6 Ways to Survive High Postage Costs
While the U.S. Postal Service has offered a reprieve to mailers by vowing not to increase rates in 2010, many mailers are still struggling with their expenses. Rates increased earlier this year, and these increases—combined with the struggling economy—are making it a very difficult year for direct mailers. They're scrambling for new and efficient ways to keep their direct mail costs down.
Here are some creative ways to assuage the increases.
1. Clean Up Those Lists
List hygiene is important when it comes to postal savings. Make sure your mailing list is clean and optimized for postal savings prior to any mailings you plan to drop. Also, use do-not-mail and suppression lists to drop off unwanted records.
A clean list is important to Boardroom, the Stamford, Conn.-based publisher of books and newsletters focusing on health and wealth. The firm uses a technology solution from a Creative Automation Co./CognitiveDATA strategic alliance that enhances its merge/purged file so it includes even more accurate addresses.
"It's worth it for us to pay a little extra [for this type of technology]," says Rita Shankewitz, director of marketing for Boardroom. "Since our mail costs are so high, if we can suppress the mail pieces that aren't getting to the correct names and addresses, it's worth it for us."
Also, make sure to update and standardize your addresses with the USPS' National Change of Address system. Starting Jan. 4, 2010, the USPS will require all Standard-class mailings be run through NCOA processing no more than 95 days prior to mail entry.
2. Test More Packages
Another strategy involves changing the type of direct mail packages you send. Certain types of mail—such as mail pieces sent at the flat rate—have seen higher-than-normal increases recently.
Boardroom, for example, regularly uses magalogs and tabloid-sized packages to promote its books and newsletters to prospects and customers. But, since these mailings are sent at the flat rate, and thus more expensive, the firm began testing bookalogs instead. Bookalogs are sent at the less-expensive letter rate; other types of packages that can be sent at the letter rate are # 10 envelopes or postcards. Boardroom recently tested bookalogs that have become controls for several of their book mailings. "In many cases, our bookalog tests have been very successful," reveals Shankewitz.