Another year, another rate change: On January 21, 2018, the USPS® increased the price of business mail. First-Class mail® letters and first-class metered mail increased by a cent, to $0.50 and $0.47 respectively. First-class flats up to 1 ounce jumped 2 cents to a dollar. Marketing mail (formerly standard mail – effectively non-first-class mail) and bound printed matter climbed 1.9% on average.
For organizations sending out mail by the thousands, small increments like these will quickly add up. Expect the rate hikes to continue; the USPS has increased its rates annually since 2006. Saving money on bulk business mail is becoming increasingly important as companies feel the pinch. Thankfully, there are several techniques to economize while continuing to reach existing and potential customers.
Start the meter
Let’s begin with the low-hanging fruit. Rather than using expensive retail stamps, a postage meter will quickly print mailing denominations, either onto tape or directly onto the mail itself. Pitney Bowes’ mailing meter solution is three cents per piece cheaper than retail stamps, giving companies a welcome, easily-achievable cost saving. A by-product of metered mail is that it lets companies address their bulk mail far more quickly than they could with retail stamps, saving in-house costs.
Sort it out yourself
The other way to save money on postal rates is to do some of the work up front. Presorting your mail into bundles or trays by postcode or even by carrier route reduces the load on the USPS, getting you discounts on your mailing runs.
Presorting yourself involves a considerable overhead. The discounts available to you also depend on the volume of mail that you’re sending. Alternatively, comprehensive presorting services from Pitney Bowes provide extra efficiencies, maximizing savings by processing and drop shipping mail deep into the USPS infrastructure from our facilities around the US.
Even low-volume mailers can benefit from third-party presort services tailored for them. For example, a company could save over $0.40 per piece on 3 oz first-class letter-rate mail piece by presorting.
Co-operation is key
How can Pitney Bowes handle lower volumes and still generate high discounts? It enjoys an economy of scale by combining mailstreams from multiple senders. By commingling multiple mail streams, we can create more extensive mailing lists that enable us to presort mail to five-digit ZIP codes and even carrier routes.
Automate your routing
The Postal Service likes it when you or a trusted partner do much of the work upfront, and presorting isn’t the only way to reduce the load and time on the USPS. Automation is another way of driving down your costs. By barcoding mail with delivery point routing codes, you prepare your items for fully high-speed processing equipment that the USPS likes to use. Automation removes the manual overhead of sorting mail, reducing the cost for everyone and generating savings for senders.
Design your mail with savings in mind
For extra savings, don’t just focus on how the mail gets to its destination. Focus on the mail itself. Mailpiece design is an oft-overlooked aspect of business mailing, but a little forethought here can lead to savings later. The key is to ensure that the items fit the machinery that the USPS uses to process mail quickly and smoothly. To achieve this, keep the size and aspect ratio of your mail within certain limits.
Avoid rigid letters, clasps and strings on your business correspondence. Keep the thickness even and avoid non-paper services. Otherwise, expect to pay higher fees. It’s also essential to ensure that your address, along with any barcode blocks on letter-size mail, fit into the USPS area for optical character recognition.
Letter-sized mail over an ounce can cost more, but although you might think that thinner = lighter = better, that isn’t always true. An item that is too thin will also cost you extra because machines cannot process it.
Double your money by halving your mail
Just as you should consider the packaging of a letter, it’s important to think about what’s inside. Assuming you can still hit weight requirements, cut costs by combining marketing and other mail. If you are sending a required customer statement or notification, consider combining a marketing flyer that would otherwise have gone separately. A single mailing may please the customer, who doesn’t have to deal with two separate pieces of mail. It also ensures that they see the marketing flyer, which they may otherwise have detected as purely marketing mail and not opened.
Clean your list
After all these steps, you could still send your effective mailing price soaring by working from an inaccurate mailing list. Just over one in ten Americans move annually, and staying on top of those changes is a significant step when keeping costs down. The Postal Service offers an address list correction service that can mark any addresses that it knows have changed.
Work with the team that owns customer address information to ensure that their records are current so that you minimize the letters that you send to out of date addresses. Use USPS-approved services to maintain your address list and check the accuracy and deliverability of the address.
Prices only ever seem to go up, but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t generate some smart savings by thinking carefully about your mailing runs. Using these fulfillment techniques will help you to shave valuable cents from each piece of mail that you send.
Visit pitneybowes.com/us/presortservices for more information.