It’s coming. You can almost set your clock by the postage rate increases. Every year, the US Postal Service can raise rates. As long as these increases do not exceed the rate of inflation, the Post Office does not need the approval of the US Congress.
It is interesting to note that in spite of the rapid growth of Internet marketing initiatives, the majority of US Postal Service revenue comes from direct mail packages. As justified as these rate increases are, it’s unfortunate as well, since those who use the Post Office the most are gradually being motivated to change their methods of communicating with clients, prospective clients, and donating organizations.
Specifics of the Rate Increase
Not all rate changes will be the same. The overall postage rate increase on January 27, 2013, will be 2.57 percent, but various classes of mail will incur different increases.
First-Class Letter Mail
The US Postal Service defines letter mail as:
At least 3.5″ high x 5” long x 0.007” thick
Not more than 6.125” high x 11.5” long x .25” thick
Postage for letters weighing one ounce or less will increase from 45 cents to 46 cents. Postage for First Class postcards will rise from 32 to 33 cents.
If you mail individual pieces rather than bulk First Class mail, you can buy “forever stamps” with no printed face value. If you buy the forever stamps before the rate increase at the current rate, they will be usable after the rate increase at the new rate. Unfortunately these stamps cannot be used for bulk mail.
Presort First Class Letter Mail
This postage classification includes discounted bulk mail that receives first class handling. To receive this discounted rate, your mailing must consist of 500 or more pieces. At present, the per-unit postage is 10 cents less than regular letter mail. In January, the rate will increase approximately 2.7 to 2.9 percent (or about 1 cent per unit).
Presort Standard Letter Mail
Unless your direct mail packages exceed the requirements for letter mail (and unless your mailing qualifies for nonprofit rates), this is the classification for most bulk mail. Rates for Presort Standard Letter Mail will increase in January between 1.4 percent and 2.1 percent, or about half a cent per unit.
Nonprofit Letter Mail
Nonprofit mailings that fit the letter-sized requirements will cost 3.25 percent more to mail after the January increase.
Every Door Direct Mail
This pertains to postcards your retail business delivers into a particular geographic area targeting every resident, as the name implies. You don’t even need to have a mailing address to take advantage of this new mailing program. The current rate is 14.5 cents per postcard. This will rise to 16 cents in January, slightly more than a 10 percent increase.
How You Can Save Money
Here are a few things you can do to save money on postage:
Clean your mailing lists. Make sure that all the addresses are complete, accurate, and current.
Consider reducing the trim size of the elements of your direct mail package. Talk with your postal service representative about reduced postage costs that might result from smaller (i.e., lighter) mail.
Specify a lighter paper stock. Asking your custom printing supplier to use a 65# cover stock rather than an 80# cover stock, or an 80# cover stock instead of a 100# cover stock, will reduce the weight of your mail piece. Lighter mail requires less postage.
Make the most of the newer technologies. Personalized mail gets higher response rates than non-personalized mail. Use variable data custom printing to make your direct mail packages specific to your target audience. In addition, pair direct mail with Internet-based vehicles such as PURLs.
Fold creatively. For instance, instead of sending an 8.5” x 11” piece at a “flats” rate (that is, a non-letter rate), fold the piece to 5.5” x 8.5” and benefit from the much lower “letter” rate. Or mail a 6” x 11” piece for the same (letter rate) cost savings.
Ask your Post Office about comingling mail (sending out your direct mail with other pieces from other mailers) and drop shipping (shipping your mail directly to a Bulk Mail Facility). This may reduce the postage cost for your direct mail packages.