Friday, October 5, 2012

Important - Required New Design Changes for Self Mailers

Design Changes Required for Self-Mailers in 2013

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) published the final regulations for Folded Self-mailers (FSM's) and other unenveloped pieces in the December 1, 2011 Federal Register.

These final rules take effect on January 5, 2013, so Mailers need to make plans to use up remaining stock and to make design changes for affected mailpieces that will mail after the effective date.

 These new rules do not apply to cards, envelopes, booklet style letters or mailpieces designed to carry discs - only self-mailers.

The notice lays out other specific requirements:
  • Length: A minimum of 5 inches and a maximum of 10.5 inches.
  • Height: A minimum of 3.5 inches and a maximum of 6 inches and
    Maximum thickness of 1/4".
  • The final fold must be at the bottom
  • Rectangular within an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 1.3 to 2.5, inclusive (see Domestic Mail Manual 601.1.4)
  • The paper basis weight for folded self-mailers is based on book-grade paper unless otherwise specified and varies depending on the total weight of the mail piece.
  •  Minimum of two tabs
  • Can not use perforated tabs.
After January 5, 2013, folded self-mailers that do not meet these requirements will be assessed postage as follows: First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail® customers will pay nonmachinable prices; Periodicals mailers will pay nonbarcoded prices.

Please visit the USPS website to see all of the new rules affecting self-mailers.

https://ribbs.usps.gov/fsm/documents/tech_guides/FSMWorkshopPresentation.pdf

DBS - Helping You Mail Smarter

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Intelligent Mail Barcode

Will you be ready?


One of the biggest change is that instead of just being an option, the USPS is making IMB (Intelligent Mail Barcode) a requirement in order to qualify for automation discounts.

Intelligent Mail Barcode replaces the barcodes that are currently used for processing high voume mail for automation discounts.  The final ruling was posted on the Federal Register website on May 3rd.


The Intelligent Mail barcode is used to sort and track letters, cards and flats and offers greater versatility by allowing many services to be requested and embedded within one barcode. 

This REQUIRED new change will impact ALL volume mailers that get automation postal discounts including:

      - First-Class Mail - letters and flats
      - Standard Mail (Bulk) - letters and flats
      - Periodicals - letters and flats
      - Bound Printed Matter - flats
      - Business Reply Mail

You should immediately start thinking about.............

-- Who prepares your mail - do you process in-house or is it outsourced to a mail service provider (also known as mail house, or lettershop).

-- Does your mail service provider plan to have the software installed and be fully compliant before January 28, 2013 to print IMB and will their capabilities include basic or full-service.

-- If your mail is processed in-house, steps should be taken now to get your mailer ID code and make sure software is installed and compliant prior to January 28, 2013.

-- Do you need to change providers based on capabilities?

-- Compliance with IMB could result in needing to make design changes that could include more white space for addressing and the barcode on business reply mail.

-- Has your database been cleansed and updated?  NCOA (National Change of Address) is required now for all automation discounts and is currently enforced (or in the alternative, add "or current resident" to the addressing).

Failure to comply with IMB will result in loss of automation discounts on your mail - result:  higher postage.

Diversified Business Services (DBS) is already working with our mail service providers to make sure your mail will be fully compliant before January 28, 2013.  Make sure your outsourced providers are aware of this new requirement and fully on board -- this includes printers, graphic designers, mail houses and letteershops, and database managers.

Go to the USPS site for more information on Intelligent Mail Barcoding:

Overview to Intelligent Mail Service: 
https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_guides/documents/tech_guides/OverviewIntelligentMailBasicService.pdf

Intelligent Mail Guides and Technical Specifications
https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailguides

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer's Over

Well.... here we are - at the end of the summer - Labor Day Weekend is coming up.   Where did the time go?  Vacation times are over and time to get down to work.

Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to advertise - let us know how we can help get your message out to the people who matter most.   We can target by zip code, radius around a specific location, or by demographics and direct response.

Let's work together on your next advertising campaign.

DBS - Helping You to Mail Smarter!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Are You Getting The Best Postage Rates?


The best postage rates - Automation and Presort - for large volume mailings require certification that your mailing list has been matched against NCOA (National Change of Address) within 95 days of mailing.  If you do not have this certification, the only way you will still get the best postage rates is to have "Or Current Resident" below the person's name.

What is NCOA ?   When people move, they fill out (or should anyway) a Change of Address (COA) form for the Post Office so that their 1st Class mail gets forwarded to the new address. Your mailing list is matched against the Change of Address records sent to the U.S. Postal Service by individuals, families, and businesses.   Luckily, most  lettershops run mailing lists through a NCOA process prior to mailing, but not all do - this is something you should verify with your lettershop.

Why does the Post Office require NCOA matching?  According to their statistics, 45 million people move every year.  No matter how often a mailing list is updated, there will always be a certain percentage of your mailing that reaches households where people have moved.  Plain and simple - delivering mail to addresses where people have moved costs the Post Office money.  And, ultimately, it costs you a lot of money as well - producing a mail piece, paying for printing and postage for something that might not ever be delivered if the person who is on the address label have moved.  Best case is that if mailed 1st class, the mail will be forwarded, but not if mailed at standard (or bulk rate) rates.

Is it best for you to have mail forwarded to someone that may have moved to a whole new area?  Or is it best for your mail piece to get to the people who are currently living at the address. 

If you are mailing something that is subscription or member based, it would probably be best to have the mail follow the person who moved.  But, the majority of mailings are intended to reach a base of people living within a geographic area and even if the person whose name is on the mail piece moved, it would be better for the mail piece to stay at the address rather than being undelivered or forwarded.

Should "Or Current Resident" be on your address label?

Won't putting "Or Current Resident" make my mailing look like junk mail?  The only real answer to this is to test it.  In my opinion however, if your offer or message is relevant to a specific geographic area, it will rarely matter unless it is something formal like an invitation.  And, putting "Or Current Resident" will ensure that your mail piece will at least get delivered to that particular household address.

The question you should be asking yourself is..... is it more important for my mail piece to be delivered to a specific address that is in my geographic area - or is it more important that the mail piece follow the person regardless of where they live.

You can read more about NCOA and Move Update requirements at:  USPS - Guide to Move Update 

DBS can help you mail smarter 

Need your database matched against NCOA?  Let us know - we can help!

In addition to NCOA processing, DBS can also standardize your mailing list, parse fields, remove bad addresses, and deceased names.

Mailing Lists * Database Management * Direct Mail Projects

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Email Confusion

Several times in the past few weeks I have had conversations with different non-profit organizations about their use of emails and the confusion that exists about how they use member email lists.  And, I'm confident this same confusion crosses over to for-profit corporations as well.

The dilemma comes up when the organization wants to advertise a specific event coming up and they encourage its board members (and others)  to give their personal email lists to the organization so they can get the word out about the upcoming event and increase its email base.

Seems simple enough - wouldn't my friends want to know about my favorite organization's event?  I bet they would even like to come to it.   If I give my email list to the organization to use so I don't have to forward their emails - my friends could get the information straight from the organization and join in the fun.  Less hassle for me if I just let the organization send the information to my friends directly.

So what's the problem?

The problem is - it probably does not comply with the Federal Can Spam act that makes it illegal to send information to an email recipient unless that person has specifically opted in to receive emails from that specific organization.

So, while you as an individual can forward an email you got to all your friends, it would be illegal for everyone to just give their whole email list over to the organization to use -- unless the recipients opted in.

The solution?   Everyone should email their friends - forward the information on about the organization - and tell them to go the web page and sign up to be on their email list.  That way, they are opted in, get information on upcoming events - AND, they comply with the regs.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Customers Want Their Name Off a Mailing List

I recently had a client that contacted me wanting to know how to respond to a phone call they had from someone that received their mailer - upset that they were receiving the mail and worried that their personal information was being shared.

As I told my client, "there will always be people who will complain about the things that get mailed to them - and they are rightfully concerned about lack of privacy - especially in these days of identity theft.    Just because she has received mail from you and from others, does not mean that her private information about her health problems was leaked by the health institutions". 

Most mailing lists comes from public records - like home ownership records and US Postal records - but lists  also come from the census bureau, telephone directories and other places where they may have even given information themselves - like signing up for a free registration, magazine subscription, or a product purchase.  The credit bureaus track purchases and sometimes mailings are received merely because the mailing is going to every resident - regardless of any thing going on with them personally.

People can limit the mail that comes to their house by registering with the DMA (Direct Mail Association).  The DMA maintains a list of people who do not want their names on direct mail offerings.   Most legitimate list compilers bounce their mailing lists against this file routinely and should reduce the amount of mail they receive.  This is one of the best reasons why I routinely recommend that companies let me run their own internal files against the DMA lists to flag people who do not want to receive mail - and this also removes deceased names.

No company wants to spend money mailing to people who have no interest in their product or service. 

Here is a link to the DMA that explains almost everything you would need to know about getting your name removed from mailing lists:

http://www.dmaconsumers.org/offmailinglist.html#6

The DMA - Direct Mail Association

Thursday, January 19, 2012

USPS Issues Advisory About Bogus Emails

The Post Office has issued an advisory to be on guard against bogus emails that people are reporting about having a package delivery.   I have seen these same bogus emails saying there is a UPS delivery.   If you are not expecting a package, do not click on any link about package deliveries.

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/consumer/SpamAlert.pdf

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There is more opportunity than ever to get your advertising message out!

Internet and social media has fast become an alternative method of advertising but......  Direct Mail is still one of the best methods for getting a good return on your advertising budget.  Studies show that receiving a physical piece in the mail will improve the chances of it actually getting read.  The trick is to mail to those people who are most interested in your product or service and use smart mailing techniques to reduce costs.
 
Using a list brokerage like DBSLists.com can help target your mailing to those that most likely to be interested in what you have to sell by using demographically enhanced or direct response lists.  The best example I can use is one of my clients who sells fishing supplies.  Rather than mail to a broad base of people in a given zip code or geographic area, we find lists of people who are actually interested in fishing.  On the other hand, a local restaurant or hospital might want to mail to every household in a given radius or apply other demographic overlay, like age, income or home value.
 
Your direct mail costs can be reduced by cleaning and updating your in-house databaseDBS can standardize your address list, check for people who have moved, remove duplicate addresses or people who are deceased, update for zip code changes and more.....
 
DBS can help you mail smarter -- call us to see how we can help.