Digital Commingling: The Next Step in Postage Optimization

Postage optimization process

About the Author

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Kurt Ruppel

Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications. He educates clients on postal regulations and rates, helps ensure mail packages meet spec, and develops postal strategies that achieve in-home delivery targets at the best possible postage rates. Kurt has brought the “all of us know more than any of us” business philosophy to IWCO for more than 40 years (oy!). He is a three-time IWCO President’s Award winner, former Chairman of the EMA Board of Directors, graduate of Utah State University, gardening enthusiast, and Ohio State Buckeye football fan.

Optimizing postage spend is built into IWCO Direct’s DNA. In our announcement last week on the addition of seven new HP digital presses we discussed how our new equipment will drive shorter production cycles with less time from data to delivery for our clients. Another benefit this expansion of our industry-leading digital print platform offers is the ability to further optimize postal qualification and manage postage spend through a process called digital commingling.

Minimizing Postage Maximizes Performance

We know that taking advantage of opportunities to minimize postage lets our clients stretch their marketing dollars and dig deeper into their response models. This allows them to drive more robust performance from their multichannel campaigns.

We support a wide range of strategies that keep postage budgets in check, including:

  • A creative team who understands how to design for efficient postal operations without losing focus on what gets the envelope opened and drives response.
  • CASS-certified file processing to ensure complete and correct addresses combined with NCOALINK move updating to ensure addresses are current. (Why spend postage on mailpieces that won’t reach your intended prospects?)
  • Palletization and presorting to create mail that reduces work for the Postal Service and speeds mail toward its final destination, including sortation and preparation of walk-sequence enhanced carrier route mail.
  • A logistics program focused on meeting in-home dates by leveraging Informed Visibility® Mail Tracking and Reporting data to track mail from the time it leaves our dock until it arrives in your prospects’ hands.
  • A commitment to supporting our clients’ participation in USPS mailing promotions, letting you test direct mail best practices while qualifying for postage discounts.

For more than 25 years, we have offered the industry-leading program for physically commingling Marketing Mail to improve presort qualification, building efficient trays and pallets for streamlined drop-shipment of mail, and more rapid USPS processing. While physical commingling drives optimized postal processing and reduced postage costs, it is built on a traditional manufacturing workflow for direct mail. In the traditional workflow, pre-printed (color) shell documents are personalized in black and combined with pre-printed envelopes and inserts to create the final mail package. Any variation in the offer usually requires a separate physical package with its own components that must be inventoried and tracked, frequently leading to shortages or obsolete materials when list quantities change at the last minute (as they often do).

Digital Commingling Takes Center Stage

As IWCO Direct transforms our production platform with enhanced digital print—including full-color personalized envelopes and streamlined production workflows—we now have the opportunity to move to the next step in postal optimization: digital commingling.

Using a digital print workflow allows us to combine multiple mail packages with different offers and art into a single mailstream that achieves deeper presort discounts and maximum destination entry discounts. Mail packages produced in a digital print workflow that have the same final page dimensions and can go into a common envelope can potentially be combined in the same mailstream. Leveraging full-color personalization on the outer envelope simplifies combining multiple offers or lines of business utilizing a common envelope format, avoiding what can often be a roadblock to digital commingling.

Creating a single mailstream is essentially postal commingling at the digital (data) stage, rather than creating an additional processing step once the data is turned into physical mail. These single mailstreams produce mail that is easily and efficiently processed by the Postal Service, ensuring accurate in-home delivery and precise coordination with companion marketing channels. Digital commingling also has the advantage of supporting the marking and sequencing requirements for walk-sequence carrier route mail, which can be a challenge when physically commingling mail.

Ready to check out the next step in postal optimization? Reach out to your IWCO Direct account team or contact me today to learn more about our digital commingling capabilities and what it can mean for your campaigns.

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