Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2020

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DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note

A Changing Landscape By Amanda Armendariz

06 Real-Life Management

Continuous Improvement: The Path to a Better Future! By Wes Friesen



08 The Trenches

Window Envelopes vs. Closed Face

By Mike Porter

10 Software Byte

Getting to Know Mail.dat By Jeff Peoples

12 Guest Column



Do USPS Promotions Work? By Leo Raymond

FEATURES 14 Three Ways the Lifecycle of a Mail Piece Can Impact Your Customer Journey Are your customer communication pieces having as much impact as they can with the recipients?

By Dan Browne

16 Can Informed Visibility Take Your Mail Data to the Next Level? This USPS program is quickly growing into the data distribution platform for a wide range of USPS products and services.

By Nancy Garrison and Kurt Ruppel

22 Increase the Success of Your Mail Campaign by Avoiding These Mistakes

Follow these tips to avoid the costs associated with some



of these common pitfalls that mailers often experience. By Rob Hanks

24 The Top 10 Ways to Optimize Your USPS Permit Accounts

When it comes to permit spends, lack of oversight can lead to overspending, funding issues, and lost postage. To combat this, we’ll take a look at the top 10 things you can implement. By Adam Lewenberg

28 Turning the Envelope into an Integrated Marketing Tool The white space on your envelopes could be a valuable — but underutilized — tool. By Mark Rheaume

SPONSORED CONTENT 13 Product Spotlights: A Quick Glimpse at a Few Specific Solutions You Would Have Seen at National Postal Forum (NPF) 2020 18 Helpful Ideas More Detailed Information About Helpful Products, Services, and Ideas from Several NPF Exhibitors

EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 33, ISSUE 3 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz Contributing Writers Dan Browne, Wes Friesen, Nancy Garrison, Rob Hanks, Adam Lewenberg, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond, Mark Rheaume, Kurt Ruppel Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 Design Kelli Cooke

MadMen3 PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email:

SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at 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 Online at REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2020 by MadMen3 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, MadMen3 or its staff becomes property of MadMen3. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of MadMen3 or Mailing Systems Technology. MadMen3 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 33 Issue 3] is published seven times per year (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by MadMen3, PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098, 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



s COVID-19 sweeps our nation, we’re experiencing, to a large extent, a new way of life. Schools in many states are closed down, many offices now have their employees working completely from home, and public places like libraries, museums, fitness centers, and playgrounds are closed in several states (with more areas likely following suit by the time this issue is printed). On top of it all, the 2020 National Postal Forum has been canceled. We at Mailing Systems Technology completely understand and wholeheartedly support this decision; nothing is more important than human life. However, we will miss this yearly event that we always eagerly anticipate. While our printed and digital publications can’t replace the amazing sessions, speakers, and trade show floor that we (and you!) would have experienced in Orlando, we hope that this issue at least gives you a glimpse into some of the ideas and solutions you might have come across there. And, of course, we are already marking our calendars for May 2-5 of 2021, when we hope to see many of you at NPF in Nashville.

Through this all, the United States Postal Service has been tirelessly delivering the mail and packages across the US (and likely many more packages than normal, given that so many people are now complying with the “stay-at-home” directives and ordering even more products online than ever). Our thoughts are with those employees of the Postal Service, and we hope they are able to stay healthy as they perform the essential services we have all come to rely on from the USPS. No one knows what the future holds in regards to this pandemic; how many will be affected, when a vaccine will be developed, when it will all be over. And for a while, our new normal will likely look very different than what you’re used to. But through it all, we will be there, serving as your trusted industry partner as you continue to keep your customer communication strategies strong. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology. | MARCH-APRIL 2020





e all desire for the teams we influence and lead to be successful — both now and in the future. How can we help ensure that our teams achieve the results that will lead to success and a better outlook? An important key is to embrace the philosophy of Continuous Improvement (CI), which states we need to continually strive to get better at what we do, such as make never-ending improvements to our work processes. The roots of the CI philosophy can be traced to the pioneer of the Quality Movement — Dr. W. Edwards Deming — and the Japanese, who refer to the philosophy as “Kaizen.” The contrast to traditional thinking can be illustrated as: Old Thinking: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” New Thinking: “Just because it isn’t broke doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” Respected management expert Brian Tracy sums up the philosophy by encouraging, “Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little better every single day.” Benefits of Continuous Improvement Philosophy Why bother with striving for CI? Studies have shown some of the benefits include:  Boosts productivity – improves processes and eliminates waste, leading to increased efficiency.



 Improves quality of our products and services – leading to less re-work and more satisfied customers.  Creates a competitive advantage – gives your team an edge over competitors.  Improves the culture – as your team experiences improvements and the resulting benefits, satisfaction, engagement, and morale will all increase. Employees will feel empowered to make a positive difference!  Increases teamwork – encourages all employees to contribute ideas and work together to implement value-added improvements. Key Principles Supporting Continuous Improvement Philosophy 1. Make an intentional, long-term commitment. Management expert Peter Drucker stated, “Nothing good happens by accident.” To be successful at CI, we need to have a long-term view and commitment. CI should not be a mere management “flavor of the month,” but rather an enduring, never-ending quest to always strive to make things a little bit better. Deming, in his classic 14 points, emphasized the concept he called “constancy of purpose”— an unrelenting, unwavering focus on process improvements. 2. Focus on “proactive fire prevention” rather than “reactive fire fighting.” Many managers and their teams are constantly distracted by creating and putting

out a series of “fires” (i.e. being reactive fire fighters). Being caught in this reactive mode distracts from solving the root causes of the problems and causes people to work harder, rather than smarter. The CI approach is to intentionally work smart at proactively preventing fires (problems) in the first place. Related to this approach is the emphasis on preventive maintenance rather than corrective maintenance. To illustrate this approach, think about why we do regular oil changes in our cars (i.e. preventive maintenance). The alternative if we don’t is that somewhere down the road (pun intended) we will face a major corrective maintenance repair bill! 3. Ask for and be receptive to feedback. This is very important to the success of a CI philosophy. We need to encourage lots of communication and ideas to be shared, then be open and receptive to evaluating and acting on those that can help us improve. 4. Work as a team. Here is a key truth: “We are better together!” If our goal is to improve together as a team, making sure we are working as a team is important. It’s also wise to expand our concept of team to include our work team, as well as internal service provider support teams like IT and HR, and external key vendors and suppliers. 5. Choose small, manageable improvements. CI, by definition, is all about making ongoing small, incremental improvements. Consider the “one percent rule,” which says to strive for modest one percent improvements at a time — and realize that many one percent improvements over time add up to significant long-term progress. 6. Measure progress and celebrate improvements. Drucker taught, “What gets measured gets improved.” We need to track our key performance measures to ensure that targeted improvements are taking place. And when there are improvements, we need to celebrate the progress. Two key principles I teach are: “Success breeds success” and “Celebrated small wins, over time, lead to big wins.” Some Useful Tools Supporting CI One useful tool that has been used by many organizations for many years is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. There are four basic steps: Plan: Identify an improvement and plan for change. Do: Complete the activities to implement the change, which may be on a small scale or trial basis initially.

Check: Once implemented, check the results to ensure they align with expectations. Act: If the change was successful, implement on a wider basis and continually assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again. Another useful set of tools involves benchmarking and best practices analysis. Benchmarking involves comparing our systems and processes with other teams that are high performing. Benchmarking can reveal where our operations are performing well and also identify areas where we have the most room for improvements. Analysis involves identifying the best practices used by the top performers of a given process. We then use a tool like PDCA to pursue our improvement initiatives to bring us in line with the best practices. Sources of Potential CI Improvement Ideas We need to be constantly looking for potential ideas to make our operations better and practice the CI philosophy.

Here are some of the idea sources we should consider: Front line employees: The people who do the work often have the best ideas on how to improve processes and make them more efficient and easier. Let’s ask them on a regular basis for their ideas! Benchmarking and peer comparisons: Developing good relationships with other teams and organizations that do similar work is extremely valuable. Plugging into trade associations like PCCs, MSMA, and others can support our efforts to benchmark and learn the best practices of others. Conferences: Many of the best ideas that I have learned and implemented came from participating in conferences like the National Postal Forum. We can learn from the speakers, peers, and experts we meet at the conference, along with the trade floor vendors and suppliers. Trade periodicals: We can learn good ideas from business trade journals like Mailing Systems Technology. Trade journals like this one feature articles and stories containing practical ideas that we can learn from, and also highlight leading edge vendors that may be helpful to our operations.

Consultants: Sometimes it is worth the investment to bring in a proven consultant to analyze our operations and suggest improvements. If you’d like a recommendation, please feel free to reach out to me. A final closing quote to consider by Pat Riley, successful NBA coach and General Manager: “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” My best to you and your team as you improve your excellence by practicing the CI philosophy!  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, and give you practical pointers to help you — and your team — soar to new heights of performance. Wes can be contacted at wesmfriesen@gmail. com or at 971.806.0812. | MARCH-APRIL 2020





uring my service bureau career, I was involved in the production of transactional documents like bills, notices, and statements. We inserted every document into a window envelope. We had a warehouse full of them, printed with client logos and featuring windows of various sizes and locations. Window envelopes are still the norm for transactional documents, but today’s mailers have choices that weren’t practical just a few years ago. Pros and Cons of Window Envelopes The best aspect of window envelopes is the ability to verify the contents of the envelope after the machine has inserted the material. Printing a small 2D barcode or text in the address block allows cameras mounted at the end of the inserting line to scan through the window and compare document ID numbers against a file of expected mail pieces. If cameras detect a missing, out of sequence, or duplicate ID number, the inserting machine can stop, allowing operators to diagnose the problem. Mail piece integrity checks are more important than ever. Once used only for transactional documents, accounting for every mail piece is now necessary on nearly all mailing jobs. Clients want to be sure all their mail went out. As marketers include more personalization in their campaigns, accuracy is vitally important. Clients are expecting applications like direct mail, which mailers used to process without precise integrity controls, to be subject to the same level of scrutiny as bank statements. Window envelopes provide operations with a level of confidence that closed face (windowless) envelopes cannot.



It’s comforting to see those addresses showing through the windows. The window envelope approach has some drawbacks, though. Many envelopes look almost identical. Though we at the service bureau enforced job set-up quality checks, humans can make mistakes. Simple errors like loading the wrong stock into the inserter or returning unused envelopes from last month’s run to the wrong pallet or carton in the warehouse could cause us to mail one client’s documents in another’s envelopes. Some camera systems can catch this error by examining the return address area on each mail piece as it exits the equipment, ensuring the proper logos or return addresses appear on every one. Not everyone has this feature, so they rely on human eyes to ensure they’re using the proper envelopes throughout the run. Some mailers avoid the mixed-envelope situation by using double window envelopes, allowing the return address on the inside document to show through the top window and the mailing address to appear in the lower window. This is a great approach if your shop intends to combine several small print jobs from different clients or applications into one large inserting job. Two-window envelopes (or the alternative large single window varieties) impact document formats. Clients must reserve a substantial portion of the first page of their documents for address information and take care that no one can see confidential data like medical information or account numbers through the windows. You might recall a well-publicized case a few years ago when an insurer faced lawsuits and HIPAA infractions because of data showing through large envelope windows.

Our service bureau processed print-image files provided by our clients. Often our clients couldn’t change the way their documents were formatted. It wasn’t possible to align both address blocks with our standard double-window envelopes. In these cases, we had to insert documents into single-window envelopes pre-printed with the client’s logo and return address. This brings us to another drawback of window envelopes. On some jobs, operators may have to reposition the inserting machine’s fold plates to make sure all mail pieces meet USPS regulations and the addresses show through the windows properly. This can be challenging when registration is tight, particularly for addresses with five or six lines that may be buried somewhere in the run. Folder adjustments, even those accomplished by automated means, take time. The machine isn’t running while adjustments are made, and operators must stop the equipment and check the lineup on the first few envelopes of the job. Productivity suffers. Obviously you can’t combine jobs, either, if they require different folds. If your inserters accumulate pages before folding, page counts affect the alignment of addresses. The position of addresses printed on the first page of the document, relative to the window, will change for high page count documents. Closed Face Envelopes Mail piece integrity measures built into newer inserting equipment and add-on camera systems have made it less risky to insert documents into closed-face envelopes. This method uses inkjet heads attached to inserting machines to spray the recipient’s addresses and postal barcodes on the outside of a windowless envelope. The identity of each document is encoded in a barcode read from documents as a sheet feeder or cutter feeds pages into the inserter. The document ID number matches a data file that drives the inkjet printer at the end of the inserter. Sensors built into the inserting machines prevent the system from getting out of sync and printing the wrong address on the envelopes. When document designers don’t have to contend with envelope windows, they are not constrained because of address blocks. This frees up document real estate and allows document designers to use the space to their advantage. They may be able to lower page counts because of the extra space, which reduces costs and shortens the time necessary for printing and inserting.

Because fold plates can remain in set positions, inserter operators won’t have to stop their machines as often or contend with unusual folds that result in uneven panel widths, which can contribute to jams. Closed face envelopes essentially separate the document layout from mail piece addressing requirements. Accumulating pages before folding won’t create “address creep” that affects deliverability on closed face envelopes like it can with window envelopes. Closed-face envelopes can be preprinted with the sender’s logo and return address or inserter-mounted inkjet heads can apply this information. Inkjet print quality for inserters has improved dramatically since the time I first investigated the technology. Advances in the ink-spraying equipment and the ink itself now allow organizations to print high-quality, full-color content on the outside of envelopes at production speeds. For a service bureau running jobs for multiple clients, closed-face envelopes present some interesting possibilities. You could buy plain white envelopes in large quantities, simplify inventory, and eliminate obsolescence. If the printing operation also employs a white paper

workflow, you can merge jobs, print them in an optimal sequence for presorted mail, and improve productivity in both the printing and inserting steps. If you can run larger inserting jobs, your operators can keep the machines running at top speed for longer periods of time. You’ll experience fewer stoppages during the day for machine change-over, material staging, logging, and reconciliation. You can transform hours of idle time into continuous production when you combine jobs. Privacy concerns about revealing inappropriate information through envelope windows is obviously no longer an issue with closed-face envelopes. Which Is Best? The decision about which envelope style is best depends on your applications and work schedules. If you’re implementing a white paper workflow throughout your operation, switching to a closed-face solution is something worth considering. With shrinking First-Class Mail volumes, combining jobs may be the only way to produce the mail economically. If address block placement varies on your present work, you must use envelopes with windows that will fit all cases while staying

within USPS regulations (without allowing private information to show). Or you can switch to windowless envelopes. Some analysis will be necessary to determine which solution is best for you. Shops that insert the same documents all day are probably better off with window envelopes. They can design windows that meet the requirements for the jobs they run, set up their machines, and crank out the mail without having to worry much about address alignment and folder adjustments. Envelope choice doesn’t need to be all or nothing. If you’ve got a substantial volume of documents that can be made to align in a standard one or two-window envelope, you can still combine those jobs. Use closed-face envelopes on the remaining jobs. There’s no reason you can’t do both.  Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at | MARCH-APRIL 2020





e often hear the term Mail. dat in the mailing industry, but what exactly is it, and why is it important? Mail.dat is an industry standard database file set that consists of detailed presort mailing information based on specifications set by the International Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEAlliance) ( Mail.dat is a group of files that together represent virtually all the detailed information regarding a mailing with the exception of the names and addresses of the recipients. It is created during the presort process by the presort software or MLOCR (multiple line optical character reader) machines and consists of data elements in a readily usable format. Mail. dat is the primary format of data files that is accepted by the U.S. Postal Service for exchanging electronic mailing information. In order to use Mail.dat, you need to apply for a User License Code from IDEAlliance, which involves payment of a nominal fee. Currently, there are hundreds of licensed Mail.dat users including mailers, software vendors, service providers, publishers, systems integrators, and the USPS. The screenshot to the right shows a typical Mail.dat file set as viewed in Windows File Explorer. When the ZIP file (shown in the screenshot) is expanded, it contains the files 0012811.XXX with XXX being hdr, seg, mpu, mcr, mpa, cpt, csm, cqt, pqt, pdr. These cryptic file extensions represent the type of file: 10


 HDR is the Header file, which contains basic information about the mailing.  SEG is the Segment file, which describes the different segments of a mailing job, such as different versions of the mail piece.  MPU is the Mail Piece Unit file, which describes the mail piece itself.  MCR is the Mail Piece Unit/Component Relationship file, which describes the relationship of the various mail piece components in relation to the mail piece units.  MPA is the Mailer Postage Accounting file, which describes how the postage is paid, permit numbers, etc.  CPT is the Component file, which describes each component that makes up the mail piece, e.g. statement, insert, envelope.

 CSM is the Container Summary file, which details each container (e.g. sack, tray, pallet) of mail generated during the presort process.  CQT is the Container Quantity file, which details the piece counts within each container of mail.  PQT is the Package Quantity file, which details the piece counts within each package or bundle of mail pieces.  PDR is the Piece Detail Record file, which includes specific identification data for each piece in the mailing. Mail. dat files must contain either a PDR file or a PBC file, which is the Piece Barcode file. The PBC files includes the Intelligent Mail barcode data for each mail piece. There are additional extension names that could be included if that mailing needed them. There are currently 10 files required for each Mail.dat file set, with up to 21 files available if needed. The Mail.dat sets only contain those files that are needed to describe the mailing. For a full description of all the files, consult the IDEAlliance Mail.dat specification at Mail.dat provides you and your mailing partners with all the information needed to automate postal statement preparation, enhance transportation planning, speed mail acceptance and verification, and manage postage data. Using Mail.dat to create and exchange electronic documents with the USPS enables mailers to profit significantly from streamlining production and optimizing postage discounts such as drop shipping.

Mail.dat files also facilitate making changes to the original mailing plan as defined during the presort process. The presort process is often performed days or even weeks prior to the actual mailing date. That original presort plan can change during that time frame. Post-presort software allows mail preparers to make edits to the Mail.dat files to reflect those changes. For example, the weight of the mail pieces is estimated at the time of presort, and that data must then be changed to the actual weight of the pieces once they are prepared. Another

common example is splitting up a mailing job into smaller, more manageable portions. This may be done for production reasons, or perhaps to stagger the mailing job across multiple days to accommodate better control over the in-home delivery date. Regardless of the reason, these “partial” mailings can be identified and submitted to PostalOne! to accurately reflect what is physically mailed each day. These are just two examples; there are many edits and additional processes that can be performed using the Mail.dat file and post-presort software.

Because Mail.dat files are standardized, mail owners, list processors, lettershops, and transportation companies can — with the right Mail.dat software to read and manage these files — easily decode and transmit the mail production and postage information that the files contain. When Mail.dat files are available, all parties involved in a mailing can prepare in advance and allocate the proper resources for each job. Mail.dat becomes the bridge that not only links a variety of in-house lettershop/mail service provider applications, but also links the lettershop to its clients and of course to the USPS. Jeff Peoples is founder, president, and CEO at Window Book. With over 30 years of innovative postal solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, he has done presentations at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum, and other industry and direct marketing events. | MARCH-APRIL 2020





t’s common in the retail world for a store to have a special promotion — signage, advertising, and reduced prices — to build sales of a given product or to drive more customers into stores — or both. In the world of the Postal Service, where its “products,” their prices, and their specifications are regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the notion of putting mail “on sale” was always considered infeasible. However, that changed in May 2009, when the USPS filed with the PRC for a threemonth “summer sale” on Marketing (Standard) Mail letters and flats. The innovative proposal was approved and ended up being repeated the following year. In subsequent years, the promotions increased and were expanded to include First-Class Mail. By 2013, the agency was proposing six promotions to the PRC, and has continued the practice of offering multiple, overlapping, limited-time promotions every year for both First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail ever since. (There were no promotions in 2018 because there were no sitting governors to approve the annual filing.) Over the past decade-plus, the recurring question has been whether the 12


promotions actually work — whether by increasing the volume mailed or reducing volume that otherwise would not have been mailed. Understandably, the Postal Service believes they do. The promotions’ managers cite three benefits, saying the promotions: 1) encourage mailers to try new technologies and techniques to drive better response and enhance mail’s value; 2) keep mailers innovating in the marketing ecosystem, to explore, integrate into, and keep pace with other marketing channels; and 3) allow mailer owners to use fresh approaches, keeping mail top-of-mind in their businesses’ marketing mix. The USPS also cites the growth in participation as evidence of the promotions’ value. For example, from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2019 (October 2016 to September 2019), though results varied for specific promotions, total participants increased by three percent and total eligible mail volume grew by six percent. In the most recent full year (FY 2019), repeat participants were about half of total participants, suggesting that the promotions satisfied their objectives as well as the Postal Service’s. Surveying the participants also revealed that 1)

81% of participants in the Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive promotion agree that incorporating TSI treatments into their mail pieces will increase the effectiveness of their direct mail campaign; 2) 68% of mailing service providers would recommend incorporating Emerging and Advanced Technology into their clients’ future direct mail campaigns; and 3) 60% of Informed Delivery promotion respondents plan to conduct interactive Informed Delivery campaigns outside the promotion period. The agency also states that it consistently sees that promotion participants have more positive mail volume trends than do non-participants. If customers mail more, the USPS assumes, they’re both seeing success in the mail and achieving more value and ROI. Those looking for more concrete proof can turn to the PRC. Its role requires it to examine the Postal Service’s proposed promotions, and their past results, more dispassionately. If history is any guide, the PRC finds the promotions are worthwhile, generating more contribution to postal revenues than the related discounts cost. Cynics might still ask how much volume mailed under the promotions would have been sent anyway. Given the continued ebb of all hard-copy messaging, the notion of “anyhow mail” might be less applicable now than a decade or two ago but, even if a mail owner had planned some volume of mail anyway, the promotions might allow sending more (given the discount) while exploring ways to improve the effectiveness of messages. In such a scenario, mail volume that was at risk may have been preserved. For commercial mailers, including printers who mail, the promotions provide novel ways to engage new customers, build business with existing customers, explore new offerings, and expand the value-added services that can improve margins. If the USPS promotions both retain mail volume and support mail producers’ businesses, it seems logical to conclude that the promotions do work — for everyone.  Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. He can be reached at


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Print and Mail Solutions

How Can We Help?

Kirk-Rudy will be featuring their new FireJet 4c full color inkjet digital press this year. Using Memjet’s new DuraFlex technology, the FireJet 4C is an all-in-one printing system that delivers high-speed color printing at near offset quality for documents, labels, direct mail and packaging. Also at their booth, will be the high speed Phoenix inkjet system inline with their famous KR545D Tabber, which applies tabs to 3 sides of a mail piece in one pass to meet the USPS regulations for self-mailers. From print to mail, Kirk-Rudy is the equipment solution.

Mailing Systems Technology is the premier media for decision makers focused on improving the quality, production, workflow, and delivery of their customer communications and direct mail.


How can we help you improve your mailings and overall print-mail operation? Email us today with your questions and your article ideas.

By Dan Browne



he USPS delivers over 484.8 million pieces of mail on a daily basis. Did you know that the USPS tracks every single piece that they process and deliver every day? Every billing statement, subscription, birthday card, and piece of marketing material is scanned and tracked from reception to delivery. Every presorted piece is tracked on their container (pallet), in the handling unit (tray or sack), and down to every individual piece. They do this to know where every piece of mail is within the mailing network. With the costs of marketing mail or billing statements being anywhere between 40 cents to multiple dollars per piece, don’t you want to know where your mail is any point in the mail cycle? If it is important enough to mail the piece, isn’t it important enough to know 14


that the person received it? Most mailers should find tracking beneficial, yet most do not realize the value of tracking their mail through the Informed Visibility (IV) platform. To see the value, let’s follow a few pieces of mail as they move through the postal system and determine what the various IV scans mean, what they might tell us, and what we can learn from them. Good In our first example, a marketer spends weeks planning a mail campaign and sends out a beautifully designed piece to tens of thousands of highly targeted prospects, yet somehow the response rate is not as high as expected. Who or what is to blame? In this scenario, the mailer does not look up any tracking details, so how can they

properly determine the issue? If they don’t know if and when all the mail was delivered, they won’t know if the low response was caused by delivery delays, the target list selections missing the mark, the offer not being compelling, or if the recipient just wasn’t interested. In a post-campaign analysis, they might be able to determine that a target area has no responses and suspect there was an issue with delivery. But what are they going to do when they find this out four or six weeks after the mailing? They could potentially re-mail to the area again and see if they can re-coup the potential responders, but that is spending more money unnecessarily. In the end, numerous prospects were lost before they had a chance to become a customer, and little to nothing was learned.

Better In our next scenario, the mailer has limited knowledge of tracking and can log in to the IV website to research a campaign if they need to. A few days after the mail date, they go into the IV platform and query all the pallets to see if they have any scans. They do not need to know the meanings of all the scan operation codes, but if they have scan “848” for a pallet that means “Container Possession” or “878” for “Container Load,” they at least know it was delivered to the postal facility and should process and deliver soon. In this scenario, they notice a few pallets have no scans. Based on this finding, they dig a little deeper and determine all the pallets are for a single destination, and none of them were accepted at the mail facility. They contact the logistics provider and confirm the pallets were not released as planned. Now they quickly work with the transportation provider and the USPS to make sure the mail pieces are processed and delivered in-home within the target window. They saved a disaster and received the responses they were expecting. By knowing a little about tracking, they were able to identify the issue and save the campaign in time.

Best In our third scenario, a marketer is an IV expert (or uses one) to track the mail from pallet induction through piece delivery, and in their campaign analysis. They watch as every pallet is delivered to the postal facilities, which also tells them if the logistics provider is on time or late. They monitor the mail as it moves across the country and through delivery. Based on specific “Stop the Clock” and “Logical Scan Events,” they can determine the exact date the person receives the piece. As the replies come in, they flag the response date for each mailed record. Now they can compare the delivery date to the response date and get a better analysis of customer responses. With this information from all responders, they now know how long, on average, it takes for their customers to respond as well as how long it will be before response rates drop off dramatically. Knowing this information gives them the option to send email reminders just prior to the date the responses will slow down, giving an extra boost in response rate. The analysis will also reveal what delivery days trigger the largest response rates — how those

receiving the piece on Monday respond compare to those that receive it on Thursday or Friday. This technology is not only an advantage to marketers but also provides necessary information to companies who mail billing statements, retailers that mail coupons, or accounts receivable departments tracking payments coming back in the mail stream. In the age of data and analytics, why stop your mail campaign at the mail date? Follow the scan data and use it to your advantage. Watch for hiccups in the delivery process. Monitor your mail service providers and logistics companies to make sure they deliver on their promises. Learn about your customers and how they respond to your offers. Not knowing if the piece was delivered within the offer period or not delivered at all obviously impacts the way the customer or prospect will view your offer and company. The data insights gained from IV will positively impact you and your customers’ experience from mailing to delivery as well as response to revenue.  Dan Browne is Manager of Data Services at SourceLink. | MARCH-APRIL 2020



TAKE YOUR MAIL DATA TO THE NEXT LEVEL? By Nancy Garrison and Kurt Ruppel


any mailers know the U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Visibility (IV) product as the latest generation of mail piece tracking, but it is quickly growing into the data distribution platform for a wide range of USPS products and services. The article on the previous page showed an overview of the ways that IV can be utilized throughout the life cycle of a mail piece, so now, let’s dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of this offering. An increasing number of USPS programs are leveraging the power of IV’s existing data distribution protocols to link mail owners and mail service providers to the information they need to manage mail programs, as well as efficiently and effectively engage with mail recipients. IV data feeds can provide you near realtime information about your mail programs from postage payment to mail quality verifications, to following the progress of your mail throughout the USPS process network, up to its final delivery to the intended recipient. IV continues to be expanded, with additional data feeds to provide access to Informed Delivery reporting and enhanced access to Remittance Mail information coming soon.



Use Data Feeds to Simplify Access for Recurring Data Needs One of the strengths of IV is its robust data distribution protocols, which provide the ability to direct the right information to the right members of the mail production supply chain at the right time through the appropriate data feeds. Using data feeds lets you set up your data distribution and forget it — no need to recreate the same data request day after day. IV provides many options for customization when creating data feeds. You determine:  File format generated by the feed;  Run frequency — from minutes to monthly;  Appropriate feed title;  Data field selection and the order the fields appear in the feed;  Where/how the feed is received. Data and reports can be sent to your designated secure FTP site, or you can retrieve data feeds directly from the IV platform. Sending information to your FTP site allows you to archive the data for longer periods for later use.

As your data needs change, IV offers options to easily modify your existing data feeds to respond to those changes. Leverage Existing Data Feeds Let’s look at some of the information already available with IV data feeds. Mail Tracking and Reporting (MTR) Scan Data MTR scan data feeds provide valuable insight into postal operations through Intelligent Mail barcode scans not only for individual mail pieces, but also for mail containers (often pallets) and handling units (trays, bundles, or sacks). As mail is moving through the USPS processing network, scan data offers visibility of postal possession of your mail from sorting facilities all the way through delivery to the recipients’ mailbox. These data feeds allow you to ingest potentially large amounts of scan data, exactly how and when you want. Implementing data feeds may be just the time saver you are looking for to better understand postal processing or more efficiently link mail delivery to other marketing channels.

Mail Quality Data (MQD) You no longer need to rely on the Mailer Scorecard to review verification data. Retrieving detailed MQD through the Mailer Scorecard can be more than a bit cumbersome. Mailer Scorecard data is not real-time and the amount of detailed data that can be provided is capped. IV now provides a data feed option to review detailed results of mail quality verifications performed on your mail as it is presented to the Postal Service. MQD feeds can include verification of submitted electronic documentation, as well as mail processing scan data collection. Retrieving MQD through IV is near realtime and provides unlimited data, with a one-time data feed setup. Payment Transactions in the Enterprise Payment System (EPS) Now that the Enterprise Payment System (EPS) has become the standard for most electronic payments to the Postal Service, mailers are looking for convenient ways to gather and parse large sets of recurring transaction data. IV now has a transaction reporting data store with detailed transaction level data on all EPS products, providing access to view and

create customized reporting feeds of this data through IV, eliminating the need to manually pull data from PostalOne!. Package Attributes As well as letters and flats, IV has begun provisioning data on physical and payment data for packages. This feature allows customized data feeds through the IV-MTR platform for data from the new USPS Package Platform Concept. Look for More Data Feeds Coming Soon And this is only the beginning! The USPS IV team continues to look to the future and the additional information that can be made available through IV. Some of the data on the IV roadmap for the current fiscal year includes the following: Informed Delivery Data One of the challenges facing mailers who use Informed Delivery campaigns to add a digital touch to their mail pieces has been the quantity of data available post-campaign. This data can currently be downloaded through the Informed Delivery portal, but for high-volume campaigns, this can be an arduous process. The IV and Informed Delivery teams are currently working together to

make this information more easily available through IV data feeds later this year. Enhanced Visibility for Remittance Mail and Caller Services The IV team is working to provide improved visibility of remittance mail as it is processed on USPS platforms, sorted into containers, and then handed off to a customer/courier in Caller Service. This new data will include “available for pick-up” and “tendered to agent” scans within Caller Service to provide visibility (internally and externally) of Remittance Mail as it is processed. Rollout of this visibility is expected later this fiscal year. If we’ve convinced you that now is the time to take your mail data to the next level, start investigating what IV and automated data feeds can do for your mailing program. We’re confident you will see immediate benefits.  Nancy Garrison is USPS Compliance & Monitor Analyst at IWCO Direct and can be reached at Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications at IWCO Direct and can be reached at | MARCH-APRIL 2020




As we are all aware, the 2020 National Postal Forum that was scheduled for later this month had to be canceled. This being said, we wanted to make sure that many of you that were planning on attending this year’s event in Orlando got details about what a select group of this year’s exhibitors were showing in their booths. Please read through all the information, check out the exhibitors’ websites, and then call or email them to get even more details about how their equipment, software, services, and/or supplies will help your mail production and workflow be more efficient and effective. Wishing you all the best.

With over 40 years of experience in postal presort software and address quality solutions, BCC Software is a proven industry leader. We are experts from data to delivery, offering the widest range of solutions to enhance direct communications anywhere along the mailing workflow. Our products include best in class data enhancement services, postal preparation software, and mailpiece tracking. Even though the National Postal Forum is not taking place in 2020, there’s still an opportunity to upgrade your operation with BCC Software. For thousands of mailers, our suite of desktop software products improves deliverability and reduces postage. Introduced in 2019, Bulk Mailer SMB® is designed for ease of use with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. Our flagship BCC Mail Manager™ product suite offers additional capability for businesses in need of more robust solutions. Mailers looking to supercharge their operations should explore BCC



Software’s enterprise solutions that improve capacity and maximize postage discounts on high volume mailings and throughput through advanced automation. These solutions include Mail Manager Full Service™, BCC Ignite, Integratec®, and BCC Post-Presort. BCC Software also offers comprehensive data marketing services, including COMPLIANCE+™, which combines CASS™ and NCOALink® with powerful industry tools. When it comes to mail tracking, BCC Software’s Track N Trace® uses USPS Informed Visibility® technology to provide unbeatable mailpiece intelligence and reporting. To learn more contact us at marketing@ or 1.800.337.0442. 800.337.0442

Unprocessed returned mail stored in a closet somewhere is costing your business way more than you can imagine. Returned mail presents a logistical and operational challenge for companies with large volumes of mail. Companies often have to perform a significant amount of manual work to determine the reason that a mail piece was returned, and then make additional efforts to update address information. With CPT’s solution, you can scan the envelopes and we’ll help you determine who was the intended recipient, why did the USPS return it, and if there is a forwarding address. Our solution can help to identify the contents of the envelope to route the image to the appropriate department within your organization. We can even send the name and address information to a service that runs the data against five databases to try and find a more current address, and only charges when they find one. With a returned mail solution from CPT, returned mail no longer needs to be shoved into the closet of “nothing I can do about it.” Please contact us for a custom demonstration with your returned mail. 908.751.0709

Continuing the excitement from the 2019 National Postal Forum, Engineering Innovation Inc. was revving up the engines to delight attendees with a chance to take a couple of laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in one of our racing simulators. After the thrill of racing at one of the most iconic speedways, you would have had an opportunity to see EII’s growing set of solutions for the postal industry. From our LightSort™ Sort-to-Light System that enables high-speed, high-accuracy parcel sorting with very little operator training to our Chameleon™ Automated Parcel Processing Solution for mid-to-high volume parcel processors, Engineering Innovation’s highly configurable parcel solutions are specifically designed to adapt to our customers’ environment to get compatible solutions in operation as quickly as possible.

In addition to our parcel offerings, Engineering Innovation has updated its industry leading flats processing system to improve throughput for higher volume mailers. The new EZFlats™ Autofeed adds an automatic feeder and weight-on-the-fly scale to the EZ-Flats™ Premium. This raises the speed of flats processing to over 3,000 flats per hour while still taking advantage of all the standard EZ-Flats™ features. A manual feed section paves the way to process small parcel and Bound Printed Matter, and improvements to the stackers system allows bin counts of over 200 bins.

Manufacturers of clear envelopes and mailers offering unmatched exposure and quality. EnvyPak products share an engaging, interactive quality that achieves the maximum possible impact for various marketing applications. EnvyPak mailers are USPS-approved, 100% recyclable, designed to be fully compatible with automation equipment, and available in various custom shapes and sizes. Rise above mailbox clutter and maximize response with a clear EnvyPak, the most impactful envelope in direct mail! EnvyPak clear poly envelopes are available with interactive print, are

machine insertable and can mail at the same postage as boring paper envelopes. A unique, high-impact envelope like a clear EnvyPak is sure to be opened. Made in the USA, EnvyPak is curbside recyclable with biodegradable options available. For more information including direct mail success stories visit: 800.350.6450 877.835.3052

Firstlogic Solutions, maker of ACE® and other address-quality software, has released Enhance IQ™, an on-premise/in-cloud software solution that allows print/mail service providers, marketers, list vendors, and in-plant document operations to better target their communications and improve the ROI of their campaigns. Enhance IQ™ provides access to data quality and enhancement services using a single on-premise user interface software platform. Users can build, store, and execute jobs that run on a maintenance-free cloud platform. This product allows print/ mail service providers and database marketing companies to offer a myriad of data enhancement services to their customers. Available enhancement services include:  Data Cleansing: Deduplication, name parsing, and email verification  Data Appending: Gender, name, cell phone number, Do Not Call, and more  Address Standardization: CASS™, NCOALink®, geocoding, PCOA, and ECOA  Data Suppression: Deceased, prison, nursing home and Do Not Mail  Demographic Data Enhancement: Homeowner, income, dwelling type, age, and more On a single screen, users select the services they want to apply to a job, and select their data files to process. Enhance IQ returns the results to them, often within minutes. Using Enhance IQ™, print/mail service providers and database marketing companies can offer more data quality and enhancement services to their customers. With Enhance IQ, users pay only for the records they process. Contact Firstlogic for a demo. 888.725.7800

This year Fluence Automation had intended to showcase the new Flats Manager at NPF 2020. The Mixed Mail Flats and Small Parcel Sorter builds off our industry leading technology for handling USPS flats and adds the ability to handle small parcels up to 5” in the same footprint. Coupling these together allows customers in the mailing industry to expand revenue opportunities. The Flats Manager solution automates the sorting of both outgoing and incoming flats and small parcels using the most innovative technology available today. This system replaces manual handling of flats and increases the quality and traceability of each piece. Coupled with Fluence Automation’s NetSort software, the Flats Manager allows for the full range of USPS discounts and ensures compliance with USPS Seamless and Full-Service requirements. The new Fluence Automation HPSS server was also set to debut at NPF 2020 this year. The HPSS sever is specifically built for customers with large data demands in their existing operations. The HPSS server is an upgrade for speed, performance and reliability for customers that need to access piece-level data, report on advanced business metrics and support a larger and more detailed mailing environment. Alongside the HPSS server was an expansion of business reporting metrics available through NetSort. These metrics gave customers enhanced reporting of critical operations data for use in monitoring production daily. 888.832.4902



GrayHair Software is the trusted partner and provider of mail tracking and address hygiene services to the largest mailers and mail service providers in the country. GrayHair solutions deliver insights and decision-ready business intelligence that enable its clients to define best mailing practices, enhance customer engagement, increase response rates, and decrease cost per acquisition. With GrayHair, mailers gain the guidance and confidence of 200+ years of collective postal experience and an ally with an understanding of the postal industry’s nuances. Mail Tracking: Give yourself the power to track each and every mailpiece to its final destination. Gain valuable insight into your outbound and inbound mail. Manage campaigns to determine the best in-home date. Pallet Monitor: Leverage USPS® Informed Visibility® container scan data to provide insight into your cam-

paigns. Identify mail delivery issues at the pallet, tray, or piece level. Address Hygiene Solutiuons: Empower yourself to cut the high cost of mailing. Both standard and proprietary solutions will improve the quality of your addresses, stop bad addresses from going to print, and keep you compliant with the USPS. Data Visualization: Access fast and powerful business intelligence reports through our visual dashboards. Answer critical questions that impact your mail and identify trends that are overlooked in traditional reports.

While NPF 2020 will not be happening this year, Kern still wants to be able to bring that trade show feel to everyone that was planning on attending the show in Orlando this year. That is why Kern has established a virtual trade show that everyone is welcome to go and check out the various lines of business that Kern has to offer to all. At Kern, we pride ourselves at being a constant in the production mail industry for over 70 years. With the fastest mail inserting system in the industry, the quickest cutter on continuous work and the Swiss quality built into every module of the machine, it is no wonder why Kern has established itself into a leader in the market. But if that wasn’t enough, Kern is also able to offer a 10 year guarantee on all new systems when coupled with a full service contract,

promising that if the machine does not run up to acceptance standards at any time, and Kern cannot fix it, we will replace it with a brand new machine at any point in the 10 year timeframe. With products spanning beyond inserting systems, to mail-piece card attaching, custom cardboard box creation & insert, parcel lockers and document management software, Kern is poised to be your technology solutions partner. View the Virtual Trade Show at https://www.kernworld. com/vts/solutions.html 856.727.9372 614.317.2600

Since 1967 Kirk-Rudy has manufactured innovative solutions for the mailing and printing industries. From their state of the art 100,000 sq. ft. factory just north of Atlanta, GA, a complete product line of feeders, transport bases, conveyors, inkjet printers, inserters, labelers, tabbers, sorting, stacking, tip-on, pick-nplace, folders, bump turns, drying and matching/vision systems are engineered and produced with the highest standards of quality and value. Harry Kirk’s principle of “Build a better machine, and it will sell itself” has been Kirk-Rudy’s mission since day one. A highly experienced and dedicated team work together every day designing and manufacturing the highest quality mailing and printing equipment used by the world’s top companies. They have just introduced their newest four color inkjet printing system, the FireJet 4C. Using Memjet’s new DuraFlex technology, the FireJet 4C is an all-in-one printing system that combines the heavy-duty transport

that Kirk-Rudy is famous for, along with the printing quality, reliability, and simplicity that Memjet is known for. The FireJet 4C offers a profitable alternative to the smaller desktop, toner based digital color printers on the market today, and delivers highspeed color printing at near offset quality for documents, labels, envelopes and other direct mail products. All of Kirk-Rudy’s equipment is sold through a world-wide network of authorized dealers who have been factory trained on sales and service and fully supported by the factory. With Kirk-Rudy’s Customer Satisfaction Guarantee all the guess work is removed from choosing the right equipment. Ask anyone who owns their equipment and they will tell you, “Nothing is built like a Kirk-Rudy”. 770.427.4203

Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures; for this reason, we understand and fully support this year’s NPF cancellation. Safety first! Our focus for this year’s NPF was threefold: First – with continuous improvement being in NPI’s DNA, we wanted to showcase our Gen 3 Parcels Sorter which is now more robust and reliable than ever before. Second – “feeling the pain” of pre-sorting houses, we wanted to make attendees aware that we have ramped up our capabilities to deliver refurbished letters sorting equipment, so they can get a reliable sorter for a reasonable price. Third – remind all our customers of the different services we offer: ranging from 24/7 (phone) tech support, to parts contracts, to training, all the way to on-site personnel to maintain the equipment. We hope everybody is OK and look forward to seeing you all soon… Sincerely,

Welcome to the One-Stop Shop for direct marketing and mail success – Melissa Direct. We make it easy as 1, 2, 3 to reach new and current customers for the biggest return at the lowest price. Our 35+ years’ experience as the Address Experts is most evident in our mailing lists, data hygiene and enhancement tools, and our flexible mailing software. Step 1: Pick a New List. Choose from millions of consumer, business or specialty mailing lists and narrow down your ideal prospect by location, demographic, firmographic or hundreds of other selects. Reach them by direct mail, email, or phone for omni-channel touchpoints and higher response. Step 2: Clean & Enhance Current Lists. Keep your lists clean and complete with data hygiene and enhancement services. Update addresses with USPS® NCOALink® and Canada Post® NCOA to reach customers after they moved and

reduce returned mail. Plus, fill in any gaps with addresses, names, emails, and phone numbers. Step 3: Mail to Your Lists. Qualify for maximum postage discounts, eliminate returned mail, and gain the highest ROI on direct mail from Desktop or in the Cloud with our flexible line of mailing tools. Our newest tool, Mailers Online, is fully in the cloud so you can presort, dedupe, update, and print labels from anywhere to be sure every mailing is CASS® and PAVE Gold Certified®. Explore the one-stop-shop that will revolutionize your direct marketing and mail initiatives. Visit our website www. to learn more.

National Presort, LP (“NPI”) 1.888.821.7678 (SORT) 1.800.MELISSA | MARCH-APRIL 2020



Follow these tips to avoid the costs associated with some of these common pitfalls that mailers often experience.


he success of a direct mail campaign using a letter pack has many variables that can affect your profitability. If you have ever read the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), you know the United States Postal Service loves to use acronyms. They have acronyms for everything from types of services they provide to names of locations to drop off your mail and everything in between. I have come up with my own acronym I call PRIP, which stands for Potential Return on Investment Pitfalls. These pitfalls can be anything from extra production/processing costs, to increased postage, or a mail piece design that is missing key components. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of these pitfalls to avoid and ways to reduce costs and increase profitability for your next marketing campaign. The Pitfalls of Production and Processing One of the biggest pitfalls I see is where an outer envelope will be designed and produced but is not compatible with mailing equipment. Envelope flaps are the biggest culprit. Producing your envelope with a

flap that is non-machine-insertable means you are either hand-inserting the components, or you are going to be reproducing the envelope using a machine-compatible flap. Either way, it is an added expense and delays the processing of your mailing. The two most common flaps that work with most mailing equipment are the commercial flap and the wallet flap. These are the industry standard for machine inserting and are very cost-effective. Commercial flaps are used on a variety of envelope sizes such as a #9 or #10. Commercial flaps work well with high-speed inserting equipment. Wallet flaps are used on A-series machinable envelopes such as A-6 through A-10 as well as #9 and #10 envelopes. A-Series machinable flap envelopes give you additional options on inserts and can be used for invitation-style direct mail pieces since they come in a range of different sizes. Pointed, euro, and square flaps are not normally machine-insertable and would require hand-inserting of the letter pack components. This can add time and expense to a direct mail project. Open end, sometimes called catalog, envelopes are

USPS reading your teaser copy and unable to deliver the mailing, so it is sent to the return address on the mail piece.

also normally not machine-insertable and would also need to be hand-inserted and sealed. You want to be sure to use openside envelopes If you are mailing large quantities, you will want to be sure to use open-side envelopes with either a commercial or wallet flap. Keeping Postage in Line Postage is one of, if not the, largest expenses for a direct mail campaign. By keeping your mail piece within the parameters of a letter size mail piece, you will greatly reduce your postage. The largest letter size envelope size is 11.5” x 6.125” and must be under .25” thick. If you are looking to use a larger letter size envelope, I suggest going with a #14 envelope that is 11.5” wide by 5” tall. This size envelope gives you additional width for larger inserts and additional real estate on the outside of the envelope for teaser copy or your call to action. Your choice of envelope color or creative design can also affect your postage costs. Stay away from bright colors and use white, neutral, or light pastel colors. Dark,

bright, fluorescent, and black envelopes impede the ability of the USPS to ready your barcode on the mail piece, increasing your postage costs to non-automated rates. The Mixed AADC rate for an automated letter is $0.299 cents per piece, and for a non-automated/non-machinable mail piece, the postage increases to $0.702 cents per piece. Envelopes with heavy graphics, text, or a pattern on the mail panel side can also give the USPS difficulties with reading your barcode. Dark fibers, bleed through of inserts, and security paper can cause misreads at the post office, leading to additional postage. Knocking out an area to inkjet your address block ensures your barcode can be read; just be sure it is in the OCR read area. It is easy to check by using USPS Template Notice 67. I also suggest that you keep all text above the street line of your address block. USPS equipment reads from right to left and from the bottom of the mail piece upwards. If you have text below the street address line on your mail piece, it could be mistaken for the address. The last thing you want is the

Getting Your Envelope Opened The final pitfall relates to the items on an envelope that help get your mail piece opened. This could be a teaser line, a call to action, a response date, or even the usage of a Marketing Mail stamp rather than an indicia or meter mark for postage. A strong teaser line that intrigues and piques the interest of the recipient creates the mail moment. The mail moment is the feeling the addressee gets when seeing your mail piece for the first time. It could be when they open the mailbox and retrieve the mail piece or when viewing the information using Informed Delivery. The teaser line should be concise and give the reader a sense of what the offer is. Make the statement bold, and be sure that it pertains to the offer. Don’t be vague or misleading. Don’t forget that you also have the back side of the envelope to add text or graphics. Have a call to action to get your mail piece opened. The call to action can be as simple as telling the addressee you are providing a special offer, so they should open immediately, or informing them that their special gift is inside. As with the teaser line, use bold words like “Final Notice,” “Limited Time Offer,” or BOGO Sale. Finally, don’t ignore how postage is applied to the envelope. One of the easiest ways to get a mail piece opened is to use a postage stamp rather than an indicia or metering the mail piece. The works best if you do not want the recipient to know this is a marketing piece. In this case, you would want to forgo the teaser line and call to action and make the mailer look as personalized as possible. Inkjet the address in a script font to look like it is hand-written. Use blue ink to enhance the personal look of the mail piece and place the barcode in the barcode clear zone in the lower righthand corner of the envelope. Avoid these PRIPs, and you’ll likely see the profitability on your next mailing campaign increase. Happy mailing!  Rob Hanks is an inside sales representative at Suttle-Straus and has more than 26 years of experience in direct mail. Rob is a Certified Direct Mail Professional and a Certified Mailpiece Design Professional through the United States Postal Service and serves as the Industry Co-Chairperson for the Greater Madison Area Postal Customer Council. Rob enjoys the challenges of mailpiece design within postal regulations and helping clients save on postage costs. | MARCH-APRIL 2020




It is amazing (and a little disheartening) what some organizations can overlook regarding how they are managing their permit spends. This lack of oversight can lead to overspending, funding issues, and lost postage. To combat these problems, we’ll take a look at the top 10 things you can do to create better controls and optimize the spend.



Use the USPS Business Customer Gateway to manage all USPS activity. This makes it easy to access everything about your relationship with the USPS from one login. Some of the highlights include:  Create accounts and permits  Manage activity and produce reports  Create Business Reply Mail envelope templates  See USPS incentives  Access educational information Use the USPS Electronic Payment System (EPS). This creates one payment linkage to your organization to fund permits and pay annual/quarterly renewals of permit fees. There is no more running around trying to cut a check to bring down to the local post office to pay for returned mail. It can all be funded from one place, and all balances and fees can be managed online with ease.

Use the USPS Enterprise PO Box Online System (ePOBOL). Many companies will have multiple PO and Caller Boxes that are difficult to renew and manage, especially having to interface with local post offices. Mailers can now manage (open, close, view, pay fees, and renew) all PO Boxes, Caller, and Reserve Services for multiple locations from a single application and receive electronic notifications for renewals. With ePOBOL and EPS accounts, commercial mailers can now pay for PO Box services with an ACH debit payment account. Consolidate your locations into master permits. We see companies with tens to hundreds of permits that were taken out by different groups, at different points of time, without any centralized oversight. It is difficult to manage the balances, annual fees, and funding levels. We recommend

merging these accounts to master permits with sub accounts that can roll up to a central funding point. Here are the benefits:  Eliminate Annual Fees – The USPS has come a long way in allowing mailers to pay one permit fee and mail from different locations. This can save hundreds or thousands in annual fees.  Central visibility – This allows you to see your data with ease and export reports to Excel to simplify the oversight.  Simplified Funding – Having the funds pulled from one EPS account done through an ACH connection is much easier and can make the funds available faster. Everyone has a story about not being able to get mail out until the check was cut. Now all permits can be funded from one place in real time. Analyze your Business Reply Mail (BRM) accounts. The best way to describe this is with an example. We have an account that has 100 BRM | MARCH-APRIL 2020


accounts, and most were being billed at the wrong levels. They were not being centrally managed, so they were paying separate fees for each location, and since no one was looking at the amount of mail that was being returned, they were drastically overpaying for each account. As you can see from the chart to the right, the way each account is set up has a drastic impact on your final costs. There are two core areas to consider with Business Reply Accounts. First, how many returns do you expect to get back? And secondly, what program should you set up that minimizes fees and postage? There are two types of fees plus the postage costs:  Annual/quarterly permit fees that range from $240 - $10,565 per year.  Per piece return fees to get the items back that range from $.015 - $.85 per piece.  Postage costs range from $.534-.55 per piece for a one-ounce envelope. To simplify this, the chart to the right shows that if you are getting less than 611 items back per year, you are best off with a Basic account, but higher volumes could be costing you significantly more money. This is the biggest area of overspending. In the example we discussed, the customer had three different scenarios:  Locations doing high volumes on Basic BRM accounts. If you are getting 10,000 pieces back per year, you are overspending by $7,455 ($14,240-6,785) including the cost of the annual fees.  Locations paying for more expensive BRM accounts but getting low number of returns. If you are only getting 250 pieces back per year, it is costing you $877 - 10,702 vs. a basic BRM account that would only cost $590 per year.  Locations paying for permits that are no longer active. We see a large percentage of BRM accounts where the annual permit fees are being paid but they are either getting very low return numbers (where they should revisit if they should keep it) or no returns because it is no longer part of an active mailing program. These accounts should be cancelled, and Meter Reply can be used when needed with the metered date turned off. Manage your funding levels. This sounds obvious, but with scattered permits, this often gets overlooked. There are either funds sitting idle for long periods of time or peo26


ple scrambling to get funds added for an urgent mailing. These balances can be managed online through EPS but should be reviewed with regularity to make sure they match the future needs. Have a core contact at the USPS. We recommend having a relationship with someone at the USPS that can help you with your accounts. The more you can set up your account through the USPS tools, the more your local USPS business representative can act as an advocate for you. If you call into your local post office where your accounts are being managed, they should have someone that can help you or can direct you to a business representative. Do not put your accounts on autopilot. We recommend that you set up a set schedule to review balances, manage annual renewals,

export details, and monitor what is happening throughout your permits. Things break when they are not being reviewed. Permit fees may not be paid by the deadlines and mail could be sitting idle, accounts that need to be closed could just be sitting dormant, balances could be too high or too low, and charges could be happening that you are not aware of. This can all be avoided if there is a scheduled event to review the accounts. Do not assume you are getting refunds for closed accounts. This is the biggest tragedy with the USPS. If you have a permit account without activity for two years, the USPS will send one letter to the person who originally took out the permit to come into the local post office within 30 days to request the funds or to pay the annual fee. If this does not happen, the funds will be transferred to a different general ledger account at the USPS and

We recommend having a relationship with someone at the USPS that can help you with your accounts. The more you can set up your account through the USPS tools, the more your local USPS business representative can act as an advocate for you. it will be considered income to the post office for that year. You have the right to get the money back if you can prove you had a permit at that post office, but it is on the customer to initiate this request. The USPS will never send another notification about these funds or make them available in any public database for you to search. We had the USPS Office of the Inspector General do a research study on this, and it turns out there are hundreds of millions of dollars that have been taken from customers due to the USPS not publishing these funds as is required for every other type of lost funds throughout the US. The key point is to check the balances on all of your accounts and set up a process

to make sure the funds are returned on closed permits. Do not have permits managed throughout your field locations. Hopefully from reading through the points above, you can now see the value of having central management and oversight of your permits. The biggest problem is that these accounts were opened by different locations or departments for various purposes and over long periods of time. It is impossible to manage these funds effectively in a decentralized fashion.

What is interesting about permits is that for many organizations, they represent the largest part of their mailing budget and typically have the least oversight. The permits are used to fund marketing efforts or statement generation that are being done by different outsource providers scattered throughout the country, Business Reply for all payments from customers, or shipments done from local warehouses. These can all represent a huge part of your mailing budget. The good news is, the best tools are available in the history of the USPS to manage this category. They just require having the right oversight and expertise to make sure everything runs smoothly.  Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest mail equipment fleet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multi-locations reduce mail and parcel related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 58% and over $60 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or | MARCH-APRIL 2020




INTO AN INTEGRATED MARKETING TOOL W e see it in our mailboxes all the time. The mail arrives, full of envelopes that are plain and, for the most part, do not stand out from one another. When it comes to customer engagement and response, this is a significant lost opportunity; this white space is something we should all take advantage of. Mail volumes continue to decline, even though mail consistently ranks as one of the most trusted communication methods, but one of the bright spots is that there is subsequently less competition for attention at the mailbox. Every company using envelopes should take advantage of that and utilize the information contained in this article as a call to action. Every organization struggles to satisfy their internal business units’ desire for space on the documents. This problem will probably never be fully



resolved, but if there is unutilized white space on the envelope, much of this struggle can be reduced. I come from a largely operational background. I look at the documents produced by organizations differently. I want to ensure that they are using the best technology possible to ensure that each envelope is accounted for and that the integrity of each is 100% accurate. The white space represented by these documents is what all business units fight over, but the envelope itself is often overlooked. What are some strategies or uses for this space? Transpromotional messaging! The word “transpromotional� refers to printing messages on envelopes that are traditionally not produced for promotional purposes. By including a secondary message on nonpromotional mailings (monthly statements, policy updates, and

even reply envelopes), any organization can enhance the value of this often-overlooked space. Here are a few ways to maximize the envelope’s potential: Reinforce your brand – The envelopes carrying your transactional documents provide a great opportunity to reinforce a company’s core values such as community involvement and philanthropic endeavors, or reveal policies people may not know about. For example, use the message to say, “Thank You,” announce a special promotion or new program, or provide an environmental policy message. Whatever the message, make it personal, timely, and relevant, and it is likely to be successful. Cross-sell and up-sell – The envelope is the first thing the recipient sees when they pick up their mail. They will see the envelopes in their daily USPS Informed Delivery emails, and the messages you use can serve as a call to action. They can provide a helpful website or phone number and even drive traffic to websites directly from the daily emails. The message can engage customers in your latest cross-channel marketing efforts, give a discount, and/or promote pre-payment plans. The options are endless and the cost is often minimal. Statistics show that 60% of those surveyed were more likely to open an envelope containing color text (teaser) or a graphic than they would for an envelope containing neither. Announce improvements or changes in service – What better place to do this than on the envelope? If you really want to make an impact, these messages can be produced in | MARCH-APRIL 2020


All bear consideration, and here is a link from the USPS to more information you can research on each: business/promotions-incentives.htm Reinforce a good decision – Envelopes can be a powerful way to communicate what a good decision your customers and their families have made by doing business with your organization. In a world where there are literally thousands of messages hitting us all every day, the envelope can be the one message that is consumed at a time totally of the customer’s choosing. Most people value the time they spend with their mail, and the time they set aside to review it is generally relaxing and free of interruption whenever possible. This is the best time to tell them how much they are valued and why doing business with you is such a good decision. Be creative and let your organization shine – Work with your operations teams (in-house or outsourced) to explore the technologies they possess to help with your efforts. They may be looking for ways to use some underutilized tools or justify some they feel they need. They will appreciate the challenge and introduce you to options that may be of great benefit. In operations today, there is nothing that is impossible (it is only data, as they say), and today’s technologies can make most of it straightforward and cost neutral. Partner with operations to explore the possibilities and really make your mail pieces stand out in the mailbox!

colors or with interesting fonts/graphics to maximize impact. You can increase testing options to see what works best. Almost every organization has developments, announcements, and new products or services that they are proud of, but these too often go unannounced because separate mailings to do so are often cost-prohibitive. Mail recipients are more than two and a half times more likely to open an envelope with color graphics on the front than one with black and white graphics in the same location. Save postage through USPS incentive programs – There are six this year, and although some of the registration periods have passed, all are mentioned here. Mailers should stay updated on these promotions because they should be considered each year as a way for organizations to earn free postal credits. Some of the credits are provided at the time of mailing, while others are calculated as the mail pieces move through the USPS delivery network and create postage credits to be used by certain USPS mandated dates. In any event, the postal discounts are always valued and, in some cases, can more than compensate for any additional costs for the envelopes. Here are the six USPS promotions for 2020: • 2020 Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement Promotion • 2020 Informed Delivery Promotion • 2020 Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion • 2020 Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion • 2020 Mobile Shopping Promotion • 2020 Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion 30


Always look for better results – The technologies available today effectively make it easier to change document formats to accommodate greater testing between your organization’s “challenger” and “champion.” Take advantage of it to drive better results! Even if your method has always worked, it can get better, and that benefits any organization. There is always room for improvement, and no organization should ever be so satisfied that they do not continue testing! Studies have been conducted to identify the “hot spots” for these Transpromo messages. These “hot spots” are listed in order of where the eye of the recipient goes as they scan the mail piece. They are as follows: • Mailing address area – I want to make sure it is for me • Area to the left of the mailing address – Is there any offer I should consider? • Return address area – Who is this from? • Postage area – What class? How much? When sent? The fact that all of this is known and studied indicates that this is worth consideration. I know it works and is valuable, and your envelope vendor should easily be able to help you find more information. In closing, I am fortunate to have had a great deal of help with this article from a trusted envelope partner I have worked with for years. Likewise, your envelope vendors and the USPS will be of great help as you look at doing some of the above methods to increase the impact of your mail pieces!  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. Mark is and has been an active member in several postal industry associations as a board member, speaker, and writer. These associations include: MTAC, Idealliance, NPOA, PCC, MSMA, Mailcom, NPF, and Printing Industries of Minnesota. He can be contacted at

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