Posts Tagged mail piece

USPS | The Mail Eater

The Mail Eater

mail eaterYou’ve done it. You and your team have formed an alliance of the best of data, design and technology and brought forth the perfect mailpiece, a scintillating message that will bring you the ROI of your dreams. It is ready for launch.

Beware! Between home port and the final destination, a fearsome danger lurks: The Mail Eater.

It will shred your envelopes, mangle your budget and sink your dreams. But do not despair, there is something you can do to defend yourself.  The Mail Eater is nothing more than the machinery the USPS uses to process mail in a swift and cost-effective manner. Properly prepared, your mailpieces will sail through unscathed. But the unwary will fall prey to being macerated, rejected or slapped with the higher cost of manual processing.

Here are three of the riddles you must answer to get past the Mail Eater’s gaping jaws:

  1. What is your Aspect Ratio?
    • Take the length of the mailpiece and divide it by the height. If the answer is between 1.3 and 2.5, take heart, your message’s journey will be blessed. If not, it will meet its doom.
  2. What is your mail piece thickness?
    • Letters must be a minimum of .007 thick, or 0.009 inch thick if more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long or both. Thin paper makes poor armor against the speed and impact of the postal machines’ maw.
  3. What are your barcode reflectance properties?
    • What do you mean—background reflectance, print reflectance difference or opacity? The automation machines must be able to distinguish the printed barcode from any background designs or print showing through the material of the envelope. It is essential to refer to the USPS DMM code 708.4.4 to combat these issues.

It may seem daunting, but be brave! These answers and more are found in the USPS Quick Service Guide at http://pe.usps.com/.  Congratulations, you have now equipped your message to face and conquer the threat of physical damage and increased mailing costs. Good luck, and may the post be with you!

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USPS | What’s the Difference Between CASS and NCOA?

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces? Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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Increase ROI with Direct Mail Design

Often I am asked by novice direct mailers what elements to include on their mail piece. They are simply looking to design the best mailer possible to yield a high ROI.directmail

Here Are My Top 10 Recommendations

(In no particular order)

  1. Make sure your list, mail piece and message are all targeted to the correct audience. What is your goal – lead generation, customer retention, a new product roll out?
  2. A clear, provocative call to action and a nice incentive.
  3. A compelling message – don’t forget, most people want to know “What’s in it for Me?”
  4. A First Class mail permit.  Don’t skimp on standard mail postage. 10% of your mailing list may never receive the mail piece and you’d be surprised how many people simply disregard any piece of mail with a standard permit.
  5. Add a PURL, or Personalized URL. This will tie your printed piece with an online experience. Make sure the PURL ties in with your theme.
  6. As long as we’re adding hot new technology with that PURL, let’s add a QR, or Quick Response, code. You’ve probably been seeing a lot of QR codes on all kinds or marketing – from billboards to pizza boxes. We’ll talk more about QR codes and using them effectively in an upcoming blog.
  7. Use a fresh, unexpected image and a memorable tag line. You only have seconds to grab the reader’s attention.
  8. You’ve probably heard it said a million times, and it’s true, your response rate is only as good as your list. We will delve into list effectiveness in future blogs.
  9. Include a follow up on the call to action. Perhaps include an expiration date. This also makes room for a second communication (perhaps an email?).
  10. Since we repeated the call to action, repeat the PURL as well.  Remind them how to respond to that call to action!

Tell us, what are your thoughts on creating the ideal direct mail piece?  We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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What is your Move Update policy?

What is your Move Update policy? Is it current? Is it documented? The lack of effective Move Update policies and procedures can be very costly.

In the news yesterday, it was reported that a nationally known company settled an allegation that they had not been meeting USPS Move Update standards.  The settlement was reported to be $1.5 million.

If you are claiming postage discounts, it is mandatory that your mailing list be Move Update compliant. This means you must update your list within 95 days of your mailing.  There are several methods available to vet your list to meet Move Update standards.

National Change of Address (NCOA) processing

The NCOA database is licensed by the USPS to a limited number of processing services, so there is no software you can buy to handle the process internally. The service usually adds very little to your processing costs and typically your mail house can provide the service to you.

You can request from the NCOA list processor a report showing all of the corrected address as well as any addresses that have changed but not filed a COA.  You must use the corrected addresses – don’t just say “hey I had NCOA run and here’s my documentation”.  And don’t neglect to update your database!

The good news is that because this process occurs prior to mailing, you save can money on both printing and postage.

Current Resident/Current Occupant

This is the least expensive Move Update method.  Simply adding “Or Current Resident”, “Or Current Occupant” or “Occupant” to your mailing address instructs the USPS to deliver to the address and ignore the name on the mail piece.  You can choose to eliminate the name entirely or add “Current Resident” on the same line or beneath the name line.

If you are mailing First Class, be aware that by using this method, USPS will not forward the mail or return to you if the person or business has moved.  Your mail is delivered to the designated address, period, and you will not be able to update your address list.

Address Correction Services

Several USPS address correction options can be used to meet Move Update requirements.  They include “Return Service Requested”, “Change Service Requested”, and “Address Service Requested”.  There are different costs and requirements for each service.  For more information regarding these services visit https://www.usps.com/business/move-update.htm

Don’t be blindsided by a fine.  Ask your mail house for assistance and keep your database clean!

If you need more information regarding Move Update standards, please feel free to reach out to one of Strahm’s qualified Customer Service Representatives.  They can be reached at (816) 756-2733 or by email at custserv@strahm.com.

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