USPS Postage Rates Updated 2021: Cost-Effective Mailing Solutions

Author: Brandon Jacklin, Logistics Specialist

As of August 29, 2021, the USPS has released updated postage rates (printable chart can be downloaded here). These postal rate increases will enable the USPS to provide reliable and predictable service while ensuring its financial sustainability. The plan will support a precise and efficient processing and transportation network, positioning the USPS to deliver 95 percent of all mail and packages on-time. More information about FAQ’s about USPS rate changes can be found here.

Larger Maximum Allowable Size for First-Class Postcards

A positive development for marketers, is that the new plan includes an increase in the first-class postcard maximum dimensions from 4.25 x 6” to 6 x 9”, providing additional space for information and branding.

Compared to 6″x9” marketing mail, a 6″x9” First-Class postcard offers many additional benefits including 1-5 business day delivery, return to sender, address correction, and forwarding services. Under the new plan, it also comes with a much smaller upcharge than in the past when jumping from Standard to First-Class. Postcards provide an affordable and effective way to drive business. With the ability to be highly personalized and in-home quickly at a great price, this is a wonderful opportunity for marketers.

Co-Mail, Commingle, and Drop-Shipping Options Help Keep Postage Rates Low

There are a variety of ways that a finished mail piece can be shipped to a customer. Three of the most common methods include co-mail, commingle, and drop ship. Co-mail is used for catalogs and flat-sized pieces. In this type of shipment, multiple jobs are combined, enhancing the pre-sort, which gives the customer the lowest postage price. Commingling is used for letter-sized pieces and helps to save postage while combining mailings similarly co-mail. These two methods are most cost-effective for those mailing smaller quantities. Lastly, drop shipping consolidates pallets with other pallet jobs and then delivers them to postal facilities around the country. This method is beneficial for geographically concentrated quantities as well as the ability to hit a tight in-home window. Our postal and logistics experts at Nahan are here to help you navigate which shipping option is the best for your needs.

How Nahan Provides Cost-Effective Mailing Solutions

  • Logistics expertise – We have a team of logistics experts to help our customers determine the best mailing and transportation method for their needs. The team is always on top of what’s going on with industry changes and is quick to respond.
  • Multiple shipping methods – As explained above, we have three primary shipping options: co-mail, commingle, and drop-ship, all of which our team of experts can help you choose from to best support your needs.
  • Advocating for our customers – Throughout industry changes, we remain committed to finding the best postage rates for our customers and by the best means possible relative to desired transit times and in-home dates.

The printing and direct marketing industry could not exist without the partnership of the USPS to deliver your eye-catching and action-driving piece to your consumer. The team at Nahan is here to help you find solutions to minimize postage and transportation costs and drive improved marketing return on investment (ROI).

USPS Promotions – A Great Way to Engage Customers and Save on Postage

Author: Jen Bender, Senior Account Executive

Client engagement with your brand, products, and services begins at the mailbox. The look and feel of the piece you are mailing needs to draw in the consumer and make them want to open the package. 

USPS Promotions provide a great opportunity to engage customers, while saving on postage. We recently shared the 2021 USPS Postal Promotions calendar, which highlights the upcoming postal promotions for this year. In this blog, we are featuring two promotions that have been of particular interest to many of our customers.

Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Promotion

The Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Promotion (TSI) encourages sensory engagement with the physical mail piece using technical advances within the direct marketing industry.  Categories that qualify within this promotion include – specialty inks, specialty papers and interactive mail piece design.

The addition of a visual or textural element(s) can create intrigue for the recipient.  The addition of these treatments – like soft touch or sandpaper on the envelope or the addition of a lenticular card on the letter – can boost client interaction with the mail piece.

Treatments can be applied to the envelope and/or the mail piece but must be both visible and distinguishable and must meet automation compatibility requirements. The TSI promotion runs February 1, 2021 through July 31, 2021 and approved pieces receive a 2% postage discount.

Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion

The Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion integrates direct mail with advances in technology.  This promotion incorporates Enhanced Augmented Reality, Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology, Virtual Reality, and other digital methods to enhance your direct mail piece.

Creating an omnichannel marketing experience for your audience can accentuate your marketing strategy.  For example, add your logo, image or icon to the piece to create an interactive experience for the client by featuring a new product or service. 

The Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion runs March 1, 2021 – August 31, 2021.  Approved mail pieces quality for a 2% postage discount.

Getting Started with USPS Promotions

Our team is happy help you learn more about USPS Promotions and how to get started. Reach out to your Sales Representative, Account Executive or Account Manager for additional details as there are rules and restrictions that apply.

Bio: Jen Bender is a Senior Account Executive at Nahan. Jen has over 20 years of direct marketing experience and she enjoys working with clients to bring their direct marketing initiatives to the next level. Jen and her husband have two children and as family, they enjoy cheering on the team her husband coaches. Jen also enjoys reading, writing, and music.

How Often People Check Their Mailbox and Other Fun Facts

Author: Melissa Fransen

Every day I stop at our mailbox to get our mail.

I’m also signed up for USPS Informed Delivery emails, so I get an email each morning that contains details of what we’ll be receiving that day in our mailbox.

The catalogs we receive typically end up on the end table in our living room to browse through. In fact, at this present moment, we have about 10 catalogs that we plan to look through again this weekend so we can place some Holiday gift orders. I also have a number of direct mail offers I’ve kept as well and I have those in an organizer in the corner of our kitchen cupboard.

As I was walking down my driveway the other day to get my mail, I started wondering about my mail habits and how closely they match other people’s habits. So, I decided to do some research.

How Often Do People Check Their Mailbox
Photo: cottonbro from Pexels

How Often People Check Their Mailbox

According to the USPS, 98% of people visit their mailbox every day to get their mail and 77% of people sort through their mail immediately. According to a study the USPS conducted, most consumers set aside time each day to sit down with their mail and on average, they spend 30 minutes with catalogs and 25 minutes with direct mail! Here is another interesting statistic, according to a report from MultiChannel Merchant regarding Holiday shopping this year, 37% of people have become more excited to receive their mail and 30% are spending more time reading promotional messages from the mail than before the pandemic.

Informed Delivery

According to a recent update from USPS, over 20% of U.S. households are now signed up for USPS Informed Delivery and the subscription rate is growing with over 350,000 new subscribers weekly. 79% of Informed Delivery users are engaging with the daily emails and 82% of these users are engaging in the mornings.  According to the USPS update we received, the emails are generating a 68% Email Open Rate (which is over 3 times higher than the industry average email open rate of 18%) and a 2-6% Click Through Rate. As a marketer, those stats get me excited!

Other Fun Facts

Here are some other fun facts/statistics I found interesting:

Looking to Stand Out in the Mailbox?

At Nahan, we are proud to offer award-winning catalog and direct marketing services as a part of our product offering. If you are in interested in learning more, contact us today!

Bio: Melissa Fransen is our Marketing Manager. She started with Nahan in May of 2017. Melissa is responsible for Nahan’s marketing initiatives, which includes everything from conference planning to social media initiatives. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Cover photo by Sean Patrick from Pexels

Printing 101 Series – Common Printing Terms: Postal Glossary

Author: Melissa Fransen

In the print industry, like any industry, there are a lot of acronyms and terms that are used and that is why we are here to help! In this blog, we’ll explore common printing postal terms.

Common Printing Postal Terms

Aspect Ratio (Letters only) – The length of the mailer divided by the height. For letter-rate mail this is required or an upcharge in postage will be incurred.

Bulk Mail – This term is generally used to describe commercial, business, or advertising mail. First-Class Mail presort requires a minimum of 500 pieces for each mailing. USPS Marketing Mail (previously Standard Mail) requires 200 pieces or 50 pounds for each mailing to qualify for presort discounts.

Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) – The area of or individual postal facility where mailers present commercial and permit mail for acceptance.

Carrier Route Mail – The routes where individual USPS carriers deliver mail. They are much smaller than ZIP Codes, with roughly fifteen Carrier Routes per postal ZIP Code. They are useful in helping to reduce direct mail marketing costs while increasing response rates.

CoMailing (Flats only) – Is the process of merging individual mail pieces from multiple mailing streams into a single mailing stream. This process improves the USPS delivery sortation characteristics of the total mailing which reduces postage and the number of times mail pieces are handled within the USPS.

Commingling (Letters only) – Is a process by which mailings from more than one company are combined to meet USPS discount minimums for quantity for mailings to NDC/SCF locations. Sorting the mail by zip code in much larger volumes reduces postage.

Flat – This term is used to describe large envelopes, newsletters, or catalogs. Flats must have one dimension that is greater than 6 1/8” high or 11 ½” long or ¼ inch thick. Aspect Ratio does not apply.

Indicia/Mailing Permit – Imprinted designation on mail piece that denotes postage payment (e.g., permit imprint). Minimum size of ½ x ½”. A printed indicia, instead of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp that shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.

Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) –  Is used to sort and track letters and flats. It allows mailers to use a single barcode to participate in multiple Postal Service programs simultaneously and assists in the tracking of individual mail pieces.

Letter-Rate – This is the rate charged to what the USPS determines to be letter sized pieces.  Here is a link to a USPS rate chart for easy reference to letter rate criteria and more.

NCOA National Change of Address –  Is a USPS service that makes available current change of address information that can help reduce your undeliverable mail.

Network Distribution Center (NDC) – The NDC network consists of strategically located automated facilities that serve as centralized mail processing and transfer points for designated geographic areas, including Area Distribution Centers (ADCs), Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs), and auxiliary service facilities (ASFs).

Non-Machinable Mail – First-Class Mail letters, that are nonmachinable, USPS Marketing Mail letters that are square, rigid or have one or more nonmachinable characteristics are subject to the nonmachinable surcharge.

Examples of a nonmachinable letter include:

  • It has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5 (a square envelope has an aspect ratio of 1, making it nonmachinable).
  • It is more than 4-1/4 inches high or more than 6 inches long and is less than 0.009 inch thick.
  • It has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
  • It is too rigid.
  • It has a delivery address parallel to the shorter side of the mailpiece.
  • It contains items such as pens, pencils, or keys that create an uneven thickness.

Letters with non-paper surfaces, other than envelope windows or attachments that are allowed under eligibility standards by class of mail.

Presorted Mail – A form of mail preparation, required to bypass certain postal operations, in which the mailer groups pieces in a mailing by ZIP Code or by carrier route or carrier walk, qualifying for automation rates. Presorted First-Class Mail is a nonautomation category for a mailing that consists of at least 500 addressed mail pieces.

Sectional Center Facility (SCF) – This is where mail is combined with other mail geographically by zip code prefixes so it can travel to a larger regional facility called a NDC (Network Distribution Center). (Travels from a NDC to the SCF then to the local facility for delivery).

Sortation – To separate mail by a scheme or ZIP Code range; to separate and place mail into a carrier case; to distribute mail by piece, package, bundle, sack, or pouch, for distribution to its final delivery point.

USPS Tracking –  An extra service (for example, TrackMyMail) purchased by mailers to have their mail piece scanned to record the final scan from the SCF to the local facility for delivery. Extra services fees are in addition to postage.

Walk Sequence – This is where the mail is provided in the exact order (in the line of travel that the carrier delivers in his/her route) in which it is to be delivered so the carrier does not need to sort the mail, resulting in time and cost savings for the USPS.

Nahan is Here to Help!

Questions? Our friendly Sales Team is always here to help with unfamiliar terms and to guide you along the way! Contact us any time.

Bio: Melissa Fransen is our Marketing Manager. She started with Nahan in May of 2017. Melissa is responsible for Nahan’s marketing initiatives, which includes everything from conference planning to social media initiatives. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

How to Show ROI on Your Next Print Project

Author: Melissa Fransen, Marketing Manager

Hello fellow marketers! Whether you are new to marketing or have been in the field your entire career, there is one thing that we are all probably familiar with measuring for the campaigns we develop and execute; ROI. For social media marketing, the data is right at our fingertips as we can see impressions, click through rates, and engagement %. For email marketing, we can see open rates, clicks, and conversions. In Google Analytics, we can see website traffic driven from organic, direct, and referral sources, but what about print as a part of an omni-channel strategy? Here are some great ways to measure and show ROI on your next print project!

1. Use the Power of Your Data

 

Have you heard the term Variable Data Printing or sometimes referred to as VDP? If not, variable data printing allows your printed piece to be customized to the individual. Basically, it’s the opportunity for 1:1 marketing using print. With VDP, you can personalize the printed piece based on data, including everything from personalized imagery to custom offers. On a recent case study with one of our customers, when they personalized their mailing to the individuals they saw a 3X sales lift compared to a control group that was not personalized. What a huge success!

When you think about your next campaign, think about ways you might be able to use the power of your data. I know as a consumer, I love when marketing is tailored directly to me and my interests. I want offers and coupons that are relevant to what I purchase vs. a generic offer where I have no interest.

If you are using a coupon on your next print project, be sure to use an individualized offer code so you know the coupon was redeemed. This will also allow you to track redemption rates and sales per mailer.

Here are a few ideas for your next project:

  • Maps to the nearest store location
  • Abandoned cart item coupon
  • Offers specific to something your customer has purchased in the past
  • Special incentive for birthdays

 

2. Unique Landing Pages

 

By creating specific landing pages for your mailings, you can track the ROI from your landing page perspective and will be able to see how many people visit that particular page  There are a number of ways to drive consumers to your page; it might be a QR code or listing the URL in your text. To take it even further, you can also create a PURL (Personalized URL). To maximize your impact, create a compelling incentive for the recipient to visit the page to drive the biggest result.

 

3. Informed Delivery

 

Have you heard of Informed Delivery? If not, to sum it up, this is a relatively new FREE service from the USPS where individuals can sign up for daily emails of what is being delivered to them in the mail each day. I am personally signed up and I really like it since it gives me a glimpse of what to expect in my mailbox when I arrive home.

From a marketer’s perspective, when we set up Informed Delivery campaigns, we are able to attach an image to the printed piece (they call it a ride-along image) and a URL of your choice will also be attached to the campaign. In a nutshell, the individual that receives the email will see the URL and can click on the link to drive them to your site before they even receive the mail piece at home! The USPS will then provide a report of opens and click through for the campaign. When using this service, a marketer can drive a response before the mail even arrives in the mailbox – a great ROI advantage! Contact us to learn more about this great offering and the best part is that we can even help you get the campaign set up. The USPS offers postal incentives each year, and there have been a number of postal incentives for Informed Delivery recently, so be sure to check out the incentives as well, to see if you can qualify for a postal discount!

Are you interested in reviewing the case study that we referenced above? Contact us today for a copy! Also, if you are interested in learning how our customers are utilizing variable data to maximize their campaigns, request a sample pack today.

Bio: Melissa Fransen is our Marketing Manager. She started with Nahan in May of 2017. Melissa is responsible for Nahan’s marketing initiatives, which includes everything from conference planning to social media initiatives. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

5 Benefits of Working with a Centrally Located Printer

Author: Matt Deibler, National Sales Representative

 

Print buyers and marketing execution leaders have more variables to consider than ever before. Choosing the right partner is critical and it’s not always an easy decision.  You want to ensure that you identify a printer who has the right mix of capabilities and resources to support the unique needs of your business. You also want to think strategically about where your chosen vendor is positioned geographically. How will this impact the effectiveness of your campaigns? What kinds of advantages or disadvantages does your printer’s location present?

Here are five key benefits that I see in working with a centrally located printer:

 

1) Proximity to Mills

It’s no secret that over the last couple of years, the paper market has become quite volatile. Prices have risen and we have experienced several cycles of tightening supply. Choosing a vendor located near the paper mills is beneficial as it offers greater flexibility. With relationships at the mill level, we are better equipped to service the needs of clients with tight deadlines.  Our location allows us to more effectively locate stock and negotiate on its pricing and delivery.

 

2) Postal Savings

Postage is the single most expensive component of any direct mail campaign, yet it still receives very little attention from many marketing execution leaders. The perception seems to be that postage/distribution is a fixed cost applied equally among all vendors and it is often overlooked during the partner evaluation process. But not all vendors are built the same when it comes to postage and freight and a central location does create distinct advantages. USPS entry discounts (through NDC and SCF sortation) are available to everyone. That being said, it’s not very efficient to drop ship mail from an east coast distribution point to the west coast.  The cost of freight often outweighs the savings on postage. If you are working with national mail files, you will want to ensure that you are aligned with a centrally located printer to handle your mail plan. It’s a huge opportunity to put money back in your budget.

 

3) Speed to Market

In this technology driven age that we live in, speed is everything. If you want higher conversion rates you will need to capitalize on your windows of opportunity as quickly as you can. Speed to market matters. Choosing the right partner to execute on your print and distribute your product in a timely fashion is essential to success in today’s market. Centrally located printers like Nahan have the ability to connect to all points of the country in equal time. So whether your prospect is in FL, CA, WA or NY we can reach them, and we can do so within a time frame that optimizes response.

 

4) In-Home Predictability

Speed is just one element of in-home timing. There are a lot of direct mail vendors who are equipped to push a project through their plant and out into the mail stream quickly, but very few are skilled at targeting and hitting specific, predefined in-home windows. This can make or break a campaign. If you are advertising a dated promotion, sale or offer you are restricted to a defined response period and it’s critical that you make the most of it.  As I mentioned earlier, a central location provides better options with freight and postal and it allows for a more strategic approach with mail planning. If you wish to validate the timing of delivery, most vendors have access to tracking services that can be applied to your campaigns. We use them frequently to gauge our own performance.

 

5) Fulfillment

Fulfillment is a major growth area in our business here at Nahan; it’s a no brainer based upon our location. Whether your need is trigger mail execution, kitting or distribution of inventoried promotional products, it makes sense to align with a centrally located partner. It’s about freight and distribution and that applies to product coming in as well as product going out. Plus, warehouse space is generally more affordable in the Midwest, so it’s a win from all angles.

 

Bio: Matt Deibler is a National Sales Representative based out of Chapel Hill, NC.  He joined Nahan in April of 2018. Matt manages relationships with direct mail clients in all parts of the country.  In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, his two year old son, Malachi and his new baby daughter Reagan.  He is an avid fan of college football and he loves to travel and blog about his life experiences.

5 Stats About Direct Mail’s Persuasive Power

Ads surround the average person from the minute they check their smartphone in the morning until it goes on the charger at night. It’s been well-reported (and debated) that we see 4,000 plus ads a day, filling our screens and vying for our attention. What should your brand do to rise above the clutter of marketing messages? The numbers say direct mail, and here are five stats to prove it.

1. 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet.

According to USPS, 69% of people find direct mail to be more personal than email and other digital messaging/ads. Even the subtlest personalization techniques can make a big difference. And with variable data direct mail, this personalization becomes scalable.

Not only is direct mail more personal, it is also more memorable than digital media. When tested, it was found consumer’s brand recall was 70% higher when shown a direct mail piece as opposed to a digital ad. Because physical media leaves a deeper footprint in the brain. If a consumer can see and touch a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.

2. 98% of Americans check their mail every day.

Some marketers may worry direct mail will go unread and never leave the mailbox. Numbers from the U.S. Postal Service prove that wrong. Do you think the same can be said for email inboxes? Even with the instant accessibility of texts, emails, and social media, a large crowd still appreciates the novelty and personal touch of a letter in the mail.

3. 76% of consumers trust direct mail.

MarketingSherpa asked 1,200 consumers to mark what channels of advertising they trust on the path to purchase. Traditional means dominated, with newspaper and print ads coming in first at 82%, TV finishing second with 80% and direct mail taking home bronze with 76% trust. Refreshingly free of privacy violations, direct mail may be the solution to reach guarded, tech-weary customers.

4. 73% of advertising mail gets read or scanned.

Think your marketing letter enters the mailbox holding a one-way ticket to the wastebasket? Think again. An investigation into mail use and attitudes by the USPS revealed nearly three-fourths of households at least glance at their direct mail. That number soars even higher when the message caters to the recipient’s lifestyle and interests. Boost your brand’s read rates by pinpointing your prospect’s age, income, gender, home value, hobbies and more with variable data direct mail.

5. Its response rate beats other channels.

A 2017 study by the DMA (Data & Measurement Conference) found direct mail’s response rate was 2.9% for prospect lists and 5.1% for house lists. Compare that to a 0.6% response rate for email marketing, 0.6% for paid search, 0.4% for social media and 0.2% for online display. Direct mail not only allows you to get into your prospect’s households and in their hands, but it also develops a meaningful connection.

Want to put these numbers to work for your marketing plan? See the eye-opening direct mail pieces we’ve brought to life for an array of clients and visit our marketing services page for more information on getting started!