducing printing production values, the true opportunity lies in optimizing postage discounts. Here are five different approaches to doing this so that you can save real money and offset at least some (maybe all) of the sting of the next postage increase.

1. Address Management

Data hygiene is the first place to optimize for postal discounts, and it’s worth repeating right here that doing this will save postage and reduce waste. Bad addresses, duplicates and/or sending more than one piece of the same mail to a household or business is wasteful and costly.

Even a mailer’s best efforts to keep a customer list clean can’t guarantee an accurate list. People move. People change marital status. Customer service staff can make typos, too.

If you use rented files, merge/purge and deduping is essential. Make sure to monitor which lists have high duplication so you can give special attention to their output reports.

2. Print and Insertion Production

What looks like two steps (print production and insertion) is actually one. Use the envelope size that the USPS can most optimally mail and use machines for inserting even small runs so you get the best pricing on postage. If you are tempted to use a lower quality of paper, test it first. Don’t compromise on color and personalization. Outer envelopes with color are known to get more people inside the envelope (and generate higher response).

3. Presort

Lift the burden of sorting mail from the USPS and you can save significantly on postage. Group your mail in the same bundle or tray to presort by detailed ZIP codes. In fact, the right presort resource even updates data hygiene; new address changes can be relabeled with the new forwarding address to save both delivery time and postage.

4. Intelligent Mail

Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology uses longer (over 65 digits!) ZIP codes for end-to-end mail tracking. It identifies every piece and supports several USPS services, such as tracking both pre- and post-delivery. IMb also lets mailers take advantage of deeper postal discounts, plus enables better tracking for those who rely on call centers and customer support for inbound calls.

5. Commingling

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the added step of commingling chews up time. Spending one or two days to commingle can actually shave off a few days of delivery time since it increases efficiencies for the USPS. It doesn't matter the configuration of the direct mail package, or if it was stamped, metered or a postage permit was used, commingling mail saves money.

Take the Lead!

Since we can expect that postage will continue to rise, mailers will keep looking for ways to shrink circulation or lower production values to reduce cost. Another risk is that they may view online channels as a less expensive platform, which could create a shift of direct mail marketing investment in their direction.

Marketers focus on channels where they can maximize their marketing investments. Direct mail is still known to produce the highest response and conversion rates. Service bureaus can take the lead by assuming responsibility for mastering the complexities of achieving postage savings. Help direct mail marketers get every savings available and your mailing customers will appreciate your efforts to optimize for postage discounts.

Make sure you’re reaching your audience. Learn more about Address Management solutions that may work for you. Learn about print and inserting solutions. Commingle, Presort and Full-service IMb with Pitney Bowes Presort Services.