Postal Basics and FAQ’S

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Create A Successful Mail Campaign

We’ll share the latest concepts, tools and solutions for making your next marketing campaign a big success!

OVERVIEW

Let’s talk about how we can help save you money and add efficiencies to your business mailings.

 

Tracking Mail and QR Scans
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DigiLink’s state of the art Mail and QR Tracking Solution provides clients with a dynamic tool to track mail campaigns and to receive timing reports.  Data can be accumulated and reported seamlessly. You can even receive – up to the minute updates to your smart phones from prospects and clients that scan QR codes from your mail pieces.

You’ll get a deeper insight into the mail stream and delivery process in order to drive cross-channel marketing campaigns. Knowing that mail is being delivered is key (or not) is essential to the timing of these efforts. The added cost to get this information is nothing compared to the cost incurred when these activities are mistimed and opportunities are missed.

Postal Basics

To execute a successful mail campaign it is critical that your design and address-set up meet the requirements of the U.S. Postal Service. Rules include but are not limited to envelope sizes, position and sequence of address lines, graphic restrictions, and mandatory clear zones. To support your efforts, we have included several of the most important guidelines which should prove helpful.

To review the complete list of regulations, please reference the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), published by the U.S. Postal Service which is available on the Internet at http://pe.usps.gov. You can also check with your local Postmaster about additional requirements in the area from which the envelopes will be mailed.

Clear Zones

When the envelope is addressed with a name, address and ZIP code, the Postal Service will read the ZIP code with an OCR (Optical Character Reader) and print a barcode on the envelope in the lower right-hand corner. This is why you must keep a “clear zone” on the lower right-hand corner of the envelope (now ” up from the bottom and 4¾” out from right edge).

Intelligent Mail® Barcode

The Intelligent Mail barcode (formerly known as the 4-State Customer Barcode) is the next generation of USPS® barcode technology used to sort and track letters and flats. Intelligent Mail barcode technology, among other things, combines the capabilities of the POSTNET™ barcode and the PLANET Code® barcode into one unique barcode.

The Intelligent Mail barcode combines the data of the existing POSTNET™ and the PLANET Code® barcodes, as well as other data, into a single barcode. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a type of height-modulated barcode that uses four distinct vertical bar types (full, tracker, ascender and descender) as shown below.

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Postcard Layout Guide

This template should be used when laying out the mailing side of your postcard to ensure that your layout conforms to postal regulations for automated mailings.

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Design Elements & Backgrounds

You should avoid the use of background colors or photographic images with greater than 7% ink density and vertical lines in or around the blue shaded areas. Those elements might interfere with the scanner’s ability to read the postal barcode, causing a white label to be slapped onto your design to serve as a clean base for an inkjetted barcode. The result will not be pretty.

Sizes & Postage

  • The minimum size for a postcard is 3½” x 5”
  • The maximum size for a postcard that mails at postcard rate is 4¼” x 6”
  • The maximum size for a postcard that mails at letter rate is 6” x 11”

Thickness

  • The maximum thickness for a postcard that measures 3½” x 5”  is .0007”
  • The maximum thickness for a postcard that measures 4¼” x 6”  is .0016”
  • The maximum thickness for a postcard that measures 6” x 11” is .25”

Check out these handy Intelligent Mail® Barcode links:

Mail Classification

Preparing a mailing involves plenty of decision making that will affect time, cost, and appearance of your project. Our Customer Service team can help guide you through these choices.

  • First class (Minimum of 500 pieces)
  • Standard (Minimum of 200 pieces)
  • Nonprofit (Minimum of 200 pieces)

Self-Mailers and Inserted Mail

Specifically, there are two basic methods to consider when planning a direct mail project. As an example, postcards, brochures, booklets, newsletters and invitations are considered self mailers, you also have the option to design your project to be inserted into an envelope. This method is generally not as cost effective and usually will not deliver the same results, as far as response and growing your sales.

We have made a significant investment in technology when it comes to mailing, thus decreasing your costs and speeding your mail on its way. You have several considerations to consider when designing your piece. Please contact your Sales or Customer Service Rep to discuss your many options.

Managing Data

Data security and integrity is one of our top priorities at DigiLink. Our goal is to provide a highly secure technology infrastructure with the industries strongest policies, standards and training, and to achieve exceptional safety levels for our clients’ data.

As part of DigiLink’s complete mailing services and data analysis, we can provide expert advice on developing a cost-effective mail list strategy. Contact Customer Service for assistance.

Building Your Brand 

Following simple steps you can build an effective marketing campaign, that coordinates print, with mobile and web. We’ll show you the basics that employes;  strategic personalization, landing pages, triggered and timed emails, email marketing, and results tracking. In other words, we’ll show you how to make “printed direct mail”, part of a larger marketing campaign.

For more info, please speak to one of our sales reps today!

CONTACT US 

Customer Service: (703) 340-1809
Weekends: (703) 598-3403

OUR WORK

WHAT WE DO

Fast-Ship Digital Printing

Custom Offset Printing

Finishing Services

Full-Service Mailing

Customer Storefronts

Advanced Marketing 

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Mailing FAQ’s

What services am I paying for when I purchase Mailing Services from DigiLink?

You are paying for ink jet addressing of the postcards, etc., a merge/purge, CASS Certification (Coding Accuracy Support System), Postal Standardization, Postal Presorting, Data Conversions, custom programming, postage, and data confidentiality.

Is the cost for postage included in my written estimate?

No, postage is additional. We will confirm postage costs once we have received and processed your list. (Please make postage check out to USPS. Postage fee must be received prior to inkjetting).

What is NCOA (National Change of Address)?

Over 40 million Americans change their address every year. The National Change of Address (NCOA) system uses the USPS database to check for people and businesses that have filed a change of address with the USPS within the last 48 months. Performing this update on a list saves you money on printing and postage by updating a list. Studies have shown that this service can save users a significant cost of their mailings (in many cases up to 15% or more) plus help increase response rates. NOTE: The post office does not forward bulk mail to the new address — they just recycle it.

NCOA — How it Works

We compare your list with the change orders given to the post office. which automatically updates your list with that person or business’ new address. We provide you with this a list of the names with changes and their new address (some change to valid addresses, others change to non­updateable addresses). There is no cost to perform an NCOA clean up. We do charge $25 setup and .01 per name for NCOA list scrubbing only orders.

Can I use my own mailing permit?

Yes, provided the mailing permit is with a local Washington DC Metropolitan area post office. Additional charges are applied for out-of-area post offices.

Can I apply my non ­profit status to postage for Mailing Services?

Yes, provided you are registered as non profit through our local USPS offices.

How can I design my mailing piece to ensure that it qualifies for the service class I need?

The best way is to refer to PE.USPS.com, click on Mail Piece Design. They show where clear space (free of any design elements) is needed to facilitate bar coding, addressing and permit imprinting so that the mail piece is eligible for your preferred mail service class.

What will you do with any duplicate or questionable addresses from my list (CASS Certification)?

On every mailing order we remove duplicate listings and CASS Certify the list, which allows us to identify ”undeliverable” or questionable addresses. We generally remove any addresses that are deemed Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) as a result of the CASS certification process. Occasionally, we will retain some addresses that are deemed UAA but are still deliverable, such as universities or hospitals. Please call if you have any questions or special requests.

Can you send the questionable addresses or clean list back to me?

We would be happy to email the “cleaned up” version of your list to you, or send you the list of the questionable addresses we removed at your request. Just contact us to let us know what file format you would like to receive.

Can you use my mail permit?

We are able to mail from our service location using our mail permit. Mailing permits are tied to local USPS offices and may only be used in the locality where they are issued. If you’d like us to address your material and ship it to you, you could use your own permit and mail it from your location.

What mailing list format should I send you?

The best file formats to send us for your mailing list are either Microsoft Excel or a tab or comma delimited text file. Please contact us if you’re not sure what format you have or if we can use it. We can walk you through getting your address list into a viable file format and uploaded to us. The most common file formats and extensions for mailing lists are:

  • .CSV Comma Delimited
  • .ASC ASCII text file
  • .TXT ASCII text file
  • .XLSX or .XLS Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
  • .ACCDB or .MDB Microsoft Access
What’s the best way to break out the address fields or column names when exporting or preparing a mailing list?

The minimum required fields are: Name, Address1, City, State, Zip. Optional ones might be Business Name, Address2, Dept., etc. There is a limit of 5 lines for any address which in turn limits the number of different fields we can include.

Will you insert additional pieces into my envelope, flyer, etc.?

Yes we can do inserting. Please contact us to discuss your particular needs and to get an accurate price quote.

Do you offer tabbing (also called wafer sealing)?

Any mailing piece that requires tabbing is automatically tabbed according to postal regulations. There is no additional price for tabbing as this is automatically included in the price. If you need tabbing but you don’t need us to mail your material for you, please call us for pricing.

Will aqueous coating interfere with addressing and mailing?

Not with our equipment! We can easily address aqueous­coated pieces. In fact, adding aqueous is a great way to avoid the scuffing which can occur during the sorting and delivering of your pieces in the mailing process. If you plan to have us print your products but have someone else address and mail them, please check to make sure the aqueous coating won’t interfere with their process. Some bulk mailing services have problems working with aqueous coating.

Can I have you mail some of my order and ship the rest to me?

We’ll ship the quantity which is not mailed to the shipping address you provide to customer support. (Add’l charges may apply)

Is there a fee for a Return Service Request?

No, for First Class mailing services. The use of most service endorsements for returning pieces and updating addresses when needed are included free for customers mailing via First Class and First Class Presort, as long the piece includes a return address. For Bulk Mail (standard mail), we will add “Or Current Resident” after the primary name or business. Pieces will be delivered as addressed and since nothing is being returned, you’ll incur no further charges or fees on the mailing. If this will not meet your mailing needs, please contact us for return service or change ­of ­address options and rates for bulk mail.

I’d like to keep my mailing list up to date.

Yes, in fact, we offer this service with First Class mailings at no charge. We add an endorsement line to tell the Post Office you are attempting to keep your list up to date. An endorsement line for this would say ”Temp­Return Service Requested” and when printed on the mail piece ensures that it is returned to you with the new address or reason for non­-delivery attached. Using and endorsement such as Temp­Return Service Requested is optional for customers using Bulk mail. If you’d like this option, you will be charged for all returned or updated addresses by the USPS, at first class rates. Please contact us to arrange this optional service.

Do you offer mailing lists?

Yes! If you don’t have a mailing list yet or would like to enhance the one you have, just contact us. Our mailing experts will work with you to find a targeted list that meets your needs. Lists can be rented for single use, two times use, or unlimited use for one year. Renting your mailing lists through us assures you’ll get the highest quality addresses to minimize undeliverable pieces and maximize your direct mail campaign results.

Do you offer mailing services for items not printed with you?

Please call to get a price quote and to make sure we can fit it into our schedule.

Can you mail to Canada or other non­ U.S. addresses?

We would be happy to mail to your foreign addresses. If you have a mail piece that folds, most countries require that it be sealed on all sides or placed in an envelope. Stamps are used for quantities under 200 pieces.

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Glossary of Terms

CASS Certification: Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) improves delivery of your mail piece and maximizes postage savings by adding Zip+4 codes to your mailing list where possible. The CASS Certification process also helps determine certain address problems and standardizes addresses to Postal Service formatting. The correct Zip+4 allows us to apply postal barcodes to your mail pieces, qualifying your mail for Mail Class discounts.

Zip+4: The standard ZIP Code is a system of 5 digit codes that identify the individual post office or area delivery station associated with the address. The additional 4 digits identify a specific range of delivery addresses.

Barcodes: Barcodes are small vertical lines printed in the bottom right corner of the piece to be mailed — we call this area the clear space. Much like a grocery scanner, barcodes represent the numbers which make up the address and Zip+4 codes. These codes make it possible for the mail processing equipment to quickly process these pieces, lowering mail ­processing and delivery costs. The savings are passed on to consumers through lower postage rates.

Clear Space: Area in lower right of a mailing piece where the address and barcode is printed. (Please refer to our FREE product templates). This area must be blank or with less than 10% ink density, to ensure machine readability and therefore be eligible for your desired mail service class. Refer to our “U.S. Mail Layout Guides” for more information and help in preparing your layout.

Ancillary Service Endorsements (such as Service Requests): These are usually imprinted directions on a mail piece to tell the Post Office what to do with the piece if it becomes undeliverable, such as: Change Service Requested, Forwarding Service Requested, Return Service Requested and Address Service Requested. These are normally required on a First Class Presorted pieces.

Ink Jet Addressing: We use state of the art, high­ speed, ink jet technology for accurate addressing and bar coding that meets or exceeds USPS addressing regulations. In addition our addressing equipment can print on aqueous coating. This scuff ­resistant gloss coating enables your piece to resist scratches and marks as it travels through the postal system to have a better chance of arriving at its destination looking clean and sharp. Many mailing services cannot print on aqueous ­coated stocks.

NCOA (National Change of Address): Over 40 million Americans change their address every year. The National Change of Address (NCOA) system uses the USPS database to check for people and businesses that have filed a change of address with the USPS within the last 48 months. Performing this update on a list saves you money on printing and postage by updating a list. Studies have shown that this service can save users a significant cost of their mailings (in many cases up to 15% or more) plus help increase response rates. NOTE: The post office does not forward bulk mail to the new address — they just recycle it.

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