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Mailing List Accuracy Becomes More Stringent

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Mailers face additional penalties in not meeting new Post Service regulations requiring valid, deliverable addresses

 

The newest wrinkle from the U.S. Postal Service impacts businesses with substantial mass mailing efforts. New Mail Update regulations are intended to limit an unacceptable percentage of wrong addresses, which are costly for everyone concerned.

The key word here is "unacceptable."

Be warned: The threshold at which the Postal Service measures adequate mailing-list accuracy and the way it does it are changing dramatically.

Bad addresses already are costing businesses millions. When a letter or bill, package or flat, gets bounced as undelivered as addressed (UAA), the business and its mail house are on the hook not only for penalties, but also for poor customer communications and marketing effectiveness, lagging account receivables, fewer sales, and more unhappy customers.

As for the Postal Service, it doesn't want to eat the cost of hauling the bad stuff back to the mail facility, sorting it again, mailing it back to the mailer, and so on. It's no wonder the Postal Service has been levying compensatory costs on mailers with bad databases.

Now, as of March 1, 2018, that cost promises to become increasingly onerous--or shall we say increasingly motivating.

The old rules mandated that addresses be screened via a machine with the ungainly name of Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument. It's acronym, MERLIN, implies a certain magical ability to detect bad addresses, but in reality all these machines have been doing was randomly checking a portion of a submitted mailing list. If a generous 30 percent or more of that sample was faulty, the mailer was hit with a fee of 7 cents per piece for the percent of bad addresses above that threshold.

 

Now, the Postal Service will be leveraging its Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to check every single address a mailer submits in bulk for accuracy, not just a random sample.

Further, the allowable threshold of 30 percent of bad addresses is history. Now, if only 0.5 percent of addresses are faulty, failing to mirror Postal Services change of address (COA) records beyond a certain cutoff point, the mailer is hit with an 8 cent fee on each bad address beyond this vastly more stringent threshold.

The potential for thousands of dollars in penalties due to out-of-date mailing lists is now very real.

 

What are direct mailers to do to achieve 99.5 percent address list accuracy?

First, they should get current with all change-of-address requests ... if they can. Each year some 40 million Americans move, and only a portion bother to submit COAs, and those that are filed only gradually find their way into the Postal Service's system.

Further, mailers should assure that all addresses match official Postal Service formats of street address, apartment number, accurate city name, and the like. It's amazing how often an addressee himself doesn't know what town he lives in ("Is it Hollywood or Los Angeles?"), and these sorts of things can easily gum up a mailing list.

Yes, there are some Postal Service aids, but they're not particularly user friendly. One service allows mailers to electronically receive change-of-address information after a mailing--a little late to avoid penalties, wouldn't you say?--while another provides a database of 160 million "permanent" change-of-address records.

A "permanent" database? I saw you smile!

Fortunately there are easier, more accurate, and less bothersome solutions. 

 

·         Melissa's SmartMover cloud service provides fast, easy change-of-address processing for U.S. and international addresses that are accurate in real time. With SmartMover, direct mailers can be assured of staying on the right side of the Postal Service's new Move Update and COA regulations, while increasing customer lifetime value and mailing ROI.

·         Melissa's Address Verification Service verifies addresses in the U.S. and worldwide, also in real-time. We're talking complete, standardized, and accurate USPS addresses while correcting errors and adding in missing components like postal codes.

·        And Melissa's Personator cleans, verifies, standardizes, and completes names and addresses (as well as phone numbers and emails if you need those), matching names to addresses to authenticate the identity of a customer.

 

Staying on the right side of the U.S. Postal Service's new Move Update regulations is good business for direct mailers and mail houses. It avoids costly penalties while assuring optimal mailing accuracy and customer satisfaction.

 

And you'll want to do it with a partner who's the leader in data accuracy: Melissa.

 

How to Minimize the Effects of Postal Rate Increases

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It is that time of year again, the annual postal rate increase. There will be a rate increase averaging 1.9% for Mailing Services products and an average increase of 3.9% for most Shipping Services products (3.9% for Priority Mail and an average of 0.8% for Priority Mail Retail) starting Sunday, January 21.

 

The Mailing Services price changes include:

Product

Current

Proposed

Letters (1 oz.)   

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces    

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.) 

$1.15

$1.15

Domestic Postcards   

34 cents

35 cents

 

The domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes include:

Product

Current

Proposed

Small Flat Rate Box

$7.15

$7.20

Medium Flat Rate Box

$13.60

$13.65

Large Flat Rate Box

$18.85

$18.90

APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box

$17.35

$17.40

Regular Flat Rate Envelope

$6.65

$6.70

Legal Flat Rate Envelope

$6.95

$7.00

Padded Flat Rate Envelope

$7.20

$7.25

 

Although $0.01 may not seem like much of a price spike, the money adds up! Now, companies mailing to 20,000 individuals will incur an additional postage charge of $200 per mailing. Organizations that mail conservatively (let's four times a year) will have to budget for an extra $800 in postage, per year, for that same mailing.

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So how can you minimize the hit? Here are a few quick-fixes to help you save money:

1.      Clean your data - eliminate unnecessary waste from duplicate mailings or UAA mail

2.      Suppress your list(s) - remove individuals that match to one or all of these suppression files: Do Not Mail, Deceased or Inmate

3.      Presort your mailing lists - get the best postage rate when you mail more efficiently

With the deadline fast approaching, now is the time to figure out how you will be prepared for these changes.  Fortunately, we've got the perfect tools to help you prep and presort your mail effortlessly. Whether you are looking to clean your data, suppress your list or presort your mail, we've got you covered.

 

Here's how each of our solutions can assist you with incorporating the new postal rate changes into your business' mailing process:  

 

MAILERS+4 - CASS™, PAVE™ and SERP Certified™ Postal Automation Software will:

  • Reduce UAA mail by CASS and NCOALink® processing your mailing lists, updating outdated addresses, and verifying addresses are valid and complete
  • Add missing data like ZIP codes, carrier routes, delivery points, and suite and apt. numbers to ensure accurate and speedy deliveries
  • Eliminate duplicates to save on costs associated with waste
  • Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively

 

MAILERS Online - The Cloud-based PAVE certified Postal Software alternative will:

  • ·         Standardize, correct, and verify address data to ensure deliverability & qualify for letter and flat-sized presort and automation rates
  • ·         Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively
  • ·         Eliminate duplicate records in single mailing list to save on costs
  • ·         National Change-of-Address process your mailing list to eliminate mailing to the wrong address
  • ·         Add intelligent Mail barcodes for additional tracking

 

Presort Object - Our on-premise API solution that supports high-volume mailings will:

  • USPS PAVE Gold Certified for First Class, Marketing Mail (Standard Mail), nonprofit letters, cards, flats; automation, non-automation, non-machinable; Standard Carrier Route; and destination discounts for SCF, NDC and DDU
  • Provide palletization option for First Class and Marketing Mail for essential efficient processing of high volume mailings
  • Full Service Intelligent Mail® compliant and Mail.dat - generates iMB barcodes and all reports and e-documents necessary
  • Include a free Mail.dat License Code
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On March 22, the USPS® PAVE™ (Presort Accuracy, Validation, and Evaluation) program renewed Gold Certification for all of Melissa's presort mailing solutions. In fact, Melissa presorting solutions have been PAVE Certified for over 22 years, and we are committed to achieving this honor every year. 

Melissa PAVE Gold certified products include:

·         MAILERS+4® Standard Edition Desktop Software

·         MAILERS+4 Professional Edition Desktop Software

·         MAILERS Online - Cloud Based Postal Software Alternative

·         Presort Object® API

Products that achieve Standard certification undergo an extensive manual review to determine that all documentation including the USPS® Qualification Report, PS forms, barcoded tray and sack tags, and other user documentation meet with DMM® regulations.

Products like Melissa's presort solutions achieve Gold Certification by undergoing extensive electronic analysis in addition to the manual documentation review. Electronic evaluation allows for more rigorous and in-depth examination for each piece in the test mailing to ensure compliance.

Using a PAVE Gold Certified product gives mailers assurance that their mail will be prepared accurately and qualify for the lowest postage rates available. Melissa PAVE Certified products support First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail™ (Standard Mail®), Periodicals, and NonProfit Mail including card size, letter size, flat size, automation, non-automation, non-machinable, Standard Carrier Route, and destination discounts for SCF, NDC, and DDU.  

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