Postage Rates May Rise, but Mailing Options for Credit Unions Have Never Been Better

In January 2013, the United States Postal Service (USPS) once again increased postage rates. Rates are expected to continue to rise due to the financial health of the USPS – at least for now. Many credit union members continue to prefer to receive correspondence, statements, and bills through the mail, even with online and mobile options available. Although rates are higher, credit unions have options for mailing that can save money and foster business growth. Four cost-saving methods credit unions can use include taking advantage of the postal service’s “2-4-1” pricing option, using Intelligent Mail barcode technology, white space management and, though not a mail option, expanding electronic options to members.

Take advantage of 2-4-1

Businesses can now send two ounce mailers at the one ounce rate. This “2-4-1” pricing, a program that began just last year, allows credit unions to include marketing materials and other communications in the same envelope with financial statements. This decision came about as a result of an idea presented at a mailing conference to Paul Vogel, president, chief marketing, and sales officer for the USPS, followed by strong lobbying from the National Postal Policy Council, a group composed of several Fortune 100 companies and some of the largest business mailers in the country. The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service also pushed for the change. “2-4-1” works well because credit unions can save on sending separate marketing materials and inserts. Additionally, thicker newsletters can be included in mailings to share important announcements and communications at a reduced cost.

Lower rates with the new Intelligent Mail barcode 

Another cost-saving measure businesses can use to achieve lower rates is by using Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) on all mail pieces. Since the end of January, businesses that implement IMb will now pay the lowest rates for mailing. In addition to reduced costs, there are advantages of having a barcode on mail that holds all the information needed for sending. IMb provides an even better service with greater accuracy and security during shipments. IMb is available in both basic and full service versions. Full-service IMb provides a savings on every 1,000 First Class letters, cards and flats, as long as they meet the IMb standards. For sending newsletters, periodicals or other printed items, IMb allows for a discount per every 1,000 pieces. At the start, changing over to IMb requires thoughtful planning, but it is worth the additional effort and only takes a few steps to begin. A brochure, the “USPS Guide to Creating the Intelligent Mail Barcode,” is available to help you at the USPS website:

Use white space effectively

Most people open the important financial mailings they receive. Studies have revealed that bills often get more attention than other forms of communication. Transactional documents are not the dull papers they once were. Using additional white space on statements allows credit unions to add targeted marketing messages or promotional QR codes, leading to more web-based campaign traffic. These messages are strategically placed on the documents for an easy readability that attracts the eye. White space management makes it possible to customize offers on each statement based on personal transaction information. They also can target specific segments of members based on other factors, such as demographics. These campaigns also provide an additional means of tracking member behavior.

Go electronic

More and more credit unions are providing electronic solutions for members that are just as sophisticated as what the big banks can offer. As more members embrace digital, less paper and postage will be necessary, saving time and money. Transactional documents and promotional inserts can offer incentives for members to move to electronic options. A well-crafted and printed marketing message inserted on a monthly statement is sure to catch a member’s eye and motivate them to learn more about electronic credit union options.

With an estimated 20 million new customers expected to join financial institutions in the next three to four years, it’s important that credit unions use cost-effective mailing solutions for attracting new members and marketing services to current members.

Harry Stephens

Harry Stephens

Harry is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest, privately held full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers ... Web: Details