Top 10 Free (Or Almost Free) Ways to Reduce Mailing Costs

There are plenty of ways to reduce mailing costs but many of them require investment in equipment, software, labor etc.  I thought it would be a good idea to give you some ideas on services you can use that would be free or only had a minimal investment.  The best part is that all of these strategies should be easy to implement and could have a quick impact to your bottom line.

Presort Services- 6-15% Savings

If you are sending out over 400 pieces per day or 1,000 on single mailings, you may be able to use a Presort Service to get postal discounts.  The most typical arrangement is you would meter your mail at the First-Class Mail® Presorted rate (Currently $.433 vs. $.46 single piece rate), the provider will pick up at your site and comingle with other mailers.  These presort services will run this mail through their sorting system to break it down to the deepest postal discounts.  The USPS pays them a Value Added Rebate (VAR) of the different between the metered rate and the final rate the item was submitted.  These services can typically handle First-Class Mail® Letters, Flats, and Standard Mail®.  Some providers will also work with International.   Larger volume customers will be able to get deeper discounts.

Mail Equipment and Postage Audit and Recovery Services – 30-70% Savings

These services will look at what you are spending on your mailing equipment to find ways to reduce costs.  They will make sure you have the right machines at the correct rates as well as manage renewals and vendor negotiations, to help save up to 70% on equipment costs.  These firms are also looking for any vendor overcharges or postage recovery opportunities from dormant accounts.  Mail Audit and Recovery Services are especially valuable if you have multiple locations and lack the visibility across your enterprise to all of the mailing spends.  The best part is they do not charge for their services and only share in a piece of any savings or recovery.  This minimizes your risk and gives you a partner to find any available savings.

PC Postage

This is being able to generate postage from a computer without needing a meter or trips to the Post Office to buy stamps.  I am including this because the costs are very low, ranging from free for limited feature systems to $40 per month for versions that handle shipping and other integration.  You should consider PC Postage if you fit into one of the following groups:

  1. You are a low volume mailer spending less than $100 per month in postage.
  2. You are a company that ships product or sends Priority or Express Mail®.   You will get Commercial rates for many classes which will save money and the shipping label will include the destination and return address, postage and tracking barcode.

New platforms are web based and can be used while travelling or in home or remote offices.

USPS Intelligent Mail® Small Business Tool

The USPS wants to support small volume mailers and now offers a way to qualify for IMB Full Service for free!  Through their gateway you can process mailings of less than 5,000 pieces (125,000 pieces per permit maximum) without needing to purchase any software.  Here is how it works.

  1. Register at the customer gateway
  2. Fill out the information for the mailing.
  3. Upload the your mailing list (Excel or CSV format)
  4. Print your forms, labels or direct the output to a printer.

This is a great way for small volume mailers to be able to comply with the newest postal requirements without needing to invest in software.  Here is a PDF from the USPS that goes over more detail on how it works.

Commercial and Commercial Plus Rates for USPS Express and Priority Mail®

The USPS has three rates for Express and Priority Mail®:

  1. Retail – What you pay at the USPS counter
  2. Commercial – 2-14% Savings – The rate paid through a postage meter, PC Postage and USPS Click and Ship.
  3. Commercial Plus – Additional 2-13% Savings – High Volume mailers can get additional discounts if they commit to specific volumes.  The best part is you can use your combined output across multiple locations to qualify.  Here are the requirements to apply but you should reach out to your USPS shipping specialist to verify and discuss options:
    1. Priority Mail® – 5,000 pieces at one time or 75,000 pieces in the previous year.
    2. Express Mail® – 5,000 pieces in the previous year.

A great way to save is to look at your volumes and how they are being processed today to make sure you are getting the lowest rates.

USPS Incentives and Discounts

The Post Office has been trying different tactics to get us to mail and ship more which can be a huge added value to you.  I am going to list a few examples that may be helpful that should be considered:

  1. Second Ounce Rides Free – A two ounce First Class Mail® Presorted and Automation Mail piece is the same price as a one ounce letter saving $.20.  This is designed to get mailers adding extra inserts to increase the value of the piece of mail.
  2. Free Tracking on USPS Priority Mail® – With the last rate change the USPS has just made their tracking service free vs. the $.75 they used to charge.
  3. USPS Promotions and Incentives – The USPS has started having time limited programs where mailers can get money back for sending specific types of mail.  Examples include putting QR Codes on the piece or adding a picture permit which is being offered this summer.  Click on this link to see the most current promotions.

Setting up a USPS Caps Account

Most businesses will have multiple USPS accounts and it is often difficult to manage and maintain proper funding levels.  Because of this, funds get lost and accounts get closed.  The USPS offers a way to link all of these accounts to a central portal for funding, reporting and visibility.  It is free to set up these accounts and it is a best practice by many experienced mailers.

Mail Equipment Provider Postage Payment Programs

It is also a best practice to reach out to your mail equipment provider to see what they have available for postage payment options.  Here are some examples that may be available to you:

  1. Being able to link all of your locations meter and permit accounts together for single visibility, funding and control.
  2. Postage advances for your meter and permit accounts.
  3. Interest on your pre-deposited postage balances.
  4. Reward programs for postage and permit use along with other vendor spend.

Every Day Direct Mail (EDDM) from the USPS

The USPS is trying to get new businesses to use the mail and has created a service to make it easy and affordable.  All you need to do is go to the USPS gateway and enter the area you want mailed and the portal will tell you the cost, number of pieces, and will generate the proper postal forms.  There are no addressing requirements and rates are $.16 or less.  This is a great service for businesses that want to mail within a specific geographic location to all addresses.

Optimized Business Reply Accounts

Business reply accounts typically go on autopilot but this could end up costing you thousands more than you need to spend.  The most important thing to look at is the numbers of returns that you are getting to make sure you are in the right type of account.  The cost to maintain these accounts ranges from $200-9,335 per year but as the cost goes up, the per piece return price goes down.  I recommend meeting with your USPS Mail Design specialist to make sure you are set up with the right account structure to minimize total return mail spend.

Hopefully some of these 10 items will help you save money on mail or at least point you to where you need to go to get more information.  There is never one way to reduce costs.  It is being able to look for the areas that may have been overlooked in the past or where new rules, services and technology can make an impact.

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