Four Wasteful Print and Mail Practices to Avoid  

When you’re planning your mailing campaigns make sure to avoid these four common pitfalls.

1. Duplicates

Besides spending extra money on printing, mail preparation, and postage, mailers risk their reputation as a competent and trustworthy entity by mailing duplicate mail pieces.

Duplicates in a mailing file are not always easy to identify. Common duplicate-recognition routines won’t match names like Robert Jones and Bob Jones even if they have the same mailing address. Using a more sophisticated method to trap and eliminate duplicates will reduce the risk. So will clarity about what defines a duplicate. Sometimes, unrelated roommates at the same address may be considered duplicates, in other cases they are not. Adjust duplicate recognition rules according to the application.

2. Size and Aspect Ratios

Items such as brochures or self-mailers are the most frequent violators of size and aspect requirements set by the US Postal Service. Ignorance of the rules can cause expensive postal surcharges or classify a mailing into a higher postage tier. Review the Post Office specifications before printing the materials. If in doubt, contact Mailpiece Design Analysts (MDA’s) from the USPS for pre-production guidance. Trimming an eighth inch from one side of a mail piece can sometimes result in significant postage savings.

3. Data Errors

Failing to include important data items on printed pieces can make the entire mailing useless or cause a spike in customer service calls. Forgetting to print account numbers or barcodes on reply forms can cause tedious manual look-up processes when the documents are returned. Thinking ahead about how the documents will be used is well worth the time.

Be very careful when splitting data and then re-assembling. Operations such as extracting address information from transactional documents for postal processing can be hazardous when the data is re-merged with transactional details. Mismatching can easily occur and is difficult to catch with quality control spot-checks.

4. Privacy Violations

If documents contain sensitive information like social security numbers, account numbers, or private health information it is critical none of this data is visible until the piece is opened by the addressee. Published accounts of mailing labels bearing private information or data showing through envelope windows have publically embarrassed the mailers of these documents. Violating regulations such as HIPAA can be even worse, triggering government fines, audits, and mandated remediation. Be sure private information is printed far enough away from envelope windows so shifting material does not reveal confidential data.

The key to avoiding mistakes that can turn a brilliant campaign into a dud is getting the printing and mailing professionals involved early in the planning process. Expert advice can prevent cost overruns and missed deadlines.

Do you have a mailing coming up? Contact the mailing professionals at Earthcolor for practical and cost effective advice.

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