The answer: 31%. The category: Direct Mail. The question: What percentage of nonprofit fundraising appeals get tossed away unread? This stat as reported by the Postal Inspector General report ‘Modes of Delivery and Customer Engagement with Advertising Mail’ and referenced in The Agitator blog of May 6th : “Direct Mail Quiz..,,And Longer-Term Puzzle”. Perhaps this statistic is not shocking but future USPS changes to cut costs may cause the percentage of ‘tossed unread’ mail to ‘soar dramatically’ says Roger Craver. That is if the USPS has their way and moves to cluster box delivery. You’ll see cluster mailboxes grouped together in high density communities – apartment building and townhome complexes.
At first glance, the cluster box delivery strategy may be a more efficient, cost saving approach but at what cost to mailers? The same report from the Postal Inspector General indicates ‘read and response rates’ of just 4% for cluster box delivered mail. Slower delivery, increased costs and now a suggestion that will further impact response rates negatively? What’s the USPS thinking?
Roger reached out to Production Solutions experts for the latest ‘behind the scenes’ postal news and spoke with Ben Harris, Senior Vice President and Darin Marks, Procurement and Postal Solutions Director. Ben explained: “The worry about cluster boxes vs. door and curbside delivery comes down to trash cans…most apartment complexes and other cluster locations have garbage cans right next to the mailboxes. Thus the concern over ‘toss before reading’.” Darin added “the USPS seems pretty intent on moving to the cluster box concept as soon as quickly as possible.” Darin is also the ADFRCO representative at the Association for Postal Commerce where he gathers first hand news of USPS initiatives and mailer concerns.
Darin recently attended a 3 day Postal Conference hosted by Quad Graphics at which a gamut of postal related subject matters – of mailers and mail owners – were discussed but 3 main topics were on everyone’s agenda: Postal rates, service and standards and the future of the Postal Service. More details from this event:
Clearly, rates have been unpredictable over the last 18 months. Although we have a postage increase on the books as of June, there is still a lack of clarity in many areas. We can only hope for some rate relief on issue #1 soon:
As rates increase, the industry would assume that service standards (delivery time) would be consistent or even improve. However, service has decreased over the last 3-6 months. Linda Malone, VP Network Operations USPS, addressed these concerns with the following explanations:
Linda went on to note that April showed an increase in service standards and that the industry should start to see an incline in service from this point forward.
Hopefully over the next few weeks/months the status of the exigent surcharge will be resolved. Postal Reform is probably not likely any time soon, but one can only hope considering we are on our 3rd Congress that has yet to take action! As for service standards, we will see next quarter if targets are hit.