Wondering “Where’s My Mail?” You’re Not Alone

Written by Ted D. Seward

When it comes to measuringrepparttar success and failure of traditional direct mail, nothing excites marketers more than tangible data revealingrepparttar 145479 reality of what occurred or did not. An example of this is mail tracking — hardly a new concept, but one that is gaining popularity among mailers who can accurately predict in-home arrival by aggregating delivery data. Retailers can now include direct mail advertising in connection with their local campaigns. This data is not only traceable, but actionable: by tracking your mailing campaigns, you can better measure and improve your campaigns’ effectiveness.

Traditionally, mailers have relied onrepparttar 145480 back-end process to verify their success. Mail tracking allows you to coordinate multiple-tier marketing programs, with direct mail serving asrepparttar 145481 jumping-off point. This new technology allows you to successfully implement timed triggers for direct mail response via telemarketing, or initiate additional waves to forge even stronger customer connections.

By closely monitoring campaigns, mailers can more fully determine which concepts work best and maximize their investments with better follow-through. All of this makes it entirely feasible that direct mail will maintain its position as a premier channel for coupons and daily specials, andrepparttar 145482 preferred method for one-to-one communications.

So what is mail tracking? You might be familiar with list seeding or other services that can assist in mail tracking, butrepparttar 145483 United States Postal Service’s Confirm program is more robust: directly integrated withrepparttar 145484 USPS process, it is fast achieving prominence among mailers looking for tracking resources with broad-based, real-world utility. Confirm allows mailers to identify and track individual mail by placing a PLANET Code onrepparttar 145485 mailpiece. (The PLANET Code is similar torepparttar 145486 traditional POSTNET barcode format;repparttar 145487 only difference is a reversal ofrepparttar 145488 long and short bars.)

How does it work? The PLANET Code is typically placed inrepparttar 145489 address block ofrepparttar 145490 letter, flat or periodical mailpiece. This PLANET code is scanned and logged by postal equipment at various points as it traversesrepparttar 145491 postal system. The postal equipment recordsrepparttar 145492 PLANET Code, POSTNET barcode, processing facility, sort operation code, and processing date and time.

Oncerepparttar 145493 scan is read,repparttar 145494 data is distributed electronically. This data can indicate where a particular piece is located inrepparttar 145495 system and provide reliable estimates of delivery torepparttar 145496 customer. PLANET Codes can be used on reply mail as well. The first time I mentioned this to a catalogue professional, his response was enthusiastic: “Wow — you mean I can better predict staffing levels needed to processrepparttar 145497 orders when they are received?"

Here are just a few examples of how PLANET Code tracking can work for you. Imagine tracking outbound high-value items — invoices, for example — as well asrepparttar 145498 inbound payments they generate. This system works equally well for outbound check payments, too.

(An aside: This solution would have come in handy early in my mailing career. My major-mailer employer was once accused of not processing (or worse, stealing) a customer’s check run, primarily because only portions ofrepparttar 145499 entire job were missing and other checks fromrepparttar 145500 same run were cashed after weeks of back and forth withrepparttar 145501 USPS and a major local government office,repparttar 145502 missing portion of mail was found locked in a vault atrepparttar 145503 local municipality’s processing facility. One little PLANET Code, matched back torepparttar 145504 Postnet would have indicated that two trays of “check sequenced” mail were missing not two trays of “sorted mail.” A PLANET Code on just some of these pieces would have indicated thatrepparttar 145505 mail had never been received by my company and/or delivered torepparttar 145506 Post Office — resolvingrepparttar 145507 problem weeks earlier. No blame would have been wrongly bestowed on us,repparttar 145508 processing company, andrepparttar 145509 unfortunate recipients of these checks would have received their funds much sooner.)

Getting into Mailing: What Printers Need to Know

Written by Ted D. Seward

Many printers, frustrated with minimal revenue gains, look to mailing services to drive incremental profits. Adding mailing services can offer synergy with existing printing services, with minimal investment and a fast learning curve.

Are You Ready?

Recent surveys indicate 65 percent of everything printed is eventually mailed. If your printing jobs follow this pattern, you could be ready to incorporate mailing services into your business.

Step one is to review your mailing-service plans with key customers, whose buy-in is critical to your success. These discussions will provide a better understanding of what it will take to getrepparttar job done, which in turn can strongly influence initial software and equipment priorities.

Likely components may include a workstation (minimally, a powerful desktop PC equipped with USPS-approved presorting software); an inkjet addressing machine; work tables for staging; a strapper, tabber, postage meter and scale; plus a conveyor, inserter, and assorted supplies. Naturally, you’ll need additional floor space to accommodate this equipment; most mailroom floor plans suggest a minimum requirement of 400 square feet.

Investment Costs and ROI

Speed, volume, and mailing class all significantly influence initial cost outlays. An occasional mailer — handling postcards with small runs, for instance — can probably get started with little more than $15,000 in startup expenses; larger-scale operations may require a substantially greater initial investment.

Don’t letrepparttar 145428 price tags scare you away: with an expected average revenue of $.07 per piece mailed, a $15,000 investment would take roughly 215,000 pieces of mail to break even. And depending onrepparttar 145429 nature of your planned mailing services, you could even repurpose existing equipment or buy refurbished hardware resources until you’re on your feet.

As you shop for mailing solutions, you’ll noticerepparttar 145430 cliché “You get what you pay for” applies far more to hardware purchases than to software, where big performance can come in remarkably cost-effective packages. How can you tell what software is right for you? Start with basic USPS qualifications:

* CASS: Coding Accuracy Support System certification — confirmingrepparttar 145431 use of up-to-date ZIP + 4, carrier route and 5-digit ZIP coding data — is a must for any presorting software. * PAVE: Presort Accuracy, Validation and Evaluation certifications vary by sorts and mail classes. Isrepparttar 145432 software PAVE-certified forrepparttar 145433 types of mail you expect to handle? * Visit www.ribbs.usps.gov/files/vendors/paveflis.rtf for a list of PAVE-certified software vendors.

The USPS: Intimidating, but Manageable

Don’t let postal rules frighten you away from potential new revenues! Requirements set byrepparttar 145434 United States Postal Service for mailings are undeniably complex, but resources are everywhere that can help you stay compliant, productive and profitable in your new venture.

First, trust your mailing software: those CASS and PAVE certifications prove it’s been programmed to follow ever-changing postal details. Also, many software developers offer free technical assistance; some even train their support staff in mailing details as well asrepparttar 145435 software itself. The right provider will be happy to hold your hand until you are comfortable with their product.

Instead of trying to achieve mailing “expert” status overnight, pace yourself by becoming well versed in regulations that apply directly torepparttar 145436 mailing needs of your key customers. The USPS postsrepparttar 145437 latest regulation changes inrepparttar 145438 Domestic Mail Manual (find it at pe.usps.gov/text/dmm300/dmm300_landing.htm), and plenty of other free publications are available to walk you through essential postal rules.

Safety in Numbers: Professional Mailing Resources

Try to develop a working relationship with your local Post Office — not just meetingrepparttar 145439 local Postmaster, but getting face-to-face withrepparttar 145440 personnel who receive and handle your mailpieces. Many new-to-mail printers join their local Postal Customer Councils, which offer forums to discuss general mailing issues among postal representatives and mailers at all levels of expertise.

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