The new USPS rate-setting authority allows the Postal Service to adjust postage rates more aggressively than in the past. Analysts are advising mailers to prepare for twice-per-year rate increases for the next few years. To avoid spending more than necessary, mailers must take every step possible to decrease the impact of postage rate hikes. Some strategies include taking advantage of postal promotions, improving address accuracy, refining targeting, and eliminating duplicates. The good news is that an organization’s steps to reduce postage costs result in a better response rate, faster mail delivery, and increased revenue.
- Use a postage meter. You can save 3 to 4 cents on each mail piece simply by using a postage meter rather than applying stamps. Meters have features that will save money, such as built-in accounting. Track postage and charge it back to clients. Stamps also have a way of magically disappearing from the mailroom. That is not the case with metered postage. Employees who want to mail a letter must key in a password. Most meters come with an electronic scale which is infinitely more accurate than the spring-loaded variety, reducing over-posting.
- Fold it. Two or three sheets of paper folded and sent in a business envelope cost about half for the same sheets sent flat in a 9” x 12” envelope. Sending your documents flat looks nice, but costs a lot more. Companies can enjoy similar savings by replacing letters in envelopes with postcards or sealed self-mailers. Lower costs to prepare the mail can offset postage increases.
- Clean your list aggressively. Mailers can take several measures to make sure mail gets to the correct address and the right person. In addition, a clean address is necessary to qualify for the USPS discount programs.
- When manually keying in addresses, use postal standards and abbreviations. When keyed in, the cleaner an address is, the easier it is to maintain. Addressing standards can be found here https://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/welcome.htm. Some organizations connect their software that collects manually keyed addresses to postal standardization and verification routines via APIs.
- Process your list with CASS-Certified address standardization software. This software corrects misspellings, directionals (north, south, east, west), and suffixes (drive, street, circle). It verifies the address, updates the ZIP Code, and adds the ZIP+4 code. Today, machines read delivery addresses more often than humans, so all data must be present and correct.
- Use a move updating process such as National Change of Address (NCOA). Over 15% of the country’s population moves each year. Your software provider offers a cost-effective NCOA service you can use to find customers that have moved. Do this frequently. Mailers seeking automation postage discounts must update their files a minimum of every 90 days. A better bet to catch all moves is processing data files against the NCOA database every 30 days.
- Continue mailing to your customers, even if they have moved. They are the people that already have a relationship with your company. Address cleansing is required for postal presorting, a discount program discussed next. Firstlogic’s address correction software is Address IQ®
- Presort your mail. The entire USPS nationwide mailing process is predicated on one thing. Sortation. The Postal Service spends 90% of its time sorting the mail so it can travel efficiently through distribution centers and down to delivery routes. Your mailing management software can sort your data so that pieces are printed in the proper sequence for mail delivery at discount prices.
- One mail piece per prospect. De-duplicate your mailing list. The average mailing list is 5% duplicated. Any percent is too much. This is especially crucial for non-profit mailers. Asking for donations but sending three identical solicitations looks wasteful. The ROI on duplicate mailpieces is less than zero. Money spent on materials, production, and postage cannot be recovered. Matching and consolidation for mailing list data can be complicated. Use Firstlogic’s Match IQ®.
- Suppress. You may have a responsive list, but unfortunately, some folks are in prison, living in nursing homes, or have passed away. People in these groups probably cannot buy your products or services. Your software provider can help you suppress these mailing records. This saves printing and postage. Money spent to mail materials to someone who cannot respond is a colossal waste of money—especially at rising postage rates.
- Enhance. Your mailing software provider can enhance name and address files with demographic or psychographic data to segment mailing lists and improve response. See what you can do to improve your lists. List suppression and enhancement are accomplished with Enhance IQ® from Firstlogic.
- Check your class. Are you mailing communications that you can send via Marketing Mail rather than First Class? Many promotional messages are okay for Marketing Mail rather than First Class. Check with your USPS representative to be sure your application meets the criteria for Marketing Mail, which can be at much lower postage rates. Note that you should still mail time-sensitive critical communications First Class, using the tips above to keep postage costs reasonable.
Firstlogic Software to Save Postage Costs
Firstlogic Solutions® is a provider of CASS-Certified and NCOA address updating and standardization software solutions. We are the leading SAP® Partner specializing in delivering Firstlogic Data Quality and SAP Data Services (DS) solutions to data-driven companies. Firstlogic Data Quality and SAP Data Quality software combine file preparation, data profiling, address quality, geocoding, data enhancement, matching, and consolidation. For over 35 years, customers have leveraged the power of Firstlogic’s data quality platform.
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