Posts Tagged First Class
Expect To See Slower Delivery Times For First Class Mail.
With the consolidation of up to 82 processing centers nationwide, a lot of First Class letters and periodicals will cease to be delivered overnight; they will arrive in two days, and mail formerly delivered in two days will now be delivered in three days.
According to the Federal Register, Standard Mail with have the same deliverability as today, with three to 10 days within the contiguous United States. Packages will take two to eight days.
As those 82 facilities close and 95 assume the work, USPS is continuing to focus more on its growing areas of revenue—package delivery—vs. its shrinking areas—First Class mail volume.
Current estimates indicate approximately 20% of the First-Class Mail volume is expected to be delivered overnight, more than 35% is expected to be delivered in 2 days and about 44% delivered in 3 days.
The graphic below illustrates an approximate breakdown of First-Class Mail service performance after Phase 2 implementation:
You can find the USPS official FAQ here: https://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/ofn-phase-2-faqs.htm
Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014
As per a news release on September 25, 2013 prices for most Postal Service mailing products and services will change on January 26, 2014. This includes First Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services.
The proposed changes are intended to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the Postal Service.
Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:
- Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
- Letters additional ounces — 1-cent increase to 21 cents
- Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
- Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents
Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.
Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services also will be adjusted.
In a letter from Board of Governors Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above the CPI increase. He also indicated that the price adjustment above the CPI increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.
“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”
Except in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, postage price increases are capped at the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U. The Postal Service is filing a price increase above CPI-U due to extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and has an intolerably low level of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.
If your business is not already using a presort vendor, now is the time to look into that service. With ever increasing postage rates, why not take advantage of discounted rates presort houses are able to offer you?
How Long Does It Take To Deliver My Mail?
Many times our customers ask us how long it will take for their mail to be delivered. USPS provides a neat little tool just for this purpose.
Using the tool is pretty simple. In the upper left corner select the mail class – First Class or Standard. Select the mail origination from the drop down menu and click “Display Map”.
There is a color coded map of the United States and the estimated time for mail to be delivered. Here is an example of First Class mail originating from Kansas City, MO with the ZIP code beginning 641:
These delivery times are typically best case scenarios – they are to be used for estimates only. It is safe to use this as a general rule of thumb but in no way is it a promise of a delivery time.
As always, if you have any questions about how Strahm handles your mail or need help determining a general mail delivery time, please contact one of our helpful Customer Service Representatives at email@example.com
Often I am asked by novice direct mailers what elements to include on their mail piece. They are simply looking to design the best mailer possible to yield a high ROI.
Here Are My Top 10 Recommendations
(In no particular order)
- Make sure your list, mail piece and message are all targeted to the correct audience. What is your goal – lead generation, customer retention, a new product roll out?
- A clear, provocative call to action and a nice incentive.
- A compelling message – don’t forget, most people want to know “What’s in it for Me?”
- A First Class mail permit. Don’t skimp on standard mail postage. 10% of your mailing list may never receive the mail piece and you’d be surprised how many people simply disregard any piece of mail with a standard permit.
- Add a PURL, or Personalized URL. This will tie your printed piece with an online experience. Make sure the PURL ties in with your theme.
- As long as we’re adding hot new technology with that PURL, let’s add a QR, or Quick Response, code. You’ve probably been seeing a lot of QR codes on all kinds or marketing – from billboards to pizza boxes. We’ll talk more about QR codes and using them effectively in an upcoming blog.
- Use a fresh, unexpected image and a memorable tag line. You only have seconds to grab the reader’s attention.
- You’ve probably heard it said a million times, and it’s true, your response rate is only as good as your list. We will delve into list effectiveness in future blogs.
- Include a follow up on the call to action. Perhaps include an expiration date. This also makes room for a second communication (perhaps an email?).
- Since we repeated the call to action, repeat the PURL as well. Remind them how to respond to that call to action!
Tell us, what are your thoughts on creating the ideal direct mail piece? We’d love to hear your suggestions!
Presort Services: Changing the Way You Mail
Engaging with a Presort Service provider allows companies to take advantage of postal discounts. Discounts are achieved when many pieces are sorted to the same 5-digt ZIP Code. By commingling your outgoing mail with mail from other companies, Presort Service providers are able to maximize postage discounts and pass that savings along to you.
The number of organizations choosing to partner with Presort Service providers has grown over the past several years. The driving factors include security, control and economics.
Presort Services have made large investments in new technology – both equipment and software. Providers have been working closely with the USPS and mailers to improve workflows and standards. While this has forced many smaller shops to close their doors, larger more robust service providers have been thriving.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask a potential service provider:
- How many pieces of mail do they process daily/weekly/monthly? Is this primarily local or national mail? (This information may help determine your postage rate.)
- Do they process First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mail?
- Do they process letters and flats?
- How secure is their facility, including the dock area?
- Do they provide pick up service? Is there a fee for this service?
- Will they also meter mail for you? Will they agree to serve as a backup should your own meters be out of operation?
- Are they up-to-date with Intelligent Mail barcode? This will be mandatory beginning January 2013.
- Are employees background checked?
- Is there an on-site USPS postal verifier?
- Does USPS pick up from their dock? Or do they deliver to the nearest postal sorting facility?
Take a few minutes and think of the ways a Presort Service provider could benefit your organization. Cost savings, improved workflows, and security of your mail are just a few of the advantages these vendors bring to your company.
Picture Permit Promotion
August 1 – September 30, 2013
Add value to your mailpiece in a creative way using the new Picture Permit Imprint Indicia. Incorporate a company logo, brand image or trademark to the area where a stamp, meter imprint of permit imprint would appear.
Boosting your brand recognition, logos, products and promotions could improve the overall effectiveness of your mailing.
Picture Permit mail is available for presorted First Class mail and Standard letters. Full Service Intelligent Mail barcode is a requirement.
There is an extra fee per piece – for First Class letters and cards the additional fee is $0.01, for Standard letters the fee is $0.02 per piece.
The USPS will begin a promotion of Picture Permit mail beginning August 1, 2013 and running through September 30, 2013. Registration for the promotion begins June 1.
This promotion will eliminate the per piece fees for both First Class and Standard letters and cards. There is a 4 step application process which must be approved by the USPS Program Office prior to promotion registration.
Picture Permit Requirements:
- Logos, brand images or trademarks
- Color images only
- Mailpiece must include Intelligent Mail barcode
- Application, design approval and sampling prior to mailing
- Boost mailpiece visibility, value and potential open rate
- Increase brand awareness
- Promote company products and services
How would you use Picture Permit Imprint Indicia to benefit your company? We would love to hear your ideas and successes!
Have You Stocked Up On Forever Stamps Yet?
Just a reminder that postage rates will increase this Sunday, January 27th. A summary of a few of the changes are detailed in the tables below – a more comprehensive listing can be found with the USPS at http://pe.usps.com/. Business mailing rates will be changing as well during this time. If you work with a business mail provider then they will be able to tell you your new rates and any applicable changes.
Forever stamps are a great way to help combat the rising cost of postage. The USPS has released a handful of new forever stamps in 2013 – a few of the new designs can be seen below. Plan ahead and don’t be caught off guard on Monday!
Increased 2013 Postage Rates – Effective January 27, 2013
Less than a year ago the USPS increased postage rates a penny and rates are going up again in 2013. Overall, prices will increase an average of 2.6 percent for each class of mail. The Postal Service filed new mailing service prices with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in October 2012 and the changes were approved within the next month. By law, USPS cannot increase mailing service pricing no more than the rate of inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index. A completely self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
Highlights of the pricing changes include:
– First-class letters will increase one cent up to 46 cents
– First-class postcard will increase by one cent to 33 cents
– Flats will increase by two cents to 92 cents
– International first-class pricing will change to one flat rate of $1.10 to any destination in the world. The USPS has also introduced a new Forever stamp for international use, called the Global Forever stamp. This new stamp will always be sold at the price of a single-piece first class international stamp.
– Forever stamps also will still be available and can be used whenever they are needed, as they don’t have a denomination. Forever stamps will also increase to 46 cents.
Several new shipping services products will be available in January as well as increased pricing. New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:
– Small Box – $5.80
– Medium Box – $12.35
– Large Box – $16.85
– Regular Envelope – $5.60
– Legal Envelope – $5.75
– Padded Envelope – $5.95
Prices for other mailing services including Standard Mail, Periodicals, and other business class mail will also see price increases in a variety of categories. For more detailed pricing information from the USPS visit www.usps.com/prices. Still need more? Strahm also offers a Customer Resource Center containing up to date information regarding the January 27th rate increase and much more!
USPS Network Rationalization Phases
The Postal Service is moving ahead with the rationalization of its network. The implementation will be executed by modifying service standards in two phases. The first phase will begin July 1, 2012, and the second phase will start on February 1, 2014. Should changes in circumstances warrant, this phased approach will allow the Postal Service to reconsider implementation of the second phase.
When planning your mailing program, how often do you ask “How long will it take my mailpiece to hit the recipient’s mailbox?”
You must make a choice whether to mail First Class or Standard. Of course, there are rules and limitations to what material can be mailed for either class so that will be a factor in driving your decision.
First Class Mail – any mailable matter can be sent as First Class Mail. Below are types of mail that must be sent as First Class mail.
- All matter wholly or partly in writing or typewriting
- All actual and personal correspondence
- All bills and statements of account
- All matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection
Standard Mail – includes the subclasses of regular Standard Mail, Nonprofit Standard Mail, Carrier Route Standard Mail and Nonprofit Carrier Route Standard Mail.
- Direct Mail
Let’s say your mail piece is informational in nature and contains no confidential data. You could either mail it First Class or Standard Mail. Let’s go further and say that there is dated information (perhaps an invitation to an event or notice of road construction). Now your mail class decision lies in deliverability.
Taking advantage of the lower postage rates for Standard Mail is a great idea if you plan well enough in advance to account for the slower delivery service standard.
The USPS RIBBS website (Rapid Information Bulletin Board – always good information here, folks!) just published Service Standards Maps for all classes of mail at all points of entry.
These are the new Service Standards effective July 1, 2012 (the beginning of Phase 1 of the USPS network rationalization).
It’s easy to use – simply choose your class of mail and your SCF area (first three digits of your ZIP code) and away you go.
Below are examples generated for my SCF area of 641
Plan ahead, review your Service Standards and save a few dollars of your marketing budget!
Have you considered Bulk Mail?
Bulk mail can be used for First Class Mail, Standard Mail and other classes of mail as well.
When you put a stamp on a piece of mail and drop it into your local mailbox, that is “single piece” mail and you are paying full price postage. If you meet minimum qualifications (or choose to utilize a presort mail vendor), you can take advantage of bulk mail rates and save money.
The deciding factor for choosing bulk mail is postage savings.
The USPS offers discounted postage rates for presorting the mail before it comes to them. You are doing a portion of the work for them (such as sorting by ZIP Code), so savings from the Postal Service are passed along to you, the mailer.
Bulk mail may not be the best choice for every mailer.
If you prepare only one or two mailings annually, then it may be best to outsource to a presort vendor. If you mail on a regular basis, but do not meet minimums or elect not to make the time investment in learning to sort and prepare your mail, and a capital investment in permits, mailing fees and possibly software or other equipment, outsourcing to a presort vendor is an ideal solution
Presort vendors are in the business of preparing mail according to USPS rules and regulations. Some vendors will take your mailing from start to finish – design, printing, presorting and USPS presentation.
Should you choose to prepare your own bulk mailing, here are the minimum number of mail pieces that must be met to qualify.
500 pieces for First Class Mail
200 pieces (or 50 pounds of mail) for Standard Mail
50 pieces for Parcel Select
300 pieces for Presorted or Carrier Route Bound Printed Matter
300 pieces for Library Mail
300 pieces for Media Mail
You can learn more about what it takes to prepare your mail and whether or not a presort vendor would be a good alternative for you here: http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/getstarted/welcome.htm