Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters

In the frenetic pace of our digital world, physical mail has secured its position as a credible communications channel with staying power and popularity. In fact, a Royal Mail study of mail users in the United Kingdom found 87% of customers rate mail as believable, compared to 48% for email, and 65% of customers are likely to give it their full attention.1

Small and medium-sized businesses know this. Sending invoices and other client communications by physical mail is a daily occurrence for them, but many are generating unnecessary costs. Without knowing the exact postage for a mailpiece, senders find themselves estimating costs, resulting in postal surcharges and delays or even returned mail.

Metered mail can help prevent all these issues. Read on to learn the value of this service when it comes to postage and the benefits of using digital meters.

The Perks of Metered Mail

Metered mail allows small and medium businesses to use a meter to print postage on mailpieces as proof of payment. By leveraging this service, businesses could easily simplify their mail process. They could also improve accuracy and save money.

A meter’s built-in scale is designed to accurately weigh everything from postcards to packages, removing the guesswork and ensuring senders pay exactly the right postage every time. Meters also offer discounts unavailable in a Post Office™ retail location or when using stamps. As of January 2019, using a postage meter saves $0.05 per piece for envelopes up to 3.5 ounces, lowering the cost of your postage to $0.50 for First-Class Mail® letters weighing 1 ounce or less.

Save Time and Boost Your Brand

Replacing manual mail operations with a meter saves time, the most valuable asset. In a Pitney Bowes study, 37% of small businesses said that finding time to go to a Post Office retail location was their biggest hassle in regard to sending mail.2 Meters eliminate this, giving businesses back valuable time that can be spent on growing their business.

Meters also boost the professional look of business mail, as a company logo or personalized message can be printed on the envelope, boosting brand visibility.

The Next Generation of Meters

Today’s meters integrate advanced digital technology with design innovation. Some models even use Android® operating systems, so it’s as easy as using a smartphone, with convenient functionality and a simple interface. It helps businesses select the ideal sending option for every letter, flat and parcel they send, while delivering savings and helping track costs.

Older analog connected meters still have a place in many mailrooms across the world today, and for some organizations, they are a viable and effective option. However, it’s worth taking some time to consider the benefits of digital meters.

  1. 1

    Digital is faster and more flexible.

    A dial-up Internet connection can vary from 1.2 to around 56 kilobytes per second. A digital connection is 100 megabytes per second, which could make it up to a thousand times faster than the connection of an analog meter. By connecting to Wi-Fi or Local Area Networks, digital meters don’t vie for Internet access with your other communications technology. Also, if you connect via wireless and switch offices, your meter can move with you.

  2. 2

    Rate changes and software updates are simple and precise.

    These inevitably require preparation and attention. Without a meter, businesses must remember to accurately factor in the cost of the new rates into their postage. With an analog meter, time is spent establishing a connection first before information can be transferred, then there is the additional need to wait for the downloading and installation of new rates for a rate change, for example. A digital system is always connected, so rates can be updated anytime.

  3. 3

    Digital meters provide enhanced accounting.

    They allow you to track how much your business spends on postage down to the product level. You can also measure what time of the year your spending goes up or down.

  4. 4

    Digital connections are reliable and future-proof.

    If an analog line disconnects while trying to credit your meter before a mailing, it can cost you time and productivity. The copper analog network can also be costly to maintain and vulnerable to service outages. In the future, service providers are likely to become less willing to provide and support analog connections. Digital meters help alleviate this concern.

  5. 5

    Digital meters can generate additional savings.

    An analog-connected meter requires a dedicated phone line, which for most businesses is an incremental cost they often overlook. Many organizations are already paying for broadband, so there is no additional cost for a digital meter connection, and no need for the analog line.

Key Takeaway

Today’s connected customer draws information from a diversity of platforms but the value of physical mail remains. Postage meters help ensure that businesses continue to benefit from this vital customer engagement channel, while optimizing their budgets.

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4 Ways to Grow Your Business with Metered Mail

Mail is a cornerstone for many successful businesses. Sending monthly statements and occasional postcard campaigns helps companies grow and thrive.

As the volume of mail grows, many businesses find it hard to get to a Post Office™ location to calculate the exact postage for each piece. Instead, they estimate postage to save time, which ends up costing them.

One solution to save time and money? A postage meter. This tool makes sending mail quicker, less expensive and more customized. Here, we’ll highlight four benefits of having your own postage meter.

For a more in-depth analysis of metered mail’s benefits, see our article, “Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters”.

Save on postage

Instead of estimating postage by using traditional stamps, you can weigh each piece you send—whether it’s a letter or a package—and pay the exact postage required.

Plus, as of January 2019, USPS® offers businesses that use postage meters a $.05 discount on every First-Class Mail® letter they send. The savings adds up: a small business sending 1,000 mailpieces a month could save about $600 a year by using a meter.1

Avoid surcharges and delays

When you estimate the cost to send an item—especially one that is large, weighs more or is unusually sized—you may underpay for postage by using stamps. This leads to surcharges that could delay delivery or make an item undeliverable entirely.

With metered mail, you’re always paying exact postage, which helps to ensure that your mail gets to its recipients without costing you time and money.

Drop off mail and skip the line

Finding the time to get to the Post Office location can be tough, according to 37% of small businesses who participated in a Pitney Bowes study.2 With a meter, you don’t need to go out of your way or wait in line.

Once the metered postage for your mail or packages is printed on your pieces, it’s ready to mail. Drop mail in the nearest blue collection box or at a convenient drop-off point and get to the next thing on your to-do list.

Boost your brand

Meters can print more than postage on your mailpieces. You can add a personalized message or your company’s branding to envelopes, too, which boosts your visibility.

Envelopes with messages specific to the recipient—as simple as “Kate, your offer is inside!”—are shown to be effective: 84% of consumers surveyed said they were more likely to open a piece of mail if it is personalized to them.3

In Summary

Metered mail offers true value for small and medium businesses. By using a postage meter, you can save on the cost of postage, cut down the time it takes to send out mail and focus on growth.

Interested in how metered mail works and how it can benefit your business? Read our article: “Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters”

Make Your Direct Mail Smarter This Holiday Season

The months leading up to the holidays can be a particularly demanding time for senior-level marketers.

For some retailers, the holidays can account for as much as 30% of annual sales.1

And with customer expectations at an all-time high, marketers are increasingly accountable for their spending and under pressure to show clear-cut business results.2

Fortunately, by implementing various technologies, marketers can better reach customers, and track campaign success to understand what is and isn’t working. Read on to learn how you can use technology to make your direct mail campaigns intelligent for the holiday season.

How to make your holiday mail more sophisticated.

By marrying print and digital, you can ensure that your direct mail campaigns yield powerful insights.3 Consider implementing the following technologies in your next direct mail campaign:

Add a QR code to your mailpiece.

Quick Response (QR) codes, which look like barcodes, can be scanned with a smartphone, prompting a related app or website to open. Think of QR codes as a way to provide your customers and prospects with additional value. In one example, a grocery store retailer used direct mail to send food-themed magnets with QR codes, which, when scanned, allowed customers to instantly buy grocery store items from the comfort of their home.4

Include an NFC chip in your direct mail design.

Embedding Near Field Communication (NFC) microchips in your mailpiece will allow you to instantaneously transmit information through short-range radio waves to NFC-enabled smartphone devices. Unlike QR codes, NFC does not require users to download an app or open a separate web browser, enabling a seamless experience. In one example, a musician engaged her fans by embedding an NFC tag on a mail piece that gave them access to extended album content, including song lyrics, photos and videos.5

Consider incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) in your design.

With AR, you can transform a piece of mail into an interactive experience by layering digital graphics over a physical mail piece. In one example, a surf camp sent a mailpiece featuring an image of waves as the AR trigger that prompted recipients to download the AR app. This in turn, activated the AR experience, which concluded with a promotional offer.6

With each of these technologies — QR, NFC and AR — you’ll be able to gather a rich pool of data and learn about your most-interested customers, allowing you to refine and better target your future direct mail campaigns.7

Add a PURL to your direct mail design.

A PURL is a personalized URL that features the recipient’s name in the link and leads them to a personalized landing page. By including a PURL in your direct mail copy, the recipient can access and complete a response form prepopulated with information from the direct mail. This is a surefire way to capture leads.8

Go one-step further by adding a remarketing code to your PURL.

After a recipient views your mailpiece and visits the personalized landing page, you can then tag them with a cookie so that they can receive an ad later while browsing the internet, redirecting them back to your website to help drive conversions.9

Send your direct mail to a targeted group.

Similar to the above approach, you can serve online ads to the targeted niche group that received your mailpiece to leave a lasting impression.10

In Summary

Direct mail is more intelligent than ever before. Each of the technologies described above can provide you with a rich pool of data, allowing you to better target your customers with more relevant messaging, ultimately resulting in a stronger return on investment.11 Consider how implementing smarter direct mail campaigns can help you reach your marketing and sales goals.

Merging Email and Direct Mail for Powerful Holiday Marketing

For many companies, the holidays are a crucial time to drive business. Marketers need a fine-tuned plan to capitalize on the busy shopping season and attract customers. Some include email in their holiday marketing mix, others choose to focus on direct mail. But choosing one channel over the other could do your business a disservice.

By combining email and direct mail, you can target and convert consumers even more effectively. For example, in one study, businesses increased their order value by more than $3 when using the two mediums combined; they also saw a 25% response rate.1 Learn about the benefits of email and direct mail, and best practices for creating a campaign that uses both channels in sync.

Two Potent Channels

Email and mail can make a real impact on holiday sales.

Email has serious reach.

eMarketer estimates that there will be 253.4 million email users in the US in 2018, accounting for nearly 90.6% of internet users and 77% of the population. By 2021, that number will grow to 266.3 million users.2

Direct mail has a high return on investment (ROI).

A 2016 report showed that, in the US, direct mail has a 27% median ROI.3

Email campaigns convert more with a house list.

The same report showed the following conversion rates:

House list rates:

  • 21% open rate
  • 10% click through rate
  • 5.5% conversion rate

Prospect list rates:

  • 16.4% open rate
  • 5.9% click through rate
  • 4.3% conversion rate4

Personalization makes a difference for both channels.

One study showed that brands that personalize the subject lines of their emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize their promotional emails.5

By personalizing a direct mail campaign with a customer’s name and location, one company achieved a 9.7% conversion rate.6

Using both channels in tandem can capture more consumer attention during the holidays.

According to a study by Canada Post, marketing campaigns that integrate direct mail and digital media hold 39% more of a customer’s time than digital campaigns alone.7

Consumers prefer email and direct mail during the holidays.

A 2017 survey showed that Internet users most preferred email and direct mail to receive their holiday deals.8

How to Create a Multichannel Campaign

Consider these best practices when implementing a holiday campaign featuring email and direct mail.


  1. 1. Decide on the optimal timing.

    When planning a direct mail and email campaign, mail is typically the first touchpoint. Once the mailpiece is sent, choose two to four different moments to send out emails. The first email should go out a week after the mailing to keep the original mailing top-of-mind. Send the other emails a few days apart to not overwhelm the recipient. According to HubSpot, Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email, while 11 am ET sees the highest email click-through rates.9


  2. 2. Make sure your branding aligns.

    Creative elements in the mailpiece and subsequent emails should match. Leverage the copy and visuals you’re using for your holiday campaigns in both. For example, your holiday tagline can be used in header copy of the mailpiece and the subject line of your first email or its body copy. Be sure your mail and email also leads to the same final touchpoint – whether it’s your website or a holiday microsite.


  3. 3. Personalize the content.

    Help boost conversion rates by personalizing the copy in your mailpiece. For example, you could include the name of the recipient in header copy and customize content in the rest of the mailpiece to their specific customer segment. For the first email sent out, consider including the recipient’s name in the subject line. This small change can bump up email open rates and direct mail responses.


  4. 4. Use a comprehensive mailing list for your campaign.

    Creating a house or prospect list for your campaign will be more complicated, since you’ll need to match email addresses to physical addresses. For a house list, work with your internal teams to merge the address data you already have. For a prospect list, work with a list supplier that can tap into a multichannel database. You don’t want to buy a list that’s missing email or physical address information for the same prospect.


  5. 5. Consider using programmatic mail instead of a list.

    The latest trend in direct mail leverages programmatic technology to send personalized mailpieces triggered by digital interactions. You’ll need to be sure the programmatic database has customer information that includes email and physical addresses. Once a visitor interacts with a specific touchpoint on your site—whether your homepage, a category page or product page—the programmatic technology will send a mailpiece within 24-48 hours of the interaction.

Summary

Nailing down the right marketing mix during the holidays is crucial for year-round success. Sync up your email and direct mail efforts instead of choosing one channel over the other. With a well-timed, well-designed campaign, your business could see increased sales during the holidays.

Creating Interactive Experiences with Informed Delivery®

The United States Postal Service’s new Informed Delivery® feature allows organizations to connect their hardcopy mail and digital marketing strategies by providing users with a preview of their mail before it arrives — viewable via USPS® mobile app, email notification or online dashboard.1 This coordinated, double impression allows users to interact with digital content associated with their mailpiece. As a result, the Informed Delivery feature provides businesses with the opportunity to further showcase their well-designed mailpieces by expanding the reach of their mailing campaign.2

The Informed Delivery feature also provides mailers with valuable data, such as email open rates and click-through rates. This data appears in reports that allow businesses to evaluate the success of their campaign and root their decisions in metrics.3 Read on to learn more about supplemental content and find out how a real company has used this innovative feature.

Using Supplemental Content

Informed Delivery users can view a grayscale image of the exterior, address side of their letter-size mailpieces.4 At a minimum, organizations conducting an Informed Delivery interactive campaign are required to include a ride-along image and target URL to accompany this grayscale image. This supplemental content makes a campaign interactive and helps businesses enhance their call-to-action by providing consumers with an additional, digital impression. Following the best practices below can help make campaigns more effective by driving user action5:

  • Sync the design of the ride-along image with the mail piece and grayscale image to maintain consistency.
  • Treat the ride-along image as a branded, clickable button with a strong call-to-action, such as “Click Here” or “Sign-up Today.”
  • Include a target URL that takes the user to a website or social media platform.
  • See our Campaign Image Requirements document on our Informed Delivery for Business Mailers website for image specifications.

Mailers also have the opportunity to enhance their Informed Delivery campaign by replacing the grayscale image with an optional, full-color image known as a representative image. Mailers conducting campaigns on flat-size pieces, such as periodicals or catalogues, are required to use a representative image as images of flats are not captured or presented to users.

How One Company Used Supplemental Content

Ride-along Image

ESPN was one of the very first mailers to test Informed Delivery interactive campaigns with the USPS. For each periodical they mailed, they conducted an Informed Delivery interactive campaign by providing USPS a color copy of the front cover of their magazine to use as a representative image. The ride-along image demonstrates how supplemental content can strengthen a campaign’s call-to-action; the image prompts users to give a gift subscription. This ride-along image uses the design best practices outlined on the site linked above to encourage users to take a desired action. Additionally, the representative image gives subscribers a preview of the magazine arriving soon. ESPN’s Informed Delivery campaign enabled the company to connect and engage with subscribers in new, innovative ways.

In Summary

Hardcopy mail and digital marketing strategies should not stand alone. Informed Delivery bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds to create an innovative experience for consumers. This feature allows businesses to reach their customers in a new way that aligns with today’s increasingly digital environment.

3 Tips for Successful Marketing with Informed Delivery®

It can be tough to create an effective marketing campaign that cuts through the daily digital clutter. It often means changing strategies, testing new concepts and broaching new messaging territories — all things that you might approach with hesitation.

But Informed Delivery from the United States Postal Service (USPS)® can help your business break through. The service allows participating customers to see what’s coming in the mail, from their email.

The Informed Delivery email, sent daily, includes black and white images of the physical mailpieces, as well as connected calls-to-action that the sender — a business owner like you — can customize to get the most out of the service.

If you’re interested in using Informed Delivery for your next direct mail campaign, here are three best practices, learned from real marketers who use it successfully.

Optimize Your Mailpiece

In the daily Informed Delivery email, your mailpiece is displayed in grayscale. Take this into account while designing: will the color contrasts still read in black and white? Does your message still come across?

It’s also important to think about the format of your physical piece. Odd shapes — even squares — and catalogs can’t be scanned like traditional postcards and letters, and thus won’t be displayed as images in the email. Instead of investing in that format of direct mail, consider investing in ride-along digital content that connects with the mailpiece. That video, animation or digital experience can be linked in the daily email to add a second touchpoint with your customer.

Entice with Ride-Along Content

In the daily email, ride-along content appears in color beneath the image of your mailpiece. Consider it a personalized, helpful complement to what participating customers will see in their physical mailbox. For example, did you know more than half of bills are paid online? If your business sends bills and uses Informed Delivery, ride-along content could feature a link, driving recipients to pay their bill online.

56%

of bills are paid online.1

If you’re mailing promotions for new stores or products that these customers may not have connected with in person yet, build awareness quickly and effectively by sharing content that introduces the business in a memorable way — like a great video — or encourages another connection — like following your company on social media.

Enhance Using Data

59%

of customers view their Informed Delivery alerts on mobile devices.2

They also value seeing what’s in the mail while they’re traveling as a top reason for using Informed Delivery. These types of data points can help you continuously improve on customer experience. Make your ride-along content mobile friendly, and offer the convenience of acting on your mailpiece’s call to action — like paying bills or taking advantage of a sale — even if customers don’t see the physical mail.

As you continue to use Informed Delivery, you’ll also gather data more specific to your business. Use that information to retarget your audience in a more effective and personalized way, whether with more physical mail or through other digital experiences.

Key Takeaway

Enhancing your direct mail is easier than you might think. With Informed Delivery, you get three touchpoints — email, digital ride-along content and the physical mailpiece — all in one swoop. Don’t hesitate to make the most out of your direct mail and create lasting engagements with shoppers.

How Informed Delivery® Can Triple the Impact of your Marketing Message

In a world inundated by ads, it can be challenging as a business to reach your audience effectively. Help your marketing messages make a greater impact. With Informed Delivery® from the United States Postal Service, you can connect one direct mail campaign with potential customers three times: through email, digital ride-along content and the mail piece itself. Watch our video to see how your direct mail can reach customers in the physical and digital worlds, and help deliver improved sales and ROI.