Bulk mail is a discounted mailing service offered by the United States Postal Service for people who prepare and ship large quantities of mail at a time. If you regularly send out uniform-sized mailings in volume, there are discounts to be had in all classes of bulk mail.
Postage rates have been on the rise regularly these recent years. To economize on your mailings, you need to determine the following:
- Narrow your target market by profiling your customers and obtaining targeted lists to those individuals.
- Determine the rate and size class of mail to use (First Class, Presort Standard, Letter size, Non-letter size, Post Card, etc.).
- Consider the content of your mailing (the message, reply card, reply envelope, courtesy reply, business reply, etc.).
The size and shape of your mailer will have a large bearing on the production costs at the printers as well as the mail service and postage costs. The design of the mailer may require none, single or multiple sealing tabs and will determine the size of those tabs.
A new change that you may be noticing on mail coming to your mailbox is the “Intelligent Barcode.” This barcoding system incorporates information, including routing data, the type of ancillary service required, mailer identification, tracking and sequencing number. This coding is seen as bars ascending as well as descending, unlike the previous one, which had short and tall ascending characters.
Are you aware of the regulation that is in effect for Presort Standard mail? This regulation basically states “Any mail being sent out at bulk rate discounts must have had its mailing list cleaned by one of the post office’s approved methods within the previous 95 days, or the mailing cannot receive discounted rates.” The reason for this regulation is the attempt to minimize undeliverable mail. Up to now, the post office has had an enormous amount of mail that cannot be delivered as addressed. This mail is forwarded, returned or brought back to the station for disposal.
There are several methods by which this regulation can be met. A few of the most popular are:
- Address the mail to “Resident” or add to the address “Or Current Occupant.” When using this method, the letter will remain at the given address, even if the named recipient is not there. This method is not wise for letters you only want received by the named recipient.
- Add to your mailer a postal ancillary service request, such as “Address Service Request,” “Return Service Requested,” etc. These service requests will either forward or return the mailer along with an update of the individual’s new address. Fees may be attached depending on the class of mail and the service requested. The advantage of this method is that it keeps you current after each mailing.
- Have your mailing list processed through National Change of Address services. This method swiftly and electronically matches your mailing list with that of the post office’s National Change of Address database. When a match is found, the new address is supplied. This method maximizes the delivery of all your letters, eliminating wasted printing, postage and services for undelivered mail. The advantage of this method is for lists used seldom or specifically outside the 95-day period. One may wish to update an old list by this method to get a good base started, then convert to the ancillary method if your mailing frequency is less than 95 days apart.
Each of the above methods has a particular set of fees related. The best method is one that has to be determined based on individual requirements.
Bulk mailing can be very effective when done properly. The best way to make sure you design your mailing project most efficiently is to consult a professional mailing service to receive help in choosing the best mailing list, piece design and service requirements.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of four columns about bulk mailing. Look for other columns related to this topic in future issues.