The Postal Service has announced rate increases which will take effect on January 27, 2019. USPS 2019 rate increases range from 1.394% for mixed automated area distribution center – MAADC – mail (old rate: $0.287, new rate: $0.291) to 2.555% for automated area distribution center – AADC – pieces (old rate: $0.274, new rate: $0.281). In between are increases to Saturation mail which will go up 2.283% from $0.219 to $0.224, while 5-Digit Marketing Mail letters will go up 1.992% from $0.251 to $0.256. Flats and packages experience some even higher percentage increases. MAADC Marketing Mail Flats rise 5.686%. Overall, the increases average about 2.5%. Download the new USPS rates from the Postal Explorer site.
There’s a reason the 2019 USPS rate increases are expressed to 3 decimal places. Given today’s huge mass mailings the costs add up. Want some perspective? In 1792 it cost six cents ($.06) to send a letter within a distance of 30 miles. That was for a “single letter,” defined as consisting of one sheet of paper. In today’s dollars, that would become $1.57, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI increase of 2,515.59% between 1792 and 2018. Of course mail volume was minuscule back then. Thanks to advancing technology and population growth, mailings in the millions have become common, so every thousandth of a per cent change makes a big difference.
The postal rate hikes don’t paint the full picture. With increased postal costs, mailing list hygiene becomes that much more important. Undeliverable addresses will represent an even larger waste of time and money. Mail returned as Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) incurs costs that can skyrocket. As of Q4 2018, the Postal Service reports that across all industries, the most common reason for UAA is Change Of Address (COA), at 35.5%. (View the data released by the USPS.)
The National Change Of Address database NCOALINK exists to help mailers avoid this costly outcome. Utilize the National Deliverability Index to compare mailing lists before committing to any or all of them. The NID identifies and scores factors deemed critical for optimum mail processing and delivery.
Don’t Design Your Way To Poor Response.
Even a 100% accurate mailing list can under perform if the physical piece is designed in such a way that delivery errors occur. There are several ways this can happen. Following are guidelines from the USPS intended to help avoid this wasteful outcome.
Mistakes To Avoid
- Put anything below the ZIP Code line. Automated mail processing machines read addresses on mailpieces from the bottom up and will look first for a city, state, and ZIP code.
- Use patterns, prominent flecks, or shiny-coated paper for your envelopes. Some types of paper interfere with the machines that read addresses.
- Use reverse type (white printing on a black background).
- Let parts of the address slip out of view if your address appears inside a window.
- Cut off important information when using address labels.
- Apply labels at a slant.
- Use punctuation, with the exception of the hyphen in the ZIP+4 Code.
Yes, the USPS 2019 rate increases mean the cost of sending marketing mail is going up. In fairness, the USPS is a money making operation that has to cover its costs. That said, it is incumbent on mailers to minimize the impact of these increases by adhering to well established practices for mailing list accuracy and hygiene, as well as carefully designing promotional and marketing mail pieces to work best within the delivery system.