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USPS Promo | Using Variable Data Personalization?

Using Variable Data Personalization?

Take advantage of this current USPS promotion “Mail and Digital Personalization Program”.

USPSpromoMay 1 through June 30, 2014 USPS is allowing mailers using personalization such as personal URLs, web pages or mobile applications linked to the mailpiece a 2% discount on eligible postage.
Message and content of the mailpiece must be relevant and highly personalized to qualify. Personalized content must contain or be based on factual or behavioral information specific to the recipient. An address block alone does not qualify.

Each mailpiece must contain a pURL, or mobile technology such as QR codes, that direct recipients to an active, unique website. Unique URLs allow the mailer to track and measure individual web activity.

Eligible mail classes include First Class presort and automation letters, cards and flats as well as Standard Mail letters and flats. Postage payment may be permit imprint, or precancelled stamp permit. Some mailings using meter imprint may qualify – check with your local BMEU. Mailing must be presented between May 1 and June 30, 2014.

You can learn more about this variable data promotion by visiting Postal Explorer. A range of documents, including an FAQ can be found here – https://ribbs.usps.gov/mailingpromotions/documents/tech_guides/MailandDigitalPersonalizationPromotion.htm

 

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Standard Mail Affected by USPS Load Leveling

Standard Mail Affected by USPS Load Leveling

uspsstandardmailOn April 10th, the USPS implemented their Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) Load Leveling Plan. The plan will allow workload equalization of mail volumes throughout the week.

Implementation of this plan means that Standard Mail, when accepted on Fridays and Saturdays, will change from the standard delivery expectation of 3 days to 4 days. In other words, it will take longer for Standard Mail to arrive at its destination.

The change will level the disproportionate amount of mail now delivered on Mondays to other days of the week. The benefits of this are improved return times, improved processing efficiency, reduced operating costs and a more consistent delivery of mail for customers.

This change does not affect current service standards for First-Class Mail or Periodicals.

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How Important Is It To Choose A Printer With In-House Mail Capabilities?

If your printed piece is going out in the mail…

How Important Is It To Choose A Printer With In-House Mail Capabilities?

202c8812smHow do you make a print/mail vendor selection?  Contact them directly and by all means request a tour of the facility. Here are some helpful questions to ask.

 

 

  • Ask for credentials.
    • Are they a USPS sanctioned mail co-mingler?
    • Do they provide NCOA, LACSlink or Fast Forward services?
    • Do they provide CASS certification?
    • Do they have an onsite USPS verifier?
    • Do they have an onsite MERLIN?
    • Does the USPS pick up from their dock, or do they deliver to BMEU?
    • Do key employees hold any industry certifications? How often are they updated?
  • What services do they provide within their own production facility?
    • Color, highlight color, and black and white printing?
    • MICR capable?
    • Inkjet addressing for postcards or envelopes?
    • Collating?
    • Folding?
    • Intelligent mail inserters?
    • Match mailings?
    • HIPAA compliant?
  • How secure is their facility?
    • What is their business continuity plan?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan?
    • Secure building access?
    • 24/7 video monitoring of facility and production floor?
    • If mail is delivered to them, is it left unattended on the dock?
    • Are employees background checked?

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Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail

Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail!

Author: Sandy Wallace

mailedThe U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the United States. The Postal Service delivers to nearly 153 million homes, businesses and PO box addresses. These tips from a postal worker who cares will help you properly address your mail, ship packages, track your mail, send mail out of the country and forward your mail when you move.

 

What’s in an Address? 
I see many cards, letters and packages every day that don’t get where they are going because of a bad address. My company processes and delivers about 523 million pieces of mail each day, according to USPS.com. Most of the mail is processed by machine, not by hand. If the machine can’t read the address or it’s not a valid address, your mail won’t make it where it’s going. A return address helps mail without a valid address be returned to sender. The address of the person sending the mail should always be written in the top left hand corner of the letter or package. The address of the person receiving the mail goes in the center of your letter or package. Be sure to write the name, street address or box number, city, state and zip code in that order for both addresses.

Box It Up and Pack It Well
When you’re mailing something thicker than 1/2 inch, don’t try to stuff it into a flat envelope. I know it’s cheaper to send an envelope than a package, but merchandise put into envelopes is often damaged by the machine process. Using a padded envelope or box instead of an envelope means your package will arrive in one piece, instead of coming to me in lots of little pieces. Be sure to add bubble wrap, shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts or other packaging material to protect the contents from damage. Use tape, not string, to close your box.

If It’s Important, Track it
I know everyone wants to save money, but anything important should be sent with tracking. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and Standard Mail parcels all come with free tracking. Letters and large envelopes can be tracked using Certified Mail. Consider purchasing insurance for anything of value. Be sure to hold onto the receipt until the item is delivered. We can only track your mail with the article number.

Shipping Across the Ocean: It’s Not the Same
It costs the same to mail to someone deployed in the military as mailing to someone in the U.S., but it’s a little more expensive to send to a non-military person living in a foreign country. Packages going overseas or to military APO, FPO or DPO addresses require a customs form. On the customs form, you need to fill out a detailed list of the contents, including weight and value of each item. If you don’t plan ahead, you might have to open your box at my counter to fill out the customs form. Check USPS.com for nonmailable items and country-specific listings of items which are forbidden to be mailed to your destination.

Tell Us When You Move
Tell us where you’re going before you move and we’ll forward your important mail to your new home. Mail forwarding is provided for free for 12 months for First Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. If you move without filling out a change of address form, your mail will be returned to sender. Most standard mail, including catalogs and advertising mail, can’t be forwarded or returned to sender, unless the mailer requests and pays for the service.

We Care
Most postal workers are like me. We want to help you send and receive mail without delays. Spend a little extra time preparing your cards, letters and packages and your mail will arrive at its destination, making all of us happy. Learn more about our pricing and products at USPS.com.

Original Article

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How Secure Is Your Mail?

How Secure Is Your Mail?

securemailIn this day of heightened security awareness, how secure is your mail?

Not only the piece of paper in an envelope, but what about your data?

 

Let’s take it from the top:
Is your data transmitted to your printer in a secure transmission? Do you know that it was securely received and when? Do you know that what you transmitted is what was received?

What about the printed piece? Is the print facility secure? Is it video monitored? Is visitor access restricted? Are data servers and processing centers secured and with limited access?

Once printed, are steps taken to ensure that there is no “double feeding” of documents into a single envelope? Is there a process to track an individual mail piece from beginning to end? Is there record that all printed pieces are accounted for and inserted to an envelope?

What happens once this piece of paper is printed, folded, and inserted? Is your mail retrieved by the USPS? If so, is that USPS truck sealed – meaning only authorized USPS employees may remove that mail from the truck?

Just a few questions to ponder – and perhaps to ask of your print and/or mail provider before your next mailing.

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Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Now that the Postal Service has raised rates again (this is the largest rate hike in the past 11 years), it seems like a good time to review steps you can take to help manage your postage costs.

  1. Take advantage of a local mailhouse or presort vendor.  Presorting your mail lets you take advantage of reduced postage rates. There are many ways you can work with a vendor; they can manage your data, print your mailpiece and mail it for you or perhaps all you need is a daily pick up of your already prepared mail. Either way, savings are there for you. uspostagerateincrease
  2. Keep a clean, healthy database.  Make sure all of your addresses are complete, correct and updated.  When you receive Undeliverable As Addressed mail back from USPS make sure you update your data accordingly. No sense in mailing people who have moved or are deceased.
  3. Dedupe your data.  If your data includes multiple contacts with similar sounding titles within a company, can you mail to just one of those people? Are you seeing duplicates such as John Sample and John Q Sample at the same address? Check for duplicates both by name and address.
  4. Personalize and target your mailing.  Studies have shown that the more personalized and targeted your offer is, the greater response you will receive. Build and manage data such as last purchase, date of last service or purchase, geographic area or household income. The list of ways to segment and create relevant messages/offers is endless. 
  5. Use multi-channel marketing.  Follow up your mailed promotion with email. Try to keep the same look and feel of your mailpiece. Include a link to your website, other marketing page or survey if appropriate. You can use a QR code or pURL on your mailpiece to drive recipients to your website.

Postage rate increases are uncomfortable for mailers. The USPS points out that the increases over the past few years have kept pace with inflation. The change is intended to generate $2 billion in annual revenue for the Postal Service.

As a reminder, below are the new full pay, retail rates.

  • 1 ounce First Class letter – $0.49
  • Each additional ounce $0.21
  • Postcards $0.34
  • 1 ounce letters to all International destinations $1.15

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USPS Update | Rate Increase January 26th, 2014

Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014

uspspostalrateincreaseJanuary 26, 2014 Mailing Services Price Change

As per a news release on September 25, 2013 prices for most Postal Service mailing products and services will change on January 26, 2014.  This includes First Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services.

The proposed changes are intended to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the Postal Service.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.
Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services also will be adjusted.

In a letter from Board of Governors Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above the CPI increase. He also indicated that the price adjustment above the CPI increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.

“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”

Except in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, postage price increases are capped at the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U. The Postal Service is filing a price increase above CPI-U due to extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and has an intolerably low level of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.

If your business is not already using a presort vendor, now is the time to look into that service.  With ever increasing postage rates, why not take advantage of discounted rates presort houses are able to offer you?

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A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

Mail bins

Each day, the Postal Service picks up, processes and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity to so many households and businesses. Here’s just ONE day in the life of the United States Postal Service (figures are averages):

215 million — revenue received, in dollars
157 million — dollars paid to postal employees in salaries and benefits
528 million — number of mailpieces processed and delivered
22 million — average number of mailpieces processed each hour
366,000 —average number of mailpieces processed each minute
6,100 — average number of mailpieces processed each second
226.7 million — pieces of First-Class Mail processed and delivered
262.4 million — pieces of Advertising Mail processed and delivered
727,167 —number of packages picked up through Package Pickup
4.3 million — number of miles driven by letter carriers and truck drivers
7,753 — number of letter carriers who deliver mail entirely on foot — The USPS Fleet of Feet
130,592 — number of address changes processed
2,160 — number of addresses added to our delivery network
1 million – number of peple who visit usps.com
809,210 — dollar amount of online stamp and retail sales at usps.com
1.6 million — amount of money spent on postage for Click-N-Ship labels
44.1 million — number of Click-N-Ship labels printed
18,750 — number of passport applications accepted
358,553 — number of money orders issued
1.6 million — dollars spent at Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office lobbies
3.2 million — customers served at more the 31,000 retail locations
0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500.

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USPS | Post Office Fun Facts

Post Office Fun Facts

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  • Highest – Alma, CO – 10,578 feet above sea level.
  • Lowest – Death Valley, CA – 282 feet below sea level.
  • Coldest – North Slope of Alaska: Barrow (99723) and Wainwright (99782).
  • Hottest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
  • Wettest – Mt.Waialeale, near the Kapaa Post Office (96746) in Hawaii.
  • Driest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
  • Westernmost – 48 contiguous – La Push, WA (98350).
  • Westernmost – 50 states – Adak, AK (99546).
  • Easternmost – 48 contiguous – Lubec, ME (04652).
  • Easternmost – 50 states – Same.
  • Southernmost – 48 contiguous – Key West, FL (33040).
  • Southernmost – 50 states – Naalehu, HI (96772).
  • Northernmost – 48 contiguous – Sumas, WA (98295).
  • Northernmost – 50 states – Barrow, AK (99723).
  • Most Centered (all 50) – closest to the geographical center of the 50 states – Belle Fourche, SD.
  • Most Centered (48) – closest to geographical center of the 48 contiguous states – Lebanon, KS.
  • Oldest in same building – Hinsdale, NH, since 1816.
  • 2nd oldest – Castine, ME, since 1833.
  • Largest – James A. Farley Post Office, New York, NY – 93,000 square feet.
  • Smallest – Ochopee Main Post Office, Ochopee, FL – 61.3 square feet.
  • Most Extraordinary – Peach Springs, AZ, Post Office has walk-in freezers for food destined for delivery to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by mule train.
  • Most Subterranean – Stamp Fulfillment Services, located in Kansas City, MO, is located in a limestone cave 150 feet underground. It is the Postal Service’s only facility located in an underground environment. The consistent, year-round temperatures and humidity levels in the caves allow the stamps to be maintained in mint-quality condition. The underground facility also keeps the inventory and employees safe from snow, flooding, winds and tornadic activity common in the Midwest.
  • Most Needing a Bridge – the Point Roberts, WA, Post Office can be reached by car only by driving through British Columbia, Canada. Only a boat or float plane can travel directly there.

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USPS | Letters to Santa program + Holiday Mailing Dates

USPS Letters to Santa program (+ some pertinent mailing dates)

letters-to-Santa-logoDid you know that USPS has an official Letters to Santa program? The program is on a voluntary basis decided at a local level by each Post Office. For 101 years, the Postal Service has been helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.

In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to letters. The program is known as Letters to Santa except in New York City where they operate an “Operation Santa” program.

Hundreds of thousands of children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska”. Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, they remain in the area in which they were mailed.  Postal “elves” go through the letters and separate those that express serious need.

Here’s how it works: A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, present valid photo identification, and select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form.  The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.

After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift or special message, he or she returns the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package into the mail stream.

It’s not too late to make a child’s wishes come true this season! For estimated delivery by December 24th (this applies to all your outgoing mail not just the Letters to Santa program):

First Class Mail – by Friday, December 20th

Priority Mail – by Saturday, December 21st

Priority Mail Express – by Monday, December 23rd

Safe delivery starts with careful preparation. When sending a package, follow these guidelines to get your shipment off to a good start.U.S. POSTAL SERVICE LETTER TO SANTA

The Box
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. If you’re reusing a box, cover up or black out any old labels and markings.

Cushioning
Place cushioning around your items. Choose packing peanuts, bubble wrap or even newspaper. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding. Add more cushioning material if you hear things moving around.

Sealing
Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with 2″ wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, or twine because it gets caught in mail processing equipment.

Size
The weight of your package cannot exceed 70 lbs. If you’re planning to use Priority Mail Express™ or Priority Mail® services for faster delivery, length plus girth (distance around the thickest part of the package) can’t exceed 108″. When you use Standard Post™, available at retail Post Office locations, the total can’t be more than 130″.

 Happy Holidays from your friends at Strahm Automation!

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