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.

How Triggered Direct Mailings Work

Triggered mailings are mailings that go out every single day that nobody has to  micro-manage. These mailings are known for better results than other mailings because they are ‘triggered’ when all the ideal details come together for the guests you want most.

Triggered Direct Mail

Triggered Daily Direct Mail is personalized too

When you get stuck in budget meetings and everybody is putting out fires, there are mailings being sent out automatically from your player database to people matching your perfect criteria with your best segmented offer.

You can build perfectly timed, segmented and personalized mailings and put them on cruise control.
You can send these daily offers to 1 person or thousands.

  • Nobody has to pull a mailing list
  • Nobody has to deal with postage
  • Timed and optimized with your favorite tiered offers

This is not a new concept so put those mailing labels down

In each phase of technology we usually hang on too long because it becomes engrained.

Do you remember printing labels and giving those labels to the mail shop to apply onto your mailers? From labels we eventually gave the mailshop a diskette.  Then we started using thumb drives, email and ftp. Data moves fairly quickly now, but emailing a mailing list to a printer or a mailshop is the equivalent to printing labels these days.

In comes 2012 and casinos all over the world transfer data automatically outside of the player database to allow players to login to websites and see their points and what offers they have earned. The player database is being used to communicate in Kiosks and personalized offers are displayed directly on the machines too, automatically.

This is possible because your player database is updating outside vendor databases directly on a timed schedule.  Your player database has come a long way in how it communicates with your guests.

Why are we sending out mailings every 2-3 weeks when we can send them daily?

We tend to think in monthly cycles. We send out 2-3 mailings each month and we have a 1 week breather before we start working on next months. Usually companies use the art from last month with a few changes then pull new data and send all the mailing out.  Rinse, Repeat.

Sure, you analyze the results to make changes to next month’s offers but the next mailer will go out before you have results from the last one so…  let’s just get this in the mail, it’s late right?

This monthly rinse and repeat cycle is the ‘labels’ of 2012.

For at least 2 of your 3 mailings you are using the exact same queries each month, applying the same reinvestment curve and just adjusting your event schedule.  I am by no means saying this is ideal but these things can be automated so you can focus more on the recipe and less on the processes.

Your time is best spent designing ideal client-relationship segments and reinvestment curves to match. You should not have to spend so much time pulling and sending lists, dealing with postage, handling return mail, uploading art and proofing content.

Build each player segment, matching art and put each one on cruise control.

“Triggers” send your ideal offers, timed perfectly, AUTOMATICALLY

Mailing Triggers

Set Daily Triggers to create Daily Mailings

Player guest Mary has been playing video poker for 3 days. She has accumulated enough points to move up to the Platinum level. The database notices this (we told it to watch for this) and triggers(1) a text to Mary’s cell phone “Hey Mary, you just made it to the platinum club. We are sending you a free Room offer as your first reward”.

The database also triggers(2) a personalized letter sent that day welcoming Mary to the platinum level with her Free Room night in it. This letter goes out by noon at the completion of her trip because the database triggered the data to merge and print directly on a waiting, automated press; hands-free.  She gets this offer letter 1 or 2 days after she gets home, not a month later when ‘the batch’ goes out.

The database also triggers(3) an email to be sent in 1 week later telling Mary that she earned some freeplay for her next trip (segmented and personalized based on your reinvestment plan). If she makes her reservation this week we can upgrade her to a 2-night stay.

The final scenario the database is looking for is to see if Mary comes back in or redeems our offers. If after 6 weeks Mary has not returned for a trip the database triggers(4) an increased reinvestment mailer where she is offered a free dinner for her and a friend if she books her room this week.

Design many trigger scenarios easily

Marys’ sample story is just that, a sample.
Triggers(1-4) included :

  1. Text on her cell phone (if she provided it)
  2. Personalized Bounceback letter
  3. Personalized Email offer coordinated with her letter
  4. An increased reinvestment mailer

You could have even triggered a text to her host to visit her on the floor if possible.

You can design as many scenarios that you can think of to create an endless array of personalized and automated triggered guest experiences that run all year long instead of bulk batches of mailings done monthly. Guests don’t always think in monthly batches like we do.  They are all on their own individual journeys and when we treat them that way we get our best results.

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!

Marketing Parcels Build Customer Loyalty

In this article we talk about how Marketing Parcels increase customer loyalty.

Marketing Parcel for higher responseI went to my mailbox today as part of my regular check for bills, offers and coupons.  Normally I expect a stack of envelopes, postcards and newspaper coupons that I pull apart and sort into stacks.

Today was just like every other day but when I opened the mailbox I was surprised to find a box inside. “What is this?” I wondered.

My birthday was over a month ago. Could it be a belated birthday gift? I don’t know.  Maybe I ordered checks and forgot to expect them.  Maybe it’s something from Amazon.com or Ebay?

WHAT IS IT?  All the other mail was quickly forgotten.

As I walked back to the house that the box was all I remember about my mailbox.  I stuffed the rest of the mail in my folded arm and carried the box home like it was something special; something fragile and that box had all my attention.

We are all so easily excited and highly curious about sealed boxes.  It’s like we are programmed as a child on Christmas day or birthdays and special occasions.  This curiosity of this moment was no exception, my heart actually raced a little. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

In the marketing space of the mailbox, the box wins, hands down.

When you think about that moment at your mailbox don’t you think we should all be mailing boxes to our most important customers?  If we can make them feel special and have them hold our brand in their hands with excitement and curiosity then we can create a lifetime relationship.

It’s not as expensive as you might think; especially when you look at the increased response rates and long-term relationship the investment creates for you.  Our best guests have so many options delivered to them each month.  A box from you can increase your wallet-share of business.

What’s that worth?  Perhaps millions!

Quite honestly it doesn’t have to be too elaborate either.  You can use a very thin box and insert an invitation, 2 tickets to your event and a special parking pass.  I would also include a personal note from the host as well.  Make it special!

The US Postal Service even has a special category of box mailing called “Marketing Parcels” that allow for up to 16 ounces of weight and up to a 9”x12”x2” box that gets special discounts.

Get your best clients to brag about your casino to their friends. Make them feel special and prove you care about their business.  Postcards have their place but don’t let them replace the more effective approach to client loyalty that includes irregular parcels, boxes and fed-ex or UPS envelopes.  Show guests they are special to you and that you look forward to spending more time with them.

The increased loyalty will be obvious to your bottom line.

Las Vegas Casino Marketing Conference Update

Casino Marketing ConferenceAs we get closer to the July24-26th Casino Marketing Conference being held at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel Casino there is lots of new information I want to share. This is a unique event and casinos from all over the country are registered to be at this popular event.

If you haven’t yet registered yet, you can do so HERE.

BEFORE THE EVENT:

Raving Consulting is hosting a 3 day educational program:
2012 Host Development / Casino Marketing Conference
Monday, July 23, 2012 – Thursday, July 26, 2012

These Host conferences are powerful and there is no better way to rejuvenate your hosts and help them maximize the guest experience. This should be mandatory training.

DURING THE EVENT:

The CSG Direct Mail Team is giving away free data-capturing mobile websites (email and cell) to the first 50 people that come by the booth. You can collect customer email address and cell phone numbers (with playerIDs) FREE and take advantage of the lower postage rates from the US Postal Service at the same time.

These are popular, powerful and easy to use.
Stop by the CSG Direct Mail Booth for details.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT:

Well this is Las Vegas so there is never a dull moment, this event is no different. There are at least 2 main events after the show on Wednesday night the 25th. There are 2 events you get to choose from because they are held at roughly the same time. These are brought to you by Raving Consulting and the Casino Direct Marketing Association.

Casino DMA Event – The Casino DMA is hosting a party at Napoleon’s Piano Bar at Paris Las Vegas. This is the same casino as the event so it is real easy to find. These events are a great place to meet other casino executives, socialize and make long term friends in the gaming industry.  In this industry you can use all the contacts you can get.  This is a great event that is planning a few surprises.

Raving Consulting Event – Never to be outdone, Raving Consulting with Dennis Conrad, All Star Incentive Marketing and Raving Contests powered by SportGame.

Leave it to Dennis to create a seriously funky and nothing-else-like-it event for our best clients on Wednesday evening during Casino Marketing.

They’re piling into a 56 person bus at 6:30 pm for Dennis’ Inside Las Vegas Marketing Tour and Scavenger Hunt. We’ll break into teams and explore the “marketing” underbelly of downtown Las Vegas that most folks have never experienced. After the scavenger hunt, the survivors will get back on the Raving bus and head out to another Vegas super-value, and enjoy the Feast Buffet at Boulder Station Casino, our compliments.

This is truly a crazy, fun and bonding experience.

If you have any other questions about the event just let me know.

Making USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) work for you

Guest Post from Pam Bush from CSG Direct Mail. Pam has been certified by the USPS for mailpiece quality control and she is our in-house Every Door Direct Mail EDDM expert.

How we can make USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you!  

EDDM Every Door Direct Mail

Pam Bush EDDM Support

Are you frustrated because you’re trying to use the USPS EDDM Simplified mailing program but find that it really isn’t that simple?  What could be better than a mailing program that costs you less to print and even less to mail?  According to the USPS website, you can even do it yourself.

However, many businesses have tried this approach of doing it themselves and then end up bringing us their mail pieces that have not been printed the right size or on the right paper stock and have been rejected by their local post office when they tried to mail their “simplified EDDM mailing”.  Fortunately for them, we have found ways to salvage their print/mail job and still get it mailed for a reasonable cost.

A simple phone call to CSG Direct in the beginning would lead you in the right direction. As a premier Print and Mail Shop, we specialize in knowing what postal requirements are required for EDDM mailings.  We can design your mail piece, obtain the addresses you need, do the postal paperwork, print the facing slips, all the required bundling and then present them to the post office for you.

We have had many successful EDDM mailings.  One of our local clients printed and mailed out over 75,000 pieces. Their overall cost’s including postage was approximately $20,000.  When their six month direct mail campaign ended, the ROI was $207,000.  Due to their success they have chosen to continue using the EDDM program with CSG Direct, expanding their mailing area to reach even more new clients.  We would like the opportunity to help you try to achieve these same amazing results.

*New ways to reach out to potential clients at a significant cost savings for your business.

*Get postage rates as low as 14.5 cents a piece depending on the mail area.
For postal approved Non-Profit companies: postage is only .07-.122 cents a piece.

*No mailing list purchase costs.

*Mail only to the zip codes or carrier routes YOU choose.

*Your mail pieces will go directly to the carriers and not have to go through postal machinery.
This allows for quicker delivery & a cleaner looking mail piece when it reaches its recipient.

This program works well for large corporate companies and as well for the Mom & Pop corner store/business.  We can help make the USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you.  We’re here to help!

Call me at 1-800-881-2150 ext 36 and I’ll walk you through the whole program.

Pam Bush
CSG Direct Mail

Compete with igaming, bring on the nerds

Bring on the nerds
To compete with igaming you need to “bring on the nerds”

Every incumbent gaming operation has had to deal with the expanding gambling landscape and new, large and well-funded competition opening down the street. The barrier to market has always been the huge expenses of buying land, building giant brick-and-mortar properties, staffing and then finally marketing against us. Well a new dawn approaches!

This time though, the battle won’t be on the strip.  This battle is on the internet.

So how strong is your internet team and what are they focused on?
(please don’t say Facebook, please. lol)

The real battle will take place on the search engine.  If we do our jobs right we can beat them on the internet. What every casino needs now is an expanding army of programmers, bloggers and online search engine experts.  The more you understand about search engines the more you will understand the large advantage you have on the internet over the online casinos.  You truly can win this fight if all physical casinos massively outperform online casinos at the search engine screen.

Bring on the Nerds!
I’m a nerd so it’s ok.

There is a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal about a current online battle the cosmopolitan is having with an international company trying to get their online business. Article Here

What you see in the article is a typical online battle that you may all be dealing with in the months and years ahead.  These new online casinos will have to create clever brands and spend tens-of-millions marketing those brands.  They will try and save those millions by hijacking your brands online.  It’s already happening to The Cosmo.

But, The Cosmopolitans website kicks major Search Engine butt over the hijacking site. A search engine strategy report shows newcosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the online hijack) with an SEO score of 44 out of 100 but cosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the real site) has an SEO score of 66 out of 100.  The Cosmo is winning but still needs to step up their search engine strategy above that 66.

In their local market, Palms.com has a grade of 88 out of 100. They are really working their online strategy obviously.  You can’t just build pretty websites folks. This is an online battle for the modern customer and one of your most valuable marketing dollars you can spend.

You can never learn too much about search engine marketing!  Do you know that your own blog is worth 200x more than facebook, but many casinos have staff focused on facebook and don’t even have a blog.  What is your H1-tag strategy?  How about your meta-tag strategy?  You even need an image and alt-text strategy too. What are the actual names of your images anyway?  What does Google think you do?

Google cannot “see” your pretty website like humans do.  What is your website SEO score? More importantly, when a customer decides to plan a trip and types “Hotels in [your city]” are you on the top of the results?  A successful search engine strategy pays off big! It’s time to take your site to the next level and protect yourselves from igaming too.

Average Casino Database is only 76.5% deliverable

On a typical monthly casino mailing, that’s up to $3,500 in cash gets flushed down the drain.

Not sure how deliverable your casino database is? Let’s make you the hero with your CFO this month, and save you some money on your next mailing.

First, how did I come up with the number above?

Printing for 30K                  $0.18 each
Postage for 30K                 $0.26 each
Mailing Services                 $0.06 each
Average Cost Per Piece   $0.50 each

Second, where did I get the 76.5% number from?

Direct Mail Deliverability

Third, the ugly truth
Multiply total cost per piece (.50 X 7,050) times the 23.5% that did not get delivered. This is how much money you can then be flushing down the drain that month: $3,525, which totals to $42,300 per year. This is high-value, low-hanging fruit.

Finally, the SOLUTION (and you become the HERO)

How hard is it to clean up your database BEFORE you mail? Not hard at all. As a start, you need to enlist your direct mail provider by cleaning up your database through NCOA quarterly updating. Seventeen percent (17%) of the US moves each year. The real trick is to get that data back into your player tracking system.

How much your direct mail provider will charge you for this always depends on the size of your database and if you want it uploaded back in to your system. It can typically range from $80-$1,800.

While they are scrubbing your list, have them run an off-property “near-duplicate” report to help you find the Mikes, Michaels, and other obvious duplicates.

Bonus ways to save even more

The 76.5% number above just includes errors in your address database. It does not take into consideration internal database maintenance practices you can be doing now:

Return mail
Appropriately code all returned mail in your database so that you don’t continue to mail and waste resources. Make efforts internally to get correct information.

NO MAIL requests
ALWAYS respect your guests’ requests to be removed from your marketing distributions. THEY WILL STILL PLAY!

86’d client lists
You don’t want them in your property. DON’T INVITE THEM! Code your database appropriately. You can always change it if you have made amends with the previously barred guest.

Duplicate accounts
Install procedures at point of intake to make sure duplicate accounts are not added. Ask questions …
~   Ask if they have ever visited before.
~   Ask if they have ever had a club card before.
~   If the same name appears, check the DOB.
~   If the same name and DOB appear, ask if they have recently moved.

Linked accounts
Two people living in the same household may share one disposable income. Do they get separate offers or one offer together? Establish a policy and make it clearly known. Don’t waste resources — make a plan that works for your guests.
Bottom line, be sure you are not flushing money down the drain, when the “fix” is pretty simple.

Quality Control, Your life depends on it!

quality control paperwork at CSG direct mailQuality Control is the process in which the details and consistency of a job are reviewed before the job is advanced to the next stage of protocol. QC includes the job’s artwork and its data.

Both steps are crucial when preparing a print job. For instance, you may have the correct amounts in the data, but it may be mapped to the wrong version of artwork. The job could be going presorted first class mailing, but the barcode reads standard mailing.

These are two of many possible examples of errors that can lead to costly mistakes. One mistake is all a job needs to go horribly awry! That one mistake could cost you thousands of dollars or even your client altogether. This guide is here to help you prevent such mistakes from happening.

Preemptive Measures
Q: What is the first step in preventing a mistake from happening?

A: Having all the proper details written where everyone who handles the job can read them. This means writing up the proper instructions for everything: art, data, postage, assembly, etc. By gathering all the job details at once before the job begins, it will help insure the customer has full knowledge of the outcome of their project and what it requires; therefore lessening the likeliness that there will be changes. Remember, every time you go back and change something in a job that’s already begun, the odds of errors greatly increase! After being in this business for 7 years, I can’t stress that enough.

Proofing
Due to its very nature, variable printing can contain many details to keep an eye on. For example, one mailer alone can have variable dates, freeplay amounts, hotel offers, account numbers, addresses, disclaimers, and varying graphic fields. I think you get the picture. That’s a lot of fields to keep in line.

Steps to proofing a job before sending it out for customer sign-off:

1. Know the variables and all aspects involved in that particular job.
a. Dates, amounts, disclaimers, address fields, snipes, graphic fields, etc.

2. How many versions are there? Are there multiple versions being run as one? Proof each and every version!

3. Mailing Class? Presorted standard, Full rate first class? What is your mailer being run as? Are there multiple versions being run as different postal rates?

4. Check the proofs against the original start data. For example, on the proofs it says John Smith Account# 40456 is getting $5,000 in freeplay. Wait! That’s a lot of money to just be giving away. Now going back to the start data you may find out that John Smith Account# 40456 is only supposed to get $500 in freeplay. Try explaining that mistake to your customer. So, when comparing the proofs to the start data look for these things:

a. Name and address. Is John Smith at 123 Liberty Lane on the proof as well as in the start data?
b. Any type of offers that may be included in the start data, such as: Amounts, dates, hotels offers, disclaimers, locality (This is where knowing all the variables in data really comes in handy).
c. Version: The proof says John Smith is getting “version A” does the start data reflect that?
d. Double check if there are “bi-weekly” or “semi-monthly” type offers. It would be a shame if John Smith got $100 every day when he was supposed to get $100 every other week!

5. Is the mailer size the proper dimensions? Does it go in an envelope or is it folded down to proper size? Ultimately, does the final product reflect the instructions given by the customer AND what is written up in the instructions for the job?

6. Color. Do the colors match those of the original artwork? (You may have to consult with a graphic designer on this.)

7. Spelling and grammar mistakes! Proofread every single word and sentence!

Comparing the final product to the start files is one of the most efficient ways to ensure you will be providing your customer with proper proofs. Many times customers will not fully understand the magnitude of the seemingly miniscule details involved in digital variable printing, thus overlooking small (but huge!) mistakes. This is why it is crucial that we catch these errors before we send proofs to our clients.

Address Block Sign-offThis is it. This is your last chance to change or fix the job before all five thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand (!) pieces are printed and money is thrown away because nobody checked a silly little thing like class, barcode, quantity, etc.

Things to check before signing off on the address block:

1. Class. For each version that you sign off on.

2. Barcode. Does it scan? If so, make sure the barcode reflects the class and work order.

3. Address. Make sure all the proper fields are there, such as: First Name, Last Name, Company, Address 1, Address 2, City, State, Zip Code, Country, etc.

4. Once again I recommend going back and comparing the given record(s) with the start data.

5. Check the postal paperwork. Does the postal paperwork and tray tags reflect the information in the job instructions?

6. Color, size, paper – make sure all of these are correct.

In closing, I must stress that communication between the sales rep and the customer is the most essential part to ensuring a smooth process that will lead to a successful marketing campaign. Furthermore, this communication must be transcribed orderly and properly into the job’s instructions. There is no reason for an error to happen if the proofing process is properly utilized and every small detail is checked. Look at it this way: would you rather spend 10 minutes proofing your job or 10 hours and double the cost reprinting it because you were too busy to proof? I know, that’s a no-brainer!

Okay, you’ve proofed it, the customer signed off, and now it’s in your lap for address block sign-off? I know you’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck! I thought this job was good to go?” But who knows, maybe something was accidentally changed in the time that the customer signed-off to the time it took a press operator to get the job ready, this is your last chance to catch any mistakes, take advantage of it!

By Chris Ohm -Data and Design Department