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 2014

New Postage RatesThe First-Class stamp will be 49 cents after the new postage rates begin January 2014. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rate increases for the 2014 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.

The deadline for using the Full Service processing with the new intelligent mail barcodes is January as well.

We always publish a shortlist of the new postage rates:  (newest rates always posted here)

2014 NEW POSTAGE RATES

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New Direct Mail Folding and Tabbing Requirements

New rules for Folded Self-Mailers (FSMs) and Tabbing become effective January 5, 2013.  Are you ready?

Yes, you read it right.  More changes from the post office.  This time they say the changes will reduce damaged mail pieces and keep the high-speed postal machinery from jamming and slowing processing.  Well, that sounds good!  There will be no grace period, so get with your graphic designers and pass on the new requirements.

What is a Folded Self-Mailer?  It is a mail piece comprised of panels created when a single sheet or multiple sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mailer.  It does not go in an envelope and is not bound in any way.  Any mailer that is bound in any way is a booklet and the new tabbing rules do not apply.  Mailers with discs have been reclassified and have different rules.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Folded Self-Mailers:

  1. Height maximum is now 6 inches (Minimum height is still 3 ½ inches).
  2. Length maximum is now 10 ½ inches (Minimum length is still 5 inches).
  3. Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
  4. Final fold must be at the bottom of the mailer or on the leading edge (right side) of the mailer for oblong pieces.
  5. Limited to 12 total panels.
  6. Final folded panel creates the non-address side of the mailer as folded bottom to top or leading to trailing edge.  Address panel can no longer be on the very top panel.
  7. Mailers with 4 panels must be printed on 28 # bond stock (70 # book) minimum.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Tabbing:

  1. Perforated tabs are no longer accepted.
  2. Minimum size of tab is one inch in diameter.
  3. Minimum number of tabs is two.
  4. Placement of tabs is dependent upon the design of the mail piece.
  5. Tabs can no longer be placed on the bottom edge of the mail piece.
  6. 2 one-inch tabs may be used for mail pieces weighing one ounce or less.
  7. Mail pieces weighing over one ounce must use two 1 ½ inch tabs.

Have questions or concerns or need help with a tricky mail piece?  Give us a call and send us a copy of your artwork before you go to print and we’ll help make sure you have it right!

Call us at 800-881-2150… We’re here to Help!

Or here is our online request form

NEW “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” mandatory in January

The US Postal Service brings new innovations to YOUR programs

When I first started in the direct mail business I was a mailing equipment installer and trainer.  I remember clearly the day ‘Zippy the postal carrier’ was retired and the first Postnet Barcode was put into use.  It was a corner-stone of my career at that time.  It seems goofy now.

Of course this was a long time ago and at the time Zippy (derived from ZIP-codes) was a big move for the Postal Service.  It was an even bigger step for mankind to move past him and start using barcodes and optical character recognition, which we did in the early 90’s.

NEW “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” mandatory in January

Starting in January 2013, postage rates climb dramatically if you are not using new intelligent barcodes. Well, ‘mandatory’ is the negative part, but this is a new dynamic service and there is no turning back. Honestly, it’s about time.  These barcodes are an upgrade to your direct mail program that is costing you absolutely nothing.

What ‘mandatory’ really means is that in 2013 The US Postal Service is eliminating older technology permanently and implementing the new barcodes going forward. You will be getting all kinds of free new options you would have normally paid good money for.  I can’t wait for you to see what these new barcodes can do.

The New Intelligent Barcode and older Postnet barcode being retired in 2013:

Intelligent Mail Barcodes
How does this apply to you?

An average of 80% of all casino room nights and gaming revenue is achieved through response to your direct mail.  Your team can win big if they keep up with the changes and advances from the US Postal Service.  There is a lot of strategy, profits and savings in the nooks and crannies of direct mail that you might not notice at first glance.  Let’s talk about the opportunities ‘required’ in January of 2013

The added “intelligence” in the new postal barcodes has many cool features built in that you normally had to pay for.  Services you wanted in the past are now included free.  US Mail tracking, deeper postage discounts & address correction services are all very powerful free add-ons that you will want to leverage.  Starting in January those are all free if you know how to tap into them .

The New Barcodes include popular USPS Confirm Services, USPS Address Correction Services free as well as room for custom extra tools we can build for you to meet special needs as well.

REMEMBER, starting in January 2013, if you do not use these your postage rates will go through the roof.  Don’t leave this one in your vendors’ hands.  Many large and small printers all over the country are still struggling to utilize these and it will cost YOU big if they can’t.

OK, Cool.  New Features, Mandatory in January, Got it!

You see, ‘the Check’ really is in the mail. Keep your eyes on the finer details of your mailing programs so you can make big money and save big money too.

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.