Jim Perkins, Senior Vice President, Pitney Bowes Presort Services
Marketers have many sophisticated tools available today, making it a challenge to determine the optimum mix for effective customer communications. Thanks to innovations and new technologies in presort services and mail logistics, Standard Mail can now take its rightful place among the other sophisticated, often digital, tools in a multichannel marketing campaign.
With improved visibility into the mailstream and a better ability to predict in-home dates, Standard Mail can complement digital marketing efforts. Organizations working with a presort service provider can rely on Standard Mail for greater accuracy, integrity, and tracking along with lower fixed pricing and predictable delivery dates.
Standard Mail has a reputation for uncertainty with delivery dates. However, with the right approach, organizations can achieve more precise delivery windows. These consistent, reliable in-home dates are critical for timing mail delivery to arrive at the right time, integrating multichannel follow-up programs, enabling call centers to forecast volumes and staff, and viewing in-progress result tracking with greater confidence.
When an organization handles its own mail, it pays to send out an entire campaign on the same day to maximize postal discounts. However, by working with a presort service provider, organizations can get mail out sooner, staggering mail drops over time without losing any density discounts.
When postage costs vary depending on volume, it makes it difficult to forecast expenses. With the right presort service provider, organizations can negotiate a fixed-cost price for postage that is likely less than what they are paying today.
Marketers rely on reports and metrics to analyze campaign results and make real-time decisions. While Web, call center, and social media efforts have been easy to track, now the same level of visibility can be achieved with Standard Mail if the right tools, barcodes, and systems are in place.
Making Standard Mail work
Postal optimization can help optimize workshare discounts while maintaining the marketing impact of a given direct mail campaign. Two of these tactics you can handle in-house are data hygiene and format selections.
Consider using a third-party specialist to commingle your mail so more can qualify for three- and five-digit presort rates. This can save one to two cents per piece depending on the size and density of a particular mailing. Commingling can also help mail qualify for destination-rate discounts. The ability to induct mail at a Network Distribution Center (NDC) or Sectional Center Facility (SCF) offers greater savings, and provides control and reliability to know when mail will reach its intended recipient.
Some providers maintain dedicated transportation departments that manage operating centers across the country, work with large national and regional consolidation partners, deliver directly to national and regional consolidation centers, and self-deliver to local SCF’s. In many cases, these networks can induct as much as 82 to 87% of mail at the destination SCF, bypassing many USPS stops along the way.
Service providers can help organizations obtain greater visibility into the mailstream, anticipate responses and improve the ability to measure ROI. The Intelligent Mail barcode and tracking software makes it easy to monitor mail, allowing for better coordination throughout your organization—important for multichannel campaigns.
Look for providers with a large transportation fleet, a strong safety record, tight security procedures, and a network of distribution hubs for presort and induction. Providers should include 24/7 access to service and support, and incident and geo-location tracking. As technology continues to evolve, large national service providers will be able to track weather patterns, traffic accidents, and road construction so trucks can be quickly re-routed to avoid any possible delays.
These “new standards” for Standard Mail can make mail a more attractive option for direct marketers and enhance the value to an organization.