Contact Us at 760-480-2323

Customer Database Analysis: Who are best Customers?

Your best customers are your current customers, but do you know who your current customers are and how to target to similar potenial customers.  In additional to marketing to currrent customers it is beneficial to target to propects that look like you current customers.

 Action Mail is able to take your customer list and analyze demographic indicators of who your customers are.  With this information we are able to generate a report demonstrating the percentage of your current customer database that fall into differnet demographic categories.  These categories include, age, gender, income, geography, vehicle types, education level, net worth, presence of children, just to name a few.  

 With this report you can better understand your customer and target new customer that look like your current customers.  Once this report is created there are a few options, we can pull a list that we can generate using the statistics of your report and target a look a like audience or we can focus on a few of the most relevant indicators and generate a list using these indicators.

 Understanding the data behind your current customers is very helpful in creating new campaigns, and in the long run will save money on wasted printing and postage to individuals outside of your target demographic.  Contact us to learn more about how we can analyse your data and target your marketing

Next Day Flyers, Vista Print, and Other Online Printers

There are many online printers to select from but online printing can often be more expensive and of lower quality.  Working with a local print and mail house like Action Mail is a much difference process than submitting files online and hoping they come out as you wished.  Below are a few advantages of using a printer like Action Mail.

Price: Often times online printers are more expensive than printers like Action Mail.  There are costs like additional services (4 color printing on both sides, paper quality), shipping, etc that increase the advertised cost on many websites

Turnaround: Action Mail can many times have faster turnaround times than online printers.  Especially if the printing is being mailed, Action Mail can help you avoid delays and costs associated with shipping.  Action Mail's printing turnaround is typicall 3-6 days depending on the quantity and piece, but we also have the ability to expedite printing if needed.

File Review: Many online printers will print files as they come, whereas Action Mail will review your files to make sure files are setup to print correctly and we will even have a quick review of the content to see if we can identify any errors like spelling errors, etc prior to going to print.  This is very important especially for direct mail printing, as Action Mail will ensure that your printing meets USPS standards to get you the best postage rates

Support:  Many online printers do not have support that you can easily contact to ask questions.  At Action Mail you can always contact one of our sales representatives for help with your printing and mailing needs.  Action Mail can also provide advice on the best stocks to use for your specific job and ways to reduce your print costs.

 

Disaster Relief Marketing

When disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more occur the people affected need support, but it is tricky to target and market to those affected.  Many organizations and companies such as law firms, insurance agents, constuction companies, etc can provide much needed services, but it is hard for disaster victims to know about the services they offer. Direct Mail is a great way to provide marketing material for services to support people effected by disasters, as it is easy to to geograohically target individuals effected. 

Below are a few tips:

1. Geographic marketing: From our experience it is often best to target the geographic area where the disaster took place.  Depending on the disaster sometimes list of those effected are available but many times it takes a while to compile and can be expensive.  It is often more cost effective to target a geographical area even though you may include housholds not effected by the disaster.

2. Mail should get to the intended person.  Even if a home is destroyed by a disaster marketing direct mail should get to the intended recipient.  There are many important documents that need to be received by disaster victims, and one of the first thing FEMA will do is set up a forwarding addresses.  Additionally the USPS will hold mail for areas where disasters took place to ensure the recipients can receive their mail.

3. Tailored Messaging. This is a very difficult time for disaster victims and a well crafted message which offers support and a solution to the problems being faced is often times what is needed to help these victims but their lives back together.  Be sure to include credentials, testimonials, and additional proof of service to help set your services apart any scams.

4. Easy next steps: Be sure to make it easy for people to respond to your marketing piece.  Many times disaster victims have little to no resources so multiple ways to seek help will be necessary including phone numbers, addresses to meet in person and webpages.

This is a difficult time but providing your service could help provide support communities rebuild.  Whether you are a law firm, construction company, or any other service provider getting your services to those who need it most is essential.  Direct mail allows you to do so effectively and unobtrosively at this very sensitive time.

Marketing Collateral included Product Fulfillment

Fulfilling and shipping your products are not just a great way to deliver products to clients but it is a great way to market your brand and other products.  Shipping products is a great way to include additional marketing collateral giving clients coupon codes or special offers for purchasing additional products.  It is also a great and many times one of the only opportunities for you to develop your brand because in the digital age this can be one of the few times your clients will physically interact with your brand. 

  Including personalized offers and messages with your products will help you  connect with your clients and help create a more exciting unboxing experience.  Including marketing collateral like postcards, flyer, or notes will also have a lasting impact as often these do not get thrown away and are a constant reminder to the purchaser, friends, and family about your brand and products.  Branding your boxes will also create excitement and envy from friends, family and neighbors, and similar to flyers or postcards boxes typically sit around for a while, need multiple touches to dispose of them, and often get re-purposed.  

The best part about including marketing collateral with shipping your product is the free ride.  You are already paying for shipping so additional collateral will be delivered to your client free of charge by your carrier.

Are Superbowl Commercials worth the cost?

A thirty second Superbowl commercial costs about $5 million, but the advertisements reach over 100 million people.  The cost per viewer is a bargain but the inability to target a specific audience mean much of the advertising budget could be wasted on viewers who do no have an interest in the product being marketed.  Most of the advertisements are for large brands and advertising focuses on brand recognition as opposed to marketing specific services and/or offers.  These advertisers are typically large corporations and their Superbowl commercials are just a small part of their overall marketing budget. 

 These commercials are worth the return, publicity, and brand recognition generated by these commercials but they are not ideal for every business.  Most businesses will see a much higher ROI from targeted campaigns at consumers and businesses who specifically fall into their target demographic.  Targeted direct marketing and direct mail has a much higher cost per viewer, but focuses on a demographic that is much more likely to convert.  

 Another benefit is that Superbowl commericals have a longer shelf life.  The 30 second spot gets played over and over again by news channels, blogs, etc, and they are always a topic of conversation.  Similarly direct mail typically has a longer shelf life as they are viewed by who ever collects the mail then typically sit out for a few days and are perused by other members of the household.

Superbowl commercials are expensive but the cost per viewer is relatively low making the potential ROI high.  Yet, these commercials are only beneficial for products with a national scope whose message applies to the majority of superbowl viewers.  Most companies do not fall into this scope and a targeted direct marketing approach is often preferable and has a higher ROI.

 

What type of paper should I print my postcards on?

The type of paper for printing your postcards really depends on the look and feel you are looking for as well as your budget.

Paper thickness: The thickness of the paper will need to be at the very minimum 9pt or 0.009" thick, but this is very flimsy and too close to USPS postal regulations so we often recommend using a thicker stock.  For digital printing we recommend an 11pt stock and for offset printing we recommend a 14pt stock.  These hold up will during postal processing and are very cost effective.  Some people prefer a 10pt stock as this is slightly cheaper but the postcard does feel cheaper as well.

Paper Coating: The most common options for paper coating are matte or gloss coating.  These can be applied after printing as well, and we can advise the best options for your specific printing.  Typically gloss coating is used for pieces with bright graphics whereas matte is used for pieces that are more text heavy or with simpler images.  Yet, coating is more of a personal preference based on how glossy and shiny you would like your postcards to look.

Specialty Paper: Some clients prefer specialty paper like linen cover stock, colored papers, waterproof paper, etc.  These are typically much more expensive but do set your printed postcards apart from the rest.  We have the ability to print on practically any stock.  Sometimes printing black and white on colored or specialty paper ends up being more cost effective while also having a look that differentiates your postcard

USPS January 21, 2018 Rate Change

The USPS has announced that on January 21, 2018 postage rates will be changing.  It is not all bad news, there are certain categories of mail that are coming down in price.  Below are a few highlights of the changes to be made, please go to our 2018 USPS Postage Rate Update page or contact us at (760) 480-2323 for more information and help on how you can take advantage of the changes.

Highlights of 2018 USPS Rate Change:

First Class Mail

  • Price of a First Class Retail Stamp is increasing from $0.49 to $0.50
  • Price for a First Class Flat increasing from $0.98 to $1.00
  • International Postage will remain the same

Presorted Standard Mail

  • Presorted Standard Mail is still in the process of being re-branded  as Marketing Mail, but the restrictions on the type of mail that can be sent under this class and all requirements will remain the same.
  • On average Presorted Standard Mail postage will increase by less than 1.6%, although some presort prices are decreasing.  For most mailings postage should increase slightly

Packages and Parcels
 

  • Rates for  First Class Packages Commercial, First Class International USPS Retail Ground, and Priority Mail will all increase 3.9%
  • First Class Retail Parcels will increase 14.5%


We are here to help you navigate these price changes and will help you get the lowest postage rate. Please call or e-mail us if you need any help or have any questions.

 

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Direct Mail Quick Turnaround

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How quickly do you need your direct mail piece in the mail?  Action Mail specializes in highly complicated quick turn around direct mail pieces.  This varies from highly sensitive open enrollment packets to tax forms that need to be distributed to employees.  Action Mail can also quickly print and send direct mail postcards and letters at the lowest postage rates.  If you have a rush job contact us today and we will work with you to get your piece delivered accurately and on time.

USPS Postage Rate

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The USPS announced the possibility of a rate increase for January 2018.  This still needs to be finalized but the USPS provided detailed plans on their proposed rates.  The cost of a first class stamp will increase to $0.50 and the cost of a postcard stamp will be $0.35, a one cent increase.

Below are a few high level changes that the USPS has proposed

  • Commercial products will see a 4.7% increase but this is lower than FedEx's increase of 4.9%
  • Priority Mail is proposed to increase 3.9%
  • Discounts will be reduced for drop shipping mailings to local post offices
  • Discounts will be reduced for postal incentives
  • Bulk Mail (Standard Mail) are proposed to increase 2%

The cost of postage will vary depending on the size of the piece or package as well as what rate category the list qualifies for.

Action Mail will continue to monitor the updates from the post office and will provide updates once the rates are finalized.

Foreign Shipments

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Shipping products and mailing to foreign countries can be difficult and expensive.  Action Mail can help reduce the costs of foreign shipments and mailings while ensuring that you meet the requirements of the country you are shipping and delivering to.  Action Mail can ship products or mailings directly into the destination country and have the local postal service deliver them to the final location.  This can save you a lot on postage and shipping costs, but this depend on the local mail system so depending on the country reliability and access to tracking information may vary.

The type of foreign shipping you select will depend on the product you are shipping, the weight, urgency to be delivered, and the country you are shipping to.  There are many different carriers and options all with different price points, delivery times, and reliability.  You will also have to take into account customs fees which will depend on the product you are shipping and the value of the product.

Shipping to some countries can be very difficult depending on how the local mail and distribution channels have been developed.  It is important to receive the address in the correct format and select a shipping option that meets your budget and your customers needs.

Environmentally Friendly Packaging

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The most cost effective, simplest, and one of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of your products packaging is to reduce package size.  Reducing the amount of packaging will save on shipping costs, reduce the use of additional packaging materials, and reduce the footprint of shipping a package.  The smaller the package the less materials, boxes, etc which in turn reduce the amount of waste and environmental impact.

  Apart from reducing the size of your packaging you can also use materials that are environmentally friendly.  Most shippers use corrugated boxes that are 100% recyclable but there are additional steps you can take to ensure your packaging is green.  It is recommendable to avoid the use of plastics and use recyclable and biodegradable packing materials and boxes.  There are packaging options available using boxed made of recycled contents, as well as packing materials made from recycled contents, or biodegradable packing materials.  There are also innovative green packing materials and boxes available but many of these products are expensive and not readily accessible. These environmentally friendly materials may not be as sturdy as traditional packing materials so be sure to test the durability of your packing materials for your specific products.  Using environmentally friendly packaging is fruitless if your product arrives damaged and you need to re-ship and pack a new products.

Selecting the correct box for your e-commerce shipments

Deciding which box to use for your shipments can save you a lot of money.  There are a lot of different aspects that should be considered based on your product, user experience, budget, and fulfillment.

Durability:  The most important aspect in selecting a box should be whether it will protect your product.  Saving money on shipping and boxes is fruitless if your product arrives broken and needs to be replaced and reshipped.  Corrugated boxes are rated on the bursting test (lbs/sq inch required to burst the box) as well as the Edge Crush Test ((ECT) lbs/sq inch required to crush the edge of a box).  Typical standards are 200# for the bursting test and 32# for the ECT.  If you have a heavy weight or delicate product it is better to go with double walled box or a mailer box which is reinforced by multiple folds.  Indestructo boxes are mailers are essentially uncrushable.  Boxes should have a stamp from the manufacturer indicating their rating, which is helpful to determine which box is the best for your product.  Typically 200# boxes should be fine for most shipments but it is best to evaluate boxes for your specific products.

Size:  Selecting the correct size can save you lots of money in shipping cost.  The aim should be to get you products to fit into boxes with as little open space as possible (be sure to allow enough space for padding and protective materials).  Doing so will decrease the cost of shipping as your product will weigh less, and every ounce counts.  Additionally shipping carriers can charge based on the size of the piece as opposed to the weight.  Dimensional or cubic weight calculations vary by carrier but when designing your box you should evaluate which carrier you will use and what are the most efficient size to use.  When shipping multiple products it is best to identify a few types of standard boxes to use that fit within the dimensional weight classifications that will work best for the carrier you will be using.  Depending on the size of the box some carriers have different requirements for the maximum and minimum dimensions and weights.

Design:  There are a few different box designs you can select from which depends on your product, fulfillment and intended user experience.  Some different types of boxes include traditional corrugated boxes, mailers, tab locked mailers, carry cases, etc.  Traditional boxes are the most efficient to fulfill, but are less secure and are less aesthetically pleasing, whereas mailers, tab locked mailers, and carry cases are more time consuming and difficult to assemble and fulfill but are more secure and look much nicer.

In summary you want to get your packaging to be as light and small as possible while still ensuring that your product is secure and protected.  Aesthetics can be added to the boxes but to save money on shipping and fulfillment you will want to decrease packaging as much as possible.

Online direct mail campaigns

Direct Mail can be ordered online but it is often better to at the very least discuss the project with an expert.  At Action Mail we publish ballpark pricing of our services, but we prefer to quote and price each job individually, as no two jobs should be the same.  It is important to design a specific campaign related to your demographic and market.  Ordering direct mail online often leads to cookie cutter programs that do not stand out and can be ineffective.  Even once you have a campaign designed and running it is important to adjust the campaign periodically, leveraging results to improve the campaign.

Online ordering can be very simple, but without an in depth look at your marketing plan, budget, and target audience you could be spending money in the wrong places.  There are also tricks of the trade which can help to reduce postage and increase efficiencies, but this really depends on the type of piece you are mailing, the quantity, demographic, location, etc.  Ordering postcards or flyers online may seem like the most cost effective option but many times you will end up spending more in printing and postage and get lower returns than if you went directly to a mail house.

How to Protect Shipped Products

The amount of packing materials and the type of packing material needed to protect your product from damage during shipping really depends on the product being shipped.  The first thing to evaluate is how delicate the product is and how it may be damaged.  Depending on this you can elect the best packaging as well as the best packaging material.  The box or packaging is your first line of defense.  If you product runs the risk of being crushed by other boxes, it is best to select a sturdy box or even an indestructible mailer.  The disadvantage of using these stronger boxes is they take longer to assemble and weigh more, which will increase your postage costs.

 Once you have determined the outer packaging you will need to design the inner packaging material.  Take into account how fragile the products are, how many products will be in each box, how they could interact and damage one another, if products are already packaged, as well as how you would like the end user to experience opening the package.  The use of packaging materials will help ensure that products do not move around in the their package and help protect the products.  For fragile products it is best to wrap these products in a protective material like bubble wrap, and additional product box, foam, etc.  To prevent products from moving in the box ensure that the box is as full as possible fillers like crinkle paper, bubble wrap, tissue paper, etc.  The type of filler you should use will depend on your budget, aesthetics of your packaging, and need for protection.  To reduce the amount of filler and how much products move select the smallest boxes possible for your products.

  Protecting products is essential as receiving a damaged products means lost revenue and a dissatisfied customer.  Sometimes delicate items will break when shipping, as these boxes often get thrown around during shipping, but there are precautions you can take to mitigate risks and design your packaging to be both functional and aesthetic.  It is recommendable to test your packaging prior to shipping to get a better understanding of what type of impact your products can withstand.   

 

USPS Informed Delivery, Mail to Your Email

The USPS is launching a new program called Informed Delivery, where all mail going to your mailbox is scanned and sent to your email or available to view on the USPS online portal.  This is a great services which allows people to view their mail on the go and also is helpful for travelers and people who live in areas where mail theft is common.  

Informed Delivery is also a great tool for advertisers.  Not only will your mail piece be visible online you also have the opportunity to design a digital piece with hyperlinks that can be included in the email or online portal.  This allows you to provide direct call to action that are easy for consumers to act on.  This services also allows for analytics demonstrating how many people have viewed the images of you direct mail piece and how many have clicked on your link.

How much does this service cost?  It is actually free of charge for both the consumer and advertiser.  It is currently only available in certain markets but the USPS is ramping up its advertising of the product and hopes to vastly increase the availability and use.  The only additional cost for advertisers is the design and uploading of the ride along piece.

To evaluate if it is worth implementing informed delivery add-ons to your mail piece it is best to have your list analyzed by the USPS to evaluate how many of the addresses have signed up for informed delivery.

Save Money on USPS Postage

The United States Postal Services has developed a complex rate system based on whether pieces can run on their automated machinery and the efficiency in which the pieces can be sorted.  This rate system makes it complex to determine the postage rates for both standard and first class mail.  At Action Mail we will make sure you get the lowest postage rate your piece qualifies for, but the design of the mail piece will have a large effect on the postage rate.  It is best to have your artwork and design approved by a mail house prior to printing.  To be even safer have Action Mail print your piece to ensure that it meets all USPS guidelines.  We can even get samples approved by the post office to ensure that they will run on USPS machinery.  The design of your direct mail piece is important to generate response but it should also take into account that it can effect the postage price.  It is best to have your mail house review and print your mail pieces to ensure that you are not wasting money on postage.

How to address booklets

The orientation of your address panel on a booklet is very important because if this is done incorrectly you could pay much more in postage.  The address orientation also depends on the size of the booklet, as well as how you would like the booklet to be mailed.

There are two size option, the first is a large option which the USPS classifies as a flat and the second is a smaller option which the USPS classifies as a letter. Booklet Flats are typically 8.5x11 and letters flats are typically 8.5x5.5.  

Letters: Letters generally speacking have a width of 6.125" or smaller and require tabbing/wafer sealing.  Typical tabbing for a booklet would include two tabs on the leading edge and one tab on the trailing edge.  Letter postage is usually much less than flat postage.  For letter size booklets the address will need to be orientated above the longest edge and parallel to this edge.  If the longest edge is also where the bind is the address will need to be above and parallel to the bind.  If the bind is on the shorter edge the address will need to be to the left of the bind.  

Flats: Flats are larger than letters and do not need to be tabbed.  If you hold the piece with the bind in your right hand the address will need to be in the page facing you.  The address can be orientated in any direction except upside down.  If you address a letter size piece using these techniques it can be classified as a flat, this will most likely increase the cost of postage but you will not need to tab the piece.

Tabbing and address orientation for booklets and self mailers can be a bit complex, so it is best to send a mock-up to your mail house for review prior to printing your booklet.  There are also other options like inserting booklets into envelopes or polybags which can also change the address orientation requirements

International Shipping

Shipping products internationally can be very expensive as well as take a long time for them to be delivered.  There are a few things to consider when products are ordered from international customers in order to evaluate the best shipping options.  

The country where the product is being shipped is very important as the delivery time and reliability of deliver differs across different countries.  There are also different customs requirements you will need to take into account.

The product.  The size, weight, and value of the product will help determine the best type of shipping needed to reach your international destinations at the most cost effect, timely and secure rates.  The product will also determine the customs requirements needed for your product.

Timing.  Setting expectations for long delivery times on international shipments can help you reduce shipping costs but some items need to be received as soon as possible.  Understanding your clients' expectations can help to reduce shipping costs

With these factors in mind it is possible to estimate shipping costs and determine the best method to ship internationally.  Below are a few methods but depending on your needs it may be necessary to explore a few more.

Local delivery:  The most cost effective manner is to ship the products to the country of delivery and inject them in the local mail stream.  This saves money but many times the local mail systems is unreliable and can take a long time for delivery

USPS: USPS First Class Mail is another option which is more expensive but more reliable than local delivery.  For some countries the USPS will actually have better rates than inkjeting into the local mail stream and is often more reliable. USPS also offer expedited delivery but this can be very expensive

Carrier like DHL, UPS, and Fedex:  These carriers are usually more expensive but are more reliable and have options for expedited delivery.  Their tracking is also often more detailed and can get you a better idea of when the package will arrive.

International shipping can be very expensive and often times difficult to navigate but with the right information you have various options to work with and can expand your market and get your products to your international customers  

Why do my prints look different to what I see on my screen

Digital images are made using RGB (Red Blue Green) while printed images are created using the CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) colors.  The differences in the mixes of each of these color spaces can create slightly different color tones.  Since the images on your screen and those on printed paper are not made the same way there will be slight variations in the color.  Another reason why your images on your computer monitor will look different from printed images is due to the settings of your monitor.  Each monitor can have different settings and calibrations which can also lead to variation across monitors and computers.

The best way to determine the exact color of your printed materials will be to view printed proofs or to calibrate your monitor using special tools.  Even viewing printed proofs colors will look different when viewed in different environments with different lighting.  If you do have print that meets your color expectations make sure that the proof is used to calibrate the printer as there are sometimes variations in print colors due to environmental settings.

Save Money by Getting Your Shipments Under 1lb

You can save a lot on postage and shipping costs if you can get the weight of your package under 1 pound.  Shipment under 1 pound are eligible for first class parcel shipping rates which range from $2.61 to $4.30 per piece depending on the weight of the piece.  This service will deliver your piece anywhere in the US for a flat fee, you do not have to worry about postal zones or where the piece is being shipped to.  This service will also deliver your shipments in 1-3 days.  Once you get over 1lb your piece is no longer eligible for first class parcel rates and the next best option is priority mail.  There are a few advantages to priority mail in that you piece should be delivered quicker and you can include insurance at no extra charge, but the postage rates are considerably more expensive (in many cases double that of first class parcel).  If you have a light weight product that needs to be fulfilled and shipped it is beneficial to design packaging so that the product is under 1 lb and you can take advantage of first class parcel rates