Fineline Printing Group 2018 USPS Increase Infographic

The official motto of the United States Postal Services is not “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, contrary to popular belief. The official mission is much less poetic and all about providing postal service to everyone in the U.S. That is an expensive prospect which means that from time to time the USPS raises its rates. It’s that time again and we are here to let you know at a glance what those increases are and how they may impact your business.

The bottom line is that shipping services increase by 3.9%. Mailing services will increase by 1.9%.  How will that impact you? The answer is “it depends.” It depends on the mix, size, and weight of what and how you ship. (See the full USPS increase announcement here).

Here are some suggestions to help you reduce your costs even with the current USPS Postal rate increase.

Make sure that your addresses are deliverable.

Sounds simple, but you would be surprised by the amount of undeliverable mail that is sent. Using a good pre-sort system can save you as much as 150% per first-class mailing.

Seek advice from postal professionals with extensive knowledge of First Class mail alternatives and experience executing solutions while maintaining required service levels. Mail options like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) may cost you much less while maintaining your goals.

Size Matters

Keep your mail piece at letter size. The minimum is 3 ½” high by 5” long and a maximum 6 1/8” high by 11½” long. Larger mail pieces fall into the flat category. Flats can cost more than twice as much per piece as letters. The maximum allowed size is 12” high by 15” long.

The aspect ratio also affects costs. Letter-size automation mail must be rectangular. The aspect ratio (length divided by height) must be from 1.3” to 2.5”. Mail pieces that fall outside those ratios could cost twice as much in postage.

Make sure that your address and barcode block on letter-size mail fits into the USPS OCR read area. If it doesn’t fit, you pay more per piece.

Tri-folded self-mailers must be addressed on the center panel to qualify for discounted automation postage.

The final fold on all folded self-mailers must be either below or to the right of the mailing address. Fall outside these specs and you increase your costs. The maximum size for self-mailers is 6″ x 10″

Keep the weight of a folded self-mailer under 1 ounce. You can use minimum 70# text paper and 1 ” tab closures. When your mailer is over 1 ounce you must use minimum 80# text paper and larger tabs. Mailers over 3 ounces must be sent in an envelope.

Mailing pieces that are too thin will cost more postage. If your piece is at least 0.009” thick, you can save 25 cents or more per piece. The maximum thickness for letter-size mail is ¼” and for flat size is ¾”.

While this may seem like a lot to remember, your print rep can advise you on design, size, paper weight, and even best mailing practices.

Don’t think you can just avoid the post office! All the major carriers have announced/implemented rate increases. Unless you are planning to exclusively use email- which is an already crowded communication channel, direct mail is an excellent channel for reaching your customers and prospects.

Most of us receive far more email than we will ever read, much less open. According to MailChimp, the average open rate of business emails is from 21-22%.  Compare that to the U.S. Post office data that states that 98 percent of people check their mail daily.

If your marketing message makes it past the dreaded delete button, you are still competing with other emails, Facebook, and Twitter notifications, not to mention direct messaging and kitten videos (who can resist?) No wonder unsolicited emails get so little attention. Direct mail is all about talking directly to your prospects. That is hard to do when your message is never opened because it is buried under a long list of unsolicited emails, or if it is sent directly to the spam folder due to security concerns. People are rightfully suspicious and cautious when dealing with email attachments.

A direct mail piece cannot easily be ignored. You can “attach” as much as you like. Colorful, or fancy packaging, coupons, QR codes, etc., are all considered a bonus and a reason TO interact with your brand.

Consumers are bound to trust your direct mail advertising piece more than they would an unsolicited email. Direct mail is not going to be “hacked” like email can. There is a reason that healthcare companies send their customers’ statements, medication information, and other sensitive information through the mail rather than email. For more information on the security of mail, check out this article on ensuring compliance via the USPS.

Whether you are sending direct mail pieces every month or once a year, use the suggestions above to save money- even with a postal rate hike.

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