Postal : Help USPS Help You
3 ways to cut mail costs through workshare discountsFebruary 2011 By Charley Howard
Every mailer wants to save on postage, and there are a few ways to do that. Adjusting mail piece design and optimizing mail volume through list analysis are effective ways to reduce costs, but each has to be done with care and copious testing lest it impact campaign performance and stunt growth. However, there are other ways.
The United States Postal Service offers several opportunities for mail owners to earn postage discounts for doing some of the work the USPS would perform, including discounts for assisting with your mail's "presort," automation and drop-ship entry.
Presorting is the oldest form of postal worksharing discount. The USPS offers postage discounts for presorting a mailing to the postal service's requirements. This involves sorting mail pieces by postal route and the containerization of the mailing.
The highest level of presort discount is Enhanced Carrier Route (ECR) sortation, followed by 5-digit and 3-digit ZIP code levels.
To earn ECR-Basic, a mailer needs 10 or more pieces sorted in the mail carrier's line of travel within a single route. High Density requires 125 pieces or more in carrier walk sequence, while Saturation requires 95 percent of the residences in a single carrier route in carrier walk sequence. Most customer mailings of flat mail are carrier route basic sorted with what does not qualify as high density at the 5-digit and 3-digit levels. All these levels of sortation remove the handling otherwise required of USPS in its processing of the mail.
While most mailing lists do not provide enough density to qualify for ECR-Basic presortation, there is a way to increase your mailing's qualification for ECR-Basic and prospect at the same time: The mailer must fill in the missing list density.
Let's say that a flat mailer's more refined targeting efforts put just seven or eight pieces on a route instead of the required 10. That mailer can cheaply add one, two or three targeted addresses by using a Resident/Occupant file to add households that demographically and/or psychographically match existing best customers.
These fill-ins usually fall within the spoilage allowance of the print quantity, so the mailer will not need to print any more pieces than necessary. The additional postage cost is usually less than the difference in postage savings, meaning a net reduction in postage even though the mailer is mailing—and prospecting—more.