SOFTWARE & SERVICES FOR BETTER QUALITY, PRODUCTION, AND WORKFLOW
2019 USPS PROMOTIONS AND INCENTIVES: A LOOK AT THE DETAILS AND DEADLINES. PAGE 11
AVOID THESE COMMON MISTAKES IN YOUR MAIL PIECE DESIGN. PAGE 24
THE PRESIDENT'S USPS TASK FORCE REPORT: A WISH LIST OR JUST WISHFUL THINKING? PAGE 12
TO IMPROVING YOUR MAILER SCORECARD. PAGE 22
TABLE OF CONTENTS
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2019 | VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note
Off to a Great Start! By Amanda Armendariz
06 Real-Life Management Execution: The Missing Link to Success! By Wes Friesen
08 The Trenches What’s on Your Website? By Mike Porter
10 Postal Affairs Important Dates and To-Do Items for 2019 By Bob Schimek
11 Software Byte
The USPS rate changes that just took effect are a sign of things to come — and instead of feeling frustrated, mailers should feel optimistic. By Mark J. Rheaume
22 Want to Improve your Mailer Scorecard?
Six tips for investigating and correcting errors.
By Nancy Garrison and Kurt Ruppel
24 Avoiding Common Mistakes in Mail Piece Design The fonts, colors, and envelopes you use can have a major impact, for better or worse, on your direct mail campaign. Here’s how to ensure the choices you make are the right ones. By Rob Hanks 4
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By Jeff Peoples
12 Connecting Point
FEATURES 20 What Lies Ahead for the Mail Industry?
USPS Promotion/Incentive Programs for 2019
26 Take Your Mail Piece Design to the Next Level: Don’t Be Afraid of Innovation The recently announced USPS promotions are a great way to incorporate new technologies into your mailings while saving money and increasing response rates. Even if you've never used some of this technology before, now is the perfect time to start. By John Leininger
28 ICYMI: How Will the January 27 USPS Rate Increase Impact Your Budget?
If you missed our January e-newsletter, here’s a look at some of the highlights of the January 27 rate increase. By Adam Lewenberg
The President's Task Force Report — A Wish List or Just Wishful Thinking? By Anita Pursley
14 Direct Mail Evolution
USPS Postage Discounts and Direct Mail Technology By Ferris Coates
SPONSORED CONTENT: 07 Improve Your Operations with World-Class Data Quality 15 Address Quality Is More Important than Ever 16 Software and Services: Ensuring Mail Piece Success 30 2019 Trends in the Mailing Industry
EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz email@example.com Editorial Director Allison Lloyd firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Ferris Coates, Christine J. Erna, Wes Friesen, Nancy Garrison, Rob Hanks, John Leininger, Adam Lewenberg, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Anita Pursley, Mark Rheaume, Kurt Ruppel, Bob Schimek Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman email@example.com Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 firstname.lastname@example.org Design Kelli Cooke RB Publishing Inc. PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: email@example.com SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Call 608.241.8777 Fax 608.241.8666 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 www.ReprintPros.com All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2019 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 32 Issue 1] is published seven times per year (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc.,PO Box 259098 Madison WI 537259098, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
OFF TO A GREAT START! BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ
o far, 2019 is starting off on the right foot. I always love the sense of new beginnings that a fresh calendar year brings. Personal and professional resolutions seem much more in reach (although I’m still writing this editor’s note the day before we go to print, as always, so I guess there are some things that never change. What can I say? At least I’m honest with myself when it comes to my goals for the year!) In the mailing industry specifically, we’re seeing some bright starts to 2019. Yes, there was a USPS rate change, much like every year. And yes, at first, it’s tempting to complain about the increased costs this will bring to a mailer’s postage budget. But if you drill down into the impacts of this rate increase, you’ll see that these changes can allow some very real opportunities for mailers and their communication strategies. Mark Rheaume explores this in greater detail in his article on page 20. Then, of course, there is the fact that we finally have a functioning Board of Governors again and they have approved postage-saving promotions for 2019. This is big news, since saving two percent on
your postage spend is significant. Plus, these promotions are a great way to try out some new tactics to see if you can increase your engagement rates and deepen your relationships with your customers. Most of the promotions are repeats from previous years, but there is one new offering that deals with Informed Delivery. If you’re not already participating in Informed Delivery, this is a great way to try it out, see if it allows you to interact with your customer base in new ways, and save money in the process. So, if you haven’t already, resolve to take part in these offerings this year, and let’s make 2019 one of the best the mail sector has seen yet. We truly believe that these promotional offerings will provide many benefits (cost-saving and otherwise) to mailers, so we’ve covered them pretty extensively in this issue, but if you ever need additional information, the USPS PostalPro website is a fantastic resource. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
EXECUTION: THE MISSING LINK TO SUCCESS! BY WES FRIESEN
he ability to execute — to implement and carry out our plans — is the key ingredient in the recipe of success for us and our teams. The ability to execute well provides a competitive advantage and helps us stand out. Want to improve your ability to execute well and rise above the crowd? Let’s explore 10 keys to help us further improve our execution. 1) Provide strong, positive leadership. Good leaders explain well the mission of their team — which explains why the team exists. The best leaders also participatively create a strong vision of where the team is headed, a picture of a desired better future. And they develop an action plan (strategies) of how to reach and achieve the desired vision. 2) Emphasize the value of a “follow-through” culture. Having an action plan and strategies to reach our goals and fulfill our vision is essential, but more is needed. We need to develop a culture of “follow-through,” where team members are focused on executing the plans. 3) Build team camaraderie and unity. Intentionally working to develop a team mindset of “one for all and all for one” will obviously help our execution. Research has shown that teams that build a strong sense of camaraderie have greater unity and significantly outperform teams that lack it.
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4) Involve your team members. Participation leads to greater buy-in and better quality of results compared to leaders trying to figure out everything on our own. Asking our front-line team members about the best ways to do the work will lead to greater buy-in and better work processes. Execution will improve as a result. 5) Set clear goals and priorities. The most successful leaders excel at clarifying expectations. We should ensure that the goals and priorities are well understood, and continually reinforce them. By doing so, we will be benefiting our key stakeholders and helping the team earn the recognition they deserve. 6) Measure and celebrate progress. One key principle I have learned is “success breeds success.” We need to have targeted performance measurements so everybody is working together for the same results. We then need to hold ourselves accountable by measuring the actual results against the targets. And when the team is meeting or exceeding targets, we should recognize, reward, and celebrate the progress. 7) Reward desired behaviors. We should recognize and reward our teams when they are meeting milestones and goals. At the same time, we need to reward individuals when they exhibit the behaviors we seek.
8) Plan for the unexpected. As we all know, “stuff happens.” Sometimes we have unexpected problems with materials, equipment, vendors, employees… even the weather! Having contingency plans in place before problems occur is crucial to meeting our goals and obligations. This preparation also increases the team’s confidence and reduces the stress level when the inevitable problems do occur. 9) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. We need to give feedback often so people know how they are doing — both when they are meeting expectations and when they are not. We also need to communicate well about everything relevant to a team and avoid people filling in communication gaps with the “rumor mill,” which can really dampen morale fast. 10) Just do it! I love this motto from Nike. Talk by itself can be cheap; we need to be people of action and help our teams be action-oriented. Following is a simplified three-step process to getting the results we desire: a) Build the strategy b) Translate the strategy into the everyday work c) Execute the strategy Let me share a closing thought from Steve Jobs, who said, “To me, ideas are worth nothing, unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” I wish you success in executing well and experiencing even greater success for you and your team! Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high-performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. He is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you. Wes can be contacted at email@example.com or at 971.806.0812.
IMPROVE YOUR OPERATIONS WITH WORLD-CLASS DATA QUALITY It’s no secret that the quality of your address database makes all the difference when it comes to effective direct marketing campaigns. Not only is getting your or your client’s mail pieces to the right audience in a timely manner the number one factor that impacts ROI, but it enhances the “mail moment” for consumers — ultimately leading to better results for omnichannel campaigns. As all marketers know, the most influential campaigns have multiple opportunities to engage the consumer and have them act on your offer. Direct mail is the foundation of these omnichannel campaigns, getting the message directly into the hands of consumers. This mail piece starts the conversation, piques their interest, or further builds on existing brand loyalty. Following up with a secondary mail piece and a digital component is a proven way to increase the overall ROI of campaigns. But, all of this effort would be ineffective if the first mail piece has incorrect data.
The importance of data quality doesn’t just stop at campaigns, but it affects your whole operation. So, you may be asking yourself, what are some other benefits of enhanced address standardization? REDUCES UNDELIVERABLE MAIL: Undeliverable as Addressed, or UAA, mail is a plague on the mailing and printing industry. It costs companies money in postage, resources, and labor hours, and greatly reduces ROI on campaigns. Not to mention it can affect a brand’s relationship with consumers — all negatively impacting the bottom line. ALLOWS BUSINESSES TO GROW: Getting the right communications to the right audience ensures that consumers have information they may need, or special promotions to act on. Missed communications can lead to frustration by both parties, and mail pieces delivered to an address that does not have the correct name or information are more likely to be ignored.
But how can you ensure your data is up to quality standards and compliant? With the reality of millions of Americans moving every year, but only 60% of them filing a Change of Address with the USPS®, companies need to use the most advanced address standardization tools in order to find their target audience and effectively communicate with them. Which is why integrating data quality services into your process is the key. BCC Software, the industry leader in postal software and data quality solutions, licenses more data than any other mailing software provider. Which means when you work with BCC Software, you get peace of mind knowing you have access to the most up-to-date data available. Remaining innovative and always offering best-in-class solutions to customers, BCC Software further expanded upon its current address standardization offerings and recently launched COMPLIANCE+™ — a powerful data quality solution that combines both USPS and industry tools to get the most complete, correct, and current address possible. COMPLIANCE+ takes outdated records and returns standardized addresses with the most and correct information. For more information about COMPLIANCE+ and how it works, visit bccsoftware.com/mst or call 800.337.0442.
800.337.0442 firstname.lastname@example.org bccsoftware.com
WHAT’S ON YOUR WEBSITE? BY MIKE PORTER
ebsites are still important marketing tools, so have you looked at yours recently? An unscientific audit of random print/mail service provider websites by this author revealed plenty of improvement opportunities. Prospective clients visit service provider websites to decide if a company is a good candidate to do their outsourced print and mail work. Social media posts, direct mail, or search engines often drive prospects to the site. Once you’ve done all the work to attract their attention, doesn’t it make sense to make sure your website is doing all it can to encourage prospects to take the next step in the sales process? If your website content and formatting is outdated, or it looks like everyone else’s in the business, you could be losing customers without even knowing they were interested in your company. This is a good time of the year to assess your site’s appearance and content. Enlist the help of people you know from outside your company and ask them to visit your site and give you an honest opinion. You’ll want to get answers to questions like these: } Does the content accurately portray the services you provide? } Would the average website visitor be inspired to navigate beyond your home page? } Is the value you provide to clients abundantly clear? } Do all the links work?
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} Does anything on your site detract from the image you want to portray? } Do you see outdated content, such as information about old postage rates or mailing requirements? } Have you included a simple call to action that doesn’t involve talking with a sales representative as the first step? } If you are asking for contact information, are you offering something of value in return? Content Matters Website content influences B2B buyers. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey, 49% of buyers rely on content more today than a year ago to research and make purchase decisions. Buyers prefer content
that focuses on ROI trends and tactics. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents accessed case studies within the last 12 months. Other vendor-created content mentioned in the survey includes white papers, blogs, webinars, eBooks, infographics, animated video, and interactive content. B2B buyers say content producers should concentrate on the value their companies can provide and not so much on product specifics. They would also like to see companies use more data and research to support the claims they make about their products and services. Print and mail service providers can do this through items like case studies, customer testimonials, and statistics. Publish Enough to Make a Difference Adding one or two pieces of quality content to your website is better than nothing, but it won’t be enough. Demand Gen Report’s study revealed 78% of B2B buyers consume more than two pieces of content before they engage with a sales representative, and 17% of buyers look at more than seven pieces! If your site includes only promotional or marketing content, buyers won’t return as they compare competitors and decide which companies will make the short list of potential vendors for their document production and distribution business. You need a diverse library of content appealing to buyers at the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel or you will lose potential clients along the way. At many sites I examined, the web pages emphasized services the vendor provided.
THINGS YOU CAN START ON TODAY TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE MORE EFFECTIVE Highlight your company’s approaches to solving customer problems Decide on a low-commitment, high-value call to action like a white paper or eBook download Make gated content easier to access (require less information on lead generation forms) Add customer case studies and testimonials that support your marketing claims Make a list of six topics you can cover in a blog
I saw several lists that included items like printing, folding, inserting, mailing, and NCOA processing. Other sites were product-oriented, promoting brochures, flyers, bills, postcards, and statements. Also popular on service provider websites are listings of the equipment the company uses, the number of employees, or the production area square footage. With a few variations, most of the websites publicized the same things in similar ways. While equipment and service details can be useful to customers seeking specific capabilities, they don’t answer the question most prospects have come to the website to ask, which is, “Could this be the best company to handle my work?” You must offer more substantial content like eBooks, case studies, or white papers to inspire confidence and communicate value. Stay Top-of-Mind I recommend my clients publish short informational pieces, such as blog posts,
at regular intervals. Consistently producing new content helps maintain brand awareness as new buyers research your company and the competition. Regularly posting content on your website is also a positive factor influencing search engine optimization. Consistent publishing helps more people find your company using common industry keywords. Seventy-one percent of B2B buyers in the Demand Gen Report survey said they consumed blog content during the purchase process, which says something about the impact this simple content plays in the overall sales picture. Most of the marketing talk we hear these days is focused on social media. It seems if you’re not Facebooking, Pinteresting, Tweeting, and Snap Chatting, you might as well not be marketing. I don’t think that’s true. I doubt many companies in our industry are signing new customers because of their social media posts alone. Every prospective client will visit your web-
site before they sign a contract — probably before they even agree to speak to your sales representatives. You’d better be giving them a reason to stay on your site long enough to understand the benefits your company can deliver, or you’ll lose them to a competitor who has done so. If you don’t believe in the power of your website as a factor in attracting new business, ask your newest customers if they visited your site before they contacted your organization. It would surprise me if they didn’t. Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients develop and nurture leads through his PMC Content Services division. He offers plenty of free advice about content marketing for the document industry, including a mini-course (pmccontentservices.com/minicourse1901) on how to write and use customer case studies. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at email@example.com.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
IMPORTANT DATES AND TO-DO ITEMS FOR 2019 BY BOB SCHIMEK
ow that we have survived the busy mid-term elections, the holiday peak mailing season, and 2019 has officially arrived, it is time to focus on some resolutions for success. First, complete your migration to the new Enterprise Payment System (EPS). The Postal Service is actively migrating customers from the legacy CAPS (Centralized Account Processing System) system to EPS. If you have any CAPS accounts, it is likely that someone at your company has been contacted by your local district to discuss getting migrated. The deadline to complete (April 1, 2019) is quickly approaching (no fooling!). The new EPS will require every business mailer to establish an Enterprise Payment Account (EPA). The first step is to request enrollment, which includes receiving an invitation code. Since this migration deals with real money, it is important that the correct person at your business is creating and configuring your EPA account, which is the purpose of the invitation code. You can request your invitation code from your local Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) or from Postalone@ usps.com. It could take a couple of days to receive your invitation code and get access to the new system. If you have multiple accounts to migrate, start with doing just one first. There are many advantages and benefits of the new system. These include
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mobile check deposit, online account management, enhanced reporting, and streamlined accounting processes. However, like any new system, it will take a little time to get comfortable with it and determine if there are any internal processes that will need to be adjusted for postage tracking, reporting, and reconciliation. If you are a mail service provider, make sure you align the timing of the migration with your mail owners to prevent any issues with electronic documentation and postage payment. The only exception for this deadline is for letter and flat mailers that are also parcel mailers who are using Electronic Verification System (eVS). The Postal Service is currently rebuilding eVS and did not want to migrate the current legacy system onto EPS. To prevent forcing some mailers to use two different systems, these parcel mailers will be allowed to stay on the legacy CAPS system until the new eVS platform is ready. For additional information on the details involved in the migration, go to PostalPro and search on Enterprise Payment Account Creation for a fact sheet on the process. Ok, What’s Next? Second, do an Informed Delivery Mailing; actually, do several of them! Having a full calendar of Postal Service promotions for 2019 is a welcome change. Many of the promotions are similar to the ones that were offered in 2017, with one nota-
ble change: The Postal Service is offering Informed Delivery as its own standalone promotion. Doing an Informed Delivery campaign with First-Class or Marketing Mail letter and flat mailings will provide a two percent discount on postage at the time of mailing. If you have not done anything with Informed Delivery, invest the time now to learn how this program works, the requirements of doing a campaign, and understand the impact it can have on your mailing. Registration opens on July 15, 2019, the official start of the promotion is September 1, and it will be available to mailers until the end of November. Third, prepare for the implementation of dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. The Postal Service is implementing new DIM pricing for Retail and Commercial Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and Commercial Parcel Select products. The Postal Service initially proposed that this change be included in the January 27, 2019 price increase, but the proposal received strong pushback from the mailing industry. Many companies lock down systems as they head into the busy holiday mailing season, so a change of this size and magnitude could not be accommodated. After discussions with the industry, the Postal Service agreed to delay the implementation until June 23, 2019 to allow the necessary system changes to be made and new equipment to be purchased (if needed). Got It! Anything Else? Finally, register and attend the National Postal Forum (NPF). The rate of change only continues to increase, and 2019 will be no different. The NPF is a great resource to learn about all the changes that are taking place, the benefits they can provide, and how your business can take advantage of them. The information in the general sessions (not to mention over 100 educational workshops) makes the NPF a great industry venue to learn about all the changes taking place. Complete these important items and you (and your company!) will be well on your way to having a successful 2019. Bob Schimek is Senior Director of Postal Affairs at Quadient and Industry Vice-Chair of the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USPS PROMOTION/ INCENTIVE PROGRAMS FOR 2019 BY JEFF PEOPLES
reat news for marketers and mailers! The United States Postal Service (USPS) is once again offering mailing incentive/ promotion programs for 2019. Both the USPS and the mailing industry are very excited about these programs, as there were no similar programs in 2018. These promotion programs began in 2011 with the first Mobile Barcode incentive and have continued with added programs each year up until 2018. Due to the lack of an active USPS Board of Governors, no incentive programs were introduced for 2018. The Promotions There is a total of six promotions offered in 2019, five of which are repeat promotions from previous years (the sole new offering for 2019 is the Informed Delivery promotion). The details for these promotions are as follows: Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mail Piece Engagement Promotion } Registration Period: December 15, 2018 – July 31, 2019 } Promotion Period: February 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019 } Eligible: USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion } Registration Period: January 15, 2019 – August 31, 2019 } Promotion Period: March 1, 2019 – August 31, 2019 } Eligible: First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail
Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion } Registration Period: February 15, 2019 – March 31, 2019 } Promotion Period: April 1, 2019 – June 30, 2019 } Eligible: BRM, CRM, and Share Mail Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion } Registration Period: May 15, 2019 – December 31, 2019 } Promotion Period: July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 } Eligible: First-Class Mail (excludes all FCM single-piece-price mail) Mobile Shopping Promotion } Registration Period: June 15, 2019 – December 31, 2019 } Promotion Period: August 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 } Eligible: USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats Informed Delivery Promotion } Registration Period: July 15, 2019 – November 30, 2019 } Promotion Period: September 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019 } Eligible: First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats
The USPS has also published the technical information for these promotions, including the Component Characteristic Record (CCR) Incentive Code that must be correctly populated in the Mail.dat files for mailings claiming these incentives. You can view this information at MailingSystemsTechnology.com/2019USPSPromotions. Impacts to Mailers We strongly encourage mailers to take advantage of these promotions and include the incentives in their planning for mailings in 2019. Mailers should also work with their software providers to make sure that any mailing software is being updated to support submission of Mail.dat files to claim these incentives. Since it has been a while since active promotions have been offered, mail owners and mail service providers should be reminded that there is an enrollment process for both parties, and there is a separate enrollment process for each promotion. Even if you successfully enrolled for incentives in 2017 or earlier years, you will need to do fresh enrollments for the 2019 promotions. It is also recommended that if you plan to participate in the new Informed Delivery Promotion, you try some Informed Delivery campaigns in advance of the promotion period. While this is not required, it is a good idea to get familiar with the process of designing pieces for these campaigns and the technical aspects of submitting the campaigns. For more information on submission of Informed Delivery campaigns, the USPS has a dedicated website for mailer participation (https://www.usps. com/business/informed-delivery.htm). The USPS is also asking mailers for their ideas and suggestions for promotion programs for 2020. To submit your ideas for future incentive programs, log on to https://postalpro.usps.com/promotions/2020_suggestions. Jeff Peoples is President, Founder, and CEO, Window Book, Inc. He has presented at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum, and other industry and direct marketing events.
To view the schedule of promotions, classes of mail eligible, and necessary codes that must be correctly populated in the Mail.dat files for mailings claiming these incentives, visit MailingSystemsTechnology.com/2019USPSPromotions.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
THE PRESIDENT’S TASK FORCE REPORT — A WISH LIST OR JUST WISHFUL THINKING? BY ANITA PURSLEY
n December 4, 2018, the US Treasury Department issued its much-anticipated report from the President’s Task Force on the United States Postal Service. The report, titled United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward, has since received a myriad of reviews, most of which are negative. Many mailing industry association executives are viewing the report as a “disaster,” a “disappointment,” or “an opportunity lost.” The optimistic hope was that the Task Force would come up with a comprehensive strategy that included fresh ideas that could enhance or align with existing legislative proposals that would result in meaningful reform. My initial reaction was that the report appeared to be a mixed bag of ideas that didn’t seem to have a connective thread other than the overarching viewpoint that the USPS is facing financial challenges as it tries to maintain a universal service obligation, however that is defined. The report basically consists of three categories: recommendations worth exploring, those that would have huge ramifications for the mailing industry, and those that are (what I believe to be) non-starters. Please note this is not an all-inclusive list. 12
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Recommendations Worth Pursuing The Universal Service Obligation (USO) must be clearly defined. What may surprise some readers is that the USO is not explicitly defined in statute and is interpreted similarly but loosely by stakeholders in the mailing industry. Most would agree that the USO is understood to be an obligation of the Postal Service to provide affordable, quality postal services throughout the United States, six days a week. The report points out that the USO is subject to interpretation. Imagine a public corporation without a clear mission statement! The USPS suffers from a lack of institutional governance, both in authority and in practice, and there is an immediate need for the US Senate to confirm Governors. It is good that the Task Force recognizes this need and will hopefully ignite Congress to act upon the two nominees put forward by the Administration in late 2018. Additionally, terms of both new Governors must be acted upon. Governor Duncan is serving the remainder of a seven-year term that expired December 8, 2018. Although he is nominated to serve another seven-year term, he must still be confirmed by the full Senate. Duncan is
technically in a “hold-over” year so there is no disruption in service if he is reconfirmed before December 2019. Governor Williams is serving the remainder of a seven-year term expiring December 8, 2019. He too, must be reconfirmed. Despite the mail monopoly, the end-to-end mail value chain (origination, pickup/collection, processing, transportation, and delivery) is divisible and has many suppliers and competitors. To achieve more cost efficiencies, the USPS should expand third-party relationships. The Task Force is advocating more public-private partnerships, such as worksharing. Many mailing service providers will support this recommendation and actively pursue opportunities. Recommendations That Could Have Huge Ramifications Distinguish between the types of mail and packages that represent an essential service and those that are non-essential. When defining the USO, the Task Force believes the most important aspect is to distinguish between the types of mail and packages that represent an essential service and those that are non-essential. The idea here is to price non-essential services higher to fund the USO. Currently, the Postal Service categorizes products by type (market dominant or competitive) rather than purpose. This recommendation proposes that mail classes should be redefined by creating products that are defined by the type of sender and the purpose (e.g., correspondence, transaction mail) of the mail item. Essential services products are not clearly defined except that they include all “personal correspondence (person-to-person mail), transaction mail (bills, financial statements, product recall notices), government mail (election and tax related mail), parcels containing pharmaceuticals, and parcels sent from consumer to consumer.” These products would have monopoly protection and fall under a price cap regime with mandated delivery standards. Non-essential services would include Marketing Mail, advertising mail within First-Class, and packages that are commercial in nature (e-commerce B2C packages, B2B packages, etc.). If a First-Class transactional piece includes advertising (known as transpromo), it is
unclear whether it would lose its essential services classification. The report cites an Office of Inspector General (OIG) study of USPS price elasticity from more than five years ago to support a call for eliminating the price cap on Marketing Mail. Many believe that Marketing Mail would quickly exit the mailstream and leave essential services holding the bag. This could be a recipe for disaster. The USPS mail business is not sustainable under the existing operating model. USPS should develop a new model for setting rates and controlling costs to achieve sustainability. The Task Force recommends that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) use the full extent of its authorities to establish a new system for regulating rates and classes for market dominant products for enabling rate increases that would increase the USPS’s net income. The fear is that the PRC will take this as a “green light” to go forward with its original proposal in the 10-year rate review. For
market dominant products, rates could be raised by as much as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus an additional two to five percent annually for at least five years.
higher prices and less service for the public.” Since the Democrats now have control of the House, it is safe to assume this recommendation will go nowhere.
RecommendationsThat Are Non-starters USPS employee rights should be more closely aligned with other federal employee rights by eliminating collective bargaining over compensation, and USPS employee wages should be reformed in a manner consistent with proposed reforms pertaining to the broader federal workforce outlined in the President’s Management Agenda. To no one’s surprise, the postal unions reacted with furor. American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein began his press release with the following remarks, “If the White House Task Force on the Postal Service’s report was assigned a ZIP Code, it would be 00000. This poorly conceived report makes many of its recommendations based on myth and misinformation that, instead of improving mail services, would deliver
What Are the Next Steps? There are no specific “next steps” required by the Administration or by statute. Hopefully, the Task Force recommendations will be viewed as a contribution to the conversation and will focus Congress on enacting reform legislation that will return the Postal Service to a viable and sustainable enterprise for the American public. As Senior Manager of Industry Affairs at BCC Software, Anita Pursley is entrenched in major industry events and associations, representing BCC Software and advocating on behalf of its customers. She has a breadth of industry experience and expertise, including serving for two years as the Industry Co-Chair of the Postmaster General’s Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) and similar roles at some of the industry’s largest and most inﬂuential companies.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
DIRECT MAIL EVOLUTION
USPS POSTAGE DISCOUNTS + DIRECT MAIL TECHNOLOGY = A WIN/WIN BY FERRIS COATES
e know, we know. We’re covering the USPS upcoming promotions quite a bit in this issue. What can we say? They’re great opportunities for mailers to save some money on postage, so we want our readers to be as educated as possible. And in that vein, there’s one promotion we want to dive into a little deeper as it could significantly benefit marketing professionals. As direct mail companies are continually embracing the integration of technology and direct mail, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is doing its part and running a new postage discount program for 2019. What does this mean for you? From March 1 to August 31, the USPS lets all US-based direct mail companies qualify for two percent off eligible postage costs when coupling their clients’ campaigns with emerging and advanced technology. Why Do Marketers Need to Do? The use of technology is a proven force in the marketing landscape for today’s savvy marketing professionals. This promotion will build upon previous promotions and continue the USPS’ strategy of encouraging mailers to integrate direct mail with advances in technology to improve effectiveness and maintain relevancy. To participate in the promotion, the mail piece must incorporate any of the following technologies: Near-field communication (NFC) technology, Video in Print (ViP), BLE/Beacon technology, an “enhanced” augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, addressable TV, integration with digital assistants, and digital to direct mail. These technologies will allow the recipient to engage in an interactive experience using the mail piece and mobile devices, tablets, etc. (You can see the article on page 26 of this issue to explore how innovation can increase customer interaction). 14
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The Emerging and Advanced Technology USPS postage discount program allows direct mail companies to pass on savings to their clients when they automatically integrate technologies such as: Call tracking Mail delivery tracking Online ads through Google and social media, such as Facebook and Instagram Now, both direct mail companies and their clients can not only experience exponentially improved results from their campaign, they can save money at the same time! If this isn’t a win/win, I’m not sure what is. Ferris Coates is the Marketing Director at DirectMail2.0, a fully integrated marketing solution for the clients of printers/mailers that combines the proven success of direct mail with in-demand features like online advertising and automated campaign tracking. With DirectMail2.0, direct mail companies can boost revenue and increase their clients’ response and ROI. For more information or to schedule a demo, visit www.dm20.com
nothing to do with mailing, but still affect critical business operations.
ADDRESS QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER 6 Solid Reasons for Improving Address Quality (and What It Costs if You Don’t)
Experts agree data is a key differentiator among competitors. How organizations use data affects operational efficiency, brand reputation, and customer experiences. Management decisions based on inaccurate information can be costly and customers exposed to bad data may take their business elsewhere. Data quality is essential for effective data use. Postal address data flows into enterprises through multiple entry points. Corporations store inconsistent,
duplicate, or contradictory customer address information in multiple databases. Most data that companies accumulate is difficult to validate, but address quality software effectively verifies, corrects, standardizes, and enhances customer address information. In an updated eBook, Firstlogic Solutions explains why address data is so important to organizations today. The book identifies ways companies use address data–many of which have
1. Address data is essential customer ID information 2. Operational efficiencies are achieved with better quality addresses 3. How addresses affect local and regional regulatory compliance 4. Mail remains an important communications channel 5. Poor quality addresses are costly to organizations 6. Good addresses improve marketing campaign ROI Read the full details in the eBook. Download a free copy of “6 Solid Reasons for Improving Address Quality” CLICK HERE
a SOFTWARE AND SERVICES: ENSURING MAIL PIECE SUCCESS A look at the issues affecting the postal, mail, print, and fulfillment industries. By Christine J. Erna
he foundation for all of us in the print, mail, postal, and fulfillment world: Our clients’ mail and packages we produce and distribute. Our customers rely on us as the professionals to guide, counsel, and support their mission of getting their transactional documents (First-Class) as well as direct marketing mail or packages (Marketing [formerly called Standard] Mail) delivered expeditiously and predictably at the most reasonable cost. According to the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) 2017 Response Rate Report, direct mail’s household response rate averages 3.7%, which compares favorably to their statistics for mobile (0.2%), email (0.1%), social media (0.1%), and internet display (0.2%). Additionally, the CMO Council reports that 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately, while only 45% of all consumers do the same to email. Close to half (48%) of all consumers hold onto direct mail marketing materials for future reference. How many emails do you find around your house or at your friends’ homes? Emphasizing the effectiveness even more, the CMO Council reports that 39% of customers try
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
a new business because of direct mail, and 44% of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail. Impressive numbers, to say the least. Most impressive is the fact that these numbers include some percentage of mail that was not delivered due to address issues (which, unfortunately, are issues that our industry faces for any project). How high would the numbers be if these issues didn’t exist, and what is the cost of the lost opportunity associated with undeliverable mail? There are so many options now to enhance data or take advantage of a customer’s existing data, and these options can help us answer those questions and strive toward even higher numbers. By profiling and segmenting data — coupled with the power of digital print technology — mailers and mail service providers (MSPs) can create variable data mailers with targeted images, copy, and design. However, there is an element that the industry hasn’t focused on as much as it should, and that is the deliverability of the targeted mail piece, which would drastically improve response rate numbers. How do you get to the point that your number of
undelivered pieces drops, and what are the struggles or hurdles facing the industry in respect to deliverability? It may seem too simple, but the two most common barriers I experience most often are: true education and consulting on data governance, and improved processes designed to properly manage a system of record (database). Properly addressed, we can get the right message to the right address at the right time. Enhancing and improving your capabilities in data governance through people, process, and technology will affect an organization’s bottom line. Companies remain challenged to implement standardized, cohesive, and integrated workflows across their people, processes, and technology. The top-level profit leaders in our industry have very regimented, well-documented, and consistent processes for every aspect of their workflows. They invest in their people through continuous training and investment in technology to support and ensure consistent quality and performance measured by industry leading return on investment (ROI) parameters. Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, and TQM all lead companies toward implementing
quality workflow processes founded in continuous improvement. Analyzing your workflows using data that is meaningful and actionable is critical to success by any measure. People, process, and technology must work together harmoniously. As you walk into your workplace every day, constantly ask yourself: Can I improve upon this process? Why do we do it that way? Regardless of the operation you review (data processing, print, lettershop, or fulfillment), there is always room for improvement. The one answer you don’t want to your “Why?” questions? “Because we’ve always done it that way.” Instead, engage, encourage, and enable your employees with the power of ideas, suggestions, and recommendations. There is nobody that knows an operation like the employees who work in it every day. I learned early in my career the value and benefits of Participatory Management, which is the practice of empowering employees to participate in organizational decision making. Our industry has organizations that offer support with workflow challenges we commonly encounter. Here are two common challenges frequently encountered by professionals in our industry. Challenge #1: Address Quality Address quality issues that generate return mail/packages directly affect response rates and ROI. These issues skew results, add cost, and, most importantly, erode customer confidence in their vendor partners. The lack of pre- or post-address cleansing processes that update systems of record (SOR) is detrimental to our clients’ ability to stay connected with their customers and prospects. This challenge has been around our industry for decades, but many organizations still have not partnered with outside resources (or developed resources internally) to realize the financial benefits of truly effective data governance. There is a great need in the industry for these services, which always result in phenomenal ROI at any organizational level. If mailers are looking to resolve address quality issues, it may be worth taking a look at partners who provide software as a service (SaaS)-based postal software, which offers extraordinary capabilities that can automate and integrate through APIs into any platform. The benefits of accessing postal software through a web browser and not having to install or maintain software licenses are efficiency, economical costing, and leading
postal knowledge — all of which are beneficial to a company’s bottom line. Challenge #2: Postage Savings/Presort and Commingling The benefits to an organization outsourcing their presorting processes are many, such as: Reducing mailing costs through scaling and commingling Savings generated through minimizing internal expenses Improving delivery with industry-best logistics programs and processes Vendors with documented security protocols that are equally prioritized with delivery services Industry-best disaster recovery processes that are regularly tested Working with a partner that handles challenges and reduces complexity You may be thinking, “This all sounds great in theory, but where do I actually start when searching for a partner that provides these benefits?” As always, research, research, and research should be at the top of the list. Ask around at PCC meetings, NPF, and other industry events for recommendations on companies to consider. After all, many successful businesses grow through word of mouth. And, finally, take a look at the companies listed in the sponsored section below. They all have track records of proven results in this industry. Christine J. Erna has extensive expertise in postal affairs and brings more than 25 years of experience in direct mail marketing, design, analysis, and training, including 18 years with the United States Postal Service as a mailpiece design analyst and educator. She combines extensive knowledge of postal rates, USPS regulations and technology with Six Sigma process improvement strategies to help clients analyze and improve their end-to-end mailing processes. She can be reached at email@example.com or 603.974.1169.
Offering data-driven solutions that enhance direct communications anywhere along the workflow spectrum, BCC Software has been the industry leader in postal presort software and address quality solutions for over 40 years.
BCC Mail Manager™, our USPS®-certified address quality and mailing preparation software, is relied on by thousands of companies, including some of the country’s biggest mailers. As a result, our solutions improve deliverability and reduce postage on a quarter of the US mailstream every year. BCC Mail Manager offers businesses numerous features, allowing users to create a package that best suits their needs. Plus, you’ll find peace of mind with unbeatable customer service and support from our team of USPS Certified Mail Piece Design professionals. BCC Software solutions are integration-ready and include API toolkits for customization along with prebuilt connectors to many other software packages that already exist in your workflow. Integratec® is the first and only available PAVE™-certified API, using the secure messaging layer, ZeroMQ™, with the CurveZMQ protocol, enabling Integratec to pass even the most stringent security requirements. Completing the direct communications lifecycle with a comprehensive suite of data marketing services, BCC Software is focused on expert address standardization. We offer full-service data management and campaign execution solutions, backed by data licensed from the USPS and a handful of carefully selected strategic partners. Always innovating our products to enhance our customers’ operations, BCC Software released COMPLAINCE+™ in 2018, a powerful data quality tool that combines both USPS and industry tools to get the most complete, correct, and current records possible. To learn more, visit www.bccsoftware.com.
Founded in 2003, Click2Mail began its existence as operator of the Postal Service’s seminal NetPost Mailing Online program. NetPost was developed to meet the needs of underserved small businesses, including nonprofits and home-based businesses. Click2Mail’s founder Lee Garvey retained that focus when he created Click2Mail.com to replace NetPost. Leveraging technology to streamline traditional print and mail workflows, Click2Mail.com pioneered webbased, next-day mailing of small volumes of letters, postcards, and flyers. That experience, combined with customer demand, informed Click2Mail’s next stage of growth to serve the enterprise as well. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
Today, Click2Mail provides a complete, business class outsourcing solution for the printing, mailing, and tracking of documents, postcards, and accountable mail. Using cloud-based process automation tools, users securely transmit files to Click2Mail for overnight printing and mailing with no minimum volumes or subscription fees. With APIs, SDKs, and software as a service (SaaS) integration tools, Click2Mail now enables organizations of all sizes to easily optimize mailing processes and reduce costs. Looking to the future, Click2Mail continues its unrelenting focus on innovation and making mail easy by developing and launching more free software tools and apps that make sending postal mail as easy as sending email. With an Office Add-in for Word, MailMyDoc for Google Docs, MailJack+ for pdfs, Zapier Zaps that integrate with over 1,000 apps and a Podio dashboard, Click2Mail helps automate almost any mailing workflow. In early 2019, two mobile apps from Click2Mail will make postal mail even more useful and accessible. www.click2mail.com
For over 15 years, ConfirmDelivery has been helping organizations with their accountable mail. Now a division of Engineering Innovation, Inc, we’ve grown from working with a few Midwestern counties to a vast nationwide customer base from our Indiana office. When your business needs critical information delivered with speed and accountability, ConfirmDelivery simplifies the Certified Mail process with a fast and cost-effective solution. Our program saves substantial time by eliminating the need to fill out green cards associated with Certified Mail as well as reducing the cost of postage. With our web-based program, you can process one mail piece at a time or a batch of thousands. Multiple users can complete mailings on the system at the same time, and our reporting features display the activities of each user and department, allowing customers to create an accurate budget for expenditures. ConfirmDelivery sets itself apart in the industry by providing patented tracking technology for each mail piece. Track by recipient, company, location, customer reference number or USPS tracking number. Manage recipient signatures via query or have them automatically emailed for easy print out or electronic storage. We also work closely with the post office in helping our clients find lost mail pieces and obtain the delivery information, which is crucial with Certified 18
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Mailings. With ConfirmDelivery, you have an efficient, accurate system with tracking at your fingertips. www.confirmdelivery.com
Firstlogic Solutions specializes in delivering data services solutions to data-driven companies. Firstlogic’s products set the standard for address and data quality software when first introduced in 1984. Many users of these products have been customers for more than 30 years, with good reason. Firstlogic’s development and support professionals are highly acclaimed and are continuously innovating enhancements to the products, building on their stellar data parsing engine. This engine is acknowledged by many as the best in the business. Firstlogic DQ10 is the latest version of Firstlogic’s data quality software suite that combines file preparation, address quality, data enhancement, and matching/consolidation. Firstlogic DQ10 gives marketing departments, data analytics, and operations the capability to deliver personalized messages and superior customer service. Large and midsize companies nationwide rely on Firstlogic’s software to cut costs and meet their data quality objectives. To demonstrate the value of their software, Firstlogic offers a no-fee data quality assessment. Firstlogic processes actual customer datasets through their software to find data anomalies and improvement opportunities. Visit https://firstlogic.com/contact-us/ to take advantage of this service. Data drives every business. Data quality software enables organizations to get maximum benefit from the customer information they’ve collected and stored. Contact Firstlogic Solutions today. www.firstlogic.com 1.888.725.7800
a FLAGSHIP SOFTWARE LTD. As more documents and content become digital and remote, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a connection with the customer. Ensuring the customer’s address is valid and updated becomes a pivotal key around which other data can be appended and communications can be tailored. Address management has become a critical business process. Flagship Software Ltd. is a market leader in Canadian address management solutions with its
address management product, iAddress™, available for both Canada and the US. As well, Flagship is pleased to announce the launch of their redesigned FS Archive™ software, for the storing, organizing, and managing of digital documents. iAddress™ Market-leading address management software for Canada and the US Solutions for stand alone, e-commerce, websites, CRM and ERP systems Robust and fully-featured software with stand-alone or hosted options SERP & CASS/PAVE correction/validation and presort Module enhancements including Move Update and Geocoding Easily automated for hands-free processing FS Archive™ Access and work with documents from any web-enabled device Seamless PDF sharing with print and email output options Secure Customer Portal so clients can securely view, print, or e-mail their documents Advanced search capabilities across all defined fields in a document Secure interface with audit and tracking features Intuitive, easy-to-use interface with ability to automate business processes www.flagshipsoftware.com 866.672.0007 | sales@flagshipsoftware.
At Melissa, it all starts with an address. Here at Melissa, we know addresses. It’s been our bread and butter since 1985. We also know that accurate address data is critical to your mailing operations and the bottom line. We got you covered — with unique mailing solutions offering different ways to meet your mailing needs: SaaS, desktop, service bureau, and a flexible API for pipeline integration to cleanse, update, and presort for mail compliance and deliverability. MAILERS Online is our cloud SaaS solution where we do it all for you on our end. There’s no binding contract — just easy, up-front pricing per job. Upload your file to our server and supply a few answers about your mailing, then let us go to work. You don’t have to worry about changing postage rates or data file updates. MAILERS+4 is our popular desktop solution for certification and presorting right on your
own computer. Presort Object is our API for fast integration with your current mail processing pipeline. Our offerings feature: NCOALink® processing to Move Update your file to maximize savings and ensure compliance; a SERP/ CASS™ engine to verify, correct and standardize US and Canadian addresses to delivery point; PAVE™ Gold Certified presorting; and proprietary deduping algorithms to target duplicates for list hygiene and identify householding scenarios. Universal to our solutions is support for the latest USPS data and technology such as Mail.dat, Palletization, Full-Service Intelligent mail, and destination discounts for SCF, NDC and DDU drop shipping. So, when it comes to addresses, the question isn’t why choose Melissa — the only question is, “Which Melissa mailing solution is perfect for you?” www.melissa.com.
Racami helps the customer communications industry deliver an exceptional customer experience with software, services, and staffing solutions that drive CCM success. CCM client expectations are high, with demands for insights and transparency into operations and communications critical to the customer experience. All the while, streamlining operations is critical to your bottom line. For 10 years, we’ve created solutions for CCM providers, service bureaus, PSPs, in-plants, healthcare, and government services across North America, Europe, and Asia. Solutions that give visibility to the information that your omni-channel customers demand. Solutions that maximize operational efficiency and revenue potential. Solutions that provide the technology and human resources you need, when you need them. Racami’s executive team includes experienced talent from within the CCM industry’s largest technology, software, and services companies, including Oracle, Microsoft, Harland Clarke, and Taylor Corp. We’re experts in customer communications and omni-channel experiences. Our team helps you drive customer acquisition, penetration, and retention with solutions that enable easier compliance with industry and government regulations. Our goal is to help you streamline operations, fill in the resource gaps and — most importantly — make your customers happy. Racami’s Alchem-e system plays an important role in automating data hygiene
and postal processing, maintaining a history of address versions, and tracking mail through the USPS. www.racami.com.
Maximize the ROI of Your Marketing Dollars with SmartSoftDQ Every year, there are, on average, over 140 million change-of-addresses filed with the USPS®, as well as over one million new delivery points being added to the network. Think about all the discarded mail and what dollar amount that equates to. That is a lot of lost revenue and lost connections. Address correction is a vital step in keeping data up-to-date for your marketing efforts. Campaigns are far less effective if they don’t reach the right individuals’ mailboxes. Verifying and updating contact information before mailing reduces returned mail and wasted resources, allowing you to get the most out of your direct mail budget. SmartAddresser, the all-in-one postal software from SmartSoft DQ, now features 48-month NCOALink so you can keep your data up-to-date when people move. It is CASS™ and PAVE™-Certified by the USPS® and easy to install and learn. From stateof-the art Address Correction features and the very latest Postal Presorting options, to advanced features such as Mail Tracking and automated mail processing with Job Scripting, SmartAddresser is the USPS® Certified postal software you can trust. Your data will be accurate, and your mail prepared correctly, saving you time and saving you money. Visit www.SmartSoftDQ.com for more information.
There are many trends currently impacting the mailing industry, such as more intelligent logistics, “blue collar” software, intelligent compliance, artificial intelligence, best of breed components, better data quality needs, and better integration. Keeping up with these trends can be overwhelming, but not if you take advantage of the expertise that Window Book brings to the table. With over 30 years of experience in the mailing and shipping industry, and a heritage of developing solutions to mail more intelligently, Window Book is the perfect choice to guide you through these trends. Over half of all American business mail is produced by Window Book clients.
Window Book is investing millions of dollars to develop new mailing and shipping software solutions so our clients are cared for and protected in the years to come. Window Book, creator of the post-presort software industry, offers the most complete solution set in the mailing industry, including DAT-MAIL™, AWAM™, wbSCAN™, DAT-PreCheck™, DAT-MAIL Prep™, PostalWeb Connector™, PostalWeb Desktop Dashboard™, Postal Package Partner™ (PPP), YourScore™, TrueAddress™ and PostalWeb®. Our PostalWeb solution is the ONLY true end-to-end PostalOne!® automated upload and download of postage statements and data available in the industry. With the addition of our wbSCAN finished mail pallet inventory system, intelligent logistics quoting and ordering using wb.truckdirectmail. com, and TrueAddress address hygiene solution, no one in the industry offers a more comprehensive automation solution for your mailing needs. Go to www.windowbook.com, call us at 1.800.524.0380 or email us at Info@ windowbook.com.
FEATURED POSTAL SOFTWARE & SERVICE COMPANIES
BCC SOFTWARE www.bccsoftware.com CLICK2MAIL www.click2mail.com CONFIRMDELIVERY www.confirmdelivery.com FIRSTLOGIC SOLUTIONS www.firstlogic.com FLAGSHIP SOFTWARE www.flagshipsoftware.com MELISSA www.melissa.com RACAMI www.racami.com SMARTSOFT www.SmartSoftDQ.com WINDOW BOOK www.windowbook.com
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
By Mark J. Rheaume
What Lies Ahead
for the Mail Industry? The USPS rate changes that just took effect are a sign of things to come — and instead of feeling frustrated, mailers should feel optimistic.
he past year was an exciting one for the mailing industry. Although I do not have a crystal ball, it is always exciting to share some thoughts about what could happen in our industry throughout 2019. We all know that new USPS postage rates went into effect on January 27 (see page 28 of this issue for a recap if you missed the analysis in Mailing Systems Technology’s January e-newsletter). These new rates are interesting and represent an opportunity to the industry. It is all too easy to groan about the record price increase of a First-Class stamp and lose focus on the opportunities we should all see; the biggest opportunity being that the price difference between ounce breaks is changing from $0.21 to $0.15. This means that every First-Class full rate or full metered rate mail piece will be less expensive after January 27! This is also true for presorted flats. The prices at every ounce break, starting at two ounces, are lower than those in place before the price change. This is significant for our industry and an incentive to rethink protocols and adjust processes and practices. Traditionally, flats have not been considered economical or
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
practical by the industry. These changes and realities alter that significantly. This new pricing should be viewed as an invitation to save money by adding content to these mail pieces and not creating multiple packages, as has traditionally been done. Actual reduction of rates is rare, and we need to seize the benefits of this change for our organizations. The industry has done similar things for some time for letter-size pieces (remember the “second ounce free” mantra?) and, now, flats have started to reward this same behavior. While it is not free, additional ounces are cheaper than last year, and those savings should be measured and reported to our organizations. This will be effective for flats up to 13 ounces and after that, there are some changes we all should be aware of. NEW YEAR, NEW CHANGES The USPS is making a big change to First-Class Package Services by adding zone-based pricing. Currently, the rate is determined solely by the package weight. As of January 27, the zone becomes a factor in these rate calculations. Priority Mail offers many benefits over competitors’ services, which include: flat-rate price
options; ample selection of free packaging; no fees for Saturday delivery, fuel surcharge, or residential surcharges; endto-end tracking and more delivery times between one and three days than any one carrier. In 2019, Priority Mail Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing will be identical. The big change within Priority Mail rates that shippers need to take notice of is the implementation of DIM weight pricing for Priority Mail services, although this change will not be effective until June 23 of this year. Simply stated, DIM weight is determined by volume and the space it occupies during transport. The USPS will begin applying this pricing to large parcels with low weights. The calculation is simple: Multiply the length, width, and height. If the result exceeds 1,728 cubic inches, divide the total by 166 and round up to the nearest full pound. The postage cost will default to the greater of the actual weight in pounds or the DIM weight. DIM rating is not new, but two things are being changed: the divisor used in its calculation and the applicable zones where DIM applies. The new calculations will use 166 as the divisor (it was 194 prior to this
rate change, but even at 166, it is still higher than the 139 used by FedEx and UPS). This change increases the DIM weight divisor, which increases the mailing costs for packages affected. Currently, only Zones 5-9 (further distance zones) are subject to DIM weight rules. The changes highlighted here will apply to all zones after June 23. FINALLY, A BOARD OF GOVERNORS! For the first time since 2016, we have a USPS Board of Governors. The board consists of two actual Governors, the Postmaster General and CEO, as well as the Deputy Postmaster General. This group has approved six mailing promotions for 2019 (check out page 11 for a more in-depth look at these promotions)! As you will recall, there were no promotions offered in 2108 because there were no sitting Governors to approve them, which was a great loss for mailers. It appears that more nominations for Governor positions are forthcoming, and I am hopeful that our elected officials will do their jobs and make sure this situation never happens again. All the promotions represent money-saving opportunities for mailers and
organizations. This means that real dollars are available for those who take the time to understand, enroll, and participate — dollars that were not available to any of us in 2018. I encourage everyone to participate in these promotions as fully as possible. If you are mailing in 2019, why not participate in at least one of these promotions and save on postage? These changes are not random. In case anyone was in doubt, parcels will determine the success of the postal industry moving forward. Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba are growing at unimaginable and accelerating rates. The USPS must rise to the occasion or miss a golden opportunity. These new pricing strategies are meant to capitalize on this opportunity, so it appears the Postal Service is moving in the correct direction. I believe that First-Class and Marketing (formerly Standard) Mail are still relevant and effective, but their volumes are not growing. The USPS must continue to offer services that move and deliver parcels as expected; this would include Saturdays and Sundays, if necessary. The rate changes they are implementing in 2019 incentivize our industry to convert parcels to flats when possible and
minimize the size of the parcels that are shipped. Everyone knows shipping is not free (despite what customers may wish!), and the USPS is finally going to raise the rates on the products that are costing them the most to process. This strategy will also increase costs their competition pays for the USPS to carry their packages and perform last-mile delivery. I think this is long overdue and rather brilliant! Making these adjustments will bear fruit. Amazon and others are exploring options related to building their own delivery services; in some markets, this has already happened. The USPS has the delivery network these private organizations desire. They also have a universal service obligation that no private entity wants, which is the main reason that privatization is no longer widely discussed. Our industry’s current delivery and cost paradigms must change to allow it to thrive and reach its fullest potential. Mark Rheaume is a Services Engineer, Enterprise Services Sales Engineering, at Ricoh USA, Inc. He has over 35 years of industry experience developing, designing, and implementing solutions. He can be contacted at Mark.Rheaume@ricoh-usa.com.
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www.tritektech.com | 302-239-1638 MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR MAILER SCORECARD?
Six tips for investigating and correcting errors By Nancy Garrison and Kurt Ruppel
he Mailer Scorecard has become an important tool for mail service providers (MSPs) to understand any quality issues the Postal Service is finding with the mail prepared for clients. As early users of this tool, we’d like to share what we’ve learned about validating and researching the information found in the Scorecard. We’ll provide an overview of some of the more common errors you may see on your eDoc submitter Scorecard, help you understand what the errors indicate, and give you resources to help identify possible causes for errors. We also want to share a new option to easily 22
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retrieve all your Mailer Scorecard errors in near real time. Let’s get started.
SERVICE TYPE IDENTIFIER (STID) ERRORS STID errors occur when the STID on the mail piece IMb is missing, not valid, or does not match the mail class and/or service level identified in eDoc. An example of how this error may occur is if the STID in the mail piece IMb identifies the mail piece as First-Class but it is described as Marketing Mail in the eDoc. Another example would be if the STID on the mail piece identifies it as Basic-Service mailing but the eDoc identifies it as Full-Service.
PostalPro provides an STID table (https:// postalpro.usps.com/service-type-identifiers/ stidtable) where you can confirm the STID you are using is valid and correct. The table identifies STIDs by mail class for both Basicand Full-Service, as well as with and without tracking and address correction options
MAILER ID (MID) VERIFICATION – CONTAINER HANDLING UNITS AND PIECES The Mailer Scorecard evaluates all MIDs provided in the eDoc. If the USPS determines the MIDs provided for containers (usually a pallet), handling units (usually a tray), or mail pieces are either missing or
validating and ensuring linkage of all postal identifications associated with the mail owners for whom you prepare and/or submit mail. You can validate postal identifications such as CRID/MID and Postal Permit through the Business Customer Gateway prior to submission, using the customer validation tool. You can request CRID, MID, and permit information in bulk using the BCG Bulk Search Utility. If you continue to receive validation errors, you will need to contact your mail owner and/ or the PostalOne! Help Desk.
CONTAINER OR HANDLING UNIT ENTRY FACILITY ERRORS These errors are detected when the eDoc Locale Key or the Postal Code for a Full-Service container or “orphan” handling unit (a tray or bundle not associated with a container) does not exist in the Mail Direction File (MDF) or the Facilities Database (FDB) or is not current. To eliminate entry errors, you can verify entry point information by accessing the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking system (FAST). You should also verify with your software vendor that your eDoc includes the most current version of the drop shipment information.
invalid, it will be reported as an error on your Mailer Scorecard. You can easily identify these errors by accessing your Business Customer Gateway (BCG) Manage Account Customer Validation Tool. From there, you can determine if the MID is valid, as well as identify ownership of all MIDs as assigned by the USPS.
BY/FOR ERRORS These errors occur when mail owners or mail preparers are not identified or are inaccurately identified for mailings of more than 5,000 pieces per day for a single mail owner. } The “by” validation relates to the mail preparer — The mail preparer is responsible for the preparation and/or submission of the mail to the Postal Service. } The “for” validation refers to the mail owner — The mail owner is the entity who directly benefits from the mailing, determines such things as the content and count of the mailing, and pays for the postage either directly or through the MSP. If you are the MSP, you will need to obtain the mail owner’s CRID, MID, or possibly their permit number to correctly identify them in your eDoc. We suggest
CONTAINER, HANDLING UNIT, OR PIECE UNIQUENESS ERRORS All barcodes — IMcb, IMtb, and IMb — must be unique across all mailings from all mailers for the previous 45 days from the postage statement mail date in eDoc. Addressing these errors may take the collaboration of a few parties, including the mail owner, the mail preparer, and your presort vendor. You need to understand who will be managing uniqueness, and the other parties must defer to the uniqueness manager when creating content for all barcodes. Make sure all parties involved understand the rules regarding uniqueness. Uniqueness of container and handling unit includes both the MID and serial number, while uniqueness of the mail piece includes the STID, as well as the MID and serial number.
UNDOCUMENTED PIECE ERRORS This type of error is one of the most difficult to understand and research and, potentially, the most costly, as undocumented piece ownership is driven by the owner of the MID on the mail piece. When the Postal Service processes your mail piece, it not only reads the mail piece IMb to direct your mail piece to the cor-
rect delivery point, it also uses this scan to confirm payment for the mail piece by matching the IMb scan to your eDoc. If the USPS is not able to match the scanned mail piece, the USPS presumes that particular mail piece did not have postage paid. There are several reasons you could receive undocumented piece errors, including: 1. The IMb on the mail piece does not match the IMb in the mail.dat PDR or PBC file submitted for payment. 2. The mail pieces scanned by the USPS were removed from the Mail.dat (as spoilage) but ended up in the mailstream. 3. Your transportation carrier delivered mail to the USPS earlier than expected, and the mail was processed before payment was made. 4. The IMb on the mail piece was misread by the processing equipment. 5. Mail was submitted during a PostalOne! outage and the appropriate contingency plan wasn’t followed. Regardless of the cause, the burden of proof is on the MID owner to provide proof of payment. How do we investigate these undocumented pieces? Detail regarding Mailer Scorecard errors is available by drilling into the Scorecard; however, the steps are taxing, data is limited, and the information can be up to 72 hours behind. Acknowledging these restrictions, the USPS also provides MSPs the option to submit requests for the error detail on a weekly or monthly basis. Neither option is ideal. Thankfully, significant progress was recently made when Mail Quality Data feeds became available through the Informed Visibility (IV) platform. The USPS Mail Quality task team provides MSPs with self-serve data feed access to unlimited and near real-time error data. This now provides the opportunity to take corrective action as soon as possible, if required. To learn more about this new tool, you can find FAQs and other information on PostalPro. We hope the information we’ve shared will help you as you research, validate, and address errors as you work to improve your Mailer Scorecard. Better quality mail drives more efficient and predictable mail for all of us. Nancy Garrison is Compliance & Monitoring Analyst at IWCO Direct. She can be reached at nancy. firstname.lastname@example.org. Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications at IWCO Direct. He can be reached at email@example.com. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES IN MAIL PIECE DESIGN By Rob Hanks
The fonts, colors, and envelopes you use can have a major impact, for better or worse, on your direct mail campaign. Here’s how to ensure the choices you make are the right ones.
our choices of fonts, envelopes, and color used in your direct mail campaigns can not only impact your customer response rate and overall delivery of your mail piece, but they can also cause postage costs to increase — which is never something a mailer wants to see. So, let’s explore some of the most common mistakes that can have a big impact on your campaign if not rectified. FONTS The USPS prefers that a sans-serif font be used when addressing mail pieces. The font size needs to be eight-point or higher, and all capital letters is preferred. The difference between serif fonts and sans-serif fonts is that sans-serif fonts do not contain the little feet on the bottom on the letters. This helps USPS equipment better read the address block of the mail piece. Sans-serif fonts are broken up into four families: Grotesque, Neo-Grotesque, Humanist, and Geometric. Grotesque fonts are the oldest of the sans-serif fonts and included New Gothic and Franklin Gothic. The Neo-Grotesque family is more modern and includes Helvetica and Arial, which the
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
USPS prefers. Humanist includes Gill Sans and is even more modern than the previous two families. Finally, Geometric is (not surprisingly) based on geometric shapes. Futura is an excellent example of a Geometric font. The important thing to remember with fonts is choosing a font that will work with your audience. If your offer is going to an older audience, you will want use a font that is clean and easy to read; Arial is an excellent choice here. On the other hand, if you are mailing to millennials, you may want to use a humanist font such as Gill Sans; the more modern look piques the interest of a younger generation and can increase your response rate. ENVELOPES Envelopes and self-mailers can have a huge impact, both positive and negative, on a direct mail campaign. Choosing the wrong size, color, or paper stock can add additional postage or even disallow your mailing altogether. On the flip side, a well-designed mailer using the right color, size, and paper can increase your open rate while also providing you with additional areas for messaging or a call to action.
When picking out an envelope size or designing a self-mailer, you will need to determine if you are mailing at letter rates or flat rates of postage. If you are planning on mailing out your piece at letter rates, the maximum size the envelope or oversized card can be is 6.125” x 11.5”.The maximum size of a folded self-mailer or booklet is a little smaller, at 6” x 10.5”. If your mail piece is larger, you will be mailing out at the flat rate of postage, and the placement of the address block differs from a letter-size mail piece. The difference in postage for a Marketing Mail Letter vs. a Marketing Mail Flat can be as high as 30.1 cents per piece, based on the mixed automated area distribution center (AADC) rate. The most common sizes used for direct mail are a #10 envelope, a 6”x9” envelope, and a 9”x12” envelope. The #10 and 6”x9” envelopes both mail out at a letter rate, provided you meet all the other mailing criteria. The 9”x12” envelope mails out at a flat rate of postage. Since these are standard sizes of envelopes, they are easy to obtain and cost-effective to purchase. The downside is without using color or a catchy teaser line, they get lost in the
pile of mail many of us receive on a daily basis. By choosing an envelope that is a little different in size, you can help your mail piece stick out, which can increase your response rates. Try using a #12 envelope, which is 4.75”x11”, or an A-10 envelope at 6”x9.5” to give you an advantage and still mail at the letter rate of postage. COLOR The background color of your envelope should be white, neutral, or a light pastel color. This allows USPS equipment to read the barcode and address block on your mail piece. Dark, bright, black, and fluorescent colors impede the ability of USPS equipment to read barcodes, which can result in mis-reads and postage surcharges. If you decide to print an envelope or self-mailer in full color, you can knock out an area to address the mail piece. Most designers use the size of a standard window from an envelope to determine the size of the knockout. The size of a standard #10 window is 1.125”x4.5”. I recommend going with at least 1.5” in height to ensure you have enough room for addressing and still keep .125” clearance to the left and right and .028” clearance top and bottom.
Envelopes made with paper stock that contains dark fibers, a bleed through from inserts inside the envelope, or security envelopes printed on lightweight paper can affect the readability of the address block and barcode, resulting in additional postage. Other impacts to your response rate could involve using a window envelope versus a standard envelope. A window envelope gives the impression of a bill, statement, or direct mailing. A standard envelope can provide a mail piece with a personal feel by the font used for addressing and how you are applying postage. You will have to decide if metering the mail, using a permit, or using a precanceled stamp is best for you. They all have advantages and disadvantages. The pros of metering your mail are that no return address is needed on your mail piece, and you can use this process for non-identical weight pieces. The cons are that meter machines need to be purchased or leased, you have an opportunity for spoilage (lost postage), and, if mailing First-Class, you must have the correct date on each mail piece. When using a postal permit, the advantages are the permit can be printed directly onto the mailer, there is no need to purchase
stamps or lease a meter machine, and less labor is involved. The cons are the mail piece looks like a direct mail piece; unless authorized by the USPS, each piece must be identical in weight; and, if using a company permit, a return address must be included. Precanceled stamps make mail pieces look like First-Class Mail and are more visually appealing versus red meter marks or permits. The downside is that stamps need to be purchased and applied, spoilage might be incurred, and the mail piece will need a return address. Teaser copy on an envelope or selfmailer can increase open rates and, thus, response rates. A teaser line should highlight the offer, have a call to action, or have a tag line about your business. A teaser line should be big, bold, and grab the reader’s attention. People will decide within seconds of picking up your mail piece if they will open it or discard it. Rob Hanks is a customer service representative at Suttle-Straus and has more than 24 years in direct mail. Rob is a Certiﬁed Mailpiece Design Professional and a Mail Design Professional with the United States Postal Service and serves as the Industry Co-Chairperson for the Greater Madison Area PCC.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
TAKE YOUR MAIL PIECE DESIGN TO THE NEXT LEVEL: DON’T BE AFRAID OF INNOVATION By John Leininger
o you know when the third brake light became standard equipment on cars, or even why a third brake light was added? Prior to the implementation of the third brake light, people were placed in simulated braking situations and consistently hit the brake faster when the car in front of them had a third brake light. The first cars with a third brake light showed up in 1985, and by 1986, they were required on all new cars. Now, you may be asking yourself, what is the point of discussing brake lights and automotive safety when this article is about innovation in mailing? Quite simply, just as automotive manufacturers wanted drivers to pay more attention to the cars in front of them, you, as a mailer, want people to pay attention to your mail piece. To do so, it’s important to understand that what worked initially (two brake lights) doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice. Sure, there are some things that remain constant for mailers. You always need to have a correct address for a mail piece to be delivered, for example, but studies have shown that much of the mail delivered to a home is torn in half and never looked at. The first step to a sale is to
get someone to open the mail piece, and in today’s world, there are a lot more tools available to incentivize the recipient to open the envelope. Before overhauling your mail piece design strategy, you can start by looking at some basic statistics. The DMA (now the Data & Marketing Association, formerly the Direct Marketing Association), has reported year after year that postcards are the mail pieces that are read more than any other, mainly because the message is on the outside and nothing has to be opened to see the marketing message. That being said, you now often see people printing full-color envelopes with a message on the outside of the envelope. There are printers using digital presses to print these full-color envelopes with a personalized message on the outside. This is a great example of using technology to create an innovative solution that improves the likelihood of the envelope being opened. There are a lot of other technological trends that are available to use today to give an edge to the marketer, as well. One significant factor to note is that the USPS is encouraging marketers to make use of these new tools by offering discounts through their promotional program planned out for 2019 (see page 11 of this issue for information on the basic details and timelines of these promotions). HOW CAN THESE PROMOTIONS ENCOURAGE INNOVATION IN DESIGN? Several of these promotions deal with mail piece design, but I’d like to discuss a couple of them in greater detail. The first promotion is
offering a discount on postage if the mailer incorporates some type of tactile, sensory, and interactive engagement. If you have never seen any of the three Irresistible promotional pieces the USPS has put out from 2015–2017, you should watch the video they have posted to promote this concept (https://irresistiblemail.com/video). They show samples with special coatings that have a texture to create a sensation that fits the image (such as wood grain texture on an image of a fence or a sticky sensation on a picture of bubblegum). Aside from touch, they are also demonstrating scented images to simulate our olfactory sensory receptor. In these samples, they demonstrate how companies are using QR codes, augmented reality, and virtual reality to link to webpages, videos, and interactive marketing campaigns. The second promotion focuses on emerging and advanced technology. This can overlap with the tools that are in the first promotion. The intent of the USPS is to engage the customer with mobile media tied to the tools used in the first promotional opportunity, thereby encouraging marketers to push the window and learn new skills. If you are using mobile media and trying to incorporate social media, you need to learn how to track social media posts. This is a new set of tools in a marketer’s tool box and, like any tool, you need to learn how to use it properly to have a successful result. You might be able to bang in a nail with a screwdriver handle or hammer in a screw, but you are not going to get a very polished end product. The same applies to your mail pieces. The third promotion is encouraging marketers to include Business Reply Mail (BRM) and Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) options in their mail campaign. Again, you need to find the right time to use this service, but by offering the discount, the USPS is encouraging marketers to use these tools to create an interaction with the customer. The fourth promotion is for creating a four-color transpromo campaign. This is where you embed relevant marketing offers targeted to an individual on a transactional document (a bill, an invoice along with a package, or a statement). This promotion would then have to be limited to First-Class mail due to the transactional nature of the mail piece. The fifth promotion is aimed specifically at incorporating a mobile shopping experience within the mail piece. What was done in the earlier promotions might also work for this promotion if you were sending someone to a mobile website to make a purchase, such as with a QR code, like in the first promotion. The final promotion is creating a link that can be used in the USPS Informed Delivery email that takes the customer to a specific webpage with a relevant message, allowing them to make a purchase or donation right from the email they receive from the USPS. If you have not looked into the use of Informed Delivery, you can sign up for it personally, which will give you good insight into how people are using this new tool. (http:// bit.ly/usps-informed). If you want to take advantage of one of these promotions, it is crucial you learn how to use the tools. The first year, the USPS gave a postal discount for using a QR code in a mail piece, but this backfired because some marketers just put a QR code on for the discount and did not actually plan out a strategy regarding how to engage the customer, subsequently giving QR codes a bad name. If you use them correctly, they work incredibly well (check out this YouTube video on using QR codes effectively: http://bit.ly/good-use-of-qr-codes).
The USPS actually has webinars on PostalPro to help you understand each of these promotional opportunities and what you need to do to satisfy the requirements of each promotional offer (http:// bit.ly/usps-promotion-2). These are some of the tools the USPS is encouraging, but if you want to be innovative in your mail piece design, you might also look into Customized MarketMail (CMM) at http://bit.ly/usps-cmm. Learning how to work with CMM is critical to making sure the mail piece is actually delivered to the customer, and it is also a good use of the technology to accomplish the marketing message. You may not be able to participate in all of these campaigns, but developing a new tool to satisfy your customers’ needs is critical to offering something more than you did last year. If you are not innovating, your competition has an opportunity to bump you out as the mail service provider. John Leininger is a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, where he taught for 32 years. He has developed research projects working with VDP, mobile media, database cleansing, postal design, marketing, and sales. He continues to work with the USPS to support the Collegiate Outreach program with the local PCCs, and his students won the ﬁrst Integrated Marketing Campaign Contest last spring. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
ICYMI: By Adam Lewenberg
HOW WILL THE JANUARY 27, 2019 USPS RATE INCREASE IMPACT YOUR BUDGET? Editor’s Note: If you missed our January e-newsletter, here’s a look at some of the highlights of the January 27 rate increase.
When the USPS talks about an average 2.5% increase, it’s important to remember that this is overall. Based on the type of mail you send, the increase could be higher or lower. You need to look at the class, weight, zone, density, and special services required to see the true impact. Let’s take a look at the main classes of mail to identify the specific increases and decreases. This will hopefully help you budget by seeing the impact of the most common services that you use today.
First-Class Mail Single Piece: 20% Decrease to 10% Increase
The price of a stamp is going from $0.50 to $0.55, which is a 10% increase! This is compared to metered letters, which is increasing from $.47 to $.50 (a 6.4% increase). This is still the most significant savings ever offered in the US mailing industry because it means that by using a postage meter or PC postage, you will now save $0.05 per piece, or 10%. Discounts are often tied to doing more work, such as barcoding or sorting, but this is an automatic savings for just using a system to print postage (and the system can cost as little as $15 per month). The USPS reduced the additional ounce rate from $.21 to $.15, so the price goes down significantly as items
get larger. Regardless of if you use retail or metered mail, you should budget for a significant increase in this category because the majority of mail clients process is one ounce. Flats will see the one-ounce rate stay the same at $1.00, but with the reduction in the additional ounce rate, as the items get heavier, the rate goes down significantly.
First-Class Mail Commercial: 0 to 3.1% Increase
The commercial rates saw minimal to no increases with this rate change. Automation letter rates are going up at about one percent, with the highest sort levels seeing the greatest impact. Flats are increasing at two to three percent. Postcard rates are staying flat. It is interesting 28
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
that the presorted (non-automation rates) are staying basically the same, while the automation classes are seeing increases. This is counter to the typical increase where the USPS provides additional workshare discounts for mailers pushing for automation.
The biggest change in this category occurred a few years ago when the USPS increased the weight limit for the commercial letter rates to 3.5 ounces. The goal was to increase the value of the mail piece, allowing customers to add additional content at the same price. When you look at the chart above and compare the rates of a threeounce metered letter at $0.80 to a commercial rate at $0.383, this is a
52% savings! This is a big win for presort services that are now more valuable because of the savings they can provide. Meanwhile, for flats (9”x12” or 10”x13”), consider folding those into 6”x9” envelopes. The savings can be significant with these new rates and weight savings. A three-ounce flat at $1.30 now could cost as little as $0.383 assuming it could be automated through in-house software or presort services.
Marketing Mail (formerly called Standard Mail): .6% to 6% Increase
Marketing Mail letter rates are increasing at approximately two percent, while flats are increasing anywhere from two percent to six percent. Nonprofit rates seem to be increasing at similar percentages, as well. If you were taking advantage of destination entry discounts, the letter rate savings is decreasing by nine percent, whereas with flats, it is increasing by up to five percent, as you can see from the table below.
For the full analysis of this rate change, please visit MailingSystemsTechnology.com/January2019RateChange. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
2019 TRENDS IN THE MAILING INDUSTRY MORE INTELLIGENT LOGISTICS In mailing logistics there is a greater demand to be able to control in-home dates and to reduce costs. Mailers need to enable their production teams with more intelligent scanning, logistics management, warehouse management solutions, as well as getting more effective real time quotes on LTL shipments with intelligent software. Window Book is making large investments to meet those needs. Window Book has added logistics connectivity like wb.truckdirectmail.com to our industry leading DAT-MAIL™ for allowing users to instantly connect with logistics carriers to obtain quick, costeffective quotes for LTL drop shipments, for both individual and pooled mailings. With wbSCAN™, users now have much more efficient tools for drop ship trailer loading and warehouse finished mail pallet inventory management. BLUE COLLAR SOFTWARE Intelligent software is moving out of the IT room on to the shop floor. Window Book’s wbSCAN solution is a prime example. Using hand held devices/ scanners that interact with pallets, trays and inventory management systems to enable shop floor workers to have the real-time knowledge needed to ensure trailers are loaded properly, and efficient pallet inventory management. Quality control to verify proper nesting so that each mailpiece is placed into the correct handling unit or container to reduce undocumented pieces. INTELLIGENT COMPLIANCE Intelligent software is needed to deal with regulatory changes, e.g., changing prices and rules, Labeling Lists and drop shipment data files, PostalOne!®
validation rules, etc. Window Book software solutions all have numerous protection mechanisms built in, to flag errors and potential issues. Window Book’s DAT-Pre-Check™, Automatic Postal Data Updater™, DAT-MAIL™, and PostalWeb Desktop Dashboard™ are some of the solutions that include these compliance mechanisms and offer validation checks BEFORE mailers submit files to PostalOne! ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) In the mailing world, AI is the perfect solution for more efficient and effective analysis of processes to reduce the number of steps required for repetitive processes. This allows for shifting more work from humans to computers and for protection of mailers from potential errors which can have very costly impacts. Window Book’s DAT-MAIL, Advanced Automation Workflow Management (AWAM™), and PostalWeb® solutions include thousands of automation options to make this transition easy. DAT-PreCheck allows for intelligent software analysis of data before submission to the USPS®. BEST OF BREED COMPONENTS WITH BETTER INTEGRATION While there are advantages to integrated suites of software components for mailing processes, each mailer is unique so some components may not be the best for their needs. Increasingly, mailers are selecting different solutions from different providers for CASS®, NCOA®, presort, etc. Window Book is investing in better design of software which offers multiple options to users, regardless of whether they want to use the entire suite or just a single component. Window Book’s TrueAddress™ address hygiene solution is the fastest
most cost-effective CASS engine available and can be easily integrated with solutions from other providers. Mailers demand more seamless connections of multiple software solutions. Users can’t afford the time to open and log in to multiple applications and toggle back and forth between these applications to process their work. Window Book is well ahead of this trend by offering a complete suite of automation solutions which work seamlessly together with minimal user intervention. Examples are the PostalWeb Connector™, PostalWeb Desktop Dashboard, and PostalOne! Customer Data to name just a few. BETTER DATA QUALITY The cost of data errors such as manual re-working of mailings, postage penalties for non-compliant mail, or the logistics costs of mis-shipments, can be staggering. Mailers are demanding more intelligent software solutions to build in data quality from the very beginning of processes, to remove error-prone human intervention by moving tasks to software, and to provide for quality assurance validations at multiple steps along the process. Window Book solutions, such as the APDU, TrueAddress, wbSCAN, PostalOne! Customer Data are all built with this trend in mind. CONCLUSION These trends will not be going away they will gain momentum and become increasingly important in the future. Count on Window Book to invest in intelligent software design to offer a wide array of solutions specifically designed to handle these trends. For additional information, log on to www.windowbook.com, call us at 1.800.524.0380 or email us at Info@windowbook.com.
800.524.0380 Info@windowbook.com windowbook.com
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Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2019