Advice on How to deal with the Postal Rate Increase

The U.S.P.S. recently increased postal rates. The increase is going to be effective in May. Portada interviewed Greg Brown, director of marketing at Melissa Data, and asked him how direct mailers targeting Hispanics can best deal with the increase.


Portada: How would you help Hispanic mailers targeting Hispanics cope with the increase in postal rates?

Brown: The best way to cope with the increases in to eliminate undeliverable-as-addressed mail and avoid return fees and costs of re-mailing. If you take into consideration the cost of production, printing and postage some private sector estimates put the cost of UAA mail at around $3 per piece.

 

There are mailing preparation software solutions on the market that can help reduce UAA mail. You’ll want to look for software that is CASS and PAVE certified by the USPS to ensure the highest level of accuracy. The software will verify and standardize addresses against the USPS ZIP + 4 data file of addresses – completing ZIP + 4 codes to the addresses in your mailing lists, adding missing address details and correcting spelling and formatting errors it finds. Some programs will also eliminate duplicate records to help cut down on postage and printing. Once the addresses have been verified the mailing preparation software will presort the mailing so that it will qualify for the lowest postage rates possible.

 

Before performing a mailing a mailer should do some kind of NCOALink change of address processing. Every year approximately 17% (43 million) Americans and 20% of US businesses move so it’s easy to see how quickly a list can become outdated. The USPS NCOALink database contains approximately 160 million change-of-address (COA) records over the last 48-months. When mailers compare their lists against this database it will identify individuals, families and businesses that have moved and provide their new addresses.  

Portada: Do you think that companies using e-mail more because of the postal rate
increase are e-mailing more?

Brown: The USPS has indicated an almost 3% decline in Standard Mail (the rate at which most B2B and B2C mail is sent) for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008 so there is some indication that companies are using more email due to the postal rate increases. However it’s really not an either or question – these days the most effective campaigns are multi-channel. We see more companies integrating their email marketing and printed communications to make sure they have all the bases covered and drive response rates.

 

Portada: What challenges do you see in direct marketing to Hispanics?

Brown: One of the main challenges in direct marketing to Hispanics – especially bilingual Hispanics – is whether to target them in Spanish only. Another growing challenge is that as the Hispanic market continues to grow – in population and economic power – more marketers are trying to tap into it. That means it will be increasingly difficult to get your message heard. That’s another reason to make sure that any campaign you initiate has the goal of not just delivering X amount of pieces into the mail stream, but is committed to making sure those mail pieces actually end up in the mailboxes of the intended recipient at the right time so you can solicit the right response.   

Related Article: Through Rain, Sleet or Snow: A Look at Hispanic Direct Mail (May ‘07)


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