If you haven’t examined your postage costs in the past year, you’re probably spending more than you need to. If you’re still processing mail manually — or making regular runs to the local post office — an automated postage meter is the first step to streamlining the process. If you’re already using a meter, you should still re-evaluate your current contract to ensure you’re getting the maximum value for your postage dollar.

Tips to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of your mailing process:

1. Avoid hidden fees. Since the USPS® tightly governs postage meters, everyone must rent from one of four approved manufacturers. There is a specific postage meter for every business — even small offices with low mail volume. However, the meter rental fee is just a starting point for a price comparison. Read the fine print carefully before signing any mailing system rental agreement. Avoid vendors who assess unnecessary hidden costs, such as reset and download fees.

If you currently rent a postage meter from a major US vendor — or purchase your postage online — you probably pay a fee with each postage purchase or a monthly usage fee. Watch out for extra charges such as account inactivity and overdraft fees. If you’re paying for these items, you’re paying too much.

2. Be automation-ready. You can save substantially with mailing envelopes that can be automatically processed by postal service machines. The USPS has published shape-and-size pricing to encourage businesses to do so. These postal rates are based on the size, thickness and weight of the mail piece.

For example, a non-standard 6” x 6” envelope requires the same postage as a large flat envelope — and cost you up to 30% more. You also pay a premium when using large flat envelopes, even if the weight is less than 3.5 ounces. However, just by folding those documents to accommodate a 6” x 9” or standard #10 envelope, you can reduce postage costs significantly.

If you’re unsure about the cost of particular size or shape of mail, visit the USPS website, or contact a mail piece design analyst (MDA), located in larger local post offices.

3. Adjust content accordingly. If you have room to spare in an envelope — within weight and thickness limits — add a supplemental marketing piece. For example, if you’re already sending monthly statements to clients, consider adding promotional content, like flyers, brochures and inserts, to cross-sell other products or services.

On the other hand, if your mail piece is slightly over the limit for a particular pricing level, converting a two-page document to a two-sided document can reduce the weight just enough to make the difference.

4. Use postcards instead. Postcards yield outstanding return on investment, as they’re less expensive to produce, print and mail than a standard letter. A letter not only carries the cost of printing but also the production cost of stuffing the envelopes. Postcards can also be mailed for as little as $.33 in postage, whereas letters cost $.46 each.

5. Update mailing lists regularly. An undeliverable address is not only lost money from wasted postage. Greater than that, it’s a lost sales opportunity for your marketing piece. Yet, the USPS reports nearly 25% of mail contains some sort of error. It’s also not uncommon for an organization to have a 5% returned-mail rate. These expenses add up, including returned mail fees and additional postage for re-mailing.

USPS-approved address validation tools can eliminate these negative impacts. They can also qualify your mail for presort automation discounts. For instance, a licensed company can compare your list against the current USPS database for a reasonable fee. You’re provided with a report of any changes — as well as a cleaned, updated copy of your list. Merge/purge software can also combine your mailing list while eliminating duplicate addresses.

For more information on your organizations mailing, contact MCC’s Mailing Solutions Division to make sure you are sending your mail the most cost effective way possible! 

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