Transforming your mailing program into a LEAN, GREEN, MACHINE has many benefits! These key strategies will give your campaigns a tune-up and keep them running at peak efficiency. The following strategies will allow you to not only reduce your carbon footprint, but to add benefits of reducing your costs AND buy a few extra days in your overall production timeline, among other benefits!
The first strategy is Variable Digital Printing (VDP):
This technology is more widely used every year, and the costs to implement are falling just as frequently. Where conventional letters and other personalized components are typically printed on a generic shell which is sent to a mailshop for variable laser printing, VDP combines both processes.
There are several variations of this technology including different types of paper feeders, several types of “inks,” and various levels of computing sophistication. Each variation of the VDP technology allows the laying down of full-color variable imagery that changes from person to person. For example, one recipient on your mailfile can receive a letter with a picture of a duck, the next person gets a cow, the next a goat, and so on.
The creative applications for the VDP technology speak for themselves, but some of the overlooked benefits are the environmental ones. The conventional process has many inefficiencies. The general process calls for overprinting a certain percentage of extra shells with every personalized piece to account for spoilage (waste) at a mailshop. Then, the printer needs to ship those shells to a mailshop for personalization. This adds a LOT of extra paper, ink, electricity, labor, fuel, etc. to every personalized component of your mail piece.
VDP, on the other hand, is produced AT the mailshop – eliminating the need for spoilage (and the extra paper, ink, etc. that goes with it) OR trucking! Not to mention the artwork for these components can be provided potentially weeks later in the schedule!
While running efficiently on the mailshop floor is immensely helpful in reducing your impact on the environment (and your wallet), there is another critical step that should be taken before ink even gets applied to paper: ADDRESS HYGIENE.
Did you know that approximately 5.5 BILLION pieces of mail were categorized as Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) in 2021? The total cost to the USPS to forward, return to sender, or recycle all this UAA mail in 2021 was almost $1.4B! No wonder the USPS is making such a big push for mailings to do a better job of cleaning their mailfiles.
Apart from the massive spend the USPS incurs on UAA mail, is the spend on WASTE taken on by you, the mailer. Printing, personalizing, addressing, and mailing out pieces that never have a prayer of getting to where you intend is flushing your budget down the drain. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to mitigate some of this waste.
UAA Mail is broken up into two categories – Change of Address (COA), and NIXIEs.
Change of Address covers recipients who have recently changed addresses. 1 in 5 households move every year in the US – that is over 39 million moves per year!
NIXIEs are all the other reasons an address is undeliverable, for example, “Attempted, not known” or “Not deliverable as addressed, no COA on file, and/or forwarding order has expired,” and many more.
Most of you reading this will already be taking advantage of two tools to mitigate both categories – CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) & NCOA (Nat l Change of Address) – but there is a third, equally valuable tool called Address Correction Service.
Address Correction Service:
While CASS & NCOA are performed prior to mailing, ACS is carried out after a mailing is complete. It relies mostly on the postal carriers themselves to call out when a mail piece cannot be delivered, and why. But unless you ask for it, you will never receive that information. ACS is a FREE service in most cases, but the data that comes back from the USPS is difficult to interpret unless you have the right tools. Most third-party data processing organizations will charge a small fee to do so.
Even with these tools, establishing BEST PRACTICES is the most important advice we have.
Are you ready to turn your mailing program into a LEAN, GREEN, MACHINE? Follow some of these examples to give your mail campaigns a top-notch tune up, and you will be well on your way to producing a more sustainable (for the environment AND your budget) operation.
If you need help with any of these steps, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Production Solutions contact and start a more environmentally-friendly future today!