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If you’re not following us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’re missing out on news and information about BCC Software and important, real-time industry news. Here are the three most popular posts from October:
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The White House has recently announced three nominees for seats as USPS® Board of Governors. Below is the press release that was sent out:
White House Announces Nominees to USPS Board of Governors
Today, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve as members of the US Postal Service Board of Governors:
- Calvin R. Tucker of Pennsylvania, for the remainder of a term expiring December 8, 2023.
- Robert M. Duncan of Kentucky, for the remainder of a seven-year term expiring December 8, 2018, and an additional term expiring December 8, 2025.
- David Williams of Illinois, for the remainder of a seven-year term expiring December 8, 2019.
The USPS said, “We are pleased that the Administration intends to nominate candidates for the United States Postal Service’s Board of Governors. The public interest and the Postal Service are best served by a fully constituted Board made up of well-qualified individuals with diverse perspectives & experience. We urge the Senate to confirm Governors to fill the current vacancies.”
Now that the nominees have been chosen, the process for Senate confirmation is the next step in the process. All nine positions on the Board of Governors are currently vacant, but technically only one needs to be seated in order to begin “business as usual” for the USPS. That is, once a Governor is seated, future postage prices could change, and new USPS promotions may be put into action. These new promotions would help defray the postage price increases that were recently announced, which are going into effect on January 21, 2018.
While BCC Software is appreciative of the recent Presidential nomination of potential Governors, we are hoping for a quick Senate confirmation. It is also worth noting that there are open positions at the Postal Regulatory Commission as well and the potential implications that could have. 2018 will be a telling year for the USPS and the industry overall.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
On October 6, 2017, and subsequently on October 24, 2017, the USPS® released information about what we can expect for 2018’s rates and rule changes. These changes will go into effect on January 21, 2018.
The USPS filed changes for both competitive and market dominant products on this date. Below is a quick description of how BCC Software believes these changes could impact your business:
Competitive products: While this type of mail does not account for a very large volume of work for our customer base, we want to keep you aware of what is going on in the marketplace. Full details on the competitive changes can be found here.
- The competitive product changes had few surprises, with postage increases from 3.9-4.2 percent
- Postages in this part of the marketplace are not limited by CPI, explaining the 4 percent change in postage
- Based on the worksheets attached to the dockets, the USPS is raising rates to get processing costs and postages in line to make this a viable product for the future
Market Dominant products: This is the core processing area for our customers, so below is a detailed explanation of these changes. Full details can be found here.
- Structural changes to Presort
- Changes to the pallet creation order for Flats mail entered in non-FSS zones (Marketing Mail / Periodical Mail)
- The 5-Digit Carrier Route pallet level is now required as the first level for entry
- The 5-Digit Merged pallet level is now required as the second level for entry
- The objective is to create more Pure Carrier Route pallets for non-FSS entry
- This should reduce pallet charges for these mailings as the 5DGCR pallet charge is lower than the 5DGMERGED charge
- Addition of BPM Flats up to 24 OZ to Mixed Comail sortation
- Adds additional applicable volume to Mixed Comail operations
- Increase pool sizes for Comail, helping reduce postage
- Reduce exception work for Heavy BPM flats
- Small errata changes to Mail.dat, but no new version during the rate case
- Changes to the pallet creation order for Flats mail entered in non-FSS zones (Marketing Mail / Periodical Mail)
- Pricing updates
- There are currently no promotions scheduled for 2018
- However, based on communication received on October 26, there will be a board of governors in place. You can find more info here. With two months left in 2017, it is possible they will approve some before the end the year.
- Overall, the USPS exercising about 95 percent of their pricing authority. Below are some notable changes:
- FC Auto flats (3DG-MXD) see a 6 percent drop in postage
- Non-machinable STD letters up across the board, with the highest hike on 5DG (4 to 5 percent) for both regular and non-profit mail
- Significant increase to STD Automation Flats for everything below 5DG sort (a 5 to 10 percent increase).
- Carrier route rates are stable.
- STD Marketing Parcels up 3 to 7 percent
- Standard letter non-profit prices up in a cell-by-cell pattern ranging from 3-6.7 percent
- Non-profit standard flats have big increases for non-auto rates at the piece level, but some reduction in pound rates.
- Non-profit piece rates for automation up modestly for low sort levels, but dropped (up to 9.4 percent) for highly sorted automation
- DDU entered BPM up 3-7.4 percent
- There are currently no promotions scheduled for 2018
Move Update and ACS change: In addition to the price and sortation changes, the USPS also published new rules on the Move Update standards to take effect in 2018. You can read the full filing online here.
- The move to census measurement is happening – and there is no going back
- Merlin to be fully retired on January 21, 2018.
- Thresholds are now handled by mailer per month rather than job-by-job, and the compliance threshold is .05 percent to generate an assessment. Penalties are for pieces that month over the threshold.
- All assessments are for the trailing month, and are communicated through the Mailer Scorecard. This applies to all mailings, not just Full Service.
- The new assessment rate will be $.08 per piece in violation, up from $.07
- A fuller explanation of what pieces are exempt from measurement:
- Mailpieces that are undeliverable due to an address change that is Temporary, Foreign, Moved Left No Address (MLNA), and Box Closed No Order (BCNO).
- Mailpieces that are priced as single-piece.
- Mailpieces that qualify for the Legal Restraint method.
- Mailpieces without the documentation submitted electronically.
- Extension of ACS to machinable and non-auto pieces for mailers over the 95 percent full service threshold
- Some relaxation in the ACS requirements for Periodical Mailers, and clarification of the Move Update requirements
While the explained changes are not major on the mail preparation side, there are a lot of changes for address and recipient quality happening at the same time. As always, we are here to answer any questions you may have about the rate case. Get in touch with our Senior Product Manager, Mitch Carpenter, directly at email@example.com
The Irresistible Mail® Award is evolving. Below is the press release from the USPS® regarding changes to the award, and what it means for the future:
Introducing: 2018 Next Generation Campaign™ Award. Celebrating Informed Delivery®
The Irresistible Mail Award is evolving. This year the award will have a new name and an updated focus. The Next Generation Campaign Award will celebrate campaigns that take advantage of Informed Delivery to communicate with their consumer audience.
The award will continue to recognize B2C campaigns that include innovative and effective letter and flat mail piece designs. These designs may include (but are not limited to) the use of shapes, sizes, textures, colors, scents, personally targeted content, specialized inks, conversions to digital, or uncommon enclosures, as long as the campaigns also include customized and interactive digital content that can be accessed by consumers from the Informed Delivery® email notifications, dashboard or mobile app*.
Campaigns selected as finalists will compete to be crowned as Grand Champion at the 2018 National Postal Forum in San Antonio, TX. The Mail Owner, Agency, and Printer of these campaigns will all be recognized.
Entry is free and easy. The entry form and the complete rules can be found at www.usps.com/informeddeliverycampaigns. Mail pieces must have been mailed and used Informed Delivery to be eligible. Submissions must be mailed by January 15, 2018.
*Please refer to the Contest Rules and the Informed Delivery website for further information on Informed Delivery campaigns.
For a look at some of last year’s Irresistible Mail pieces, view the edition of BCC Software’s Lien In webcast that discusses Innovations in Mail.
It’s no secret that data drives marketing, which means marketers increasingly rely on data to produce highly personalized campaigns that are tailored to the unique profiles of a specific audience. They understand that making a message relevant enough that it enhances a customer’s experience is essential. With so much competition in the marketplace, customers have come to expect this personalized experience, and clean data is the key to achieving this.
InfoTrends, a division of KeyPoint Intelligence, is a marketing research and strategic consulting company for the digital imaging and document solutions industries. In a conducted study regarding the top communication objectives among 800 global marketing executives who were asked how they planned to improve the customer experience in terms of communication, the marketing executives answered: (1) provide better tailored offerings, and (2) better data-driven personalization and relevant communication.
Marketers use data to tailor relevant offers to recipients. For print projects, more relevant, personalized communication has been shown to increase response rates – by about one-third according to the Direct Marketing Association. This drives revenue, retention, and enhances customer loyalty – making the overall marketing spend more efficient for an improved return on investment.
Business Growth Opportunities for Print Service Providers
Print Service Providers (PSPs) have started responding to this push for personalized messaging by expanding their service offerings and investing in technologies that can accommodate the variable data processing that customization demands. Many PSPs have found that inkjet’s capabilities are ideal for producing customized marketing messages efficiently, cost effectively, and quickly. For example, with a white-paper-in/full-color-out workflow, preprinted shell inventory can be eliminated and production time streamlined. Customization and personalization have become virtually limitless.
In addition to the printing itself, other ancillary services can also offer growth opportunities. PSPs today offer data services like mail process management, postal services, and data cleansing, but other services could be added that are directly related to variable data printing – data analytics, data list acquisition, data mining, or campaign response tracking, to name a few.
The Variable Data Printing Challenge
As marketing pieces transition from mass marketing to segmented marketing to personalized marketing, variable data print jobs become much more complex. Not only does the text vary based on the individual recipient or recipient segments, but in order to maximize the relevance for each recipient, variable text, graphics, and images must be tailored to each audience profile for strong impact, optimized comprehension, and maximum response rates.
Handling large amounts of variable data quickly and efficiently requires specialized production management software to ensure that the digital press can operate at full rated speed. Also important is the flexibility to handle all industry-standard data streams and output to any number of required print devices whether in-house or in multiple print centers.
One of the primary objectives of Océ PRISMAproduction® Professional Workflow and Output Management Software from Canon is to enable efficient variable data printing. To do so, the software supports two variable printing file format standards: PDF/VT and PPML.
PDF/VT is an international ISO standard designed for variable data and transactional printing. It was developed to offer the reliability and predictability of the PDF/X workflow for variable and transactional data workflows. It is an open, device independent, non-vendor specific standard offering the benefits of job portability, page independence, and device neutrality. PPML (Personalized Printer Markup Language) is also a device independent and non-vendor specific format. It was developed by PODi, the Printing on Demand initiative, a consortium of leading companies in digital printing.
In addition to these industry standard, open variable printing file formats, Océ PRISMA software also supports proprietary variable data print languages such as RDO or VIPP. The ability to handle all these variable data formats enables print providers to optimize their current investment while allowing for flexibility in input and output processes, whether to Canon or third-party vendor devices. This unique capability utilizes a print provider’s investment in its current print fleet while enabling it to grow its customer base.
The Tools to Grow
A print provider can grow its business by capitalizing on the customization and personalization opportunities that variable data printing provides, creating stronger, more successful relationships with their customers. Canon Solutions America has the software tools that provide the flexibility and openness to handle most every major variable data file format with maximum performance. To learn more about why variable data printing remains an essential value-added service, download this white paper.
 “Customer Engagement Technologies State of the Market, InfoTrends, 2015
 Lisa Cross, InfoTrends webinar, “The Right Data at the Right Time,” 7/17/14, retrieved from vimeo.com/101447313 on 9/15/14
It’s no secret that email has become a part of everyone’s daily lives, so it’s a vital tool for quickly and effectively communicating with your customers. And yet, email addresses are ever-changing and email lists are virtually impossible to manage. To help make this daunting feat achievable, BCC Software offers Email Verification and Hygiene processing. This service uses real time validation to ensure that you are receiving the most up-to-date results.
Utilizing this process will return the following data:
Basic Information: Includes confirming the existence of the email, individual address components, and how the email address is protected.
Domain Information: Identifies known disposable and vulgar domains, as well as suggests corrections for domains that may have been incorrectly entered.
Address Information: Details information about email addresses that go to general mailboxes instead of individuals, identify disposable and vulgar addresses, and suggest corrections for individual email addresses that may have been incorrectly entered.
This service is available through BCC Software’s Go Data and LENS products. BCC Mail Manager ™ users can easily access this service through Go Data by using their Customer Portal login credentials. BCC Software offers convenient payment options.
On average, customers have experienced up to 90 percent fewer email bounces, making this a valuable tool to cleanse your addresses.
To take advantage of this service, or if you have any questions, please call the BCC Software’s Data Marketing Services department at 1.800.337.0372.
BCC Software offers the impressive power and versatility of scripting and automation with TaskMaster™, a comprehensive option for BCC Mail Manager™ that brings high-end automation to your operation, making it easy to record individual tasks or whole jobs, and set them to playback anytime, day or night, with little or no manual attention.
The overall goal of automation is to process jobs as quickly and efficiently as possible, and leveraging functionality within TaskMaster does just that. When setting up and deploying job automation, our team has encountered the scenario of reusing the same list for processing, which limits backup and archiving capabilities as well as the ability to run jobs simultaneously. Running jobs simultaneously is not only necessary, but also efficient, because the jobs progress and complete as they can – no bottle-necking small jobs behind larger ones while the work is continually processed.
The biggest hurdle to implementing simultaneous processing, or parallel as it’s known within TaskMaster documentation, is to not reuse lists but create a new list for every job that gets processed. By using a new list with every job, you can easily track jobs that are being processed, archive jobs for the future, and allow for parallel processing of jobs. Implementing this requires users to leverage a task called NEWLISTTEMPLATE, which allows the system to create a new list from an existing list template. List templates allow the users to store saved import routines or other modified record processes along with label and export settings – everything a user needs to process jobs as efficiently as possible.
If you would like to learn more about using NEWLISTTEMPLATE within your workflows or how to create and manage a list layout, please contact our sales team at 800.337.0442.
To learn more about TaskMaster and the power of automation, visit bccsoftware.com/taskmaster.
This article was authored by George Vaisey, Director of Professional Services.
The Mailer Scorecard allows a look at errors received in any given month, and matches them to specific barcodes and Mail.dat submissions. Unfortunately, this rarely translates to an easy-to-find job number in BCC Mail Manager™. Depending on how you manage your jobs, a list that is 30 days old could be deleted, archived, missing, or simply labelled different than your Mail.dat submissions. All of these possibilities can cause issues tracking back your serial numbers. To compound this, you can only see the exact serials and Intelligent Mail® Barcodes (IMB®) used within a given job, so you have to find the specific job in question in order to audit your IMBs. BCC Software’s Customer Support team has designed several ways to deal with this over the years and we want to present you with options to track these IMBs between jobs now that scorecard errors are becoming more and more prevalent.
For the following options, we are referencing the Mail.dat PDR or PBC file. These files store the barcodes used in your electronic submission and are fixed length text files with the .PDR or .PBC extension. They take up relatively little storage space, and once you know the correct positions for the barcode, can be easily used to store or import every barcode you submit from. This is going to be the key to our method.
The second component needed is a way to store the data, and there are many options to do. BCC Software will review the options that our Customer Support team has tried and can recommend.
The first option is utilizing a regular folder. If you simply copy every PDR from every Mail.dat that is sent into a folder, we will have all the barcodes submitted in one place. Since scorecards are based on monthly periods, and duplication is based on 45-day periods, we recommend either a monthly folder or folders set to 45-day ranges. Once you have a group of PDR files in a folder, you can use the most advanced text editors to search the directory for a string. This will allow you to grab a specific 31-digit IMB and search all your PDRs at once for this barcode. From there, you can match that PDR to the appropriate Mail.dat submission and job.
Another option is to use Excel, which can import fixed length text files with ease. Positions 67-100 are your IMB digits and positions 1-7 are your Job ID in the PDR. In the PBC, the Job ID is in the same position, but the IMB is in positions 32-65. Bringing both of those in from every job you submit will give you an easy database to search for specific jobs or barcodes. However, Excel does present some challenges based on how it handles long strings of numbers. For example, if you do not change the columns from “General” to “Text,” Excel may convert your 31-digit IMB to scientific notation which will create difficulty in finding the correct barcode in the database. Creating one Excel file for 30- or 45-day periods similar to the folder suggestion above would allow you to narrow the scope and better track duplicate barcodes.
BCC Mail Manager
BCC Mail Manager itself can even be used to manage a monthly PDR database. Importing the PDR or PBC as a fixed length file using the positions above would allow us to create a living database on barcodes. The import also offers several efficient features like saving the import and repeating with each new PDR, saving the file name or date/time into the database, as well as getting full access to indexes, selectivities, and expressions to help locate and identify duplicates and problem records.
You can use expressions to extract the MID and serial combination from each barcode to compare. If you set up a unique index or perform a dedupe on this MID/Serial field, you could quickly identify duplicates within a database. Another important benefit of using BCC Mail Manager is the ability to import dates when bringing in barcodes, and then use expressions and selectivities to use that date. For example, using a selectivity expression to narrow down records to just the ones within 45 days of a duplicated barcode. Then search for just that barcode and quickly identify the matching record and job.
There are other database programs available, many of which will work for this purpose. As long as you have the correct positions in the PDR or PBC file to import from and can identify each record, there should be little trouble using your preferred database management tool to keep track of your serials across jobs. Tracking down the exact source of scorecard issues is often the hardest part of fixing them.
As always please call Customer Support at 800.624.5234 if you have any questions or need assistance.
The most recent and exciting buzz from the USPS® is Informed Delivery®. This service provides consumers with scanned images of their mailpieces via email before it arrives in the mailbox each day. It also allows mailers to submit a designed image and link along with each mailing so that the addressee can preview and directly access special offers electronically. This eliminates the need to include a complex and rarely scanned QR code on mailpieces, as the consumer can now click directly through the image in their email to see the site and offer.
BCC Software team members have consumer experience with Informed Delivery first hand. We receive an email each morning around 8:00am EST from the USPS entitled the “Informed Delivery Digest.” In normal circumstances, this email features scanned greyscale images of our daily mail, pulled from the USPS sorting machines. This is done for every letter sized mailing. Occasionally we will get an image of a mailpiece that has links and color photos, including one of the mailpiece itself, and one of the offer contained within – these mail pieces are part of a campaign created by a mailer.
Interested in leveraging Informed Delivery for your next marketing campaign?
To create a campaign within BCC Mail Manager™, you need to provide the Mailer ID (MID) being used and, potentially, a serial number or date range to narrow down the scope. When your Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMb™) and mailpiece are scanned for Informed Delivery, both the MID and serial number will connect to your campaign and populate the appropriate image(s) and link for the consumer to receive in their Informed Delivery Digest. It is recommended that you create the campaign at least two days prior to the start date to ensure everything is setup and linked correctly.
Using Mail.dat®, you can include the campaign details right in your electronic submission, allowing you to create the campaign when you enter the mailing into PostalOne!® If you choose to go this route, you will need to provide all the relevant campaign information within the Mail.dat wizard on the Informed Delivery page. The first step is to select the Informed Delivery checkbox on page six, which will add an entire new page to the end of your Mail.dat wizard where all the campaign information will need to be filled in.
This page is broken out into two sections – Campaign Information and Referenceable Mail. Campaign information is where the details live, including the title of your campaign and the code which allows you to distinguish between multiple parts of a single campaign. It also includes the display name, different from the campaign name, which is what will show up for the consumer as the title of the mailing. Lastly, it has the serial number or date range selection which will allow you match pieces from your MID to each specific campaign.
The Referenceable Mail section is where you fill in all the details of the mailpiece. The template code allows you to select one of the templates the USPS has previously setup to display your Informed Delivery information. Currently, only template A is available, but there are plans to add additional templates from A-Z down the road. There is also the ID type, which identifies what is included in your submission to identify each mail piece. Next, we have the three URLs used to supply the images and links to the USPS – the Additional Image, Additional Target, and Replacement Image URLs.
The Additional Image URL is where you can include the picture to accompany the scan of the mail piece in your addressee’s Informed Delivery Digest. The Additional Target URL is the link to the company website or product that consumers can click on to claim their offer, or complete whichever Call-to-Action the image boasts.
Finally, there is the Replacement Image URL, which will replace the greyscale scan of your mailpiece with an image of your choosing for letters. For Flats, there is never a scanned mailpiece image, so the replacement image will be used to represent your piece along with an additional image and/or link if you wish to include those.
Once you have all that filled out you can complete the rest of your Mail.dat file set up as normal. Upon submitting, the campaign will be created. You can then work with the Informed Delivery team through the USPS to make sure your campaign is handled correctly. You can contact them at USPSinformeddeliveryCampaigns@usps.gov.
As always, please reach out to BCC Software Customer Support at 800.624.5234 with any questions.
As we enter the the 4th quarter of 2017, now is the time of year when companies struggle to hold true to preset budgets from the beginning of the year, as well as to start the planning process for the next year’s budgetary needs. BCC Software understands this is a reality that many companies face, because our internal departments face it as well. As this process ramps up, we have some suggestions on how you can maximize your mailing dollars now and in the future.
Here are five easy ways your company can take advantage of some under-the-radar products and services that may save you time and money:
- Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Purchase large blocks of prepaid credits or purchase an annual subscription. Depending on usage, these options can equate to thousands of dollars annually.
- Offer New Services:Use our in-house presort services for Bound Printed Matter, Parcel Select, Library Mail, Media Mail, and Customized Market mail classes or take advantage of the Data Marketing Services already integrated into your BCC Mail Manager™ software. Both options allow you to expand your offerings to your customers with zero up-front costs.
- Ask for Help: Rely on our USPS® Mailpiece Design Certified Customer Support team to provide you with troubleshooting information so you can spend time focusing on your business. We are here to help you, and we want to help you. Why spend hours struggling with a problem that can be addressed in a five-minute phone call? Our Customer Support team can be reached at 800.624.5234, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8AM and 7PM EST.
- Continuing Education: Work smart by learning BCC Mail Manager tips and tricks for free through our Express Learning Series, or, for a small fee, register for one of our more in-depth Log-In Live Workshops.
- Improving System Performance: Take steps to improve your system performance internally with this tip guide authored by our Director of Professional Services, George Vaisey. Need help implementing any of these tips? Call our Support team and we will walk you through it step by step.
Our team members are happy to speak with you and find other cost savings opportunities that may be available to your company. Call us today for a free consultation, at 800.337.0442, to see how you can save money, optimize your operations and budget, and continue to grow your business.