2 Big Steps to Saving Major $ in the Mail

I know you’ve heard it this year: the directive to spend less money in the mail! But at the same time, you’re also asked to somehow maintain or even increase ROI with your direct mail program. Whether it’s because you need to spend more money in other channels — notably, email — than in previous years or simply because the economic pressures have come to bear, there’s never been a better time to closely examine your mail program and look where you can save money.

On Tuesday, the strategy to meet that challenge was thoroughly covered in the “Saving Major $ in the Mail” DirectMarketingIQ webinar, which is available on-demand for the next 90 days. Two direct mail and postal experts — David Mastervich, manager of catalogs and saturation mail for the USPS, and Mike Ertel, Vice President of Sales for IWCO Direct — discussed the key steps to take in order to reduce direct mail costs, yet maintain solid response rates.

Here are a few of the many that were mentioned:

1. Don’t reduce your direct mail volume! Stay in the mail!
Often, in a budget-slashing gesture, direct mail programs get cut down. Either the total volume is decreased, certain campaigns are put on the back burner or killed, and money is handed over to digital channels.

Mastervich says this is a big mistake. While “integrating” your marketing is more key than ever, that doesn’t mean that your company should be downsizing its direct mail program. Conversely, in this digital world, direct mail still has the greatest chance to stand out. While the image of “junk mail” filling the mailbox and swarming the kitchen table still lingers, it’s no longer true.

Rather, most Americans are in the midst of digital overload. Social media, email and mobile phones eat up a big section of everyone’s day. Along with TV, radio, billboards and other media, the average prospects gets hit by over 3,000 messages a day.

Direct mail shares a big part of that message overload, right? Wrong. Only about 25 pieces of mail reach the average prospect per week.

So while this prospect can now be reached on an average of 7.2 personal channels, the one that stands out the best is the old standby direct mail.

If that wasn’t enough of a convincer, consider that of those 3,000 media message, prospects only pay attention to around 52 of them and will “positively remember” four. Direct mail gives you the best chance to be in that Final Four.

Lastly, one more mind-blowing stat that Mastervich mentioned: 68 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds favor direct mail for receiving unsolicited promotions from unfamiliar companies. In other words, if you’re going to a potential new customer or donor, approach them via direct mail!

2. Get your postal costs under control
While staying the mail (or even growing in this channel) is recommended, there are more opportunities to be cost-effective that ever before. Ertel stated that while postage is largest single cost in direct mail, postage optimization is greatest opportunity for cost control.

Postage cost drivers include mail piece shape (letter, flat, postcard, parcel), mail piece weight (maxiums vary by class) and address quality (better addresses leads to better delivery, which leads to better return on investment). Address quality includes the crucial “3 Cs”: complete address (containing all the required elements), correct address (accuracy of all elements) and current address (keeping up with Americans on the move).

So many companies’ direct mail programs fail on the address quality issue alone, yet there are multiple USPS tools to use here, including:

  • CASS-certified address processing — DPV (Delivery Point Validation), LACS (Locatable Address Conversion System), Suite (business addresses)
  • Move Update — NCOA (National Change of Address), FASTforward, ACS (Address Correction Service

Ertel also discussed the many postage discounts that be had, such as:

  • Postal Presort — Grouping mail for efficient handling and sorting, which best supports marketers who target demographically
  • Automation — Barcoded mail that can be sorted by machine
  • Intelligent Mail — Enhanced barcodes and data management
  • Destination Entry — Trucking mail to a postal facility near its point of delivery, bypassing one or more facilities in USPS network flow

Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of DirectMarketingIQ, and he hosted this recent webinar, “Saving Major $ in the Mail.”