New US Postage Rates 2016

The First-Class stamp has increased to 47 cents as of April 10, 2016. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rates for the 2016 mailing season. The Post Office has recently switched from doing large postage increases every 4 years to a smaller increase each year to keep up with costs and industry fluctuations.

This April we actually got a postage PRICE REDUCTION.

CSG Direct likes to keep you informed of changing postage rates!

New Postage Rates for January 2013

New Postage RatesThe US Postal Service has released it’s January 2013 postage rates proposal.

The cost of a First-Class stamp is rising to 46 cents, up from 44 cents currently. That is a 4.5% increase starting in 2013.

One of the more common postage rates we all pay as direct marketers is the 3-digit and 5-digit barcode-automation rates.  Those rates are scheduled will increase to 26.6 cents and 24.7 cents respectively. Those rates have only been raised 2.2% for 2013.

If you would like to do some comparisons here are the 2012-Postage-Rates.

It’s a smaller increase then expected

A lot has been said in the news lately about the US Postal Service having trouble with reduced mail volumes and the cost of pension payments. With all that hype you would think that postage would be doubled in the coming year to help make up the shortfall.

That is just not the case.

Interesting new programs proposed for 2013

Some of the other programs being planned for the coming year include:

  • Direct Mail Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call
  • Earned Value Reply Mail
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Picture Permit
  • Product Samples
  • Mobile Buy-It-Now

These programs will continue on the successes of the QR Promotions offered summer 2011 and 2012 that we helped our customers take advantage of.  Both programs earned customers discounted postage for active QR-based hyperlinks to websites.  The rules have changed along the way so we will have to wait to hear more about these new programs in the months ahead.

Branded Postal PermitsPicture Permits

An interesting development on the branded permit problems we told you about in recent months is the “Picture Permit” promotion planned for 2013.  It looks like they swept us out of our fancier designer permits recently so they could bring it back as an income opportunity.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes Required!

IMB-BarcodeWell the day has finally come that the US Postal Service is requiring everyone to be using the new Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB).  CSG was a pioneer in these “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” and have launched some very detailed tracking systems including our CSG direct mail app in the iTunes Store.

These new barcodes allow for twice as much data as the older Postnet Barcodes and replace the double barcoding that was done in years past with Planet-Codes.

Unlike direct-mail-centered digital print shops, many printing companies have struggled to keep up with this new technology.  CSG Direct has led the way in maximizing the opportunities these new barcodes present for you.

If you would like a direct mail quote from a direct mail company on the bleeding front edge of technology, you can get a digital printing and mailing quote here.

Postal Service Announces New Postage Rates for 2013

New US Postage Rates being announced for January 2013.
About a 2.4-4% Increase.
Here is the Press Release just out:

U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices
and Services for 2013
First-Ever Global Forever Stamp Debuts When Prices Change January 27


WASHINGTON — Beginning early next year, the Postal Service will introduce a First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp. The new stamp will allow customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10, and is among new mailing and shipping services filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

The price for First-Class Mail single-piece letters will increase by just a penny when prices change in Jan. The new 46 cent Forever stamps will allow customers to mail letters to any location in the United States. Forever stamps are always good for mailing a one-ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 27, 2013 include:

  • Letters (1oz.) – 1-cent increase to 46 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1oz.) – $1.10
  • Postcards – 1-cent increase to 33 cents

Prices for all products (Mailing and Shipping services) will increase by 4-percent, but prices for Mailing Services, such as regular letters and advertising matter, will increase only 2.6-percent.  The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective Jan. 27, 2013. Today’s Shipping and Mailing price filings will be available on the PRC website at www.prc.gov and the new Mailing Service prices are also available at http://pe.usps.com.

STOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED

no branded indiciasSTOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED Developing Story 7/27/2012

The USPS has decided to stop accepting any mail with branded permits of any kind – TODAY.

Permit holders all over the country received certified letters today 7/27/2012 (we did too) with a formal cease-and-desist on using anything other than standard font permits. So as of this moment they are rejecting mailings all over the country if you have one of these permits.  These permits have been used for years and we received no advanced warning.  Even mailings with partial drops last night cannot be completed today without covering the permits with generic black and white permits.

STOP THE PRESSES!!  They are forcing us to apply labels by machine and by hand to cover all permits before they can be accepted.

Change the permits on your art before you print..

If you are about to press Print call Paul Erickson at 800-881-2150 ext 17 for up to the minute information.

Story developing, more details to come…

UPDATES:

The Postal Service has a long track record of rolling out changes to their rules and regulations in a very slow and methodical manner. For example, the upcoming requirements in January that eliminate discounts for anyone using the old Postnet barcodes have been discussed since 2010 or earlier.

However, that history aside, the Postal Service surprised us all recently with a rule that rejected mail all over the country without any prior notice at all.  The US Postal Service will no longer accept decorative company indicia permits like this one:

Branded Postal Permits

Branded Permit

Marketing departments all over the country have modified their permits to be more decorative to take full advantage of the direct mail customer experience. Wither you put your casino name in your permit with a fancy font or completely colored it like we did (above), they are no longer allowed.

The only correct and acceptable company-indicia permits are built more like this:

Acceptable Postal Permit Indicia

Standard Permit Indicia

Like I said, traditionally they would give a long drawn-out notice. Sometimes it seems that they don’t understand the processes we must all go through. Mailings all over the country were already approved and on the press or being completed when these rejections started happening on August 1st.

If you would like us to take a quick free look at your permit situation, just let us know.
We’re happy to help!

the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012

The US Senate voted 62-37 yesterday to pass S. 1789 (as amended), the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, as amended. Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill.

About S. 1789
S. 1789, as amended, works to refund the USPS billions of dollars in overpayments to the Federal Employees Retirement System, streamline its structure and operations, adjust an onerous retiree pre-funding requirement, and seeks compromise solutions on controversial issues like facility closures and Saturday mail delivery. The bill does not include legislated rate increases on first class/standard mail above the current rate cap tied to the Consumer Price Index. While S. 1789 is not a perfect solution to the USPS crisis, Printing Industries of America supports this bipartisan bill as the legislation best suited to reform the USPS.

Action on postal reform now moves to the House The House version of postal reform (H.R. 2309), sponsored by Reps. Issa (R-CA) and Ross (R-AL), has been heard, amended and approved out of committee, but no floor vote has yet been scheduled. The House GOP leadership and bill sponsors said that the House had been waiting for the Senate product and will likely move postal reform legislation this spring/summer. There are a few procedural avenues this could take, but the current expectation is that the House bill will go to a full floor debate/vote. It would then need to be merged with the now-passed Senate bill in a conference committee in order to receive final approval and be sent to President Obama for his signature. Keep in mind that the House legislation takes a dramatically different approach to postal reform than does its Senate counterpart. Printing & Mailing Industries and its allies will continue our work in the House and put pressure in that chamber to achieve legislative success as soon as possible.

– Printing Industry of America

How to Get Your Direct Mail Opened

Direct-mail is one of the most powerful marketing tools a casino has!   Getting the highest direct mail response should be the goal but there is usually a lot of pressure to keep the costs down. These can be conflicting goals. If we don’t get our mailer opened and read we will get a poor response rate so let’s focus on getting customers to open our direct mail today.Get Direct Mail Opened

Here are a few tricks to get your mail opened.

  • Use a shocking or awe inspired headline

There is a reason why every band does their “last tour” every few years. It creates shock to their fans and creates deep interest in the event. Find something spectacular about your event worth creating some drama about like “biggest jackpot ever” or this is a very rare event or last of it’s kind.

  • Use mystery to make them curious about your mailer

Curiosity is a powerful tool.  If you use some lead-in text on the address side of your mailer (the primary side they see), you can tap into their curiosity and get your mailer opened.  Try a snipe like “You’ll never guess who is coming” but make them open the mailer to find out. Your mailer open rate will increase incredibly.  They could guess, but its more natural to open the mailer and see the answer.  It is a similar technique as a scratch-off for getting your piece opened.

  • Use a scratch-off on the outside to compare on the inside

If you design your scratch off with a compelling offer and easy to understand design they work very well.  You can create a nice scratch-off on the outside and have them check the inside of the piece to see what they have won.  You can create scratch-offs with variable numbers too so make a game of your mailer and it will have a much higher open and interaction rate than the rest of the mail that day.

  • A box-mailer always gets opened

Any box place inside your customers mailbox is the most important thing in the mailbox. If we are talking strictly open-rates than there is no higher interaction rate than a box mailing.  Higher open rates translate into higher response rates. You should definitely do some box mailings throughout the year and compare the post forma math to your other mailers.  You will be very pleasantly surprised by the increased response which can more than justify the additional expense.

  • Send relevant offers about things they like

The difference between direct marketing and junk mail is if you’re sending relevant offers to someone about what they like or want. If you send a country and western invitation to a rock ‘n roll person you are pushing that client away with things they don’t want (aka junk mail).

You want to be a property that has the things they like so you are their favorite place to go.  Code your database well so you can personalize relevant offers to the right person and you’ll always get your mailers opened and higher response rate too.

US Mail Tracking systems at CSG Direct Mail

Our proprietary US Mail Tracking systems have successfully tracked over 45 million pieces of direct mail advertising through the US mailstream online, in real time. That’s 45 million pieces followed across the country individually, like you do packages.

Using our new proprietary system, coupled with the USPS’s new Intelligent Mail Barcodes, a business can finally track the progress of its mail campaign using its own customer ID or account number.

Some of the system’s more popular features are the interactive reports as each piece crosses the country. Bulk mail can now be tracked just like more expensive alternatives such as UPS and FedEx.

Additional tools and applications are being built around this new system to make this new innovation accessible for every direct mail customer in America. Track Direct Mail’s uses seem endless. The technology allows database-marketing companies another level of strategy to reduce postage, find lost mail and help customers that may experience problems with the nation’s mail stream.

With all of these innovations it was only a matter of time until we put all of our CSG Direct Mail Tracking tools on the iPhone and iPad. CSG Direct Mail for iPhone was released into the iTunes App Store May 7th 2010. Track every aspect of your direct mail projects with Live Project Tracking from the CSG DIRECT MAIL Processing plant and Live US Mail Tracking as your pieces travel through the US Postal Service.

This has been THE DREAM in direct mail for decades and we made it a reality! These newest innovations are built on our proprietary Direct Mail Tracking Systems. We continue to redefine the Direct Mailing industry! CSG Direct Mail brings you Better Results Fast!

New iPads coming with USPS Confirm

Direct Mail iPad AppWell the new iPads are coming.  We’re still not sure if they are the iPad3 or iPad HD but the biggest bragging points are the Retina Display, faster processor and 4G connection speeds with Verizon and AT&T.

One of our favorite out-of-the-box applications on the iPad that we enjoy most at CSG Direct Mail is called Facetime.

Facetime allows us to video conference our offices when we’re on the road. It also allows us to be at company meetings remotely using the 2 built-in iPad cameras. This application alone made the iPad2 worth getting.  It will be even better in the iPad3/HD.

us mail trackingNo mention about the iPad would be complete if we didn’t mention our own iPad app called CSG Direct Mail in the iTunes app Store.

Our US Mail Tracking CSG Direct Mail app includes some very powerful USPS Confirm services built to make single piece lookup easy using your normal customer account ID’s to see how every single piece travels across the US through the mail stream.

Nobody else offers this kind of service!  The app is free in the iTunes store. Every mailing you send with us are tracked live.

CSG DIRECT MAIL includes Live Project Tracking from the CSG DIRECT MAIL Processing plant and Live US Mail Tracking as your pieces travel through the US Postal Service.

You can also track all the direct mail production steps through our multi-plant project tracking features.  Know exactly when your mailings are going out and track every penny you spend.

This app helps your planning, budgets, timing and delivery tracking.

This has been THE DREAM in direct mail for decades and we made it a reality! These newest innovations are built on our proprietary Direct Mail Tracking Systems.

USPS Confirm are registered trademarks of the US Postal Service

The CSG Direct Mail Story Continues

Michael and Lorrie Hemphill

Michael and Lorrie Hemphill

I have been asked by my team to rewrite our direct mail story for a new brochure where we don’t have as much room and still need to cover “the good stuff”, so to speak. I like to take this opportunity to add current details to get everyone up to speed on the future of direct mail as well.

After working in a variable statement mailroom at TRW, Michael Hemphill was hired to be an equipment installer and trainer.  This was the same time the US Postal Service introduced the postnet barcode and Michael was one of the leaders on the west coast in training his technicians and 3000 new customers on using postnet barcodes to receive postage discounts.

Michael helped companies like Sprint, MCI, Pac Bell, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the California and Nevada State Mailrooms get into automation.  “I have worked in over a thousand mailrooms installing equipment and training employees,” Michael recalls.

Michael then moved to Nevada to help casinos take advantage of some of the leading edge database management software available for direct mail. Some casinos reported increased response up to 30% over traditional responses rates after implementing Michael’s advice.

Since then CSG Direct Mail has expanded 10 times to our current 50,000 square foot Reno-Tahoe facility and has added our newest Las Vegas office.  We have helped many great companies like:

  • Raley’s
  • Scolari’s
  • Silver Legacy
  • MGM
  • Facebook
  • Wells Fargo
  • Harrah’s Entertainment
  • Tropicana Entertainment
  • Atlantis Hotel Casino
  • Peppermill Resort Casino
  • Eldorado Hotel Casino
  • Terrible’s Casinos
  • Stations Casinos
    …and many others

CSG Direct Mail has created many of the industry’s newest services:

  • LIVE direct mail job tracking portal – 1999
  • gonnahappen.com – an event marketing site – 2003
  • Bonus Bucks direct mail rewards program – 2006
  • LIVE mail piece tracking systems – 2008
  • iTunes Direct Mail tracking app – 2010
  • Variable maps for direct mail – 2011

With three decades in variable database marketing and the largest digital print plant in the West,
CSG Direct Mail continues to provide the greatest value and better results fast to our clients.

The Post Office Ruined a Mailing

Some of our customers direct mail pieces were crushed in the belted mail transport equipment so badly that the foiling inside the folded mailers was shredded off and stuck to the other side of the mailer. Normally this can’t happen unless it’s 260 degrees.  We’re in just as much awe and disbelief as you are.

We believe it is the OCR equipment sorting and re-sorting the pieces down to carrier route level.  We noticed all kinds of  scuffs, wheel skid marks and damage across the pieces. All of this is probably from over-sorting or at least over-abuse of the pieces.

I get it, they have lots of mail to process quickly. On the other hand, they are being paid big dollars to deliver a marketing message to our customers.  They should do what they can to protect those pieces if they want customers to pay for this service.

I have been working with the US Postal Service for 24 years and I have a lot of friends employed there. I just wish they were held accountable to quality as much as we are.

Our customer is extremely upset! Their promotion is ruined and the profits that were to be generated from this promotion to pay wages and create jobs is lost for February. Do you think there is anyone at the postal service that can help them out?  On some occasions it can be like working with the Government and all its levels of bureaucracy. That’s why I am venting.  The USPS hurt one of our clients (inadvertently, I assume) and the client wants me to “fix it” somehow.

In a true capitalist society I would threaten to take our mail to another postal service unless they step up their quality but that’s just not an option with the USPS, is it? When you mail as much as we do you have greater odds of being involved when the USPS does something wrong.  That doesn’t make it hurt any less.

We are working through several options to help our customer turn this around and save the month. The plan we’ve put together should accomplish that.

At the end of the day when something like this happens it just creates a huge loss of confidence in the process for good direct mail clients.