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The State of the Industry, Part Two

In this issue, we take a look at how mailers rate the USPS performance, their views of the mail industry, predictions for the future, and more. By Amanda Armendariz

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18 Savings Strategies for the New Year

With a postage rate increase on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to find other ways to cut your costs. By Adam Lewenberg

22 Breaking Down the Walls in the Mail Industry

If our industry is to survive and thrive, it’s crucial we band together. By Kathleen Siviter

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26 Is Your Addressing Game on Point?

You know addressing your mail piece correctly is crucial. Here are the biggest hurdles to be aware of. By Gary A. Seitz 4


28 Three Ways Mail Center AI Makes Businesses More Nimble

If you are looking for greater access to your data, artificial intelligence could be the answer. By Kaz Jaszczak & Greg Council

Real Life Management

Influence: The Pathway to Positive Results! By Wes Friesen

Software Byte

Get Off the Treadmill! By Jeff Peoples

The Trenches

Disaster on the Doorstep By Mike Porter

Connecting Point

Top 3 Industry Prophecies for 2018 By Chris Lien

Mail & Technology Merge

Taking Things for Granted By Vincent DeAngelis

Say What?


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Editor's Note

A Year of Uncertainty? By Amanda Armendariz

Kirk-Rudy Turns 50!


VOLUME 30, ISSUE 6 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell


Editor Amanda Armendariz Editorial Director Allison Lloyd Editorial interns Catherine Sbeglia Kristyn Sommers Contributing Writers Greg Council, Vincent DeAngelis, Wes Friesen, Kaz Jaszczak, Adam Lewenberg, Chris Lien, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Gary A. Setiz, Kathleen Siviter Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman Advertising Ken Waddell (o) 608.442.5064 (m) 608.235.2212 Design Kelli Cooke RB Publishing Inc. 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 ©2017 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine.

WITH AMANDA ARMENDARIZ As the end of the year approaches, I feel a bit more uncertain about our industry than I have in years past. This is largely due to the vacancies in the Board of Governors and the insecurity that signifies. Unless this issue is resolved soon, there will be no promotions announced for mailers in 2018. As we all know from this year, these promotions offered mailers several ways to save significant amounts on postage. Without these promotions in 2018 (which is looking more and more likely), what impact will this have on the mail stream? Will mailers just continue to mail as they always have, despite the fact that they could have been saving up to two percent on their postage costs? Or will they look at the costs involved to mail communication pieces (costs that are well worth it, by the way; I don’t want anyone to think otherwise!) and decide that because they are not getting this incentive, they are decreasing the amount they send in 2018? Mail volume is already down, despite the fact that it is a highly trusted communication technique, and as an industry, we should be doing everything we can to encourage more mail pieces to enter the mail stream, not prevent them. President Trump has put forth three names for consideration for the Board of Governors — let’s hope that Congress approves them so we can start 2018 out on the right foot. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Consumer confidence in the mail is strong, and mailers are designing innovative ways to merge their hard-copy and digital communication strategies. While, yes, mail volumes are down compared to years past, the mail that is being sent is having an impact, and isn’t that what matters? I’m excited to see what 2018 will bring (despite the uncertainty I currently feel), and I wish you all the best for the new year. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 30 Issue 6] is published six times per year, (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc.,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 | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017



By Wes Friesen



rendon Burchard is the highest paid motivation and marketing trainer in the world. He summarizes the key to success by stating, “What makes us successful over the long-term has a ton to do with our social interactions and the influence we do or don’t have with other people.” John Maxwell — the top selling leadership author — emphasizes that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Our life experiences support the importance of influence to get the positive results we seek. Let’s explore important tips to help us develop greater influence with people in our lives. Following are 15 ways to develop greater influence, derived from a range of experts: 1. Communicate an optimistic, empowered mindset. Positive psychology researchers Michelle Gielan and Shawn Achor recently wrote, “Our research shows that choosing to communicate an optimistic, empowered mindset to people around you — especially in the face of adversity — drives positive business outcomes.” One tip to having an optimistic mindset is to start your day with focusing on information that motivates and inspires you. One disheartening statistic: Just three minutes of negative news in the morning increases our chances of having a bad day by 27%! Another tip is to carefully choose our closest friends — people that are positive, competent, and of good character. Jim Rohn advices, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” A final tip is to invest time reading from good books that will edify, grow, and develop you — I start with the Bible and read many other books over the course of a year. 2. Smile, even if you are feeling down. You may have heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” The same principle applies when things go wrong








or you are feeling down; smile and it will put you in a better mood. By smiling we release endorphins (happy hormones), ease bodily tension, and encourage people to smile in return. Be grateful. Happiness is contagious. A great way to be happy is to be thankful for all the things (e.g. relationships, health, experiences, responsibilities, meaningful possessions, etc.) we have. We often focus on what we don’t have or on the things that are not going as planned, so we forget to be thankful. Making a daily habit of being grateful for everything we do have will give us a positive attitude that will rub off on other people. Be honest. Honesty is truly the best policy. The truth seems to always come out eventually, so we might as well as be honest all the time. By being honest in tough situations, people will come to trust and respect us, and our influence will grow. Always do your best. We gain respect from people when we do our jobs the best we can. People appreciate leaders and co-workers that are dedicated, dependable, and work hard. Doing our best gives us a positive sense of self and purpose and sets a good example for those on our teams. Always say "please" and "thank you." Good manners are a passport to better relationships. People will go the extra mile when treated with courtesy and respect. Having good manners shows people we care about them and puts the Golden Rule of treating others like we like to be treated into action. Avoid gossip. As you know, gossip is common in most workplaces, but it also can be the most demoralizing thing we can do while at work. Participating in gossip undermines our trust and respect with people, and can spread negativity throughout the team and

organization. Instead, don’t get involved with gossip. Talking about others behind their backs is never a good idea and will diminish our influence with others. 8. Be diplomatic. People will say or do things that irritate us, and the key is to stay calm and objective. Saint James encourages us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When we remain calm, we stay in control of the situation and set a good example to others. 9. Become genuinely interested in other people. Dale Carnegie wisely observed, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” The best way to make quality, lasting relationships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests. 10. Be a good listener; encourage others to talk about themselves. Want to become a better conversationalist? Become a good listener. To become a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. One of the tenets of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Good listening includes eye contact and affirmative body language, asking clarifying questions, repeating back to ensure understanding, and avoiding distractions (e.g. phones, TV, computers, etc.) 11. Give credit to others when credit is due. People like to be appreciated. Sheri Dew advised, “Having influence is not about elevating self, but lifting others.” After years of study, esteemed psychologist William James concluded the number one need for most is the need to be appreciated. People like to know the work they are doing is being noticed and they are doing a good job — so tell them. When we express sincere appreciation, it makes them feel

good, builds trust in our relationship with them, and improves morale. 12. Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. Roy T. Bennett was right when he said, “One of the best ways to influence people is to make them feel important.” We have already mentioned a few ways to help people feel important. Another way to help people feel important is to provide recognition. Recognition can come in many forms: verbal, texts, emails, handwritten notes/cards, certificates of appreciation, experiences (e.g. sports event, concert, movie), gift cards, money, promotions, special training or development opportunities, special assignments… the list goes on. 13. Show you are glad for others. It’s great to see people doing well, but

often we get busy and don’t express our happiness for them. Showing you’re glad means actively helping them to celebrate their successes. Saint Paul encourages us to “rejoice with those that rejoice.” There are many ways to celebrate and rejoice with others, including sending flowers, verbally saying “well done!,” sending an email or text, or giving a card or hand written note. When we make the effort to show we are glad for others, we build greater connections and relationships. 14. Stay neutral and objective when things go wrong. Life and work consists of both good times and bad times. We can lead with positive influence when we navigate through the peaks and valleys with hope and optimism. This includes remaining calm, neutral, and objective as opposed to blaming and being emotional

and subjective. We earn the respect of others and have more influence when we model positive behaviors in the light of negative circumstances. 15. Be respectful of other cultures. We work in increasingly diverse workplaces. Part of that diversity includes working with many people of different cultures and ethnicities. By getting to know other people’s traditions, foods, and beliefs, we can develop a respect and appreciation for who they are. Every culture has something positive we can learn from. Respected leadership expert Ken Blanchard wisely reflected, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” I wish you my best as you develop even greater influence with people and achieve even greater results! 

Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams. He is also an accomplished 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! Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you. Wes can be contacted at or at 971.806.0812. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017



By Jeff Peoples



o you ever end some work days feeling like you have traveled the same steps, over and over and over, and not really gotten anywhere? We’re not talking about footsteps here, but process steps. Many of us perform the same mind-numbing processing steps, over and over. As in the physical fitness world, walking those same steps repeatedly can really wear you out, but in your mailing operation, that (unfortunately) does not improve your fitness. In that case, the total opposite is true: the fewer process steps you perform, the more productive you are — and this is especially true for routine, redundant tasks. Reducing the amount of these tedious, repetitive tasks is the key to freeing your time for more valuable efforts. So how can you achieve this in your mailing operation? Stop Using Paper We often hear from mailers who say that they only use electronic documentation (eDoc) for Full-Service mailings and that they use hard copy for everything else because eDoc is not required. At first look, that may make sense, but the reality is that going back and forth between eDoc and hard copy creates extra steps. If you have a Mail.dat file for a mailing, there is no reason why you should not be submitting eDoc, simply because it is far easier to process all your jobs in the same way, as opposed to using one workflow for some and a different workflow for others. The more consistent you make things, the better chance you have to start automating steps in your process. Even if you can’t eliminate all of the processing steps, there is a good chance you can consolidate and automate many of them. Where Do I Start? The best place to start looking at automation is at the source of your eDoc: the



The cleaner and more accurate your Mail.dat files are right out of the gate, the better chance you have at automating subsequent processing steps. Mail.dat file. The cleaner and more accurate your Mail.dat files are right out of the gate, the better chance you have at automating subsequent processing steps. Pinpoint the common edits you are making to these files, and then work with your presort provider to put as much valid data as possible into your Mail.dat files. That means there is less editing and manipulation to perform on these files after the fact. Once you have your Mail.dat files whipped into shape, identify the various types of processing steps needed for the mailings that you produce:  Are there common edits that need to be made to the files?  Are there additional processing steps needed, such as palletizing, creating courtesy pallets, analyzing for drop shipments, merging for co-palletization, etc.? Once you identify the necessary processing steps for the various types of mailings you do, start investigating the automation tools available in your mailing software. Are there steps that can be performed at the same time the Mail.dat files are being imported into the software? For example, there may be certain jobs for

which very few, if any, edits or processes are needed — these can likely be set up to automatically generate postage statements and create the export file needed to upload to PostalOne! as soon as you import the file into the software. Likewise, if there are standard processes that need to take place, such as changing the mailing dates or palletizing the loose trays, those can also be set up to be done automatically as the files are imported into the software or using post-import automation processes. Additionally, you may be able to set up custom workflow configurations that will automatically launch all the steps needed for specific workflows, simply by dropping the Mail.dat files into specified “hot folders.” One Step at a Time We’re all human, so our natural tendency is to resist things that are new and unfamiliar. We tend to be most comfortable doing the same tasks in the same manner. Standardizing and automating workflow processes is no different; however, the way you process your mailings today may not be the most effective or efficient way, and making some changes

is the only way that you can make any improvements. It does NOT need to be an intimidating process. You can start out with some very basic standardization and automation steps and then build on that once it becomes more comfortable. Stop the Treadmill! At this point, you may be thinking, “This all sounds good, but how do I stop the treadmill?” Not everyone is a computer

expert, and certainly getting the mail out the door is your top priority, which means that you need to take advantage of your available resources. Find someone in your organization who is computer savvy and ask them to help you look for tasks that could be automated. Tap into the technical resources of your mailing software providers; chances are, they have numerous resources to help guide you or even perform some of these auto-

mation configuration steps for you. Join area mailing organizations, such as your local Postal Customer Council (PCC), and network with other mailers to see how they are tackling their workflow automation issues. Whatever you do, take those first steps — since even automating a few basic steps can save you a lot of time and help avoid monotony — and you’ll be that much closer to improving your efficiency. 

Jeff Peoples is President, Founder, and CEO of Window Book. With over 20+ years of innovative 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.


KIRK-RUDY TURNS 50! This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Kirk-Rudy, Inc. Operating out of a single location in Woodstock, GA, about thirty miles north of Atlanta, Kirk-Rudy is well known for manufacturing some of the finest equipment used in the printing and mailing industries today. The company was started in 1967 by Harry Kirk and Fred Rudy, both of whom worked for the Cheshire Corporation in Chicago. Cheshire was well known in the early sixties for creating a labeling machine that would cut and glue down address labels from a mailing list printed on IBM pin fed continuous computer paper. Harry, a Czechoslovakian immigrant schooled in machining and engineering, was responsible for most of Cheshire’s equipment designs and became their Chief Engineer. However, the early success of the small, family run business proved to be difficult, and with rumors of Xerox’s acquisition plans, Harry left the company, and Fred soon followed.

to start selling KR Equipment. And before long, a global network of dealers was established. Harry attributes his success over these past fifty years to the fact that he never wavered from his original belief in “building the best quality equipment from the ground up, and taking care of your customers and employees”. This mission is carried out every day by over 90 people in their state-of-the-art 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. At 89 years of age, Harry Kirk still continues his role as an active CEO and is on the factory floor every day.

After a few small projects involving mailing equipment, Harry and Fred decided to start Kirk-Rudy, Inc. in a small garage in Libertyville, IL. Harry started by re-designing the plain paper labeler. He created a heavy-duty base that included a unique shuttle feeder that fed catalogs and booklets exceptionally well. This unit became the KR211 Labeling System, which is still sold and operating today. Word spread quickly about the innovations Kirk-Rudy was producing. Soon, all of Cheshire’s former dealers contacted Harry 770.427.4203 | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017



By Mike Porter



urricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, and other natural phenomena can put a document center out of operation, at least temporarily. But self-inflicted mishaps can ruin any print and mail job. Data issues, material problems, equipment failures, and employee errors are just a few of the things that can create bad mail. Processing errors may not impact mail service providers and their clients as dramatically as natural disasters, but financial and reputation effects can linger long after incidents occur. The good news is effective quality control measures can prevent or catch almost all printing and mailing errors before bad mail makes it out of the building. Most production mail centers I’ve visited have established quality control procedures meant to ensure the work they do is accurate and complete. The procedures aren’t always followed, but generally, the processes are there. When a mailing mistake happens, a post-mortem usually reveals missing or ignored steps. The warning signs were there, but nobody noticed. As Documents Change, So Should QC Quality measures cannot be stagnant. Businesses need to update them as the work changes. Service providers and in-house document centers need to compare their quality and piece integrity controls to the jobs they are running today. As the document business changes, the risks of generating bad mail are growing. Consider the impact of color inkjet printing and sophisticated document composition software. These technologies have encouraged document designers to create highly personalized and targeted messages to print on high-speed, full-color digital presses and digital output channels like email and text.



The more personalized and segmented our mail becomes, the greater the need for rigorous quality control.

I can remember a time when matching input and output record counts was sufficient quality control for most jobs. As long as we printed the correct number, we could assume the job was accurate and complete. This belief was never entirely true, but the impact of a missing or duplicated mail piece was negligible, so batch balancing worked pretty well. Today, when print vendors merge documents from different jobs, creating large batches necessary to run efficiently on a high-speed inkjet press, record counts are not a reliable indicator of accuracy. If the application lends itself to householding or features multi-channel output from a single input file, the counts are even less relevant. Individual document tracking is necessary to be sure every piece was processed as intended. Speaking of merged print jobs, one strategy employed by mailers merging print image files for efficiency reasons is switching to envelopes with larger windows. This move allows them to merge documents that feature address blocks with different size fonts or slightly different

page locations. The larger windows ensure mailing addresses are always visible. However, documents scattered throughout the job can include confidential data that will show through the larger window. If no one checks the output, mailing vendors and their customers can be subject to lawsuits or regulatory action caused by violating mail recipient privacy. Perils of Personalization Personalization requires even more stringent quality assurance methods. The days of the “Dear Valued Customer” letter are gone. With every document featuring multiple elements of personalization, mixed up data can reduce the effectiveness of a campaign. Whether they print documents or distribute electronically, document producers must take care to ensure the data used to drive the personalized messaging is complete and accurate before generating the documents. As I write this column, I have an email in my in-box with someone else’s name in the subject line — a personalization effort that failed. Errors can happen at any time and for many reasons. The more personalized and

segmented our mail becomes, the greater the need for rigorous quality control. Companies composing documents containing personalized data should check the finished product to make sure names, account numbers, personalized URLs, QR codes, or other unique data points included in composed documents match the input files. A simple matching mistake can produce entire runs of documents that appear perfect but are useless, off-putting, or confusing to document recipients. I have seen this error occur when production files contained some account numbers formatted differently than the numbers in the test data. The matching logic mismatched data and many documents contained information from two different accounts.

Variable height address blocks caused a similar problem. Document composition programmers selected font sizes and page positions based on customer-supplied test data. On the live run, the USPS returned several mail pieces as undeliverable because extra data in the production files caused the city, state, and ZIP Code line to drop below the bottom of the window. This happens most often with print image files. Check for Errors at Each Opportunity Even accurately composed documents can fall victim to printing and mailing equipment that causes mailing errors on their own. We’ve heard of printers getting out of sync on duplex jobs and printing data from one account on the front and another account on the back.

Inserter operators responding to jams can accidentally mix pages from multiple accounts as they hand-insert the contents and place the envelopes in the output stacker. Though I have watched operations be successful when allowing this corrective action, I prefer a “touch and toss” policy where every document touched by an operator is destroyed and automatically reprinted. Adequate quality control processes will differ among mail operations. There is no single solution that works for every workflow and mix of applications. The key to success is reinforcing those QC steps so staff compliance remains high — and regularly reviewing quality control procedures periodically to make sure they still provide protection against mailing disasters. 

Mike Porter helps print and mail operations raise quality, improve productivity, and implement new technologies. Visit to learn more about his writing and consulting services or follow him on Twitter @PMCmike or LinkedIn. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017



By Chris Lien



t’s important to get your company prepared for 2018 and the changes that lie ahead. With technological innovations, legislative challenges, and new generations of workers all on the rise, it’s needless to say that change is coming. However, change can also mean opportunities to grow your business and improve the value of direct communication. Here are my predictions for how 2018 will play out for the mailing industry.

Bad data creates wasted costs, which no company wants to deal with. UAA (Undeliverable-as-Addressed) mail means wasted materials and penalties from the USPS. And while the USPS has announced that it will implement the next CASS certification cycle in 2019, now is the time to start reducing UAA. If your company is experiencing a lot of returned mail or undeliverable-as-addressed pieces, it’s important to look for ways to solve this issue.

The Growing Cost of Bad Data It’s not a new idea that old data is bad data, and bad data can cause a plethora of issues for companies, including wasted costs and poor response rates. Bad address quality is also now heightened in the age of Informed Delivery. Consumers now have enhanced visibility into their mail, so companies who use bad data are becoming increasingly evident. A brand who consistently sends mail that is incorrectly addressed, or sends pieces that are irrelevant to the end recipient, begins to lose credibility, and it may hurt the company financially in the long run. Businesses today need to go beyond basic compliance for high quality lists in order to compete in the market space. Applying best practices in address quality does not mean smaller lists; it means enhanced lists that return better response rates. With marketers increasingly developing multichannel campaigns, which leverage the proven foundation of direct mail, it’s essential that mail pieces are going to the right address and targeted towards the right consumer. If they’re not, the effectiveness of the campaign overall will greatly diminish.

Vacancies at the Board of Governors Currently, all nine of the presidentially-appointed Board of Governor seats for the USPS are vacant (although three names have been put forth for consideration by President Trump). Without at least one governor to approve it, there will be no promotions in 2018 and no authority to adjust future postage prices. The loss of a two percent discount from the various promotions that will soon expire may translate into a sizeable increase in postage in 2018 for mailers that had been leading the way in creating irresistible mail pieces. It begs the question: how will the administration and the Senate allow a major US quasigovernment entity the size of the USPS, which underpins an industry comparable in size to oil and gas, to operate without a Board of Governors? We need to make sure our senators quickly confirm the nominees. Our industry needs to continue to push Congress either directly or through industry associations to have a properly seated Board of Governors for the USPS. It’s up to us to inspire change.

The Need to Make Mail Irresistible The importance and influence of direct mail is no secret. The country is experiencing a digital fatigue phenomenon. Americans, from millennials to baby boomers, trust direct mail over digital marketing tactics. Because of the nature of mail itself, consumers spend more time observing direct mail. Whether they act on the offer or throw the piece away, they spend more time considering it versus email or online advertising. With advancements in print technology, variable printing is the norm; personalized mail pieces are not just a reality, but expected by consumers. While digital fatigue is a growing factor, the internet is still an integral part of everyone’s daily lives. By also working to add a digital component to personalized direct mail, marketers can leverage this physical component for effective multichannel marketing. (Editor’s note: Many of you are familiar with the Irresistible Mail Award. Starting in 2018, this award will be renamed as Next Generation Campaign Award and will celebrate campaigns that take advantage of Informed Delivery to communicate with their consumer audience. The award will continue to recognize B2C campaigns that include innovative and effective letter and flat mail piece designs. It is indeed an exciting time for mailers!) Again, thanks to recent printing advancements, direct mail pieces can now go further than just personalized messages and distinctive colors — they can also include textures and scents, creating an entirely unique and memorable experience for consumers who come in contact with these irresistible mail pieces. ¾

Chris Lien is the president of BCC Software and has been active in the mailing industry for over 20 years. During that time, he authored several software solutions utilizing Mail.dat for electronic auditing, distribution and logistics planning, palletization, and electronic postage payment. He has been heavily involved in industry associations such as the Association for Postal Commerce, EPICOMM, Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, and Idealliance.




By Vincent DeAngelis



orrific. Haunting. Apocalyptic. Those were just some of the responses I received from family, friends, and colleagues after I emailed a video of a United States Postal Service letter carrier delivering mail to northern California neighborhood that had been devastated by the wildfires. You can see the video by searching “California fires postal delivery” on YouTube. I did not understand the level of destruction these wildfires inflicted because I did not see coverage of them to the same extent that I saw reporting about the hurricanes and flooding in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. It’s What They Do I am very proud to have had the honor of working for the United States Postal Service. Many who received my email know that I started my 30+ year career in this industry as a letter carrier. They responded to the video link with questions: “Doesn’t it bring the rain, sleet, snow, or hail motto to another level?” “What is the emotional effect of working in that environment?” “That is what they do,” I responded. Getting back to a sense of normalcy is an important first-step of recovering from disaster. Having mail delivered or being able to pick up your mail brings that normalcy. In some cases, like in Puerto Rico, mail is the only way to communicate with loved ones. Facilitating Vital Connections That communication is, sometimes, the sole method to contact the important people in your life. Facilitating the connections is vital as much as it is noble.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Postal Service expects to process and deliver more than 15 billion pieces of letters and more than 850 million packages, a 10% increase compared with last year. Six million of those packages will be delivered on Sundays in December. Quite an impressive set of numbers. Equally impressive numbers:  700 million – Number of rubber bands ordered by the Postal Service in 2016  506.4 million – Number of mail pieces processed and delivered by the Postal Service in one day  21.1 million – Number of mail pieces processed each hour by the Postal Service  19,400,000,000 – Total number of FirstClass Mail single-piece volume in 2016  47% – World’s mail volume handled by the United States Postal Service  54,490 – Address changes processed by the Postal Service in one day  13,000 – Number of Main Streets in the United States  121.2 billion – Number of mail pieces received by United States households in 2016  2,800 – Number of self-service kiosks supported in the Postal Service  225,000+ – Vehicles operated by the Postal Service  877,000,000 – Number of customers visiting a USPS retail facility in 2016  1,700,000,000 – Visits to in 2016  $1.4 trillion – Approximate revenue generated annually by the mailing industry according to the Envelope Manufactur-

This will be Vincent’s last column with Mailing Systems Technology. We would like to thank him for all of the wonderful material he has provided us with over the past couple of years, and we wish him the best!

ers Association 2015 Mail Industry Jobs Study  7,500,000 – People employed by the mailing industry, according to the same study  0 – amount of tax dollars received to operate the United States Postal Service Being Thankful It’s the time of year when we extinguish the summer evening fire pit and turn our thoughts to the aforementioned holiday mailing and shipping season. It is also the time of year when we reflect and give thanks. To the 325 Postal Service employees who were recognized for their heroic acts in 2016, I applaud your bravery. To you and all the other men and woman of the USPS, I thank you for all you do to sustain this most important agency. ¾

Vincent DeAngelis is Vice President, Postal Relations, and Shipping Product Management, Neopost USA. Neopost USA provides hardware and software to mailers and shippers of all sizes. Neopost-brand solutions enable businesses to send and receive physical mail, digital documents, and traceable packages. More importantly, Neopost solutions help our customers connect with their customers by establishing individualized, one-to-one business relationships. Visit for more information. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017


THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY, PART TWO In this issue, we take a look at how mailers rate the USPS performance, their views of the mail industry, predictions for the future, and more.

By Amanda Armendariz


t’s always interesting to see the results from our annual surveys and how they change from year to year. This year’s results were fairly encouraging; for the most part, people are satisfied with the USPS performance, they believe that their mailed communications have a positive effect on their customer relationships, and they welcome new USPS programs like Informed Visibility and Informed Delivery. If this optimism holds, it seems as if 2018 is going to be off to a great start! Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t issues. We still do not have a confirmed Board of Governors, which means that there will be no promotions in 2018 unless that gets resolved. This

could be one of the biggest issues facing mailers, since while only 40% of our respondents took part in the promotions this year, it’s a known fact that these promotions can save up to two percent on postage costs — which is not a small number when you consider the volume mailed every day! Hopefully this issue is resolved as soon as possible. Regardless, please enjoy this year’s survey results (which are interspersed with quotes from our readers on what they think of the state of industry — please remember these are the viewpoints of our readers and not necessarily Mailing Systems Technology). As always, feel free to drop me a line at to let me know what you think.

USPS Performance When asked to rate the USPS’s performance, the vast majority of our respondents rated the organization either “good” or “excellent.”

7.02% 19.30%

The declining mail volumes and corresponding loss of revenue is a hot topic of industry discussions. Our readers are split as to whether or not the USPS is handling this decline appropriately.





Very confident


Somewhat confident


Not at all




“I am a small-volume shipper (under 500 packages in an average month, sometimes more) and most of my packages are lightweight (under a pound). USPS has always provided excellent service for me. I love the USPS for what I do and feel it is on the right track for smaller businesses like mine.” 14


On the bright side, most folks think that the Postal Service is taking the right steps to change how it does business in the face of increased electronic communications.







Not surprisingly, the biggest problem that our respondents had with the USPS is that the regulations can be confusing and burdensome (which is why it’s so important to utilize resources like Mailing Systems Technology, your local USPS representative, PCC meetings, and more — these are great avenues to get your questions answered!) Address corrections




Delivery accuracy



“Each separate post office needs to work together as one organization. The workers in the post offices need to be regularly trained on the same processes so that if you go to any post office, you get the same answer. Large businesses need a better solution to manage their mail, PO boxes, caller services, permits, etc.”


Hours of operation




Mail acceptance




Postal personnel




Regulations confusing or burdensome




Returned mail


Supplies availability


Timely delivery






Evaluating the USPS Initiatives and Programs Some of these changes include initiatives like Informed Delivery, where a recipient will be able to get an email notification of the physical mail that is currently waiting in their mailbox. While not even a fifth of our recipients think this will definitely make no difference as to how people will interact with their mail, the vast majority is split between thinking it’s a great idea and being undecided as to its impact.


44.83% 40

30 It’s great; it’s going to really help hard-copy mail remain relevant in a digital world. Eh, it’s kind of interesting, but I think once the novelty is lost, people are going to quit using it; it has no real purpose. It’s pointless and does nothing to help physical mail.



18.97% 10

I haven’t heard of this initiative.



When it comes to Informed Visibility (a USPS program that allows the Postal Service to provide visibility of the physical mail piece all the way through the last mile, alerting the sender when the mail piece arrives at the intended address), people are split evenly as to whether it’s a great idea or its potential has yet to be determined. Only 15% think initiatives like this are unnecessary and won’t do anything to help the USPS remain relevant. 50



“USPS does an outstanding job given how its competitiveness with private carriers is hampered by Congress and PRC. PCCs are also an unrecognized outreach that bring true value to mailers and mail industry participants.”




15.52% 10

5.17% Wonderful! Especially with the usage of multi-channel communications, this will be a boon for both the USPS and mailers. I’m undecided.

A few years ago, going down to five-day delivery was a hot topic among mailers. That option has effectively been taken off the table, especially in light of how many packages the USPS is delivering on Saturdays. However, back in May, President Trump made some comments regarding five-day delivery and the savings it could provide. Our respondents were almost exactly evenly split as to whether or not this was an idea that should be revisited (which surprised me, I’ll admit — I thought far fewer folks would be in favor of potentially cutting a delivery day).

34.48% YES


32.76% NO

I think it’s unnecessary and will not do anything to help the USPS remain relevant in the digital age. I haven’t heard of this initiative.

Yes, going down to five-day delivery would help the USPS get on better financial footing. Undecided.

“I am very concerned about the USPS performance with the IMB. Not all facilities have the correct equipment and our tracking scan rate is under 50%, so by marketing Informed Visibility and mail tracking, it really puts mailers at a disadvantage. Clients expect all the mail to be tracked or scanned but in reality, it is under 50%.”



No, the savings would not be significant enough to consider this.

Only 40% of our respondents took part in the USPS promotions this year. This may be a question we won’t need to ask next year if the USPS doesn’t have a Board of Governors to announces promotions for 2018!


Yes 59.65%


For those mailers who did take part in the promotions this year, the two most popular, by far, were the Earned Value Reply Mail promotion and the Third Ounce Free promotion. 50 47.83% 43.48%


Mail in the Digital Age Mail volumes are down, yet studies repeatedly show that mail is one of the most trusted communication methods among all age groups. For the majority of our respondents, this has been their experience. 9.26% 5.56%

30 26.09% 53.70%




10 8.70% 4.35% 0.0%

Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mail Piece Engagement Promotion Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion

Yes, direct mail is one of the best ways to engage with our customers, and we get great results from it. I’m undecided; I think mail is important, but yet we don’t get the results we used to. No, I think mail is going to go by the wayside; we get better results from our digital efforts. Other

Direct Mail Starter Promotion Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion Mobile Shopping Promotion Third Ounce Free

“Frankly, the USPS is much like any other government bureaucracy. It’s too large, inefficient, and out of touch with mailers. Its regulations and representatives are geared around mailing made easy for the post office, not for the mailer. Zero creativity or innovation… Congress should give serious consideration to full privatizing the post office or leasing it to a private company to run.”

When it comes to electronic communications, the vast majority of our respondents embrace this avenue (which is good, since as we all know, hard-copy and digital mail can work together to create the ultimate customer experience!)

11.76% 29.41%



I embrace e-communications and have taken responsibility at my company to assist in or manage them. I embrace e-communications but have not done anything at my company to assist in or manage them. I am against e-communications because I am fearful there will not be a job for me in the future. I am against e-communications because I personally like information in hard-copy format. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017


SAVINGS STRATEGIES FOR THE NEW YEAR With a postage rate increase on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to find other ways to cut your costs. By Adam Lewenberg


ith the new year approaching, we are all anticipating a postage increase for January. With all the programs offered by the USPS, it can be daunting to know if you are capturing all the savings available. This guide will explore what options exist and where you can go to get more information. We are going to focus on the most applicable domestic savings options that should be easy to implement in your organization. For many of you this may be a review, but hopefully the structure will make it easy to find savings that can help reduce costs for the future. LETTERS AND FLATS Barcoding Your Mailings – (Up to 80% Savings) Saving on postage is the main reason most companies barcode their mailings (see Table 1). As the mail piece gets larger or 18


the customer completes workshare steps, the savings can increase dramatically. Also, since 2016, the third ounce is free with all First-Class Mail (automation and presorted). This can allow mailers to add extra invoices or marketing information at no additional postage costs. Mailers who are sending similar, non-personalized pieces can get bigger discounts using Marketing Mail. This is designed for a newsletter or a solicitation where every piece is the same and the customer can live with a slightly slower delivery (as opposed to items like invoices, statements, and checks that have to go First-Class Mail because every piece is slightly different or has personal information). Check out the Marketing Mail Eligibility test provided by the USPS to see into what class your mailing falls. Pros to barcoding: } Saves you postage

} Cleans addresses prior to sending } Keeps track of customer moves } Processes mailings with automatic sorting and forms creation } Faster delivery Cons to Barcoding: } Software and hardware costs } There are many steps to barcoding that require resources } Taking mail to the USPS } Keeping software up to date Additional Ways to Reduce Costs with Barcoding: } Density – The more pieces you have going to a specific area, the better the rates. } Destination Entry Discounts – For Marketing Mail, you can get deeper discounts (up to $.044 per piece for letters (under 3.5 ounces) and up to $.208 for flats (over four ounces)) by delivering it to the Destination

Table 2

of the rate discounts (tracking of mail, free move updates, better reporting) that should be explored. } Presort Services – Many companies want the benefits of automation and barcodes but cannot cost-effectively manage it internally. These providers have one or several sorters that are similar to what the USPS uses in its facilities. Presort providers work on a savings split arrangement with the customer and USPS. } USPS Promotions and Incentives – The USPS has a schedule of different promotions it offers to higher volume mailers, typically geared to using the latest technologies that can improve the value of mail. These promotions have limited time periods and require the client to be proactive in its management and refunds. (Editor’s note: Whether or not there will be promotions in 2018 remains to be seen; it all depends on if the Board of Governors issue gets resolved.)

Delivery Unit (DDU), Destination Sectional Center (DSCF), or Destination Network Distribution Center (DNDC). This is great for mailers with a local mail list. Services are also available that can transport mail throughout the country to help you qualify. } Intelligent Mail Barcodes – For mailers using this barcode, there is an additional $.001 (Marketing Mail) and $.003 (FirstClass Mail) discount that can be applied. This barcode offers a lot of value on top

Here are the minimum requirements to barcode your mailings: } Pieces – At least 500 pieces for First-Class Mail or 200 pieces for Marketing Mail. } Software – Need software that meets all USPS certifications. } Permits – Need to have at least one permit from the USPS. } Preparation – All mailings must have barcodes on each piece, be sorted, placed in trays with tray tags, have reports attached, and brought to the USPS for processing.

Folding your Flats If you are sending out lightweight items in flat sized envelopes (9x12 or 10x13), you may be able to save by folding them in half into 6x9 envelopes or in thirds into #10s (see Table 2). The savings is significant in four ways: 1. The postage savings is huge because you are changing from a Flat to a Letter category. 2. The envelope costs are much less expensive. 3. The envelopes are lighter. 4. If you barcode your mail or use a presort service, up to 3.5 ounces of mail can be processed at the one-ounce rate! PARCELS AND EXPEDITED MAIL Commercial Base and Commercial Plus – (Up to 42% Savings) There are additional discounts of up to 42% off the retail rates for mailers who submit their pieces through PC Postage or an electronic manifest with a permit imprint. These rates are available for Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express Mail, and First-Class Mail Package Service. It is important to note that up until January 24, 2015, you could get the Commercial Base rates through a postage meter, but the USPS is now requiring that these items be submitted electronically through one of the methods above so it can maintain full package-level detail on every item.



} With PC Postage, you can qualify for Commercial vs. Retail First-Class Package Service, which saves 12-50%. } Priority Mail costs are reduced significantly (14% average across all weights and zones) by submitting through PC Postage and utilizing commercial rates.

Table 3 There are two different rate tiers and the savings are based on the package weight and zone (see Table 3). Commercial Base – This is a six to 39% discount for single piece rates that you can get for all of your packages. Commercial Plus – This is an additional three percent discount (over Commercial Base rates) if the specific volumes are met. Priority Mail requires 5,000 at one time or 50,000 total pieces in the previous calendar year and a customer commitment agreement with USPS. To reach these Commercial Plus volumes, it can be for your combined usage across multiple locations.

Maximizing Discounts The solution that you use to process the piece makes a big difference, as you can see from Table 4. Here are the main areas of savings: } The USPS has a reduced letter rate for organizations that use a postage meter or PC Postage. This savings is now $.03 per piece! } PC Postage and some higher end postage meters will provide a way to use electronic Return Receipt (eRR) for your Certified Mail items, which can save $1.30 per item.

Publisher’s Note: The U.S. Postal Service requires the following statement be published for Mailing Systems Technology (Periodicals Class) mailings only. Mailing Systems Technology has had a (Periodicals Class) permit since January 1989. U.S. Postal Service STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685 1. Publication Title ................................................................Mailing Systems Technology 2. Publication No. .................................................................1088-2677 3. Filing Date ........................................................................September 12, 2017 4. Issue Frequency .................................................................Jan-Feb, Buyers Resource, Mar-Apr, May-June, Sept-Oct, Nov-Dec 5. No. Of Issues Published Annually .....................................6 6. Annual Subscription Price (if any) .....................................Free 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (Street, City, County, State and ZIP + 4)(Not Printer) PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 Contact Person ............................................................ Rachel Chapman, (608)442-5082 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of the Publisher (Not Printer) ....... PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor (Do not leave blank) Publisher (Name and Complete Mailing Address) .............Ken Waddell, RB Publishing Inc., PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address) ..................Amanda Armendariz, RB Publishing Inc., PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 Managing Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address).......... Amanda Armendariz, RB Publishing Inc., PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 10. Owner (If the publication is owned by a corporation, give the name and address of the corporation immediately followed by the names and addresses of all stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of the total amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, give the names and addresses of the individual owners. If owned by a partnership, or other unincorporated firm, give its name and address as well as those of each individual owner. If the publication is published by a nonprofit organization, give its name and address). (Do Not Leave Blank). Full Name .............................................................. Complete Mailing Address Marll Thiede ........................................................... RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Ste. 100, Madison WI 53704-3128 Gregory Rice .......................................................... Executive Management, Inc. 2901 International Lane, 2nd Floor Madison WI 53704-3128 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages and other Security Holders Owning or Holding one Percent or more of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities............... None 12. (Must be completed if the publication title shown in item 1 is a publication published and owned by a non-profit organization). For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at special rates. The purpose, function and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication........................................................................................Mailing Systems Technology



It is important to note that many new postage meters are coming with a PC Postage tool to be able to utilize the rates above. ADDITIONAL SAVINGS IDEAS Compare USPS Rates to the Private Carriers – USPS may be able to provide faster delivery (to specific zones) at lower costs for lightweight items (less than 10 pounds) and should be shopped regardless of your discount. Here are the main reasons to use USPS: } The private carriers typically have a base rate that they do not go below. When you take this rate, plus the additional fees for residential, delivery area surcharge, fuel surcharge, address corrections, and Saturday delivery, USPS may be a bargain.

14. Issue Date for Circulation Data ............................................ May-June 2017 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation ......................................... B2B - Controlled a. Total No. Copies (Net Press Run).........................24,286 .......................... 25,225 b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail)

1. Paid Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541.

(Include advertiser’s proof and exchange copies) .....22,225 ........................... 17,374 2. Paid Requested In-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541. ..................... 0 .....................................0 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution .............. 0 .....................................0 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............. 0 .....................................0 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation [Sum of 15b (1,2,3 and 4)] ..................................22,225 ........................... 17,374 d. Nonrequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 1. Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541 ..........1,412 ............................. 5,595 2. In-County as Stated on Form 3541 ...................... 0 .....................................0 3. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............ 29 ...................................31 4. Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail ............................. 583 ............................... 2,205 e. Total Nonrequested Distribution ..........................2,024 ............................. 7,831 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) .............24,249 ........................... 25,205 g. Copies not Distributed (See instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3) ............................................................................ 37 ...................................20 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g) ......................................24,286 ........................... 25,225 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c/fx100) ......................................................... 91.65%.......................... 68.93% 16. Electronic Copy Circulation ..............................................................................Yes a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies .................... 11,124 ........................ 12,451 b.Total Requested and paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) .... .................... 33,349 ................................ 29,825 c.Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15f) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) ......................... 35,373 ................................ 37,656 d.Percent paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c x 100) .........................................94.28% ...................... 79.20% 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requester Publication is required and will be printed in the November-December 2017 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager or Owner: Rachel Chapman, Audience Development Manager, / September 12, 2017 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties). PS Form 3526-R, July 2014

Table 4

} The USPS has amazing rates on lightweight packages less than 16 ounces ($2.61-4.30 vs. most private carriers, which start over $5.00). No one can typically come close to these rates, which is why the main e-tailers will typically send these items through the USPS. This is especially true now that tracking can be added for free! } When comparing Ground and 3-Day service to USPS Priority Mail, many areas will get faster delivery. } Packaging is free for Priority Mail with special rates for flat rate boxes.

Consider Media Mail, Library Rate, and Bound Printed Matter for printed material and DVDs. If you can live with the three- to-eight-day expected delivery time, these services may be a huge win. You can ship one pound starting at around $2.50 and 10 pounds starting at $3.42! You need to pay special attention to the type of material you are sending (as well as where it is going with Library Rate) to make sure it qualifies. Hopefully this helps you find strategies to lower your mailing and shipping costs and combat any increases we may see with the new year. ď‚ž

ADAM LEWENBERG, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest provider of Mail Audit and Recovery services 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 related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 60% and over $34 million on equipment, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017





If our industry is to survive and thrive, it’s crucial we band together. By Kathleen J. Siviter


here are numerous walls that have been built up between the mailing industry and other businesses, and we need to work harder to break them down. These walls are having a negative impact on the collective mailing industry, including the Postal Service, acting as barriers to businesses that could be using mail for advertising or communicating. Rather than scaling these walls, businesses often choose other alternatives. And the result, if we are not careful, is a decline in mail volume that will eventually upset the delicate financial balance that is the underpinning of our postal system. Mail volume trends are of paramount importance — not just to the USPS, which depends on large volumes to bring economies of scale and sufficient postage revenue to offset its costs — but also to the entire mailing industry because mail is our lifeblood. Without mail, few reading this article would be in business. This year, the USPS has reported declines in mail volume in nearly all categories except parcels. And while there are a lot of factors behind the trends — and the decline is not necessarily cause for alarm — it is also not something our collective industry should

ignore, especially because there are many things we can do to grow mail volume. One of the biggest things we should be working on is breaking down those walls that keep businesses from using the mail. BARRIERS IDENTIFIED BY MARKETERS The Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued an advisory report called “Assessing Marketers’ Barriers to Direct Mail,” which focuses on some of the issues identified by marketers and advertisers on using direct mail. This is not new information in that there have been previous studies and research around barriers to using direct mail, but the OIG report is credible, recent research that lays out some of the top barriers identified by primary decision makers for where ad dollars are spent. The top barriers identified by focus groups and surveys in the OIG study included the “perceptions of the lengthy and inflexible process involved in preparing mail, lack of awareness about the effectiveness of mail, and inability to access information about the value of mail, including case studies.” Marketers in the survey and focus groups also identified “difficulties in implementing direct mail campaigns.” Some of the difficulties | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017


reported included high costs, delivery speed, date, performance, lack of easy-to-use design tools, challenges to complying with mailing specifications, difficulty understanding mailing rates and promotional offers, and difficulty working with the Postal Service. So what can the mailing industry do to promote the use of direct mail and help grow the industry? There’s plenty! PROMOTING DIRECT MAIL Everyone in the mailing industry — including the USPS — should be working to promote direct mail. If any part of your business uses or relies on others using direct mail, then you can be part of the solution — or part of the problem. Each time a business customer uses the mail, each time they call on one of the many providers in the mailing supply chain to provide services, and each time they interact with the USPS or any of our businesses, we have the opportunity to make that experience a positive one — or a negative one. “Customer-centric” is not just the latest buzzword; it is a reflection of how we all want to be treated by the companies we choose to do business with. The journey starts with all of us working to promote the use of mail, then making every step of that journey as customer-centric as it can be. I’ve been in this industry for over 25 years and I see a lot of positive movement in the promotion of mail in the last few years. Here are just a few examples: The Integrated Media Research Center (IMRC) is a collaborative effort between the USPS, its OIG, industry, and academia designed to share and promote research, case studies, and best practices to help marketers and businesses understand direct mail (and other marketing media). If you have not checked out the IMRC website lately (, do so. If you are a service provider in the mailing industry, there is a wealth of information available on the site to help you educate and entice customers to use direct mail. And if you have successful case studies about customers who have had great results from direct mail, the IMRC would be a great place to showcase that information (and promote both your customer and your services). The USPS also has a website to help support the use of mail (www.uspsdelivers. com), where it has research, information, and case studies focused on both shipping 24


services and marketing by mail. And the USPS’s “Irresistible Mail” campaign and awards ( are also helping promote great mail piece design ideas and techniques. The better the design, the better the response rate, and the better the overall experience for businesses using the mail. The DMA has a ton of research and data on direct mail, as do other associations and mail service providers. It benefits all of us to share success stories on direct mail and make the information available to others so that more businesses will use it. In addition, it should be noted that the OIG study focus groups said marketers generally don’t proactively search for information on direct mail and would only encounter it if presented to them via resources where they typically engage (e.g., associations they belong to or industry events they attend). Those providing services around direct mail should be sure to engage with marketers through these types of venues to help educate them about direct mail and MSPs.

NOBODY DOES IT BETTER Ours is an industry rich with intermediary customer solutions providers to support businesses using the mail. Though the OIG did not include in its report information on how the use of professional mail service providers can help break down barriers to using mail, the mailing industry knows that nobody does it better when it comes to helping businesses use the mail than the professionals. One of the barriers often cited when it comes to using mail is complexity, and the recent OIG report again brought that home. Many marketers said one reason they do not consider using direct mail is their perception that it involves a lengthy and inflexible process. They said that direct mail lags behind digital channels in terms of speed to market, and that the process involved in developing a direct mail campaign typically requires significant time and resources. Nearly half of the marketers surveyed said they would use direct mail more if the process of executing direct mail campaigns were simplified. Other bar-

riers noted by participants included lack of easy-to-use mail piece design tools, challenges complying with mail specifications, difficulty understanding postage rates, and difficulty working with the USPS. Now I know many in the industry may hear this feedback and dispute it, but keep in mind that this is the perception of marketers in the study, and as the quote goes, “perception is reality.” And I’m not sure how valid our defense would be that a communications channel that requires an acronym glossary to understand its rules, a 1,290 page (or 9 MB for the online version) Domestic Mail Manual that spells the rules out, and dozens of separate USPS publications and guides to detail all the intricacies of how to prepare and enter mail is not complex. Of course it is, and that’s why businesses should go to the experts who make it their business to understand it all, and why the USPS should better support and promote those experts. Mail service providers — and that includes every business that provides services, software, hardware, and more to support the use of mail — are the true front lines when it comes to promoting the use of mail. They train their personnel on all aspects of mail and USPS products/services so that they can promote the use of mail and entice customers to use it. They can also deal with the complexities of the direct mail process. It appears from this recent feedback from marketers that the industry may need to do more to develop customer-friendly and easyto-use tools and ways to streamline and/or shorten the process leading up to a mailing campaign since marketers have identified this as one of the barriers to use. In the past few years, there has already been progress on this front, and according to a 2016 InfoTrends report, when marketers were asked why their use of direct mail has grown in the last two years, 36% responded the growth in use is due to direct mail being “easier to execute now.” Some of the other barriers to using direct mail, which are cited by marketers in the OIG’s report and commonly heard by the mailing industry and the USPS, are related to the delivery service of direct mail. Inconsistent or unpredictable delivery service or unclear delivery service expectations are often cited as barriers to using mail compared to other channels. While the responsibility of service standards falls on the USPS’ shoulders, there are many ways that MSPs

and others in the mailing industry can help improve service performance of a particular mailing, such as drop-ship entry, address quality, presort and mail preparation, guidance on mail piece design, and more. REACHING THE SMALL BUSINESS CUSTOMER The OIG’s report noted that fewer small businesses (those with five to 20 employees) use direct mail than larger businesses, with 31% of small business surveyed indicating they do not use direct mail, compared to between seven and 13% of larger businesses surveyed. The challenges for small businesses to design and use direct mail have been the topic of much discussion in the mailing industry for some years, and a host of solutions have been designed by the USPS and industry with small businesses in mind. The USPS some years ago implemented its Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) product for flats, and a similar product for letters may be in the works at the USPS. EDDM was designed to be an affordable way for small businesses to mail into local areas, with a mapping tool to target mailings by the age, income, or household size. There are also a host of industry mail service providers and others that offer a long list of services for small businesses, including those who provide one-stop shopping to design, produce, and mail pieces. Despite the challenges in educating and instructing small businesses on using direct mail, it remains one of the strongest local advertising methods, projected to represent nearly 25% of US local advertising spend in 2017, with 21% of small businesses indicating they would increase their marketing budget spend on direct mail in 2017. But the OIG’s report indicates that more is needed to educate the small business audience on the benefits of direct mail and the simple solutions that are available to produce and use direct mail. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW There has never been a better time to look at breaking down these walls than now, when there is growing momentum around the value of direct mail. According to the Data and Direct Marketing Association (The DMA), direct mail response rates are at the highest level in over a decade. USPS Marketing Mail (formerly called Standard Mail) remains a strong and vibrant communications channel and generated $17.6 billion in

postage for the USPS last year, representing 54% of the USPS’ total mail volume. According to the 2016-2017 NAPCO Research and Target Marketing Report, 25% of marketers are planning to use print (direct mail, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc.) as part of their marketing mix in 2017, representing the second largest spend category behind online marketing for customer engagement. Direct mail was the second most used medium for customer acquisition and retention. The top seven industries planning to increase their direct mail spending from 2016 to 2017 are real estate (50% increase), healthcare (42% increase), creative services and agencies (41% increase), financial services (40% increase), telecommunications (38% increase), manufacturers (37% increase), and publishing (36% increase). The USPS is also doing more research around mail use and trends, and just recently published its annual Household Diary Study, which analyzes mail received by consumers each year and their reaction to direct mail. The USPS also recently reported that mail engagement has improved since 2012 and that millennials are as engaged with mail as older generations. The integration of hardcopy mail and digital experiences is also fueling a renewed interest in direct mail, and with the fate of television advertising somewhat uncertain as on demand video channels flourish, there may be new advertising dollars available for the mail channel in the future. So, lacking another recession or some significant postage price increase, the mailing industry is well-positioned to continue the momentum around the value and ROI from mail. But it’s up to our collective industry (including the USPS) to take advantage of these opportunities to grow mail — and break down some walls! ¾

KATHLEEN J. SIVITER Is president of Postal Consulting Services Inc. (PCSi) and has over 30 years’ experience in the postal industry, having worked for the U.S. Postal Service, Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), and the National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM), and a diverse set of clients with interest in the postal industry. She also serves as the Director, Community & Brand Development, for PostalVision 2020, an initiative designed to engage stakeholders in discussions about the future of the American postal system. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017


By Gary A. Seitz


ADDRESSING GAME ON POINT? As mailers, you know addressing your mail piece correctly is crucial. Here are the biggest hurdles to be aware of.


he recent announcement by the USPS regarding Move Update assessments has become one of the latest hot topics in addressing for mailers. Considering the fact that Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) mail has increased to 4.6% of total mail volume in the last fiscal year, these assessments could have a major impact on future volumes of UAA mail. The UAA fiscal year volume report has some interesting figures regarding mail and UAA volumes: Total mail volume declined by .35%, yet UAA mail increased by 5.4%. First-Class mail and UAA mail volume decreased slightly. Marketing mail increased by 1.05%, while UAA mail increased an astounding 10.3%! UAA Mail Volume Is on the Rise Despite efforts by the Postal Service to encourage and support mailers in improv-



ing address quality, the end result tipped it in the opposite direction. The USPS estimates that UAA Marketing Mail alone costs over $316 million to handle and process. Over 4.2 billion pieces of Marketing Mail were treated as waste. Movers are the leading cause of UAA mail. Based on USPS information, nearly 76% of undeliverable mail is a result of customers who no longer receive mail at an address. Only 35% is forwarded or returned (mostly First-Class), while the other 65% is treated as waste. Insufficient address elements, primarily secondary addresses (apartment or suites), is the second leading reason, accounting for 16% of UAA mail. This also includes missing and invalid house numbers and street names. Finally, vacant addresses account for six percent of UAA mail. Typically, these are residents who have vacated their homes for various reasons such as bankruptcy,

repossession, natural disaster, or simply left and failed to file a change of address (COA) with the USPS. This all ties in with the announcement on Move Update assessments from the USPS. First, the USPS is changing the method of measuring compliance for meeting the Move Update requirements to a census-based approach, effective January 2018. Assessments will begin in March based on February data for any non-compliant pieces over a .5% threshold of the mailing. The USPS will use scans from the mail processing equipment (MPE) to determine whether addresses for First-Class and Marketing Mail have been updated within 95 days of the mailing date. Compliance will be measured across a calendar month, and the results of this method will be shown in the mailer’s scorecard. Combined, these red flags raise several questions for mailers:

Why is UAA mail increasing as a result of movers? There are several factors. About 18% of the population moves each year, and nearly 35% of those never file a COA with the USPS (but they notify specific mailers). Strict matching logic issues in the NCOA process via service providers misses movers, and poor address quality prevents NCOA from matching and updating a list. Finally, there are also mailers who fail to update their lists with NCOA data provided back from their mail service providers (MSPs). Combined, these factors have become more prevalent than ever. What is the impact on your business? Beyond wasted production, postage costs, and potential assessments from the USPS, mailers face additional research and re-mail costs, delayed and lost revenue from customers, risk of industry non-compliance, and damaged client relationships. Is it impacted by sources of data? We all know data quality errors when we see

them. They include missing data, duplicate records, floating and non-conforming data keyed across multiple fields, and typographical errors. Sometimes it’s keyed internally, and other times it comes from web-based forms. Data collected from the web is typically far worse, as users fail to adhere to any business rules. People make mistakes when entering data, but sometimes it may not be completely by mistake: data could be withheld for privacy reasons, alternate fields could be used to add information, and inaccurate data can be added intentionally. How can you prevent errors on the front end? While there is no magic method to ensure 100% quality, there are steps mailers can take on the front end to manage data quality. It starts with training: ensuring the people who enter the data know the impact downstream. Printing and utilizing Publication 28 is also important — it’s the premier guideline for entering acceptable standardized address data from directional terms (ex: using “S” instead of “So” for “South”) to suffixes. Real-time validation software linked to web-based forms can be implemented to ensure quality to validate addresses, emails, and phone numbers. While CASS and DPV are the standardization tools utilized by mailers before the mailing, they also provide valuable information on address errors. Essentially, if a record doesn’t have a Zip+4 appended to it, there is something wrong with the address! CASS/DPV processing provides error codes that allow a data manager to group these records for research, processing, and correction. Many of these can be corrected manually, using software tools of an MSP or utilizing the USPS AEC programs. What about NCOA? First, mailers must be reminded that a record without a Zip+4 code is bypassed in conventional NCOA processing. A missing element or simple spelling or abbreviation error can prevent a record from matching and updating during NCOA due to tight matching rules. However, the looser rules of internal USPS processing may match and forward the piece and thus impact your Mailer Scorecard. Additionally, many mailers rely on their MSPs and lettershops to run NCOA, but yet they never apply the NCOA updates to their internal data files. Within a period of time, these addresses will fall outside the timeframe of NCOA, and mailers will ultimately return to mailing an original bad address! Best practice dictates you update your files with NCOA data each time you mail. What tools are available at the time of mailing? At the time of mailing, several

tools are available to help clean up a list to reduce UAA mail. Ancillary Service Endorsements provide manual or electronic address corrections or return the mail. Another tool is address change service (ACS), which is a post-mailing service that determines the correct disposition of the mail piece and also generates mailer-requested address correction data either manually or electronically. Anything else? Yes! Address Element Correction (AEC) is a quality process offered by the USPS. AEC focuses on inaccurate addresses (i.e. remember those error codes out of CASS?). By correcting or providing missing elements, AEC turns problem addresses into accurate addresses. The result is a complete and standardized address that can be mailed and matched to NCOA. Managing Returned Mail Everyone hates to see those trays of yellow-stickered returned mail. It makes it appear that your mailing was a failure, and management questions the costs involved in the campaign. Working with UAA returned mail is a very manual process. However, by using internal and external resources, most companies realize a 25%+ lift in address data. The end result is lower costs and improved customer communications and revenue. Returned Mail is typically worked in “when there is time.” When time runs out, mail is typically thrown away — resulting in mailing the same names to the same wrong addresses. When there is time, addresses are typically flagged to suppress future mailings, creating lost opportunities. Little, if any, effort is spent trying to locate those customers. Some MSPs offer a returned mail service. Mail is keyed within a few days, and the file is compared to proprietary address files to update your file (remember those movers who notify certain mailers?). Find one that can help you. With increasing undeliverable UAA mail and USPS Move Update assessments around the corner, the time to implement an address quality program is now. If you need assistance, contact your USPS rep or your MSP. ¾

GARY A SEITZ is Vice President of CTRAC Direct and has been a frequent presenter on UAA mail at the National Postal Forum and PCCs around the country for over 35 years. Gary can be reached at or by calling 216.251.2500 x 4987. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017




If you are looking for greater access to your data and the reduction in manual processes, artificial intelligence could be the answer. By Kaz Jaszczak & Greg Council 28



rtificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning ranked as the top technology trend in 2017 per the leading analyst firms. Businesses are looking to gain greater access to their data, reduce manual processes, and leverage automation technologies to improve their operations. Their systems must become more nimble to handle the increasing complexities of the work environment and simultaneously be more cost efficient. AI promises just that. In a 2017 study by AIIM of 100 managers overseeing document processing, 64% reported their businesses process over 10 incoming document types using their capture system. These forms consisted of invoices, receipts, checks, application forms, and claims. Unfortunately, turning physical mail — along with the high volume of soft copy documents — into accurate digital information upon receipt continues to be a challenge due to lack of time and staff.

there are a couple of essential steps to keep in mind. One is to develop an inventory of key incoming documents used to support your critical business processes. This gives you the basis for your next move — to create a high-level process map along with the document classes involved and how they are used. It is also helpful to inventory the key data on each document that is needed. NEXT STEPS TO SUCCESS Once your business achieves a structured, consistent document classification process, the next step is locating and extracting the right data for the right people in a timely way. Capturing all the right data begins with context — especially when handwritten data is in the mix. Context is the knowledge about data in a field that provides valuable clues for accurate recognition results. For example, a string of digits, such as 802029998, means little without context. In one context, these

Successful mail center processing starts with organization. Documents need to be classified by hand or via automation before they can be routed and their necessary data shared with the right people. GETTING STARTED ADDRESSING MAIL CENTER CHALLENGES Successful mail center processing starts with organization. Documents need to be classified by hand or via automation before they can be routed and their necessary data shared with the right people. Staff rarely has the time to adequately scope document types, develop classes, and create the metadata required for efficient, accurate retrieval, so it becomes an inconsistent, error-prone activity. Automated classification that uses advanced machine learning can do a lot to take on the burden of document organization. Documents can be automatically classified based on text, visual analysis, or a combination, and improving upon the classifier becomes a much simpler, faster task. In order to choose the document classification technology best for your business,

numbers might be a ZIP Code. In a different context, these digits might represent programming code. This string of data only has validity given the right context. Even the most simple form fields, such as “address,” hold valuable context information. The address may be expressed in alpha or numeric form. The character style may be constrained or unconstrained handprint, machine print, or cursive handwriting. The field may also be in multiple types of formats or conventions depending on the country. Individual fields are recognized using context as an effective and flexible tool that improves recognition accuracy. The more precise the context provided, the more restricted the range of possible answers, and this increases the accuracy of the data extracted. To provide a high recognition rate, the software must have

context to determine what values should be contained in each field of a document or image. Defining the field type, properties, character style, and vocabulary provides context. Until recently, definitions and associated business rules had to be laboriously created by subject matter experts (SMEs) and added to the system by programmers. MOVING BEYOND CONTEXT AI and machine learning can make accurate data location and extraction a whole lot easier and faster. This is because machine learning is basically the group of algorithms and models that can learn and make inferences about the data. Given enough sample documents and their accurate extracted data (ground truth data), advanced AI software can automatically develop definitions and business rules. Of course, this presents its own challenge. That is, the sample documents and their extracted data results have to be fully representative of the real-world mail center in variety, type, and contents. This is crucial for the AI to develop the right features to correctly and automatically extract data from incoming documents. Tomorrow’s mail center documents will change from today’s documents. That much is certain. Document automation needs to leverage adaptive technologies that ensure the ongoing tuning of your capture system. Staff cannot be expected to handle all of the exceptions in order to address data location and extraction problems from new or changed documents. Therefore, tuning and validation of data also become key components to full automation. For every large-scale mail center operation, machine learning techniques for configuration and tuning along with advances in automated measurement, document classification, data location, and extraction will ultimately create the most nimble mail center. 

KAZ JASZCZAK is VP of Postal Automation at Parascript with over 35 years of experience in research, product management, and business development in imaging, document management, signal processing, and OCR software. GREG COUNCIL is VP of Marketing and Product Management at Parascript. | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2017



Think About It

In order to choose the document classification technology best for your business, there are a couple of essential steps to keep in mind. One is to develop an inventory of key incoming documents used to support your critical business processes. This gives you the basis for your next move — to create a high-level process map along with the document classes involved and how they are used.




Consider Media Mail, Library Rate,


and Bound Printed Matter for printed


material and DVDs. If you can live


Everyone in the mailing industry — including the USPS — should be working to promote direct mail. If any part of your business uses or relies on others using direct mail, then you can be part of the solution — or part of the problem. — KATHLEEN SIVITER 30


The importance and influence of direct mail is no secret. The country is experiencing a digital fatigue phenomenon. Americans, from millennials to baby boomers, trust direct mail over digital marketing tactics. Because of the nature of mail itself, consumers spend more time observing direct mail.

with the three- to-eight-day expected delivery time, these services may be


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At the time of mailing, several tools are available to help clean up a list to reduce UAA mail. Ancillary Service Endorsements provide manual or electronic address corrections or return the mail. Another tool is address change service (ACS), which is a post-mailing service that determines the correct disposition of the mail piece and also generates mailer-requested address correction data either manually or electronically. — GARY A. SEITZ

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Mailing Systems Technology Nov/Dec 2017  
Mailing Systems Technology Nov/Dec 2017  

Mailing Systems Technology Nov/Dec 2017