Surprise, It’s Time for the January Postal Rate Increase
In keeping with its own tradition, the United States Postal Service is proposing to raise rates at the end of January. Oh, who are they kidding? It’s not a proposal, they will be raising rates, but by how much, and what can we do as marketers to make sure that we get the most bang for our postage buck?
The increase that draws the biggest gasp is the increase from $.50 to $.55 for a first-class Forever stamp. Seems like a huge jump, and it is, but they lowered the cost for additional ounce weight in first-class pieces from $.21 to $.15 per ounce to help offset the stamp increase. Other increases vary, depending on the product you are looking for. The product we care most about in the Casino Industry is Mailing Services, and that will increase 2.9% overall.
Here is an abbreviated look at the changes in the most common Marketing Services per piece rates:
1st-Class Forever Stamp
1st-Class Non-Automation Presort
1st-Class Automation National Rate
1st-Class Automation 3-Digit Sort
Marketing Mail Automation National Rate
Marketing Mail Automation 3-Digit Sort
Marketing Mail Automation “Local” 3-Digit Sort
1st-Class Post Card Stamp (4.25×6 max size)
As you can see, none of the sorted rate changes are as drastic as the stamp, but over the course of a year’s worth of direct mail, you could rack up an additional several thousand dollars in postage.
The first place to start for increased postage savings is in the use of Marketing Mail (this is the new name for Standard Mail) instead of first-class.
This requires diligent planning and scheduling to allow more time for travel through the mail stream, but saves over 30% in postage costs. Try to keep the use of first-class mail to a minimum, unless you are sending out a 4.25×6 post card. A stamp for this size mailer is only $.35 and the sorted rates are even less; no increase in pricing for this product this year!
The next item to review for increased postage savings is the quality of the address records in your database.
Are you mailing to your players at their correct addresses? National Change of Address looks at individuals who told the post office they were moving and provided a new address, but it is only a rolling 48-month record. What about individuals who moved more than 48 months ago, or the ones who moved but didn’t tell the post office? This happens more often than you think; they moved and left the catalogs behind, called their creditors themselves, and updated their address with the essential services.
There are affordable options to help find these individuals as well. You can also audit your data for deceased individuals, those who have moved to nursing homes, and even those who are in jail or prison. No sense mailing to any of these individuals. Make sure you are not.
Here are some other areas of consideration to increase postage savings:
- Send out mailers that speak to the recipients; offers they care about. Not every player needs to get every mailer if it doesn’t offer something they want.
- Make sure the players you are mailing to have enough value to pay for the mailers you send them. Over the course of a year it all adds up.
- Verify that your mailers are the proper size for the lowest postage rates.
- Carefully consider practicality in the creative of the mailers; only use colors and fonts compatible with postal machinery in the address area.
Postage rates will continue to go up every year, but there is no sense in paying postage that is not necessary. Be diligent with your data and design. Work with your mailer to make sure that your mail pieces meet all postal automation requirements. And, as I always say, your data is your most valuable asset. Take care of it and use it properly, and you will keep all your costs in check.
Go to csgdirect.com to download a free listing of the updated postage rates for 2019.