Between the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission, marketers using direct mail to anchor their campaigns received a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings with the “exigent” postage price increase set to take effect later this month. As my colleague, Mike Ertel, shared yesterday, direct mail drives measurable results for marketing campaigns. But this postage increase is challenging all of us in the mailing industry to sharpen our pencils and find ways to ensure direct mail continues to deliver solid ROI for marketers.
Digital Platform Allows for “Single-Stream Optimization”
One way IWCO Direct is stepping up to this challenge is by leveraging our advanced digital platform to drive down postage costs for large volume mailers by using “single-stream optimization.” Single-stream optimization takes advantage of the “everything is variable” aspect of color digital printing technology to combine multiple mailing versions into a single, larger mailstream. This unified mailstream offers deeper geographic concentrations and the ability to qualify for Saturation and High-Density Carrier Route rates.
Commingling Smaller Mailstreams Achieves Postage Discounts
One of the great strengths of direct mail is the ability to test all aspects of a mailing (list, offer, creative, etc.) to determine which attributes are driving that mailing’s success and to continually fine-tune its ability to perform. However, frequent testing fragments mailings into increasingly smaller mailstreams, which, on their own, don’t have the volume to achieve significant postage discounts.
The traditional way to overcome this disadvantage is to commingle multiple small mailstreams together to achieve the geographic density, and therefore the postage benefits, of much larger mailstreams. In fact, IWCO Direct offers one of the best commingle-based postal optimization strategies in the business.
“Single-Stream Optimization” Qualifies for Walk-Sequence Carrier Route Rates
Commingling is an excellent way to achieve SCF-entry and automation 5-digit rates, but large-volume mailers with geographically concentrated mailings can often do even better by qualifying mail to the “walk-sequence” carrier route rates (Saturation, High-Density Plus, or High-Density). Unfortunately, current USPS sortation requirements for this type of mail prevent us from using commingling to achieve these rates. The robust testing regimes that keep direct mail fresh and response rates high often require breaking up large mailing programs into many small test cells that, when commingled together, can’t be cost-effectively put in the letter carrier’s “walk sequence” for the route, a requirement to claim these rates.
This is where single-stream optimization using color digital printing comes in. Rather than creating physically separate mailing packages to manage variations and versioning, the variability is all managed through the digital imaging (personalization) programs. This allows mailers to combine a variety of offers, images and brands into a single mailstream. This single, larger mailstream can provide the geographic density needed to meet the minimum volumes for these postage rates, and producing the mail all at once in a single mailstream keeps the mail in the appropriate sequence for the letter carrier.
Optimizing postal logistics and achieving maximum postage savings isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. IWCO Direct has a variety of tools to address your unique mailing needs. Whether it’s our high density commingling solution, advanced logistics services or preparing mail for walk-sequence carrier route discounts, we work with you to determine the methods that drive the postage savings and ROI you have come to expect from your direct mail program.
Talk to your IWCO Direct account team or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to turn the exigent postage rate increase “coal” into postage savings “fuel” for the new year
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