After approval from the Postal Regulatory Committee last month, the USPS will move forward with new postal rates for market dominant mail (first class letters, postcards and flats, and standard mail letters and flats) and competitive mail (priority mail, packages). The changes go into effect on January 21.
There will be a one cent increase to postcard stamps and metered letters. The rate change does not include any price change for single-piece letters being mailed to international destinations or for additional ounces for letters.
Per USPS: “The prices will raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 1.9 percent, and most Shipping Services products will average a 3.9 percent price increase. While Mailing Services price increases are limited based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Shipping Services prices are adjusted strategically, according to market conditions and the need to maintain affordable services for customers.”
2018 Commercial First-class letter rates:
|Weight Not Over
2018 Commercial Marketing Mail rates:
|Entry Point||Saturation||High-Density Plus||High-Density||Basic||5-Digit Scheme||AADC||Mixed AADC|
For more information, go to USPS.com.
Outsourcing your transactional communications can have a powerful effect on your business and its bottom line, whether you opt for an EBPP solution or traditional print and mail. Here are three specific reasons to do it.
- Free up your employees’ time.
Billing can be a complex process. Using a single-source provider for all your billing and communication needs eliminates the internal day-to-day tasks that bog down employees. They can use their productivity and passion in different ways while we streamline this process.
- Benefit from the latest technologies and operational experience.
Digital, print and mail, mobile: Offering those channels isn’t enough; they must be optimized. At OSG, we use programs like MailTrek to monitor inbound and outbound mail, which improves the efficiency of your collection efforts (and ultimately saves you money). We offer dynamic messaging, which turns invoices into marketing tools and engages customers month to month.
Our solutions are also practical. With production facilities across the country, our distributive print process guarantees a quick turnaround time.
- Move into the future with us.
As technology continues to evolve, customers are going to expect an omni-channel experience—an unbroken stream of access to their information. Through new acquisitions, more robust printing processes, and additional digital solutions (i.e. OSG Letter Composer), we’ve positioned ourselves to move with customers as they engage with the world. Because this is ultimately about more than billing—it’s about communication.
It’s almost a new year. Let’s talk strategy.
Checking the mail nowadays really means checking for what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to toss without opening. In that competitive atmosphere—fighting for a customer’s attention over Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and pre-approved credit cards—sending multiple mailings a month is overkill.
OSG’s Additional Messaging Page is designed to let you communicate more with less.
The AMP makes it easy to turn a transactional document you’re already sending into a multipurpose document. It’s a supplemental page that prints seamlessly alongside the invoice or statement. (In other words, they can’t just throw it away.) This also saves you money on printing, postage, and administration costs.
The specifics of the message are in your hands. It could be a welcome letter, a monthly promotion, or, yes, an incentive to try online billing. It can be single or double-sided, full-color, and targeted. It uses OSG Campaign Composer to segment your customer base so people aren’t receiving redundant or irrelevant messages.
The options are endless, but the pieces of paper won’t be.
The United States Postal Service recently released their 2016 Household Diary Study, which, since 1987, has set out to collect data on household use of mail and how that use evolves over time. The survey culls information on “demographics, lifestyle, attitudes toward mail and advertising, bill payment behavior, and use of the Internet and other information technologies.” It’s a long, comprehensive, and interesting (really!) document. We pulled three facts worth noting about transactions mail.
- The share of bills payed electronically has increased—significantly.
Not too surprising, right? In 2006, 62 percent of households paid their bills by mail. In 2016, that number dropped to 27 percent. Conversely, the percentage of households paying electronically has jumped from 32 percent to 70 percent in those ten years. The study attributes this to “electronic diversion” which is another way of saying Internet access. A smaller percentage of households pay their bills in person, but that number also declined in the 10-year span from 6 percent to 3 percent.
- BUT the shift to bills received electronically hasn’t happened as quickly as you might think.
Though the Internet has dramatically affected the number of payments made by mail, the percentage of households receiving bills electronically hasn’t followed the same pattern with an increase from 4 percent to 23 percent. Why? The study attributes this to a correlation of household Internet access with income and education.
- Electric bills experienced the largest decline in payment by mail.
From 2011 to 2016, the percentage of households paying electric bills by mail dropped from 46 percent to 33 percent. The next largest decrease was with medical bills, with a drop from 41 percent in 2011 to 32 percent in 2016.
Here at OSG, we’ve just completed our annual customer survey. Though we love hearing the praise (shout out to Account Management for scoring more than nine out of 10), the constructive feedback is what keeps the trains moving. Maybe there’s a way to make a process run more smoothly. Maybe a client is interested in a new service of ours. Maybe there’s one simple change that would make the company’s overall experience with us that much better. Because that’s what we’re delivering—an experience, not a product.
Every single year, we read each comment, cull the best suggestions, and incorporate changes into our business where it makes sense. It’s crucial to live up to the kind of partnership we promise. The questions vary in scope and topic (customer service, products, management), but they boil down to this essential query: How are we doing?
We value this input so much, in fact, that we offer customer survey inserts as an option for our clients to send to their customers. It makes sense to use an invoice package as an opportunity to ask the questions that often go unasked amid the day-to-day tasks that keep us all bogged down.
Not everyone is going to speak up without prompting. Open a new line of communication. You might find insight that improves specific relationships and moves you closer to the bigger picture goals of your company.
Envelopes are marketing opportunities. When a customer sifts through an uninspiring sea of plain white envelopes, yours should float to the top. A smartly-designed envelope can be the difference between an immediate open or a toss into the deal-with-it-later pile. In fact, per a recent Xerox Color Study, people are 55 percent more likely to pick up a full-color piece of mail first.
We take that intel seriously. OSG Envelope Messaging is a key part of our communications strategy for your mailed transactional pieces. Color is important, but we also work with you to design something that communicates timely, relevant information to your customers right away.
Aside from encouraging recipients to tear into your envelope first, these are a few other benefits of using OSG Envelope Messaging:
- Brand familiarity. Let them know it’s you.
- Increased up-selling and cross-selling potential.
- Have a great offer inside? Tease it on the front.
- Educate and alert. Important dates need reinforcing.
Go here to learn more about how this might work for your business.
The words “bill” and “invoice” are often used interchangeably across industries and in conversation. Though not a major crime against the language (they’re swapped with such frequency, it’s unlikely a misunderstanding would occur), it’s worth noting the differences. The two are related, but they’re not twins.
Bill: What we most commonly refer to as a bill is a balance forward, business-to-customer document. It’s a request for payment with the expectation that the payment will be made by a specific date. If it’s a recurring bill, any missed payment will appear in the next bill. For example, if you don’t pay March’s bill, April’s bill will reflect the balance from March, what’s due in April and any penalty or interest that has accrued. A bill carries over, and it also makes a demand: Pay now.
Invoice: An invoice is an itemized list of goods or services with individual costs and a total sum, typically used in business-to-business transactions. An invoice can be sent before or after a payment, which is why it acts more as a record of a transaction rather than an immediate request for payment. (If the invoice is sent prior to payment, it will often say something like, “Pay within 30 days.”) An invoice is also a static document, meaning it doesn’t show the previous balance due or payment history.
Statement: That’s right, a bonus word. A statement is essentially a status document indicating where an account stands within a particular time frame–you’re all paid up, you owe x amount, etc. It’s not a request for payment, though the word is often used like it is.
And one last language note: Another reason these words are used interchangeably is a matter of tone. In short, getting an invoice or a statement sounds nicer than getting a bill.