Mailing Systems Technology May/June 2022

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MAY - JUNE 2022




Come Visit us at Booth #801 at



Visit us at booth #721





DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note

Collaboration Is Key By Amanda Armendariz

06 Real-Life Management People First!

By Wes Friesen

08 Inkjet Info


Delivering a Positive Customer Experience: Cost-Consciousness and Consumer Preferences Converge


By Karen Kimerer and Eve Padula

10 The Trenches

Make Mail Easier

By Mike Porter

12 Postal Insights

Questions About the Test

FEATURES 16 We Need a Collaborative Data Strategy for the Future By Kathleen J. Siviter

18 UAA Still Refuses to Go Away By Chris Lien

20 No More Delays: Cycle O Is Coming

Here’s exactly what mailers need to know

By Leo Raymond

22 Digging into Demographics

Consumer age and why it matters to direct mail campaigns

By Ashley Leone

24 Top 10 Ways to Save on Outsourced Print and Mail By Adam Lewenberg

28 Building the Campaign Trail

How direct mail can shape voter habits By Jill Corcoran


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14 Software Byte

Seamless Acceptance: Finding and Resolving Undocumented Errors By Lisa Leslie

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 35, ISSUE 3 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz Contributing Writers Adam Collinson, Jill Corcoran, Wes Friesen, Karen Kimerer, Ashley Leone, Lisa Leslie, Adam Lewenberg, Chris Lien, Eve Padula, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond 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 ©2022 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 35 Issue 3] is published six times per year (January/February, 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


am so pleased to be once again writing an editor’s note for an actual show issue; the past couple of years without an in-person National Postal Forum just haven’t been the same (even though I am, of course, so grateful for the digital options that allowed us to still connect and learn from each other). But there is something about meeting faceto-face, sitting in on the actual sessions, and wandering through the physical exhibit hall meeting with other industry professionals; it’s an experience that digital simply can’t replicate. So to those of you here at NPF with us, welcome back! I hope I get the chance to chat with many of you, even if only for a moment. Collaboration is key to any industry, but especially so to ours, which is one reason that shows like NPF are so critical to print and mail professionals. Kathleen J. Siviter does a great job of expanding on this idea of collaboration in her piece on page 16, in which she discusses the critical need for a cross-functional, collaborative data strategy between mailers

and the USPS, since mailers are the providers of so much of the information that the USPS uses for its initiatives. Her article is a wonderful example of how, if our industry is to survive and thrive, we need to think outside of the box (or, in this case, the envelope) and envision strategies that will benefit all, in an effort to create a vibrant, robust mail stream. I encourage any of you who are attending to stop by booth 108; I’d love to talk with you about what you believe is needed for our industry to thrive in this post-COVID new normal. And for those of you not attending, I’m always just an email away; I’d love to hear from you at any time. After all, as mailers, we’re stronger together. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology. | MAY-JUNE 2022



Studies show that organizations with high employee engagement have fewer mistakes, higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and higher customer satisfaction. One contributor to a positive employee experience is to provide as much flexibility in work schedules and work locations as possible. Not all jobs can allow some of the work to be done remotely, but when possible, enabling a hybrid schedule with some remote work is attractive to many. People also appreciate support for flexible schedules to help deal with childcare, elder care, and other personal responsibilities.



uccessful organizations add value to all of their major stakeholders including employees, customers, and investors. The best-led and most successful organizations and teams understand and prioritize putting their people (employees) first. What happens next? Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson explains by saying, “Clients (customers) do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” When customers are treated well, they, in turn, bring their business and tell others, which results in healthy cash flow to benefit the stockholders and other investors. Bottom line: everybody benefits when people are put first! Actions do speak louder than words. What are some actions that demonstrate and promote the “people first” philosophy? Here are 10 ideas that can help: 1. Embrace and Practice Servant Leadership. The most respected leadership experts in the world (e.g., Maxwell, Blanchard, Covey, etc.) promote the servant leadership philosophy, and the most successful leaders tend to practice it. In a nutshell, this leadership philosophy is about leaders being committed to serve team members and other people, contrasted with a traditional philosophy where leaders view others as there to serve the leader. 2. Prioritize Employees. With the labor shortages we are experiencing today, now, more than ever, people have choices regarding where to work. Recent surveys show that only 31% of people are engaged at work, 33% feel undervalued, and only 26% feel strongly valued. And the largest generation in the workforce today (Millennials) and the


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generation coming behind them (Gen Z) have demonstrated they are very willing to change organizations if not treated positively. Anne Mulcahy was the respected and effective CEO for Xerox and understood the need to prioritize employees. Mulcahy once wrote, “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” 3. Focus on Purpose and Meaning and Explain the Why. We all want to feel like we are making a difference and are contributing towards building something important. Serving and adding value to the lives of others (e.g., customers, fellow employees) makes our work more than just earning a paycheck. Leadership expert Mark Babbitt observed, “Millennials and Gen Z are showing that what drives them is the desire for meaningful work, to balance work with life, and a focus more on making a difference than making money.” We also need to explain the “why” behind our goals and strategies, which Simon Sinek elaborates on in his bestseller, Start with Why. 4. Emphasize the Employee Experience and Employee Engagement. Harold Schultz (founder and former CEO of Starbucks) once stated, “Treating employees benevolently shouldn’t be viewed as an added cost that cuts into profits, but as a powerful energizer that can grow the enterprise into something far greater than one leader could envision.” I agree and would suggest that intentionally spending time and money to create a better employee experience is well worth the investment.

5. Know Our People. Our employees are not mere workers, but human beings with fears, dreams, aspirations, passions, and families. Let’s get to know them (within reasonable bounds)! Asking open-ended questions and looking for opportunities to spend time with people outside of normal work hours can be helpful. Remember John Maxwell’s famous quote, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” 6. Train, Build, and Grow Our People. Peter Drucker counseled, “Every enterprise is a learning and teaching institution. Training and development must be built into it at all levels, and training and development never stop.” We have many resources to tap into, including in-house training, university courses, conferences, professional associations, and more. Also, look for ways to align people with their strengths. For example, team members with strong verbal and social skills can be in customer-facing roles, while those with strong mechanical skills could operate equipment. Drucker explains this concept when he said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” 7. Simplify Accountability and Empower People. We should explain and clarify expectations, then as much as possible let our people do their work without micromanaging them. Do you like to be micromanaged? Over the years, I have asked this question to literally a few thousand people, and have as yet had one person say they like to be micromanaged. Coaching and training when needed, yes, micromanaging, no. 8. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Good communication starts with listening to what our people have to

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! say. There are many tools at our disposal to listen and communicate with our team members, including: regular one-on-one meetings, team meetings (via video conference for those working remotely), stay interviews (focused on employee satisfaction), team surveys (such as the Gallup 12), and pulse surveys (typically one question done frequently to gain a “pulse” on how employees are feeling; good for teams in multiple locations and those that don’t have regular one-on-one and team meetings). As leaders, we need to transparently share information on how the team and overall organization are doing — surveys show that generally people most want to hear organization news from their immediate boss. 9. Remove Obstacles. How do we identify obstacles that are preventing our people from achieving their best? Ask them. Our goal is to identify the obstacles and then do what we can to remove them. In some cases, this will include providing better tools (e.g., upgraded equipment, better technology) so people can excel at what they do. In other cases, we may have cumbersome

and inefficient processes and systems that get in people’s way. The great quality guru W. Edwards Deming once wrote, “Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and processes rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the processes rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

are and how they add value; always treat others with respect; and reward positive individual and team performance in ways that are meaningful to them. We need to look for opportunities to celebrate accomplishments. Here is a final thought: Find your team’s true purpose. Articulate it. Put people first. The rest will fall into place. 

10. Practice the 3 Rs – Recognize, Respect, and Reward. Prominent psychologist William James, after years of research, concluded that the greatest need people have is the need to be appreciated. Lasting success in the business world starts with appreciating and recognizing the people that do the work and interact with our customers. David Novak (former CEO of Yum! Brands) speaks to this when he said, “People leave when they don’t feel appreciated. That’s why we’ve made recognition a really high value. Our business is people-capability first; then you satisfy customers; then you make money.” I advocate for what I call the “3 Rs” approach for treating people on our teams: recognize people for who they

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. He serves as the Industry Co-Chair of the Greater Portland PCC. 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. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from or (under Book) or an online retailer. Wes can be contacted at or at 971.806.0812. | MAY-JUNE 2022





or today’s enterprises, the spotlight on delivering a solid customer experience continues to shine brightly. One component of a positive experience is how a business interacts with its customers. This is particularly true when it comes to transactional communications and the ways in which they are delivered. Over the past few years, more and more enterprises have been encouraging their customers to retrieve their critical communications online rather than from their physical mailboxes. The rationale is simple and obvious — pushing consumers toward digital can streamline the flow of business while also reducing costs. At the same time, modern consumers are more empowered than ever before and want more control over how they receive their bills, statements, and notifications. Businesses that do not remain mindful of their customers’ unique preferences risk losing them to competitors. The voice of the customer is more important than ever for enterprises that are delivering critical communications. Let’s explore how businesses can meet their customers in the middle to help ensure better overall experience. Delivering a Solid Customer Experience Organizations of all sizes are working to 8

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exceed their customers’ expectations so they can increase loyalty, expand revenues, and build trust. Few would argue that delivering a positive customer experience that is seamless across all communication channels can drive business growth. In fact, recent research conducted by Keypoint Intelligence reveals that close to 44% of surveyed enterprises consider improving the customer experience to be a top business objective. The most common tactics for improving the customer experience include expanding mobile offerings, improving data hygiene, and better interacting with customers through social media. In addition, 40% of respondents planned to improve the customer experience by enabling customers to manage their communication preferences. See Figure 1. There are countless opportunities for customers to interact with brands in today’s digital world, but this doesn’t mean that consumers want all these interactions to be digital. Let’s face it — technologies and dashboards aren’t always easy for everyone to navigate. When customers are met with friction, they are left feeling disconnected and frustrated. As a result, enterprises that are attempting to lower their costs by pushing customers toward a paperless strategy might see their efforts backfire

among consumers who prefer paperbased communications. Maintaining a Balance The great debate of paper versus paperless will always be incomplete if consumers’ preferences aren’t considered. Although there is no question that the use of mobile apps, social media, and web portals will continue to grow, Keypoint Intelligence’s research confirms that printed direct mail will also remain important. See Figure 2. This means that an omnichannel communication strategy is a solid approach for enterprises that are hoping to meet their customers in the middle. Moreover, today’s technologies can address consumers’ changing preferences regardless of device or location. There is no question that some customers will readily accept a digital-first approach, but others will maintain a preference for paper-based communications. The Paper Preference The rise of digital devices and the time that consumers spend staring at screens is widely known to be a drain on energy… pardon the pun. Consider this — how do you feel after clicking through multiple screens to retrieve a statement from an online portal, and how does this compare to what you might feel after walking a short distance in fresh air to pull that same statement from your physical mailbox? In addition to reducing digital fatigue, taking a break from our screens is good for our minds and our bodies. Other drivers behind the preference for paper include the emergence of advanced print technologies. More specifically, the refinement of inkjet presses means that businesses of all sizes can actually afford to keep print in the mix. In fact, when enterprises choose to optimize printed documents by leveraging their existing knowledge about customers, the customer experience can be enhanced. Keypoint Intelligence’s ongoing research confirms that consumers have several reasons for maintaining a preference for print, including:  Direct mail can serve as a hard copy for record-keeping  Mail-based communications can be a better reminder to pay than digital reminders  Some consider physical mail to be more secure than digital

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! Figure 1: Tactics for Improving the Customer Experience

Figure 2: Importance of Channels to Communication Strategy

 Printed information is easier for some to consume Enterprises are paying attention to these preferences. When asked about the drivers that were motivating their efforts to maintain or increase print production, the top reasons (better customer engagement, customers’ security concerns, and client preference) align with consumers’ concerns. You can see the full chart by visiting PositiveCX. The Bottom Line It might seem natural to focus on reducing costs and streamlining the flow of communication with a digital adoption strategy. Even so, businesses of all types and sizes understand that competition is fierce in today’s marketplace. As enterprises compete to capture and

maintain consumers’ attention, the desire to reduce costs should not overshadow an opportunity to improve the customer experience. Every interaction — positive or negative — makes a difference! Technology is the bond that serves the ever-changing needs of today’s consumers. If the thought of adopting an omnichannel strategy seems overwhelming to you, reframe your thinking and view it as a way to communicate with your consumers based on their individual preferences. According to research from Invesp, businesses that implement omnichannel customer engagement strategies typically retain about 89% of their customers on average. To foster customer loyalty, it is more important than ever for enterprises to address all communication strategies and preferences, be they physical or digital. 

Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is wellversed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products. Eve Padula is Senior Consulting Editor for Keypoint Intelligence’s Production Services with a focus on Business Development Strategies, Customer Communications, and Wide Format. She is responsible for creating many types of content, including forecasts, industry analyses, and research/multi-client studies. She also manages the writing, editing, and distribution cycles for many types of deliverables. | MAY-JUNE 2022





or marketers who have spent most of their professional careers working in digital communications, mail must seem almost like a foreign language. They can create and send emails from their desktops and whip together a social media campaign in no time, but many marketers are uncomfortable with postal mail. They believe direct mail is too much work and they don’t understand the steps. For them, the perceived complexity of direct mail is a deterrent to spending money on the physical mail channel. In past articles appearing in this column, I’ve advocated efforts to educate customers. I suggested that once they understood the benefits of mail and learned how mail has improved over the years, they would be more willing use the channel. That is still a good strategy, but it may not be enough. Maybe it’s time for print/mail service providers to win over marketers who seem reluctant about using the mail by shielding them from 10

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the details. Handle the work for them, shorten the lead times, and make implementing a direct mail campaign almost as easy for them as email. Telling Instead of Asking It’s tempting to show off a little by peppering customers with questions about paper stock, list maintenance, or postal classes. We’re proud to have spent the time in the business and have worked hard to learn the intricacies of launching a direct mail campaign. It’s only natural to want to demonstrate our expertise. But what your customers are most interested in are the results. They do not need to know “how the sausage is made.” It’s quite possible that your customers have lost some experienced people from their teams. In industries that had to cut back on personnel because of a COVID-induced business slowdown, marketing departments were a popular place for reducing headcount. Some of those prospects who in the past had direct mail experts on staff may today

be open to your organization playing a larger role in planning and executing their campaigns. As long as you stay within the budget, you can make the decisions that best meet the needs of your customers without burdening them with the details. Make those decisions for them, always in their best interest, and summarize the project so they are informed. If your customers trust you, they probably won’t object. Of course, you need to read your customers. Perhaps some of them do want to be intimately involved, so you’ll continue to process their work as usual. But it would surprise me if you didn’t have quite a few that only focus on the campaign’s ROI. Make it easy for them to say yes to running direct mail campaigns by explaining that you’ll take care of everything for them. The same goes for new customers. Find out what they want to accomplish and then suggest ways you can solve their problems and include direct mail as part of the solution. Print salespeople should avoid using terms that make direct mail projects sound complicated and expensive. Ask customers about their other marketing efforts and point out how postal mail can integrate with digital channels, raising the overall performance of their multichannel campaigns.

Show customers how your digital presses can personalize the direct mail content, just like they do in email. Assure customers your organization will handle the details, get approvals when needed, and report on progress. This technique makes customers comfortable with their decision to spend money on a direct mail campaign.


Compare Mail to Something Familiar Marketing people who haven’t used direct mail before will welcome comparisons between postal mail and something with which they are more familiar, like email. Tell them how postal mail is deliverable and forwardable, and how you’ll save them money by purging undeliverable addresses from the files. Point out that postal mail has no spam filters, abandoned inboxes, or corporate firewalls that impede delivery. Show customers how your digital presses can personalize the direct mail content, just like they do in email. You can vary the offers based on any criteria, change the images, or include details in the text that reference a single individual. Show customers how the colors and layout of the mail pieces will be consistent, and not dependent upon the recipient’s device. Explain how, once the

file and the resources are established, variable data printing costs no more than the old methods of sending the same mail pieces to everyone on the list — with much better results. At sales presentations with customers, explain how you track postal mail and offer them sample reports showing you can predict when the USPS will deliver the mail pieces. Show them examples of QR codes or pURLs that allow them to see which contacts are responding to the offer and how they can follow up via electronic channels. Demonstrate Informed Delivery that augments their direct mail campaigns with free extra impressions delivered to their prospects’ email inboxes or mobile apps. Handle the Details Setting up a direct mail campaign requires lots of steps, from data manipulation,

postal processing, composition, RIPs, printing, finishing, mailing, and tracking. As direct mail professionals, you are well acquainted with these processes. Your customers probably are not, and they don’t need to be. That’s why they hired your company. Making mail simpler for marketing people and showing them how much it now resembles the familiar digital channels can help you sell more of this business and keep customers coming back for additional campaigns.  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 | MAY-JUNE 2022





ast September, without fanfare, the Postal Service began testing what was styled as a check-cashing service under which customers could purchase gift cards and pay for them with a business or payroll check. Checks were limited to $500, and their full value, less the $5.95 fee, was transferred to the card. The test was conducted in only four locations: Washington (DC), Falls Church (VA), Baltimore, and the Bronx and, by its equally unpublicized conclusion, there had been only six sales generating $37.50. Postal banking has long been advocated by liberal politicians as a way to provide financial services to the “unbanked,” i.e., persons who don’t or can’t use traditional banks. Giving them access to banking at the tens of thousands of USPS retail outlets would benefit them greatly, advocates claim, while at the same time generating business for the agency. The Post Office Department’s Postal Savings System ended in 1966 and, since then, the USPS hasn’t shown particular interest in that business line, despite the prodding of the American Postal Workers Union and their Congressional adherents. Reportedly, former Postmaster General Megan Brennan had not pursued developing the service even though the union had agreed to testing it. All that changed, however, when the APWU met with PMG Louis DeJoy who, reportedly, liked the idea and saw it as a service he could tie with his plans for expanding the 12

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package business to simplify customer transactions. The agency was clever in its approach to the test. Because it’s already allowed to sell gift cards as an authorized “nonpostal service” and collect a service fee, letting customers pay for one with a paycheck let the agency premise the check-cashing as simply a gift card purchase, and thus justify not seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. Because the PRC hadn’t been approached prior to the test doesn’t mean it didn’t notice — and have questions. In a January 7 information request, it asked a long series of questions, such as: “Please discuss the Postal Service’s rationale to commence the Pilot Program without Commission review, especially in light of the statement attributed to a Postal Service spokesperson that ties the Pilot Program to ‘[o]ffering new products and services that are affordable, convenient and secure aligns with the Postal Service’s Delivering for America 10-year plan...’” [The USPS responded on January 14 that “Postal Regulatory Commission review was considered unnecessary because the gift card product was approved in 2014 under the competitive product category of Postal Services. The current pilot is merely testing a new form of payment for an established postal product — gift cards. This did not require a change to the Mail Classification Schedule. ...”] “Please identify any plans for expanding the Pilot Program (either to new

locations or other payment methods) in the next fiscal year, if applicable.” [USPS response: “Although we are considering potential next steps for this initiative, no decisions or definitive plans regarding terminating, changing, or expanding the pilot have been made.”] On January 28, the PRC sought more details in follow-up questions, including: “Given that between September 13, 2021, and January 14, 2022, there were only six customers, how will the Postal Service proceed going forward? Will the Postal Service continue and/or expand its efforts in this area?” [The USPS responded on February 4: “The Postal Service continues to monitor the pilot and anticipates that more gift cards may be purchased using the additional forms of payment being tested. At this time, no decisions or definitive plans regarding terminating, changing, or expanding the pilot have been made.”] “The Postal Service states that this ‘pilot’ is a ‘time-limited test.’ ...Pursuant to [statute and PRC regulations], any market test for an experimental product, including services ancillary to only competitive products, must be first reviewed and approved by the Commission at least 30 days before initiating such test. Please explain with a full degree of specificity why the Postal Service believes that this program is not a market test as described in the statute and Commission regulations...” [USPS response: “The Postal Service considers the application of Commission rules pertaining to market tests to be inapplicable in this instance for several reasons. First, no new products or services are involved in the current pilot. The only products being sold are the existing gift cards that have been previously authorized by the Commission. Second, the focus of the test is a limited acceptance of an additional form of payment, not market response to the sale of an innovative product or service not currently listed in the Mail Classification Schedule. Forms of payment for Postal Service products are not products or services themselves. Finally, acceptable forms of payment for gift cards are not set forth in the Mail Classification Schedule, and therefore are governed by Postal Service discretion and regulations.”] Other observers in Congress weren’t pleased with how the test conspicuously avoided PRC regulation. In a March 1 letter to PRC chair Michael Kubayanda,


Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3rd) and eight colleagues stated, in part: “The Postal Service’s attempt to offer a financial services product without proper approval from the PRC raises questions as to the intentions of USPS leadership and the PRC’s authority to conduct oversight of the Postal Service’s product lines. The notion that USPS could engage in this pilot program by justifying it as a new payment option — as opposed to a new product — is an affront to the PRC’s statutory role. “...As the independent Federal agency charged with providing transparency and accountability at the USPS, we ask the PRC to assert its statutory role with respect to the pilot program and subject the matter to the appropriate procedures outlined in the PAEA for new products. Furthermore, we encourage the PRC to prevent the USPS from participating in any additional financial services in the future.” Given that the matter is part of an open docket, Kubayanda had to be cautious in his March 9 reply:

“...Through a series of questions in the [Annual Compliance Determination] docket, the Commission has formally sought information about the scope of, and authorization for, this program, specifically seeking to understand the following: the retail locations participating in the pilot, the controls in place for handling these new payments as part of the pilot, the USPS’ legal basis for commencing the pilot (including attributes of gift cards that led to the prior classification of gift cards as a postal product), the revenue collected as part of the pilot, future plans for the pilot, and the history and legal basis for prior USPS activities involving Treasury checks and payroll checks... “While I am limited in what I can discuss with you about this matter prior to the Commission finalizing its ACD, once the Commission releases the ACD, the Commission can provide briefings on the Commission’s findings relating to this issue.” Though liberals see postal banking as a needed service, conservatives and the

financial services industry oppose it as an inappropriate venture into private sector business by a government entity. Opponents also note that:  Any financial risk related to individuals who can’t or don’t use traditional banks could be relevant to postal banking and should be evaluated before offering such services. If banks cannot serve them profitably it’s doubtful the USPS could, making it essential to protect the agency from losses it can’t afford.  The Postal Service lacks competencies in several areas: the infrastructure to manage financial services; and expertise about the internal risk controls, consumer protection laws, and privacy regulations with which banks must comply. Regardless, the future of postal banking likely will be driven as much by political calculus as sound business judgement.  Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. He can be reached at | MAY-JUNE 2022



categorizations. A grace period of at least three months will be allowed before invoicing errors logged as Category 14.



hether you’re already in USPS Full Seamless or are currently in the Automated Verification phase of Seamless Acceptance, it’s important to know:  What are undocumented errors?  How are undocumented errors assigned?  What is the assessment threshold, and how is it calculated?  How much will I be assessed for undocumented errors?  What is the best way to research, dispute, and avoid undocumented assessments? What Are Undocumented Errors? In the simplest terms, an undocumented error occurs when a barcode gathered during sampling is not able to be linked to any eDoc submitted within the last 45 days. How Are Undocumented Errors Assigned? So, if they’re "undocumented," how are these errors assigned? The USPS uses a process called “bookending” to find and 14

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reassign the undocumented pieces to the responsible Customer Registration ID (CRID) using undocumented categories. The original 13 categories are in the chart on the following page. Category 14 Has Recently Been Added Reassigning and categorizing undocumented pieces based on singular MID/CRID relationships was discussed in the PostalPro January Release Notes. The USPS has determined that many mail owners use the services of a single eDoc submitter. This singular relationship presents an opportunity, when confirmed with historical data, to reassign undocumented pieces from the mail owner to the eDoc submitter. This will give eDoc submitters visibility into undocumented errors that they can now resolve. Unassociated piece scans with a barcode referencing a mail owner MID who exclusively uses a single eDoc submitter CRID will be assigned to the eDoc submitter CRID in Undocumented Categorization and Invoicing. This assignment will also come with a new categorization, Category 14, which will take precedence over all existing

What Is the Assessment Threshold and How Is It Calculated? The threshold for undocumented pieces is 0.3% and is based on ALL pieces mailed in each calendar month. That said, while errors between 0.1% and 0.3% won’t be included in the automated assessment process, they must be documented through the “Known Undocumented” process or the mailer may be subject to an additional assessment. The following are the reasons allowed for “Known Undocumented” pieces (from Section 6-  Single-piece not in eDoc (rejected from auto mailing or planned).  Metered pieces in presort mailing without eDoc (hard copy).  Pre-cancelled stamps in presort mailing without eDoc (hard copy).  Permit Imprint pieces in presort mailing without eDoc (hard copy).  Spoiled/shorted pieces are re-created and not re-submitted in eDoc.  PS Form 3606, Certification of Bulk Mailing.  eDoc upload failure to PostalOne!  Identified pieces from mailing in previous month (scan had a 93 barcode).  Mailing is not finalized.  Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) without eDoc.  Pieces on Full-Service Postal Wizard. How Much Will I Be Assessed for Undocumented Errors? Any pieces eligible for assessment may be subject to an assessment charge equal to the average piece rate by mail class (determined by STID of IMb) and CRID for the assessment month. Seamless Acceptance Undocumented assessments are charged against the CRID assigned to the MID owner or a reassigned party. Note: If the current month average postage cannot be determined for the mail class and CRID, then the previous month average postage is used (if an average postage paid cannot be determined for either the current or


previous month for a mail class for the CRID, then the average postage by mail class for ALL eDoc submitters for the current month will be used). What Is the Best Way to Research, Dispute, and Avoid Undocumented Assessments? While some of the following best practices suggestions may be laborintensive and require dedicated staff today, there are monitoring services and automation tools available to help you mitigate potential assessments while reducing operating costs.  Monitor your Mailer Scorecard data throughout the month.  Implement stringent Quality Assurance processes throughout your workflow to help prevent errors.  Manage your IMb ranges as described in Pub 685.  Implement a comprehensive and actionable system so you’re futureready:

o Collect – Mail Quality Data (MQD) feeds from IV-MTR weekly, o Store – Maintain a central repository for all jobs and a separate Known Undocumented Log (KUL) for data of jobs sent to a commingler, for instance. o Search – Create a means to search for all Unknown Error IMbs, and o Document – Create and submit documentation in the approved format.  Ensure that you never use an IMb within a 45-day period.  Perform routine audits of your QA processes.  Continue to review and monitor Pub 685 and PostalPro for updated information.  Work closely with the USPS. The goal is to ensure that mail is prepared properly and that the proper postage has been paid.  Work with your trusted industry experts to provide the tools and knowledge to help you:

o Store data in a more automated fashion, o Allow for a quick means to access and search historical job data, o Maintain a searchable Known Undocumented Log, o Discover which errors can successfully be disputed and provide documentation in the USPSapproved format, and o Quickly determine which (if any) assessments are legitimate – saving you valuable time! In summary, implementing a method to collect, store, and search job data will make researching issues faster and easier, thereby improving productivity. Additionally, it’s more important than ever to automate your mailing processes where possible (to reduce the potential for costly errors in the first place).  Lisa Leslie is Director of Client Development for Window Book, Inc. – a BlueCrest Company. | MAY-JUNE 2022




ere is a fun exercise for the next time you are thinking about the future of “Intelligent Mail.” Make up a list of all the USPS initiatives that could not exist without the data that mailers provide by applying Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMbs) to mail and providing mailing data in their electronic documentation. There are some obvious ones that come to mind… like the majority of the USPS Service Performance Measurement system, which uses the data to start and stop the clock on how long it takes the USPS to deliver a mail piece. But the list is longer than you might think — and it’s growing. With the data-rich environment the USPS


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and industry have created, new uses for the data are cropping up all the time… but what is lacking is a collaborative USPS/ industry cross-functional data strategy for the future that includes input from mailers, since they are the ones providing the USPS with the data. Initiatives Supported by Mailer Data Let’s start with a quick, not inclusive, list of USPS initiatives supported by the data mailers provide. In addition to the USPS Service Performance Measurement system, there are a host of USPS internal systems that have been developed — with more envisioned all the time — that are

focused on providing the USPS with visibility, diagnostics, and alerts as mail and packages move through its processing and transportation network. From individual mail/parcel pieces, to handling units (trays/tubs), to whole containers — there are Intelligent barcodes on all, and the data and barcodes that mailers provide allow the USPS to scan and track the movement of items through its system, nesting data about containers to their contents, and identifying and alerting it to issues that may occur. Initiatives such as Informed Visibility, the IMb Planning Tool, the new Industry Connect dashboard, and many other internal USPS tools depend on the data mailers provide. There are USPS initiatives designed to retain/grow mail and package volumes, such as Informed Delivery and many promotions and incentives, that could not exist without the data supplied by mailers. USPS tracking and visibility around political/election mail is a crucial initiative that relies on mailer data. Other USPS initiatives focus on cost and service efficiencies, such as eInduction, Mail Irregularity Reporting, Secure Destruction, and more. Still other initiatives are focused on protecting USPS revenue and improving mail quality (which also reduces costs and improves service), such as Seamless Acceptance, address quality initiatives, IMb Full-Service quality metrics, Mailer Scorecards, and more.


Is Intelligent Mail Here to Stay? Many take it for granted that mailers applying Intelligent Mail barcodes and providing the USPS with mailing data is here to stay, no matter what. Looking into the future, however, that is not necessarily a sure thing. There are costs to mailers to barcode and provide data and to meet the many requirements included with IMb Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance. The USPS recognized that fact when it created the IMb Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance price incentives, which help defray some of the costs for mailers to participate in Intelligent Mail programs. These price incentives, however, have largely remained a fixed amount over the years, while mailer costs have continued to grow — particularly in the past couple of years due to supply chain costs that impact hardware/software and equipment needed to barcode mail and packages, and also due to labor shortages that have driven up labor costs. As mailer costs continue to increase, if the price incentives stay the same — which means that the net cost to mailers goes up — will mailers revisit their business decisions around Intelligent Mail and data? This already happens today with smaller and mid-sized mailers who decide the cost far outweighs the benefit for their business. Looking at USPS data for a recent quarter, around four percent of the mail that could have been sent as IMb Full-Service was not. Now, four percent may not seem like a big number in the scheme of things, but it was nearly one billion pieces — and looking at the data year over year, the percentage of mail that was eligible to be sent as Full-Service but was NOT sent as Full-Service increased over the past year as mailer costs have risen dramatically. If the current price incentive is not enough to move that mail into IMb Full-Service, then if costs continue to rise and the incentive does not change, the percentage of mail that elects NOT to use IMb Full-Service could certainly grow. Shoring Up the Data Infrastructure Looking to the future, as the volume of data — and uses for said data — continues to increase, a key area the USPS is focusing on is shoring up its data IT infrastructure. This is an area that the Postmaster General has frequently talked about, and he has said the USPS will be making more capital

investment into its IT infrastructure, which is included in its Delivering for America (DFA) plan. This is an essential undertaking that includes cyber-security improvements, data processing and storage capabilities, and system upgrades that are necessary to support the data programs of the future. Data Education Is Also Key As the USPS develops more initiatives supported by mailer data and as it builds more tools to use the data, it is key that both the USPS and industry understand what particular data sets mean and what they tell us. As more pressure has been put on USPS plants to manage their operations and improve service performance, there have been reported instances of discussions with mailers based on data “misunderstandings” or where lack of education on broader policies is apparent. For example, the USPS and industry have built sophisticated streamlined mail acceptance and verification systems that ensure mail quality metrics are met by mailers, but there are tolerances built into some of the metrics that account for the occasional errors that occur in mail preparation, just as occasional errors occur in USPS mail processing. Systems like Seamless Acceptance check mail quality, ensure mailers are complying with quality metrics, and calculate and present to the mailer where additional postage is owed to the USPS. All the USPS revenue protection and quality measures are done on the front end before the mail is accepted by the USPS, yet there are instances where field postal employees contact mailers about an "error," not understanding the USPS mail acceptance systems and policies. This not only can cause friction between USPS and industry employees, but also is wasted time and resources on both ends. Data education is also needed for both the USPS and mailers around why some mailing data is excluded from the USPS service performance measurement system — an area that both the USPS and industry are looking to make improvements in since 20-30% of IMb Full-Service mail volume is not included in measurement for a variety of reasons. One result of this is that mailers — who have visibility into ALL their mail tracking and movement through the USPS system — will have a different service performance report than the USPS, which does not include the mail excluded from measurement. The excluded mail drops off the

USPS’s visibility systems as well, meaning they can’t track it and identify service issues. That all equates to significant differences in the data each may be looking at around a single mailing, and leads to frustration on the part of customers trying to get service issues resolved. This is an area the USPS is working collaboratively with industry on, so hopefully that will lead to more mail being included in measurement in the future. There are more aspects of data education that need to happen, both for the USPS and for mailers, particularly as the amount and types of data continue to grow as does how the USPS and industry are using the data. What Could the Future Hold? While it might seem like we have mountains of Intelligent Mail data today, and a long list of initiatives that utilize the data — it is not hard to think of new opportunities and new types of data that could be used in the future as both the USPS and mailing industry continue to implement new technologies and become more sophisticated in how data can be used. While some organizations within the USPS do have longer term strategies around data, those can be silo efforts as well as being USPS-driven rather than being cross-functional and collaborative efforts that include industry. Considering the new ways the USPS is looking to use mailing data today, its obvious value to the organization — as well as the mailing industry — and how that could grow in the future, a collaborative cross-functional data strategy is needed to ensure that exchange of data between mailers and the USPS will continue, that data will be as accurate as possible, its meaning mutually understood, and utilized for mutually beneficial purposes as we develop even more initiatives going forward.  Kathleen J. Siviter is Asst. Executive Director of the National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM) as well President of Postal Consulting Services Inc. (PCSi), and she has over 30 years’ experience in the postal industry. She has worked for the U.S. Postal Service, Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), and others, as well as providing consulting services to a diverse set of clients with interest in the postal industry. She has also worked with PostalVision 2020, an initiative designed to engage stakeholders in discussions about the future of the American postal system. | MAY-JUNE 2022



GO AWAY By Chris Lien


ndeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail continues to be measured in the billions of pieces each year, despite the advancement and broad availability of address quality solutions. According to the recently published USPS UAA Mail Rollup spreadsheet located at, the total number of UAA mail pieces in 2021 was 5.6 billion pieces. The total cost to forward, return, and in most cases dispose of these pieces exceeded $1.38 billion. That cost is not just absorbed by the USPS, but instead is passed through to the mailing industry in the form of postage increases, which now continue to occur twice annually in July and January (at least until the USPS achieves a financial stability in which it plans to be more judicious with their expanded pricing authority). While mailers should be seriously concerned about the nearly double-digit postage price increases over the past 18 months, there is a strategic way for mailers to reduce postage prices while at the same time improve the overall response rate for their mailings. That strategy leverages advanced address quality tools and techniques to reduce UAA and improve the overall ROI (return on investment) of the mailing. Address Quality: A Series of Steps Address quality is not a singular event or process, but rather a series of steps


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involving USPS databases and industry-developed parsing and matching technologies that are oftentimes viewed as a pyramid of steps ultimately transforming questionable data into trusted information. It begins first with CASS-certified software, which forms the foundation of the process. CASS-certified software parses address elements such as primary number, street name, city, and state according to USPS Publication 28, and then match that parsed data to USPS ZIP+4 tables. Numerous return codes from the CASS-certified software provide important clues as to why an address received an initial ZIP+4 code or why it was unable to determine one. Once a ZIP+4 code is determined, the next step is to determine if the address is deliverable by the USPS, and that leverages the USPS Delivery Point Validation (DPV) table. In some cases, a ZIP+4 code may be removed by DPV, and if that occurs, a different return code will explain why. There are numerous DPV return codes, and the USPS and mailing industry are continually collaborating within MTAC User Group 5 to improve and expand these codes. While DPV is a powerful address quality solution, it does have its limitations. For example, DPV can determine that an apartment number (also known as a secondary address) is missing, but it cannot provide what that apartment number is. Mailers would need to leverage industry-provided

address quality services such as an Address Resolution Service that can append apartment numbers as well as correct difficult address quality challenges such as a transposed primary number (e.g., 132 Main Street should be 123 Main Street). Other USPS databases such as LACSLink and SuiteLink also assist with converting rural route addresses to street-style addresses as well as appending suite numbers for business addresses. These too are part of the USPS CASS-certified solutions provided by various software companies in the mailing industry and are important steps in the overall process. However, keep in mind that while these underlying USPS databases are the same for each CASS-certified solution, the parsing and matching technologies that leverage this data are unique to the software vendors. Thus, the overall assignment efficacy will vary amongst the various CASS-certified solutions. Moreover, leveraging industry address quality services in conjunction with USPS CASS-certified solutions can result in a much higher overall address assignment, which further reduces UAA and improves the overall ROI of the mailing. Fully leveraging CASS-certified software is an essential part of the overall address quality process, and for good reason. Without a proper ZIP+4 Code, we cannot leverage the next essential step in the process, and that is NCOALink. The USPS NCOALink

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! database is a highly encrypted database that requires a fully complete and correct address along with a recipient’s name to match the change-of-address filed with the USPS. USPS postage workshare discounts require a change-of-address process to be applied on all addresses within 95 days prior to the mailing. The USPS provides both an 18-month database and a 48-month database for non-exclusive licensees to leverage for change-of-address processing, and while there are hundreds of non-exclusive licensees providing the minimum USPS requirement of an 18-month lookback, there are fewer than 20 companies that directly provide the 48-month NCOALink change-of-address service. Fully leveraging NCOALink again not only reduces UAA, but it also helps keep up with customers on the move. And since it is estimated that about 60% of all permanent moves are filed with the USPS, leveraging industry services such as proprietary change of address (PCOA) in conjunction with NCOALink can provide USPS-compliant address quality plus capture additional address corrections that may have been missed.

Capturing and maintaining accurate customer contact data is critical to businesses of all sizes today. In fact, poor data quality can cost companies 15% to 25% (or more) of their operating budget, according to internationally recognized expert Larry English, founder of Brentwood, Tenn.based Information Impact International

While overall mail volume has declined by nearly 40 billion mail pieces over the past decade, the overall average UAA percentage has remained at 4.22%. In fact, it went up a few percentage points to 4.34% in 2021, the highest since 2016, which was 4.42%. Sadly, 61% of the 5.6 billion UAA pieces were treated as waste, which means they never had a chance to reach the intended recipient and certainly cost the mailing industry billions of dollars in lost opportunity and lower response rates. Fortunately, it is not too late to continue to make UAA go away. A new CASS certification cycle is on the horizon and should result in a marked improvements in address quality. Mailers should start receiving CASS Cycle O certified solutions in the next 12 months, which, when fully leveraged, may help to finally push UAA below the four-percentage threshold where it’s been for over two decades. 

Capturing and maintaining accurate customer contact data is critical to businesses of all sizes today. and developer of the Total Information Quality Management (TIQM) methodology. So, this is not just a mailing industry concern, but rather has broad implications for multichannel marketing and other decision-based technology that relies on a complete, correct, and current address.

Chris Lien is EVP Postal Affairs for BCC Software – a BlueCrest Company.

Come see us at


Booth# 222-224 | MAY-JUNE 2022


NO MORE DELAYS: CYCLE O IS COMING Here’s exactly what mailers need to know


ycle O has periodically popped up in postal headlines over the last year or two. Announcements of the next update and then word of postponements have come and gone. But while all indications from the USPS show that it will take effect on August 1, 2023, many people are in the dark as to what it all means in terms of impacts and opportunities. Cycle O is largely a mystery to large-volume mailers, and so is how to prepare for it. Many people working in roles that manage large mailings in companies have no experience with a Cycle upgrade as this is the first Cycle release in over a decade. And since that last implementation, there’s sure to have been turnover in the department. Amanda Armendariz, editor of Mailing Systems Technology, sat down with nationally regarded postal industry expert Adam Collinson, Director of Address Intelligence for GrayHair Software, to discuss straight talk about Cycle O. He explains exactly why this is important, how it will affect mailers, and what you should do to make the most of it. Amanda Armendariz: Adam, for starters, what exactly is this “Cycle O”? Adam Collinson: Cycle O is the next USPS major set of changes to its standards for addressing products that primarily impact any CASS-certified (address matching and standardizing) software, but also impacts NCOALink software. The USPS has worked with companies to identify their needs to ensure a higher level


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of precision related to address information. In addition to improving consistency and accuracy with current address information, the USPS is enhancing available data regarding the characteristics of an address. This data is used to identify if the address is correct for the intended business use as well as to identify additional levels of risk for delivery issues, compliance, and fraud. After nearly a decade of reviewing and documenting these new address-related policies, the USPS has published detailed specifications for changes that are currently scheduled to be required as of August 2023. AA: Can you give a brief overview of why Cycle O is important to mailers? AC: The features of the upcoming CASS Cycle O changes can enable a business to save millions of dollars annually in their postal budget and other business operations while increasing response rates and customer satisfaction. The more significant impact is that you will no longer be at best practices if you do not make changes to utilize the new data being made available. The goal post for best practices is moving. Overall, fewer addresses will qualify for postage discounts. More addresses can accurately be identified as locations not valid for mail delivery and/or at high risk of being undeliverable. However, for specific industries, this new data can help meet their industries’ specific needs and regulations, especially where there are restrictions around addresses and which types of addresses are and are not allowed to be used in specific cases.

AA: The Cycle O implementation is postponed until August 2023, so why is it important to start thinking about it now? AC: There are two main reasons. The first thing is that for some companies, many of the people that understood and oversaw the implementation of the last Cycle release have moved on or retired. Plus, during this past decade, many mailers have incorporated CASS in more processes and operations in pursuit of best practices. So, for those new implementations, this will be the first time through a Cycle update. Secondly, the industry and USPS worked hard to make sure the new Cycle code could be just dropped in, and mailers could continue to run. BUT, in that case, fewer addresses will qualify for discounts and the mailer will be further away from best practices. That is because, with Cycle O, a lot more intelligence about an address will be available. This is information that companies can use to ensure the address is right for their needs (ship to, install at, mail to, get a signature...) as well as to identify scenarios where mail delivery is less likely to occur. Imagine being able to eliminate over 10% of your current undeliverable mail, identify a new group of addresses with a higher risk of fraud, and identify types of addresses with higher undeliverable rates. AA: How should mailers prepare? AC: Every process that requires upgrading to use Cycle O needs to be identified and evaluated to determine the process to upgrade and if/what changes are needed

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! to utilize the new data to the benefit of that business operation. AA: How long will it feasibly take to implement these changes? AC: That will vary greatly. Many larger institutions, they have a two-to-threemonth deployment schedule to test and release to all impacted systems and operations; and that is when it is just a simple upgrade with no need for changes in logic regarding the results. It will take time. Some things to keep in mind:  Know your data. Review all processes and identify what new data is applicable — thus requiring additional changes, testing, documentation, and training.  Know your needs. Evaluate and prioritize the business process improvement opportunities.  Develop a plan. Coordinate the additional, internal system changes to coincide with the Cycle O updates. (For a comprehensive checklist to prepare for and implement Cycle O successfully, visit https://grayhairsoftware. com/2021/09/28/know-about-cycle-o/) AA: What are some potential pitfalls that mailers may encounter with this change, if any?

AC: Certain postal discounts will end for those who don’t prepare for Cycle O, and they will pay more in postage. A system will run, but it will be missing out on opportunities to improve the quality and accuracy of its current address information. AA: Is this something that will impact all mailers, or are some organizations affected more than others? AC: All mailers will be affected and will have the opportunity to improve their processes to benefit their business (and not just mailing operations). The impacts and opportunities will even vary within a mailer’s different operations: marketing, order entry, shipping, billing, statements, and customer service. AA: Why was the implementation postponed from the original 2022 date? AC: I would say for two reasons. Initial delays were simply because it has been over 10 years since the last Cycle and likely a long time until the next one. So, there is a lot going into this Cycle — and everyone wanted to make sure all enhancements and changes were fully reviewed and vetted. Then, there was the pandemic. A lot of work and effort goes into each Cycle — especially upfront effort from the USPS.

The USPS has not been immune from resource impacts and needed to make immediate adjustments to adjust for the changes in the volume and makeup of mail brought on by the pandemic. AA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers regarding this change? AC: The fact is, mailers that take advantage of all that is included in Cycle O will not just increase the value of mail, but positively impact other business operations for which an address has a direct tie. 

Adam Collinson, Director of Address Intelligence, GrayHair Software, is one of the postal industry’s leading experts on all aspects of address hygiene and data quality services. As a leader of GrayHair’s product team, he uses his experience to analyze, research, design, and implement new solutions to meet the needs of the ever-changing mailing industry. He is a frequent speaker at PCC events, including the upcoming National Postal Forum (NPF), May 15-18, in Phoenix, AZ. Adam will lead a session: Using Address Quality to Improve UAA, Using UAA to Improve Address Quality. He can be reached at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or stop by GrayHair’s Booth #402 if you’re attending NPF. | MAY-JUNE 2022




t’s said that age is nothing but a number, but if that number correlates to your bottom line, it’s a very important number. Marketing that takes a consumer’s age into account can help you determine the best way to communicate 22

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with a specific segment, the channel they prefer, the language they understand, and the information they need to make a purchasing decision. It can inform the tone of your piece and appeal to the specific wants and needs of each group by taking

their world views and values into consideration. As far as important numbers go, the age of your target audience and audience segments is at the top of the list. Generations Are Formed by a Unique Mix of Factors As Pew Research Center states, “An individual’s age is one of the most common predicators of difference in attitudes and behaviors,” and the easiest, simplest, and most recognized way of organizing segmentations by age is using generational marketing. While there are no hard and fast rules on what makes a generation, Pew Research considers “a range of factors including demographics, attitudes, historical events, popular culture, and the prevailing consensus among researchers.” That being said, there are no distinct, universally agreed upon years that define each generation, but most researchers have settled on these age ranges and groups (give or take a year or two) of current consumers:  Silent Generation: Born between 1928 and 1945; age 77-94  Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964; age 58-76  Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1976; age 46-57

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! Aesthetics — What Appeals to Them  What’s trendy: who their influencing peers are; what catches their eye as something new or exciting  What’s expected: how they expect information and offers to be presented; what they are most comfortable with Practicality — What Works for Them  Font size/readability: the font style and size, sentence structure, and length that is most appealing and comprehensible  Language and slang: what their vernacular includes; what terms make sense or are more commonly used  Channel: where they are spending their time; how they like to receive information Reference — What Speaks to Them  Cultural: major events they have witnessed that may cast a shadow on how they view things  Socioeconomic: what kind of climates they have lived through and at what stage in life (formative years vs. “active” years)  Technology: what technology they are they used to; what they learned to use in school, on the job, or had to learn themselves

 Millennials: Born between 1977 and 1995; age 27-45  Generation Z: Born between 1996 and 2010; age 12-26 But let’s be clear: generalizing your audience by any one factor can be detrimental to your business. Like any other data point, age is just one small brush stroke needed to form a complete picture of your audience. Other important factors include location (urban, suburb, rural, etc.), ethnicity (Hispanic, African American, Asian American, etc.), and education (high school, college, doctorate, etc.). All inform what a person relates to, understands, values, and ultimately buys. However, as far as starting points go, age is a great first step in breaking your audience down into segments for more personalized, targeted marketing. Generational Segmentation Allows Marketers to Dig Deeper Starting with age allows you to arguably discern the most data points and characteristics than any other grouping factor. From this one bite of information, a marketer can reasonably determine the following:

Values — What Resonates with Them  Core values: what’s been engrained as being important, usually based in part on their experience (see reference) growing up (sustainability, social justice, patriotism, etc.)  Current life stage: what their “next big thing” is (going to school, buying a home, starting a family, retiring) Marketers Beware: Look to Data, Not Your Own Understanding One thing to note is that the reality may look different from the supposition. Take millennials, for instance. Millennials grew up with modern technology, are comfortable with using it, and spend a great deal of time on their computers, tablets, and phones. That information alone would inform a novice marketer to stick to digital communications, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the most effective means of communication. Millennials — more than any other generation — are more likely than not to check their email frequently or open messages from brands. Sleep Advisor found that one in three millennials check their email as soon as they wake up, and a 2018 Adobe consumer email survey found millennials spend an average of 6.4 hours

a day using email. To a marketer looking at these data points, an email campaign may seem the best option to communicating with a millennial, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective.

Generational segmentation is just the first step in creating personalized, targeted marketing campaigns, but it’s a big one. It turns out that 74% of millennials say that they receive too many emails, and 70% are frustrated by irrelevant emails sent by brands, according to a study by SmarterHQ. This digital fatigue and inbox overload make hard copy communications like direct mail a much more appealing option, and one that stands out more from the flood of emails and online ads. In fact, one study by the USPS showed that 75% of millennials said that receiving personal mail makes them feel special. Because of this, 62% of those same respondents said they had visited a store in the past month based on information received from their mailbox. Age is not just a number. Generational segmentation is just the first step in creating personalized, targeted marketing campaigns, but it’s a big one. While it’s important not to stereotype or put age groups in a box, using data and insights from generational research can prove extremely effective at helping you better understand your consumers’ motivations, values, and preferences. By utilizing those understandings, marketers will be better able to tailor their messages and offers and create deeper, more meaningful connections with all their customers, both big and small, old and young.  Ashley Leone is marketing and corporate communications coordinator at IWCO Direct, where she researches and writes for a variety of channels on a range of topics, including millennial marketing trends and purchasing habits. She can be reached at | MAY-JUNE 2022





ost of the mail in the United States is not processed in local offices, but instead sent to outsourced print and mail services who have the proper equipment, staff, and expertise to do it efficiently. The issue is that this is one of the least understood categories, with the lowest level of visibility and the highest opportunity to overspend. When we analyze what organizations are paying for these services, we find huge discrepancies in the rates paid, the level of detail provided on invoices, as well as a lack of knowledge of the scope of the services being provided. This category can be in the hundreds of thousands to millions in annual spend and, because of these issues, can have significant savings opportunities.

percent. It stated it will be having two increases annually, and they could be at similar levels since their rates are tied to inflation. 2. The USPS put new slower service standards in place. Companies will need to pay more attention to the distance mail will be travelling, which will dramatically impact delivery times. 3. This is one of the most overlooked areas with high spend levels. By managing the category proactively, there could be large savings opportunities. We are going to focus on the top 10 ways to reduce costs in this area. The list is broken down in the order required to maximize your savings and control.

There are three main reasons to look at this spend now: 1. On August 29, 2021, the USPS had its largest increase in the last 15 years, increasing production postage classes by eight

1. Gain Visibility Most organizations that we work with had limited to no visibility to what service providers they were using, the cost of the proj-

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ects they were outsourcing, and the breakout detail that was driving their rates. The reason is that the spend is typically fragmented, with different groups creating projects and typically not communicating together. Some of the most common issues we see include:  Accounts Receivable – Statement and transaction print documents  Marketing – Advertising-based projects  Customer Service/Operations – Customer service information announcements  Human Resources – Internal staff mailings This visibility is made more difficult when there are multiple locations and lines of business, all working with different outsourced providers. We recommend having one person or group

take responsibility for managing this category holistically to have the understanding and data to create the leverage for change. The level of visibility is difficult to manage because each vendor invoice has different degrees of detail. We have seen bills for large sums with a single line charge, while others break out every service area into multiple sub-groups that may be difficult to understand. You will find incredible variations in the rates charged from one job or service provider to another. The key to reducing costs is to develop a standard process to build this visibility in order to better understand your mailings and fees. We created a system to categorize every charge into one of the mailing categories listed in Figure 1. With this, you can now compare cost of services, providers, and the impact of changes. | MAY-JUNE 2022


Figure 2

2. Audit Invoices It is essential to understand the current contracts in place with your vendors, not only the rates that should be charged, but also the other items that can make a big difference in the total costs. Examples include:  Rebates  Minimum quantity commitments  Tiered pricing levels  Quality and turnaround time guarantees Each invoice needs to be compared to the terms in the agreement to validate that you are being billed correctly and you are maximizing the spend. Most organizations are not managing the granularity of the contracts and invoices to be able to find these overcharges, which can be at significant levels. 3. Benchmark Services Many organizations will use multiple outsource mail providers because they are contracting directly with different facets of the business as discussed above. It is a best practice to compare the rates and services of these organizations. 4. Consolidate Spends The more volume you can give to the fewest providers gives the best opportunities to reduce costs. As you can see in Figure 2, mail volumes are continually shrinking and went down dramatically with COVID-19. This means that the outsource industry is hungry for new work. There is a better opportunity for rate concessions with higher consolidated spends. 5. Optimize Insource/Outsource Decisions In most organizations, mail is a mix of work done in-house and through outsourcers. Oftentimes it is based on the adage “we have always done it this way.” Most large jobs will end up being less expensive to do outside due to the economies of scale. There could be smaller, more complex jobs that are being outsourced 26

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that would make more sense to do in-house as well. There are new digital print drivers that can help organizations control where they print, moving specific mail to internal production facilities and others to outsource providers.

The industry is seeing downward mail volumes and needs to fight for every piece of mail, giving the client leverage in future negotiations. 6. Run an RFP Comparing Services With the data we have gained from the visibility step, you will see drastic rate variances between providers, and it is a best-inclass practice to do a request for proposal (RFP). When creating the RFP, it is important to control the template so you can easily compare services. It is equally essential to know all the fee structures to your current projects to make sure they are represented. The biggest issue companies have is they focus on the cost to mail the one-page document and do not look at the other items that could have a significantly larger impact on the total cost. It is also valuable to be able to have sections where each provider can discuss their visibility and support models, as well as provide references. 7. Print Closer to the End User If you mail locally, you will get faster delivery times if the service provider is in your area vs. needing to send across country.


On the other side, if your customers are nationwide, you may want to look for providers with multiple mailing locations that can split projects to be closer to the customer. If you are going to mail from one location, is the service provider in the center of the country or near a USPS hub to provide better service levels? Finally, what is the cost of labor in your area? If you are in a high cost of living region, it may make sense to look at providers in less expensive parts of the country who may offer lower pricing. 8. Expand Use to Other Areas What added value services will you need? Examples include creative, transportation, web presentment, storage of stock, or on-demand mailing services with online portals. 9. Manage Your Own Agreements Outsource mail providers will want to bundle all your services, but if you have a large enough spend, specific areas may make sense for you to control on your own to maximize your discounts. Examples include:  Presort Services and International Remailers – Many of our clients have their own direct relationships with these services vs. having the outsource provider mark up their own agreements on your bill.  Marketing Consolidators – There are companies that want to control the creative and the production of the mailings and they work with their own outsource mail providers. Clients like it because they get to hand off all the work. The big issue is, are you getting the best rates on the mailing side? Often, mail services are being marked up with little visibility to the true cost. It is a best practice to see what these rates would be if you managed the print and mail vendors directly and have the marketing agencies focus on the creative only.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Keeping your critical communications running so nothing comes between you and your customers • Paul J. DePaoli 203.572.3887 •

10. Set Up Continual Review Processes The key to saving money in this category is to create processes of continual review. This means having the data in a format where it can be evaluated and measured. Invoices need to be audited, and review meetings with key providers need to happen quarterly or annually. The best part of this category is that it is one of the largest untapped areas to find savings. Very few organizations have proactive controls with any consistent visibility. The industry is seeing downward mail volumes and needs to fight for every piece of mail, giving the client leverage in future negotiations. Finally, there are no published rates available with services bundled, making it difficult to compare. With the postage increases and service standard reductions, this is the best time to try to optimize your spends. 

Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President/CEO of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest shipping & 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 2011, they have helped their clients save an average of 58% and over $68 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or | MAY-JUNE 2022





he first votes in some 2022 elections have already been cast, but if you’re involved in a political campaign, it’s not too late to consider using direct mail. Whether it’s your first political rodeo or your 30th, your challenge remains the same: to get the attention of potential voters, inform them about your candidate, make the case for their support, and, finally, get them to cast their vote. That’s not an easy task. The average American sees hundreds of promotional emails, pop-ups, Facebook and Google ads, TV commercials, videos, texts, signs, and other communications every day. Direct mail can help you cut through all that clutter. Recently, we conducted research into what trends are apparent from election and political mail campaigns and developed five key insights about political and election mail — and how you can use them to improve your mail and drive citizens to participate in our democracy. 1. Target Voters with Segmentation Because data is the king of direct mail and a crucial factor in its success, you must use it correctly. There’s certainly a time for generic election messaging, such as when you’re introducing, or re-introducing, your candidate. But as a campaign progresses, you can also segment your political database and send mail to groups of voters based on an incredible variety and combination of data points. Working with a credible data supplier, zero in on specific audiences whose values and profiles better align with yours. Design mail pieces that speak to these attributes by highlighting your experience, issue positions, and specific proposals. Some of the examples we came across demonstrate how campaigns — as well as official election bodies — reach out to different demographics, as shown in this voting information effort mailed by Sacramento County (Figure 1). 2. Emotional Motivators Separate neuroscience studies by Temple University and True Impact reveal that messages found on physical printed material, 28

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such as direct mail, involve more emotional processing and create better recall and motivation to act than digital ones. Now imagine the power of print paired with visual and verbal cues that tap the seven main emotional drivers and you have a powerful combination that drives action:  Guilt  Fear  Anger

 Salvation  Exclusivity  Flattery

 Greed

Figure 1

Figure 2

Then there’s another motivator that works so well in election and political mail: patriotism. This non-partisan election information mail piece, from Fulton County (Georgia) Department of Registration and Elections, breaks out the big type (“YOUR VOICE”) in white against a background of blue and red stripes (see Figure 2). Remember — after deciding on an emotional touchpoint, you can then align facts and figures to support your candidate’s message on issues. 3. Copy Don’t be subtle. You and your candidate can’t afford it! Just tell your voters what you want them to do next, and keep it short. Some examples:  “Go to www.[CandidateName].com for my full plan on saving endangered species.”  “Register by [date].”  “Vote on [date]”  “Return your ballot by [date]” Also, show them how! Provide clear instructions, like your campaign website or phone number for more information, or a map showing the physical location of their polling place. We discovered many campaign mailers in our database that took this helpful approach. Official election agencies, such as Arizona Vote, mailed easy-to-follow directions for residents receiving their ballots by mail (see Figure 3).

4. Design Your mail should make the best possible impression about your candidate, once you’ve gotten your audience’s attention in the first place. This means including these elements:  easy-to-read fonts


Processing return mail can be a logistical and operational nightmare for companies that receive a lot of it from the USPS. Companies often 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 the intended recipient, the USPS’s reason for return, and a forwarding address if available. Our solution can help to identify the contents of the envelope to route the images 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 you when they find one.

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908.751.0709 | | | MAY-JUNE 2022


Figure 4

 crisp, high-resolution photos  no cheap or dated-looking graphic  no spelling, grammatical, or factual errors Also, use white space and short headlines — when you’re not showcasing content — to let the voter’s eyes and mind focus on the candidate and the message. And make sure no one misses your call-to-action: when (and how) they can vote in the election. One of the most eye-catching examples we found in our research is this campaign mailer by Citizens for Lake Metroparks based in Painesville, OH. Notice how keywords and phrases are highlighted as well as the large type emphasizing the ballot measure number (see Figure 4). 5. Inspire Action Across Channels Political campaign mail in 2022 might look on the surface a lot like mail from 10, 20, or 30 years ago. But it’s not. The internet means that political mail can be more powerful than ever before if you use it as part of an integrated, ongoing, omnichannel experience for your candidate’s supporters and 30

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potential voters. Reinforcing a consistent message across all channels builds trust in the eyes of your intended voters. Think of how you can keep voters engaged with your campaign and other supporters using: • Smart speakers/VACTA call-to-action • Informed Delivery campaigns • Retargeting website visitors with a postcard • QR code call-out to drive website visits • Social media listings Our research showed that many election administration bodies, party organizations, non-profit groups, and individual candidates have been using many of these digital channels to keep voters engaged after they receive their mail. Santa Clara County (California) mailed a small brochure with helpful voter information (see Figure 5). It directs residents to the county’s election sites (via QR code) and social sites. The bottom line here is that direct mail is a living channel that combines the best of modern-day marketing and print technologies to help your campaign reach today’s voters. May the Best Candidate Win Your direct mail can do a lot of heavy lifting in identifying, educating, and energizing core supporters and independent voters. Even as marketing strategy evolves from “spray and pray” to datadriven, your mail must ultimately answer a big question all voters, like consumers, have: “What’s in it for me?”  Jill Corcoran has been building teams to serve marketers for the past twenty years. Employee and client happiness have always been her “North Star.” Jill runs the world’s most complete resource of direct mail campaigns: Who’s Mailing What! Visit for more information, connect with Jill on LinkedIn, or contact her at 212.660.9880 or

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