Are You Paying Too Much for Postage?

Postage is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Every January and July, for the foreseeable future, postage rates will increase by approximately five percent. The USPS has transitioned from relatively small annual postage increases to twice-a-year rate adjustments that can strain corporate communication budgets. How do you address these rising postage costs?

  1. Documents must be easy to read and understand. Eliminate redundant verbiage and emphasize the action you want the recipient to take. If you do this to reduce page counts, you may lower postage, and printing will cost less.
  1. Delete contacts when there is no chance of a response. Drop duplicates, clean undeliverable addresses, and target messages.

Use DocOrigin to compose responsive documents and target multiple audiences with the appropriate content to reduce postage and mail processing expenses. Instead of creating small mailing jobs that reach market segments, merge them, and take advantage of lower postage rates driven by higher mail density within geographic areas.

Postage Costs Vs. Mailing Costs

Postage costs and mailing costs are two different things. Postage we pay to the Post Office is based on three characteristics. The cost depends on whether mail enters as First Class or Marketing Mail.

  • Size. For First Class and Marketing mail, letters and flats have different postage rates. Flats cost more.
  • Weight. Postage rates have too many quirks to explain here. With commercial mail, the USPS is generous with how much a mail piece can weigh for a fixed price. However, a general rule is the more mail weighs, the more it costs.
  • Address density. The more mail going to the same 5-digit ZIP Code (minimum of 150 pieces), the lower the postage rate for that mail group. For most companies, some their mail will qualify at this rate.

Mailing costs are the other expenses involved in producing mail besides postage. These costs include all the labor, materials, and capital expenditures associated with printing, design, folding, inserting, sealing, metering, and tabbing.

Document Review: Graphics, Text, and White Space

Reduced page counts may decrease postage. DocOrigin allows users to change page layout without relying on IT support. When reducing page counts, the first move is to reduce font size, white space, and unnecessary graphic elements. Be sure to retain important content and format the pages for easy readability. If recipients cannot read the communication, complaints increase and satisfaction declines. Distribute the revised version to team members and actual customers to review.

It may not seem that reformatting document pages can impact mailing and postage very much. Your company will still have to compose documents, print them, insert them into envelopes, and deliver the mail to the Post Office. However, when small reductions affect large volumes of documents, reduction techniques are compounded and make a difference. Here are some ways that reducing page counts can save you money:

  • Faster document processing time for printing and inserting saves labor and machine wear and tear. Depending on your agreements with equipment suppliers or outsource service providers, you may be paying for every “click” or cycle of a machine.
  • Switch from flats to letters, or even letters to postcards or self-mailers. This change reduces postage costs dramatically. It may allow you to dispose of dedicated flats-only inserting machines. Labor savings are also possible, as inserting pages into flats is generally a slower process than folding and inserting letters.
  • Less content can allow you to reduce document sizes. You may be paying surcharges for oversized mail. By trimming the content that appears on the mailpieces, you may adjust the dimensions and avoid the extra USPS fees.
  • Reduced weight can sometimes qualify your mail for lower postage rates. This depends on the characteristics of your mail, so check with a USPS mailing requirements expert to evaluate your situation.

Organizations often design documents with little consideration for processing efficiency and postage. They settle for the default fonts, layouts, spacing, and margins that come with the document composition software they use. Frequently, companies never re-evaluate document layout and design, even as document requirements change. A few minor adjustments to the documents can lower your processing and postage expenses.

Know When to Hold Em,’ Know When to Fold Em” (Kenny Rogers, 1978)

Almost no mailing strategy can reduce postage as dramatically as folding standard 8½” x 11″ sheet(s) in half and sending them in a 6″ x 9″ envelope. Mail, once sent as a flat, now posts as a letter. DocOrigin simplifies composing different versions for review. If the document accomplishes its goal without reducing response or increasing confusion, replacing flats with folded mail will cut postage nearly in half.

Personalization and Preference

Eliminating a remittance envelope may reduce postage costs and will reduce mailing costs. Customers often pay online with a credit card, but mailing a check is an option. A remittance envelope is convenient for the customer to send a payment. What if they owe nothing? What if they always pay by credit card? A trigger code embedded in a barcode on the document instructs the inserter to suppress the inclusion of a remittance envelope. Give the same treatment to “statement stuffers.” Is every ad relevant to every recipient? A trigger sent to the inserter suppresses an advertising insert that is inappropriate for some recipients.

A Clean Mailing List Reduces Costs of Everything

Americans change addresses at an astonishing rate. Over 15% of the country’s population moves each year.In addition, the Postal Service realigns ZIP Codes as the population shifts. A “clean” address is not only required for the USPS discount programs, but it assures the right person is there to receive the mail. Two programs improving deliverability are:

  1. CASS-Certified™ address standardization. This application corrects misspellings, directionals, and suffixes. It verifies the address, updates the ZIP Code, and adds the ZIP+4 code.
  1. National Change of Address™ (NCOA) move updating program. Software providers and internet services offer a cost-effective NCOA service to update recently moved residences and businesses.

Another “cleaning” technique is de-duplication. One data service estimates the average mailing list is 10% duplicated. Duplicate mailings waste printing and postage and irritate recipients. Identical mail is especially poignant for non-profit organizations.

Use Software to Improve Documents

Expect twice-a-year postage increases for the next five years. Management of these costs is two-fold. First, finding ways to send at a lower rate, and second, reducing paper, printing, and processing costs. The challenge is maintaining readability and response. DocOrigin makes it simple, even for non-programmers to design, redesign, and test document formats to accomplish cost-reduction goals. DocOrigin is an intuitive application for creating and generating dynamic business documents, forms, and labels. It is effective for the high-volume production of personalized business-critical communications or a single customer letter.