Postal Changes Take Shape
A change that will occur later, in 2008, will involve change-of-address requirements. The USPS asks that mailers update their files with NCOA data, since this cleansing tool helps produce less undeliverable-as-addressed mail and keeps down its processing costs. Currently the USPS merely recommends that mailers run their files past the NCOA database every six months. However, in 2008 the USPS will require that NCOA cleansing take place every three months for First Class mailers and recommend this hygiene schedule for all other mail classes.
These proposed changes will set new, forward-facing standards for postage assessment, so mailers and their vendors have no choice but to prepare for the changes and integrate them quickly into marketing plans, processes and budgets. But remember that your list/data providers, database marketing firms, printing companies and mailing services want to work with you to help mitigate the direct impact of the changes.
Ways to Start Cutting Your Postage Bill
So what’s a mailer to do? Here are eight tips:
1. Ensure the quality of your mailing database so you minimize undeliverable-as-addressed mail. Quality control in the data-entry department has never been more crucial, so consider appropriate accuracy incentives for your data-entry department. With addresses transferring among different data environments, the probability of incomplete information—such as missing apartment numbers—is high. Remember, addresses that do not conform to CASS software will not benefit from automation-based savings.
2. Remove duplicates from your mailing files. Merge/purge simply is a best practice.
3. Take a closer look at your creative process. Ask yourself and your colleagues if there are potential cost consequences to the proposed dimensions of an envelope or self-mailer. That perfect square may be eye-catching, that nifty triangle sure could win an award, but will the additional mail-processing costs be worth it? Certain direct mail campaigns will continue to gain value from an unusual dimension or mail-piece thickness. In those cases, go for it! But consider, too, whether it makes more sense to challenge your copywriters to come up with stronger teasers and headlines that lead to action. A powerful teaser may pack a punch, but it’s pretty easy on mail-processing equipment.