Written by Justin Bogard, Data & Postal Manager at Fineline Printing Group
So, let’s talk! With postal prices incrementally increasing a couple of times a year (including this past May) you need to stay creative and proactive about staying within budget, while still reaching program goals in both print and mailing.
Let’s Talk About: The Questions Everyone’s Asking
- What are mailing costs going to be?
- What are carrier options to cut costs?
- What are total mailing costs when using multiple vendors?
- How can I be proactive about maintaining program goals in both budget and effectiveness?
- How do I know in advance when postal prices will increase?
- Who can I count on to advise me through postal pricing changes?
What are my mailing costs going to be?
Let’s talk mailing costs…
With paper and postage being your two biggest expenses in any printing project, it’s essential to reconcile budgets to incorporate increasing postage rates. This means working with a print communications partner that will look at distribution costs strategically.
In early stages of the project, mailing costs can be tough to calculate because there are so many contributing factors to direct mail programs including: design and paper type, locations of all recipients, weight, and type of content.
Here are a couple of recommendations:
- Bulk mail that is presorted is always going to get you a better rate. When you have a higher volume of pieces going to a particular area you are going to get a better rate.
- It is best to group postage categories by zip code. One option is to send a smaller, segmented list to a concentrated geography as an initial test and marketing strategy.
- Finally, consider being objective about slimming down your mailing list in both volume and frequency. Who really needs to receive this? Where is it going to make the biggest impact? Does it need to be personalized?
The USPS also has a convenient tool online for final-stages of calculating price.
What are my carrier options to cut costs?
Let’s talk options…
Certain carriers can give better mailing pricing based on parcel size and destination. Always ask if this is an option, and be sure to work with a print partner that has a dedicated individual for managing these postal processes.
What are my total mailing costs when using multiple vendors?
Let’s talk vendors…
Unknown weight, final design sizes, volume by geography, and multiple items in a single envelope/package can only complicate mailing costs. For example, if you are inserting multiple items into an envelope and one of those items was produced & provided by another vendor – we won’t know exact mailing costs cost until all items to be inserted are in-hand. The best way to avoid this is to order and ship any 3rd party vendor items to your printer in advance. That way they can provide you with a more accurate postage estimate.
How can I be proactive about maintaining programs goals in both budget and effectiveness?
Let’s talk goals…
Typically postal prices increase 1.5-2.5% on average, per piece per year or 2 years. Being lean and proactive within your own organization or department can translate to program savings in a big way. The two biggest areas of opportunity are in the data and design process.
A big way to save money is by cleaning your mailing list. Not only will investing in data hygiene upfront save you in undeliverable and return mail, but maintaining data integrity is a small change that can make a big impact downstream.
For example, Fineline’s data hygiene process provides reports that outline all addresses that are invalid or undeliverable. This allows you to avoid returns and downstream costs associated with multiple sends to the same invalid leads. This includes a spreadsheet of pieces delivered, undelivered, mailed, moved with updated forwarding address, and moved with no forwarding address.
Fineline has the equipment to integrate with the NCOA’s (National Change of Address) system, which is an automated forwarding process – at no additional costs. This helps our clients to stay lean on mailing quality and keep your lists up-to-date.
One of the single biggest things you can do to balance mailing costs with print costs is to involve your print communications partner in the design process. I can’t stress the value of this enough. Design translates to print, which postal costs can be impacted by even the smallest things – like the card stock you chose, or the dimensions of your pieces.
How do I know in advance when postal prices will increase?
Let’s talk awareness…
US Postage usually increases annually – between 12-15 months (typically at the beginning of the year) and not every category gets increased. Fineline stays in constant communication with the USPS to stay ahead of rate changes because we fully understand how important this is to clients and their programs. Keep in touch with a print partner that is going to keep you current so you aren’t caught off guard in the final stages of a program.
Who can I count on to advise me through postal pricing changes?
Let’s talk support…
I’m a big believer in consulting clients at every step in the print & direct mail process, and this is Fineline’s mission. As mentioned, early program coordination with a strategic print partner that understands all the facets and can offer additional services (design & data hygiene for example), prevents unnecessary mailing costs.
Being able to lean on your print partner to support you in creative ways to stay within budget – significantly adds value. Relying on your partner’s industry expertise will go a long way towards your direct mail program success.
Contact us if interested in receiving a complimentary pricing chart or to have a consultation on print strategy around mailing costs.