USPS_Eagle-Symbol-web-size-square Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 6:00
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2017 USPS Postage Rate Changes

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As scheduled, the January 22, 2017 United States Postal Service Mailing Services price changes are now in effect. The range of changes and price fluctuations touch almost every category within the Mailing Services division of the USPS, however there are two particular changes that will have the greatest impact on the direct mail industry: First-Class Mail pricing and the Standard Mail rebranding.

First Class Mail
The price of a First Class Mail stamp increased from $0.47 to $0.49. Forever Stamps will continue to be honored, of course, but the price increase will certainly be felt by those in the direct mail industry who, needless to say, go through more than a book of stamps a year.

There is a silver lining: the cost to meter First Class Mail decreased from $0.465 to $0.46. That thousandths of a dollar may not seem like it will make a dent in your metered mail (although it starts to add up quickly once quantities are 50,000 pieces and above) but making the switch from applying a live stamp to metering at the First-Class rate will save you 3-cents per piece! Based on a 50,000-piece mailing, that’s a postage savings of $1,500 just for making the switch from live stamp to meter.

Standard Mail® becomes USPS Marketing Mail®
While the immediate focus may be on various price changes, one of the biggest updates that will affect the Direct Mail Industry will be rebranding Standard Mail to USPS Marketing Mail. Currently, the average postal customer doesn’t pay too close attention to the differences between First Class Mail and Standard Mail, not to mention the nuances within each class of mail. Most people know that sending a letter will cost them a “Forever Stamp” but other than that, postage rates on things like ‘junk mail’, bills, and greeting cards are not really of concern for anyone outside of the mail industry.

However, we as marketers may run into an issue when postage clearly states “Marketing Mail” instead of “Standard Mail” beginning in 2018. Anyone who pays even a sliver of attention to the little square of postage on their mail will be hard-pressed to ignore the word “marketing” blatantly stamped on the carrier.

One saving grace is that non-profit postage will still say just that – non-profit – and won’t be affected by the change in terminology. For political campaigns and other organizations who are not eligible for non-profit savings, the term “marketing” on their mail could negatively affect open rates and response rates.

The change to Marketing Mail may turn out to not have much an effect on response rates. Or it could simply mean a bigger push to use live stamps instead of indicia or metering on direct mail campaigns, as the new language on stamps may not draw as much attention as it would on a meter strip or indicia. Either way, we at The Lukens Company will certainly be paying close attention.

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Alex Zamorski

About Alex Zamorski

Alex Zamorski develops and implements marketing and communication strategies for The Lukens Company. Find her on Twitter: @AlexZamorski