Beat Postage Increases Through Improved Mail Delivery
On May 11th 2009, the U.S. Postal Service will implement their annual postage rate changes. The First Class Postcard rate went up 1¢ to 28¢ while stamps for letters increased by 2¢ to 44¢. For mailers who take advantage of the discounts made possible by postal presorting, the good news is that these rates will generally be going up by only 1¢ or even less.
Of course, in today’s economy where every cent you spend matters, it’s more important than ever to make each piece count. That means going the extra mile to ensure that all of your mailers are delivered accurately and on time. Your customers and prospects can’t respond to your offer if they don’t receive your mail piece. And they won’t get that mail piece if you aren’t doing the simple things needed to make sure your mailing addresses are complete, correct and updated.
Every piece of mail that doesn’t reach your customers or prospects can be very costly. First, you lose a potential sale. You’ve also wasted money on printing, postage and mailing preparation. So with a little effort, you can more than overcome postage increases by ensuring every mailer reaches its target and produces results for your business.
Commit to Ongoing Address Hygiene
Address hygiene refers to the process of getting as well as maintaining accurate and complete mailing list addresses. Like everything else about direct mail, attention to detail is crucial. The better your list hygiene practices are, the greater the deliverability of your mail and marketing message.
Whether your list comes from a master customer database, simple mailing list program or sophisticated CRM system, incomplete addresses could result in higher postage every time you mail. It can also lead to delayed delivery or mail being returned as undeliverable. There are several factors that affect hygiene:
- Accurately gathering and entering new addresses
- Including all elements of the address, such as:
- Street number
- Proper spelling of the street name and city
- Secondary addresses, apartment or suite #’s, etc.
- Directionals: North, South, East & West
- Zip Code
- Keeping current with address changes
Mailers who use “Quality Addresses” are rewarded with the deepest automation postage discounts. The Postal Service defines quality address as having all the elements that enable fully automated processing, which in turn allows for accurate delivery without depending on a Letter Carrier’s knowledge of a route and who is on it. Below is a chart showing these elements and the errors we often find when processing client mailing lists. For a detailed explanation, review the U.S. Postal Service Addressing Standards.
Another money waster is not keeping up with address changes. Forwarded mail is delayed, which may cause customers to miss your special event or sale. Undeliverable and returned mailers are costly, lost sales opportunities. And both can impact the success and return on investment (ROI) of your direct mail efforts. However, making sure you have the most current addresses BEFORE you mail is very easy.
NCOA Link® processing taps into a USPS database containing change-of-address (COA) notices submitted within the last 48 months. This file includes the “moved from” and the “moved to” addresses, as well as moves with no forwarding address. NCOA Link® matches your mailing list against this file before your mail pieces are sent. When a match is identified, records with new addresses are updated and those listed as moves without a forwarding address are deleted. The result is a list with the highest chance of accuracy, timely delivery and minimal wasted postage.
At Modern Postcard, our goal is to help you launch successful direct mail campaigns. That’s why we’re pleased to include NCOALink® change-of-address processing, using the complete 48-month database, at no additional charge every time you use our Mailing Services. In addition to updating addresses for your mailing, we also send you the address updates in an electronic file so you can update your master mailing lists for use with further marketing efforts.
The Time to Start is Now
Ensuring quality addresses takes a commitment on the part of everyone responsible for data entry and list maintenance at your company. Take time to emphasize the cost and delivery benefits of having complete and accurate information. It also never hurts to read addresses back to people if they’re giving them to you in person or over the phone. Also, get in the habit of asking for directionals and secondary addresses. Your customers won’t mind, and you’ll be assured of having this very important information.
Of course, if you ever have a question about keeping an accurate mailing list, the mailing experts at Modern Postcard are here to help. Just pick up the phone and give us a call!