For the Direct Mail Industry, Intelligent Mail provides both a threat and a boon to the mailing operation. This can be looked at as a cost burden imposed by the USPS or can be seen as an opportunity to move direct mail operation from a cost center to an 'engine of innovation.' While spending money on compliance, companies are now exploring ways to gain multiple benefits from the use of the Intelligent Mail Barcode They are looking at Intelligent Mail as an opportunity to improve business processes around their communications with customers and leveraging Intelligent Mail to drive ROI throughout the enterprise


There are numerous benefits of mailstream visibility, outside of earning the highest postal discounts. With regards to mail efficiency, Intelligent Mail provides better scan rates, improved deliverability, more effective returned mail processing and increased customer intelligence. Further to this, when each mail piece is tracked individually, this visibility provides the precise status of the mail and the knowledge that it was delivered to the right address, to the right person, at the right time. This not only improves the integrity of mail production environment, but provides even bigger advantages such as improving customer relations and directly increasing revenue to the bottom line. Mailstream visibility can boost customer satisfaction and increase retention rates as a result of timely responses, accurate knowledge of mail status and with improved service delivery.


For direct marketers, Intelligent Mail can increase ROI by leveraging the visibility to provide increased efficiency of processes. For example, campaigns can be monitored to align delivery dates with days that deliver the most responses and give better insight into the time it takes to deliver mail throughout the country. With this information at hand, marketers can then plan campaigns that optimize 'in-home' dates, increasing overall response rates as a result.


Data address quality is another aspect of Intelligent Mail that will provide direct marketers with further benefits. A key driver for the USPS's implementation of Intelligent Mail is to reduce Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail. It comes as no surprise that this is a very costly area of direct mail, with an estimated average of approximately $3.00 per undelivered mail piece. The Intelligent Mail® Barcode makes address correction much more efficient and less costly. With the Full Service Intelligent Mail, the electronic Address Change Service (OneCode ACS is free for the first two notices for any name and address sent First-Class Mail. Utilizing this will obviously improve your overall customer data address quality and provide enormous value for improving direct marketing initiatives and throughout mailstream operations.


While initially the Intelligent Mail Barcode Mandate may generate many questions and concerns, it is important to consider long term implications for implementing the Full Service Intelligent Mail Barcode. Early adopters of this 'Full Service' implementation are realizing the positive impact within their Marketing, Customer Service and Finance Departments. In reality, the cost may not be significantly different to implement 'Full Service' over the 'Basic' Intelligent Mail Barcode and the value can provide for enormous benefits to your business, in addition to ensuring compliance and achieving maximum postal discounts. At this time of indecision, don't under estimate the potential positive impact this barcode mandate can have on your business and the multiple departments that may realize financial benefits and increased efficiency from utilizing the intelligence of the Intelligent Mail Barcode.


By Mike Cooper is vice president and general manager of mailing efficiency at Pitney Bowes Software.