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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.  

Looking for Geo-Referenced Data You Can Integrate in a Flash?

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Global GeoPostcode data provides a common dataset structure for all countries, containing all localities, ZIP/postal codes, administrative divisions, statistical units, reference codes, time zones, elevations and, for selected countries, neighborhoods, suburbs and streets. All data are geo-referenced and available in local language, transliterated English and non-accented ASCII versions.


Global GeoPostcode data can be integrated into professional software, websites and mobile applications, and can be used to generate statistics, complete addresses, validate forms, and more.

 

Learn more:

http://www.melissa.com/reference-data/index.html#4

MAILERS Online: On Demand & In the Cloud Presorting

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Say hello to a no-contract, end-to-end mailing solution that's in the cloud and easy to use. MAILERS Online is a one-stop-shop for all your mailing and presort needs, where you can upload your text or Excel® files to our server and let Melissa take it from there. We'll presort your list, based on your selected parameters, to get you the lowest postage rates! MAILERS Online is a flexible, on-demand, software as a service (SaaS).

 

There is nothing to install and MAILERS Online never requires disks or updates. Use on a list-by-list basis--with no contract or subscription, you're never locked in. Use NCOA to locate customers who've moved; clean and verify address data to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail; and append missing data like ZIP® Codes, carrier routes, and suite numbers for stronger targeting and more efficient processing and delivery.

 

Find out what can MAILERS Online do for you today:

http://www.melissadata.com/service/presort/uploadws.aspx

Melissa Data Offers Free Palletization in MAILERS+4

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Rancho Santa Margarita, CALIF- May 12, 2015 - Melissa Data, a leading provider of contact data quality and address management solutions, today announced the phase one release of Palletization options for MAILERS+4 postal automation software. Palletization makes it easier to store and organize high volumes of First-Class and Standard Mail, and is available to new customers free for one full year.MAILERS+4 with Palletization provides flexibility for bulk mail customers who are constantly challenged with complex sorting, organizing and transporting mail in the most efficient ways possible; the solution directly addresses the difficult task of working with multiple trays or bulky sacks, while minimizing costs for shipping and associated labor.

 

For more info, please visit our website.




SmartMover Updates Business and Individual Addresses; Ensures Compliance with New Canadian Mail Laws Requiring In-Country NCOA Processing


Rancho Santa Margarita, CALIF. - August 12, 2014 - Melissa Data, a leading provider of contact data quality and data enrichment solutions, today announced SmartMover, its cloud-based NCOA service, now provides Canadian change-of-address processing, as well as U.S. address updates for individuals, families, and companies that have recently moved. SmartMover compares address data in real time*, updating existing customer information against more than 160 million address changes recorded in the USPS® NCOALink® (National Change of Address) database, representing permanent change-of-address records filed in the U.S. within the last 48 months. SmartMover also matches data against over 10 million change-of-address records filed by Canadian households and businesses within the last 72 months. SmartMover complies with Canada's new licensing regulation requiring NCOA processing to be handled on Canadian soil.

"More than 40 million individuals, families and businesses move annually in the U.S. alone, about 14 percent of the country's population. For mailers and data processors, maintaining current address information in such a dynamic environment presents a significant challenge and warrants a data quality strategy optimized to reduce costs and undeliverable mail," said Chris Rowe, VP of Data Enhancement Services at Melissa Data. "Melissa Data is one of only 13 vendors licensed by Canada Post to provide Canadian NCOA so mailers can stay in contact with customers in both Canada and the U.S."

As a cloud-based service, SmartMover is available 24/7 for fast, safe, and secure processing with the ability to handle more than one million records per hour. The service also standardizes, parses, and validates addresses, whether or not it updates the record with a new address. In addition to the SmartMover cloud solution, end-users can access U.S. and Canadian change-of-address processing by sending files via email to Melissa Data's service bureau or by setting up fully- automated NCOA workflows via FTP.

Mailing lists processed through the NCOALink service meet the USPS Move- Update requirement for a period of 95 days from the date of processing and mailing, necessary for First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail® postal discounts.

Click here to request a free trial of Melissa Data's SmartMover cloud-based change-of-address service, or call 1-800-MELISSA (635-4772) for more information.

*Melissa Data receives weekly NCOALink updates from the USPS.

News Release Library


Notorious ZIP Codes

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ZIP codes are something that people have learned to live with, something that simply needs to be looked up whenever filling out a form or sending a letter. While they may be of tremendous help when it comes to shortening the time a letter spends in transit, the average consumer often doesn't have room in their memory for any ZIP code other than their own.

Other ZIP codes in the U.S. have developed a certain kind of notoriety, however, either for their rate of celebrities per capita or for being unique in some way. These ZIP codes stand out from the pack and have managed to ingrain themselves in the American collective consciousness one way or another.

We have an infographic, provided by VirtualPhone-Number.com, that covers a few of these ZIP codes and explains the history and details that make them stand out. From 10001 to 90210, these five-digit sequences may sound familiar for good reason. These standouts are located on both sides of the country and in one strange case, even floats above the water.

Take a look at this interesting bit of geography trivia and you might learn something new about what makes this half-dozen pack of ZIP codes a part of Americana:



Infographic by Ivan Serrano


Canada Post Restructures Business Model - to Survive

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By Abby Garcia Telleria

It looks like even Canada's postal service isn't immune from what's plagued the USPS®. In a stunning (and eerily similar) move, Canada Post recently announced it would phase out home delivery in its urban centers within the next five years. Like its U.S. counterpart, Canada Post has also faced mounting losses and declining mail volume, mostly due to the rising use of digital communication and soaring pension costs.

Under its new plan, Canada Post will replace door-to-door delivery with community mail boxes. Residents will instead, go to a group mail box to collect mail and parcels. About one third of Canadian households still receive mail at their door. The other two thirds already get their mail through community mailboxes or at curbside rural mailboxes.

Eliminating home delivery is just part of the post's "Five-Point Action Plan" to return its system to financial sustainability by 2019. The Canada Post cited a recent Conference Board of Canada study as a reason to act now, rather than later. The study projected close to $1 billion in losses by 2020 - a significant financial punch in the gut, unless the post makes serious fundamental changes to its operations.

"If left unchecked, continued losses would soon jeopardize its financial self-sufficiency and become a significant burden on taxpayers and customers," according to a statement from Canada Post.

The move definitely makes sense. According to the Associated Press, gradually weeding out door delivery service would save Canada Post roughly $542 million ($576 million in Canadian dollars) a year.

Here's the lowdown on other points to Canada Post's plan:

  • Change its pricing structure to reflect higher postal rates
  • Expand postal franchises to strengthen its retail network
  • Cut 6,000 to 8,000 jobs to streamline its operations and create a leaner workforce

The Parallels Stop There

While Canada Post's push for financial recovery is similar to the plight of the U.S. Postal Service - there are some underlying differences. For one, Canada Post doesn't have to ask the Canadian government for approval to make changes on how it runs its operations. According to Canada Post, the organization has a mandate from the federal government to fund its operations with revenues from the sale of its products and services, rather than taxpayer money.

So unlike the USPS, Canada Post isn't mired in congressional red tape. Earlier this year, USPS proposed cost-cutting initiatives that included discontinuing Saturday and door-to-door delivery, and most recently, to raise its postage rates. While Congress approved increasing postal rates, all other measures are still pending a final decision in Congress.

What could this mean for Canada Post? That it will have the ability to move ahead with its plans to right its ship - before it sinks.

--- Abby Garcia Telleria is a senior copywriter at Melissa Data. She can be reached at abby(AT)melissadata(DOT)com.


The Last Resort? USPS® Proposes 5.9 Percent Rate Hike

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By Abby Garcia Telleria

Could this be a last ditch effort by the USPS? Last week, the USPS proposed an emergency (or exigent) postal rate hike - a 5.9 percent increase from 46 cents to 49 cents for First-Class Mail® - to keep the beleaguered agency afloat. The proposed increase would go into effect January 2014.

Won't Go Down Without a Fight

Earlier this year, the Postal Service™ came out with guns blazing - working with lawmakers to propose cost-cutting initiatives that included eliminating Saturday and door-to-door delivery. But those measures - including this most recent push to raise rates - are still pending a final decision. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is expected to review all the options.

It would seem that the Postal Service has exhausted all efforts to right its ship.

Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe recently spoke before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, saying they had no choice but to take this drastic measure. "We did not want to take this step, but we had little choice due to our current financial condition," Donahoe said.

Here's the rundown on some of the proposed changes:
  • Letters (1 oz.) - 3 cent jump to 49 cents
  • Letters (additional ounces) - 1 cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to international destinations (1 oz.) - $1.15
  • Postcards - 1 cent increase to 34 cents
  • Saturation mail - Current rates at $0.115 - announced rates at $0.121 - a 5.2 percent change

No surprise here - the rate increase is intended to generate $2 billion in revenue for the Postal Service. But is it enough to help salvage the "precarious financial condition" of the agency?

The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion this year. Add to it, the USPS stated that it currently has an "intolerably low level" of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.

The Reaction

Needless to say, those in the industry are none too happy about the proposed rate increase. Most expressed concern that the rate hike would be almost four times the 1.6 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) - in other words, the postage rates would be above the rate of inflation.

"Mailers, including (our) members, are also struggling with tight budgets, and the above-CPI rate increases are likely to accelerate the long-term erosion of mail volume," stated the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) also released a statement calling the move "misguided," and saying it was "extremely disappointed," and that the action will "significantly harm the Postal Service and the mailing industry in the very near future."

According to the DMA statement, "Rather than lowering prices at times of weak sales -- a common practice in businesses across the United States -- the Board of Governors has misguidedly decided that raising prices will help cure its lack of sales. On the contrary, the problem of decreased mail volume will only worsen as mailers cease to rely upon the United States Mail to reach consumers."

At any rate, we will continue to update you on new developments ... stay tuned!

-- Abby Garcia Telleria is a senior copywriter at Melissa Data. She can be reached at abby@melissadata.com.

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