April 18 2023 05:05 AM

As a print/mail service provider or in-house print/mail facility, your company probably does a great job. You make sure the mail you prepare meets postal regulations, goes out on time, and qualifies for the lowest postage rates appropriate for your mailings. Is that enough? Should you be satisfied with doing those basic things, or is there a chance to do something more? How can you improve the mail you send on behalf of your internal and external clients?

Professionals in the mailing business tend to focus on the manufacturing aspects of mail. This is necessary because high-volume mail is very much a manufacturing process. Efficient and accurate mail processing is critical if transactional or marketing mail is to produce the results your customers want. But maybe it's worthwhile to take a look at what you’re mailing and to whom you send it. Think beyond the mechanical aspects of mail and envision steps you can take to change the impact of the mail pieces you distribute. What can you do to help customers use the mail to meet their business objectives?

No Real Barriers

The tools to make mail better already exist. We have access to the data behind the mail pieces, even if it's necessary to extract it from the print files. Mailers can also enhance mailing files with additional data if it enables more effective communication. We can segment, personalize, and filter to make sure each mail piece has a good chance to be successful. We can track the mail, include it in a multi-channel communication strategy, and more.

Better Targeting

One way mail service providers can make mail better is with improved targeting and segmentation. This applies mostly to marketing mail but can be beneficial for transactional mail as well, with transpromo messages. Raise the ROI of a mail campaign by making sure each mail piece you create is delivered to an individual that matches the profile of the desired audience. The criteria for targeted content will be different for every application.

I can recall working with an electric utility company that would repeatedly send mail to foreign addresses. That made sense for some messages to customers who lived in Europe but owned property in the local area. It made little sense for mailings promoting local in-person events that would be over before the mail reached the foreign recipients, like a lightbulb exchange or a community concert.

Document Effectiveness

Another area where you might improve the mail is with the design of the mail piece itself. Is it easy to read? Do critical elements like due dates and amounts stand out? Is there a clear call to action? Would the addition of graphics or charts improve comprehension, increase engagement, or enhance the customer experience? Are you enclosing return envelopes for individuals enrolled in autopay? Is there extra space for promotional, informational, or educational messages?

I redesigned one high-volume document for a client that resulted in a 30% reduction in the number of printed pages while maintaining readability and compliance with regulatory guidelines. All we did was adjust the margins, orient the content in columns, and reduce the font size. The jobs printed faster, inserted faster, and saved the company money on paper, ink, and processing fees. Not a single customer complained.

Multi-Channel Integration

Are your bill-print clients convincing their customers to convert to paperless bills? What happens if customers don’t open their notification emails within a prescribed period? You might suggest to your clients that you send paper bills to the ebill non-openers and improve their cash flow. The same method can apply to email marketing campaigns. Have your client set a trigger in their CRM or marketing automation system to send you data on prospects that haven’t opened the last four marketing emails they sent. You can enroll these non-responders in a series of direct mail postcards and re-establish a connection with a prospective customer for your clients!

While we’re on the subject of connecting digital and physical communication channels, examine the mail you’re sending for your clients. See if adding a QR code will enhance the messaging on the direct mail marketing piece, correspondence, or transactional document. Help your clients take advantage of the power of multi-channel in a simple and low-cost way.

Postal Promotions

Another way to improve how your clients use the mail is by helping them qualify for the USPS promotions that lower mailing costs with postage discounts of up to five percent. Learn about the promotions here in Mailing Systems Technology or at https://postalpro.usps.com/promotions/2023-promo-calendar.

Tracking and Statistics

Once the mail leaves your facility, you can still add value by tracking the mail for your clients. Use data provided by the USPS Informed Visibility program and schedule client meetings to show them the delivery statistics for their mail. If they aren’t familiar with the tracking functionality enabled by the intelligent mail barcode, you will impress them.

These are just a few of the ways you can make mail better for your internal or external clients. Once you concentrate on the mission of the mail you’re sending, more ideas will become obvious. Your efforts to improve mail’s performance can generate new revenue opportunities that make up for the lower mail volumes some of these strategies create. If you’re adding value, you deserve to be paid. Outsource service providers will distinguish their companies from the competition by making mail better and in-house mail operations will enhance their standing within the organization.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at mporter@printmailconsultants.com.

This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2023 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.