Tag Archives: mail

Direct Mail is Trending Up

25 Feb

Many years ago, the predicted demise of direct mail captured marketing headlines everywhere. As a result, the downturn in direct mail volumes between 2006 and 2008 when other forms of customer engagement captured people’s attention and budgets during the economic slump surprised no one. The downturn was short-lived, however, as statistics show the volume of direct mail has stayed stable or increased each year since 2009. The United States Postal Service reports that Standard A mail volumes rose in fiscal year 2013 by 1.16 billion pieces to 80.96 billion pieces or 1.5%. This is in stark contrast to the continued decline of First Class mail which declined by 4.2% to 66.7 billion pieces in the same time period.upward trend

Direct mail is still trending up because it works. Why does it work? Take a look at these statistics recently published by Digital Marketing Ramblings.

  • 39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising.
  • Direct mail marketing yields an average of a 13-to-1 return on investment ratio.
  • Direct mail brings in 78% of donations for non-profit organizations.
  • Since 2004, direct mail marketing response rates have increased by 14%.
  • 44% of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving a direct mail piece.
  • Direct mail pieces are save-able. 48% of people save mail for future reference.

If you’ve been considering a marketing campaign, make direct mail part of your strategy. Combine it with a well-designed and personalized print piece that has an effective message and you will be pleased with your return on investment.

USPS to Implement Six-Day Package, Five-Day Mail

6 Feb

According to a variety of news sources, the US Postal Service (USPS) announced on Wednesday, February 6 that it will cease delivering first class letters and other mail on Saturdays beginning August 5, 2013. It will continue to deliver priority and express mail, packages, and mail order prescriptions.

Mail addressed to street addresses will be delivered Monday through Friday. Post Offices open on Saturdays will remain open and mail addressed to PO Boxes will be available for pickup on Saturdays.

The Postal Service continues to grow its shipping and package business as e-commerce retail sales continue to rise. With a 14‐percent growth in volume the last two years, the Postal Service feels justified in maintaining six days of package delivery. Also, by maintaining a six‐day package delivery schedule, the primary concerns related to switching to a five‐day mail delivery schedule have been addressed, such as the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs.

By implementing a six‐day package, five‐day mail delivery schedule, the Postal Service expects to save approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented, which still falls far short of the tens of billions it needs to cut. This is part of the overall cost cutting efforts the USPS has undertaken and was triggered by the default at midnight, February 6, 2013 on a $5.5 billion payment, according to a report first broken by CBS News. The money is required to fund health benefits to future retirees. This is not the first time the organization has defaulted on a payment. Last year it defaulted $11.1 billion worth of payments and at one point exhausted its borrowing authority with the U.S. Treasury.

In its last fiscal year, the Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion loss.

It is unclear whether the USPS actually has the authority to stop Saturday deliveries because it has previously said that approval from Congress would be necessary to do so. It has been seeking that permission for quite some time, but Congress has been reluctant to grant that permission. Although it is an agency of the US government, it operates on a business model more like a private corporation. The USPS does not receive any tax dollars for operating expenses, but must rely on the income from its sales and services.

Speaking about the decision to cut first class service on Saturdays, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said: “We are simply not in a financial position where we can continue to make six-day letter delivery.” The decision to halt Saturday delivery of most mail ends a 150 year tradition.

For more information, please visit usps.com

Postal Service Presents Modified Network Consolidation Plan

30 May

The United States Postal Service (USPS) in mid-May announced plans to move ahead with a modified plan to consolidate its network of 461 mail processing locations. The first phase of the consolidations will begin this summer, resulting in up to 140 consolidations through February 2013. Unless USPS circumstances change in the interim, a second and final phase of 89 consolidations is currently scheduled to begin in February 2014.

The Postal Service has committed to ensuring the consolidation process will not impact the election and fall mailing seasons. With that in mind, the consolidation process will start with 48 locations and is scheduled to be completed by late August.  No consolidation activities will take place from September through December 2012.  Consolidations of the other first phase locations will continue early next year.  A list of the 140 first phase locations is available at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/welcome.htm.  USPS Chief Operations Officer Megan Brennan stated, “The Postal Service will be communicating with our customers and employees in great detail.  We will work closely with our customers to ensure there are no surprises as we move forward.”

The Postal Service also announced it will be modifying its existing Service Standard for overnight delivery. A final rule will soon be published in the Federal Register which will shrink the geographic reach of overnight service to local areas and to enable consolidation activity in 2013. The change will allow the Postal Service to collapse the distance for overnight service to the distribution area served by a particular mail processing facility. The new rule would further tighten the overnight service delivery standard in 2014, enabling further consolidation of the Postal Service mail processing network.

When fully implemented in late 2014, the Postal Service expects the network consolidations and Service Standard changes to generate approximately $2.1 billion in annual cost reductions and lead to a total workforce reduction of up to 28,000 employees.

Changing the Way We Mail

16 Mar

Much has been in the news lately about the United States Postal Service (USPS). It has been financially struggling for some time now, and continues to show a loss each year. Changes are in the works to reverse this trend, and those changes will affect everyone.

United States Postal Service

USPS Logo

First class mail is one area likely to be hardest hit. For one thing, President Obama has endorsed the idea of discontinuing Saturday delivery. Additionally, due to postal network optimization, overnight mail delivery of first class mail will be a rarity, even if the recipient is in the next town over. Because of decreased overall volumes, more than half of the current mail sorting facilities are being reviewed for efficiency and may be closed. In September of 2011, the USPS announced a study of the operations of 252 of its 487 mail processing facilities. The goal is to reduce the number of processing centers to fewer than 200 by 2013. The remaining facilities will expand their work hours from an average of seven hours per day to up to 18 hours per day. This change in hours will impact the current cut-off times for mail delivery to Business Mail Entry Units (BMEUs). For first-class presort mail, entry times will change for 8 a.m. for mixed mail and noon for 5-digit presort mail.

Postal officials say delivery times of first class mail will change to 2 – 3 days, up from the current 1 – 3 days. Periodicals will change to 2 – 9 days, also up from the current 1 – 9 days. The USPS does say, however, that based on mail entry times, one-day delivery for local mail is still possible but only for presorted mail and only for mail to ZIP codes in your local Sectional Center Facility.

With these changes, the best way for mailers to reduce their delivery times is through presorting and separating the mail for quicker processing through the streamlined USPS network.

Mailers should be aware of these changes and continue to develop new strategies for working with them. At the very least, people need to allow more time for delivery of pieces; large-scale commercial mailers may also want to change production schedules in order to meet new entry times.

Benefits of National Change of Address (NCOA) Services

21 Feb

Each year, approximately 40 million Americans change their place of residence and/or place of business. While most people file an address change with the United States Postal Service (USPS), it can take years for businesses to update their existing mailing lists. As a result, mailings continue to be sent to old, outdated addresses which means not only wasted money, but lost opportunities and sales. The USPS estimates that at least 8% of standard mail is undeliverable because of incorrect addresses.

What is NCOA?

NCOA is a national system of updated addresses as filed with the USPS. In 2008, the USPS Move Update Standard mandated that all Standard Mail (letters, flats, parcels and not flat machinables) as well as automation- and presort-rate First Class Mail be updated within 95 days of mailing to qualify for discounted postage rates.

Undeliverable Mail

NCOA Reduces Undeliverable Mail

How NCOA Works

Mailing lists are first processed through NCOA to standardized them to conform to USPS requirements, including Zip +4. Once the address is standardized, an attempt is made to match the address against the master NCOA file which contains approximately 115 million records or 48 months of permanent address changes. Old and outdated addresses are replaced with current information. Since 1986, NCOA and its predecessors have saved mailers millions of dollars that would have otherwise been wasted in postage and materials.

Mailing Service Companies and NCOA

Quality mailing service companies make NCOA a standard part of doing business. The costs are minimal and the benefits are many:

  • Lower postage, printing and mail preparation costs
  • Reduction in delayed and undeliverable mail
  • Increased return on investment in mailings
  • Addresses are updated in real-time via the Internet
  • Meets USPS requirements

If all of these great reasons to do NCOA aren’t enough, it is important to know that penalties may be applied against companies who bypass NCOA standards. If your mailing house doesn’t talk to you about NCOA, you may want to ask them about it. If they are not adhering to the Move Update Standard, you are at risk of being penalized.

Improve Deliverability by Using Proper Addresses

19 Jan

It is important to address mail items correctly in order for them to be delivered as intended. Experts in the mail industry have several things they watch in order to help with deliverability. Here are some things we keep an eye on when working with addresses.

Street Names

Spell out street names rather than abbreviate them, and make sure the spelling is correct. For example, 123 MLK Dr should be 123 Martin Luther King Dr.

Insert a space, but no symbol, between a house number and street name. Eliminating the space or using a symbol will result in an “address not found” error during CASS Certification. For example, it is proper to use 143 15th St but not 143-15th St or 143Fifteenth St.

Undeliverable Mail

Improper Addressing Leads to Undeliverable Mail

Abbreviations

Be sure to use the correct abbreviation for street type. If you aren’t sure of the abbreviation, spell out the entire word. Correct abbreviations include ST, AVE, PKWY, TPKE, TER, CIR, and PL.

Use No., #, APT or STE when abbreviating Apartment or Suite.

Use County Rd, State Hwy, State Rd, and US Highway when appropriate and do not abbreviate by using St for State or Co or Cty for County. Used properly, the address reads 123 County Rd W, not 123W.

Street Directions

Do not use spaces in street directions. Proper use is NW and SE.

Using Fields and Spreadsheet Columns Correctly

Fields should consistently contain the same type of information. Examples of fields include Company Name, Contact, Street Address or PO Box, Street Address Line 2 (if needed), City, State, Zip.

Place PO Box address and Street Address in two different fields.

Do not include building names or other non-USPS address information on the line with the street address.

Box versus PO Box

Box 99 and P.O. Box 99 are two different things. Don’t assume it is okay to put the letters “PO” in front of a box number.

Zip Codes

Zip Codes should not contain any extra numbers, letters or symbols.

Rural Addresses

In some states, addresses include both a direction and an identifying number such as N1234 or 123N456. This type of address should be listed with no spaces between the letters and the numbers.

Military Addresses

For military addresses, use APO and FPO as the city, and AP and AE as the state abbreviation.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a great resource for looking up addresses. If you are unsure of an address, you can look it up on the USPS website:  http://usps.com. Go to “Look Up a Zip Code” feature to see the standard format of an address.

Ten Signs That Direct Mail is a Valid Marketing Tool

3 Nov

When social media began to take the marketing world by storm, many people wondered what would happen to direct mail. It is becoming apparent that direct mail will continue to be a main element in marketing plans. This is good news to those of us in the print and mail industries. Contrary to fears of the younger demographic being interested in only electronic forms of marketing, direct mail is actually more popular with the younger audience now than in previous years. According to the DMA 2011 Statistical Fact Book, more than 18 percent of people between the ages of 22 to 24 say they respond to mail. More importantly, that’s a 12.8% increase over the previous year’s figure.

Direct Mail

Direct Mail

Let’s look at some other facts and figures:

Part of Ideal Marketing Campaign

A recent Pitney Bowes Inc. survey found that 76% of small businesses agreed that the ideal marketing campaign includes a mix of digital and physical communications. (Deliver Magazine, October, 2011)

Boosts ROI

Integrating direct mail into marketing campaigns can boost ROI 20%, according to recent research in the UK. In U.S. dollars, the return increased from an average of $4.17 to $5.03 for every dollar spent. (Royal Mail Group, 2011)

Increases Consumer Awareness

Direct mail catalogs were the second highest ranking marketing effort that sparked a consumer’s awareness and familiarity with a product or service. The highest ranking marketing source was TV Commercials. (Google/Shopper Sciences, 2011)

Accepted Communication Method

A study of multi-channel marketing campaigns showed that direct mail was an effective communication method in the overall marketing mix of an auto dealership. The dealerships’ customers were accepting of more than twice as much direct mail (as compared to emails and phone calls) before spending levels began to decrease. (Journal of Marketing, July, 2011)

Consumers Want Promotional Mail

Recent research by Nielsen, a measurement and information leader, showed that 87% of shoppers say they want to receive sales and promotions via direct mail. (NielsenWire, 2011)

Number of Standard Mail Users Increases

In 2009, 85.9 of merchants sent Standard Mail pieces addressed to specific households. This number is up from 72.1% in 1987. (2011 DMA Statistical Fact Book)

Cost Efficient

Direct mail is cost-efficient. When select media were measured according to a cost per order/lead, catalogs at $47.61 per order/lead were more cost-effective than either email ($53.85) or paid search  ($99.47). (2011 DMA Statistical Fact Book)

Effective for Fund-Raising

The typical non-profit organization receives more than three-quarters of its total gives through direct mail and only 10% of its gifts online. Direct mail acquisition is also responsible for three-quarters of all new donors. (Blackbaud, 2011)

Four Out of Five Households Review Advertising Mail

According to a U.S. Postal Service study, 81% of households read or scan the advertising mail they receive. Almost everyone has used a coupon or flier they’ve received in the mail. (Mail Moves America, 2010)

And last, but not least . . .

Direct Mail Share of Budget

The share of total advertising dollars devoted to direct mail has remained near 12% for much of the past 20 years, even with new media introduced into the mix. (Deliver Magazine, October, 2011)

Direct Mail Services FAQs

3 Sep

Here at Mediascope, we recognize that working with direct mail may be confusing, especially when complying with the United States Postal Service (USPS) regulations. To help you out, we have put together a list of the questions we are most frequently asked. If you don’t see the answer to the question you have in mind, please call us a 1-800-866-0844 and we will be glad to help you.

Q: Do I need a permit in order to mail at discounted rates?

A: Mediascope has permits in Winona, MN and La Crosse, WI. Both permits may used by our clients for either First Class Presort or Standard Presort as long as the cost of postage is paid to us  prior to delivery of the mailing to USPS. Please contact us for more information on non-profit and other types of mailings.

Q: How long will it take Mediascope to prepare my mailing?

A: From the time we receive the last component necessary to complete a mailing, we generally request two to three business days to complete a project, depending on the quantity and type of work requested. We will discuss the specifics of your project with you and work together to establish a timeline to meet your needs.

Q: Once the mailing is delivered to the post office, how long will it take for my mailing to be delivered?

A: Several factors may affect the delivery time frame of your mailing, including class of mail, destination, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) designated peak periods.

Outside of overnight priority mailing, First Class Presort is one of the quickest forms of presorted mailing, generally being delivered to the address holder within five to seven business days. Standard Presort mailings typically take seven to ten business days for delivery nationwide. Although Standard Mail pieces may take longer to reach their destinations, cost savings are available by using Standard Mail.

As with any business, the United State Postal Service experiences peak mailing periods which could affect the timeframe in which mail is delivered. Peak times include the December holiday and during recognized political seasons.

Q: What is the minimum requirement for First Class Presort Mail?

A: In order to mail pieces at First Class Presort Mail discounts, you need at least 500 pieces of mail.

Q: What is the minimum requirement for Standard Mail?

A: In order to mail pieces at Standard Mail (bulk) discounts, you need at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds worth of mail.

Q: If I mail using Standard Mail rates, will my mail be handled differently at Mediascope than if I mail at First Class rates?

A: Not at all. All mail is handled the same here at Mediascope, regardless of the type of mailing. The only differences between Standard and First Class mail are the postage costs and the estimated delivery time once we deliver your project to the USPS.  We can also deliver to Bulk Mail Centers and Sectional Center Facilities to reduce postage and increase delivery times.

Q: What about the mail piece design?

A: We encourage you to include us in the design of each mail piece.  The size, paper weight, binding type, and placement of mailing panels can all impact inkjetting, tabbing, and postage rates. We can work with you to help keep those expenses as low as possible while still achieving the maximum benefit from your mailing.

Q: What is NCOA?

A: Starting in 2008, as part of a Move Update initiative by the USPS, all databases and mailing lists must have been updated with the correct deliverable addresses within 95 days of the mail date. Penalties are assigned to mailers who have not updated their databases within that time frame. Mediascope provides NCOA (National Change of Address) services to fulfill this requirement for you. While there are other ways to comply with Move Update, we recommend NCOA as a cost-effective means of fulfilling this regulation. Using NCOA also allows you the opportunity to update your lists internally for other usages.

Q: How can I find out more information about your services?

A: Visit our website at www.mediascopeinc.com to learn more about ways in which we can be of assistance to you.

Postage Rates Set to Increase in January

21 Jul

Earlier this month, the Postal Service outlined the content of the price increase it filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Overall, the increase will average 5.6%.

First-Class Mail will rise 5.4% on average.  The price for retail letters and cards will increase two cents each; presorted letter prices will increase an average of 2.1 cents, with no change in the additional ounce rate.  FCM presorted flats will jump about 12%, on average, while a new rate band for FCM parcels will apply the same price through three ounces.

Standard Mail prices will increase an average of 5.6%.  The increase for letters and flats will be about 5.0% and 5.1%, respectively, while CR will go up 4.9%, and HD/Saturation letters and flats/parcels will increase by 4.8% and 4.4%, respectively.  STD parcels will jump 23.3%, however, because they currently do not cover their costs.  Other classification changes were as well.

Periodicals will increase by 8%, less than enough to move them to profitability.

Package Services will increase 7%, except for BPM flats that will rise only 5%.

Special Services will go up an average of 5.2%.

The Postal Service acknowledges the price increase will impact customers, but expects the total net benefit of the higher prices to be about $2.3 billion, an amount that will reduce the agency’s anticipated FY2011 loss to about $4.7 billion.

The formal filing was completed on July 6th, and the PRC has 90 days to respond (i.e., by October 4).  Implementation is planned for January 2, 2011.