New US Postage Rates 2016

The First-Class stamp has increased to 47 cents as of April 10, 2016. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rates for the 2016 mailing season. The Post Office has recently switched from doing large postage increases every 4 years to a smaller increase each year to keep up with costs and industry fluctuations.

This April we actually got a postage PRICE REDUCTION.

CSG Direct likes to keep you informed of changing postage rates!

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Add Drive Time Distance to your Customer Database

Did you know you can classify your customers based on the drive time distance to your business? You can use drive time distance to configure offers, analyze trends, and identify marketing opportunities inside your customer database.

Some of the distance, drive time and address data we can add for you:

  • Drive Time (based on shortest route)Drive Time Data
  • Distance(as bird flies)
  • Longitude/Latitude
  • Zip+4
  • Address Verification (CASS)
  • National Change of Address updates (NCOA)

We offer this  valuable service as an offline bulk process or as an automated daily update to your in house customer database. Your database can be cleaned, verified, and updated daily, weekly or monthly – keeping it completely current despite your customers changing address.

We can also help you add triggered automated direct mail and/or emails to compliment this service! You can call us at 800.881.2150 or request a quote at csgdirect.com to discuss your specific needs.

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Near Field Communication in Marketing

Near Field Communication

I really dig Near Field Communication (NFC) and your customers will too!  Instead of scanning a barcode with your phone you wave your phone in front of NFC printed tags or stickers.  People will be looking for these just like they do QR codes today, only much more fun.

NFC tags and stickers are programmable like a flash drive is. They are also reprogrammable or lockable.  With NFC tags, stickers and paper you can do things like:

  • Change the phone settings
    Ringer volume
    Turn Bluetooth on/off
    Turn Wi-Fi on/off
    Set an alarm
  • Join a Wi-Fi network
  • Launch an application
  • Display a message
  • Send a text
  • Open a web-page
  • Show an address or location
  • Social Media, foursquare, facebook, twitter and more

Imagine if your guests waved their phone at your front door when they entered and it automatically signed them onto your Wi-Fi, displayed a welcome message and then logged their trip on foursquare.

You could also provide them with a sticker in their direct mail that displayed their Freeplay offer in a message and set a date on their personal calendar if they let you.  These can be highly personalized but like a USB flash drive it would take time to personalize a bunch of them.

Today NFC is most popular with transferring pictures and business cards between 2 phones.  People are told to ‘bump’ their phones to transfer videos, pictures and contact information.

Tomorrow they might be used everywhere to set entire experiences by turning off peoples ringers as they enter a conference, set alarms, calendars upload course literature, pictures and much more.
As Casino Marketers we can make them more useful than most people.

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New Postage Rates for January 2013

New Postage RatesThe US Postal Service has released it’s January 2013 postage rates proposal.

The cost of a First-Class stamp is rising to 46 cents, up from 44 cents currently. That is a 4.5% increase starting in 2013.

One of the more common postage rates we all pay as direct marketers is the 3-digit and 5-digit barcode-automation rates.  Those rates are scheduled will increase to 26.6 cents and 24.7 cents respectively. Those rates have only been raised 2.2% for 2013.

If you would like to do some comparisons here are the 2012-Postage-Rates.

It’s a smaller increase then expected

A lot has been said in the news lately about the US Postal Service having trouble with reduced mail volumes and the cost of pension payments. With all that hype you would think that postage would be doubled in the coming year to help make up the shortfall.

That is just not the case.

Interesting new programs proposed for 2013

Some of the other programs being planned for the coming year include:

  • Direct Mail Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call
  • Earned Value Reply Mail
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Picture Permit
  • Product Samples
  • Mobile Buy-It-Now

These programs will continue on the successes of the QR Promotions offered summer 2011 and 2012 that we helped our customers take advantage of.  Both programs earned customers discounted postage for active QR-based hyperlinks to websites.  The rules have changed along the way so we will have to wait to hear more about these new programs in the months ahead.

Branded Postal PermitsPicture Permits

An interesting development on the branded permit problems we told you about in recent months is the “Picture Permit” promotion planned for 2013.  It looks like they swept us out of our fancier designer permits recently so they could bring it back as an income opportunity.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes Required!

IMB-BarcodeWell the day has finally come that the US Postal Service is requiring everyone to be using the new Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB).  CSG was a pioneer in these “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” and have launched some very detailed tracking systems including our CSG direct mail app in the iTunes Store.

These new barcodes allow for twice as much data as the older Postnet Barcodes and replace the double barcoding that was done in years past with Planet-Codes.

Unlike direct-mail-centered digital print shops, many printing companies have struggled to keep up with this new technology.  CSG Direct has led the way in maximizing the opportunities these new barcodes present for you.

If you would like a direct mail quote from a direct mail company on the bleeding front edge of technology, you can get a digital printing and mailing quote here.

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The Raving Marketing Team at G2E

At G2E in Las Vegas Raving consulting made a video with our very own Tami Jones.

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Postal Service Announces New Postage Rates for 2013

New US Postage Rates being announced for January 2013.
About a 2.4-4% Increase.
Here is the Press Release just out:

U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices
and Services for 2013
First-Ever Global Forever Stamp Debuts When Prices Change January 27


WASHINGTON — Beginning early next year, the Postal Service will introduce a First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp. The new stamp will allow customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10, and is among new mailing and shipping services filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

The price for First-Class Mail single-piece letters will increase by just a penny when prices change in Jan. The new 46 cent Forever stamps will allow customers to mail letters to any location in the United States. Forever stamps are always good for mailing a one-ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 27, 2013 include:

  • Letters (1oz.) – 1-cent increase to 46 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1oz.) – $1.10
  • Postcards – 1-cent increase to 33 cents

Prices for all products (Mailing and Shipping services) will increase by 4-percent, but prices for Mailing Services, such as regular letters and advertising matter, will increase only 2.6-percent.  The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective Jan. 27, 2013. Today’s Shipping and Mailing price filings will be available on the PRC website at www.prc.gov and the new Mailing Service prices are also available at http://pe.usps.com.

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How Triggered Direct Mailings Work

Triggered mailings are mailings that go out every single day that nobody has to  micro-manage. These mailings are known for better results than other mailings because they are ‘triggered’ when all the ideal details come together for the guests you want most.

Triggered Direct Mail

Triggered Daily Direct Mail is personalized too

When you get stuck in budget meetings and everybody is putting out fires, there are mailings being sent out automatically from your player database to people matching your perfect criteria with your best segmented offer.

You can build perfectly timed, segmented and personalized mailings and put them on cruise control.
You can send these daily offers to 1 person or thousands.

  • Nobody has to pull a mailing list
  • Nobody has to deal with postage
  • Timed and optimized with your favorite tiered offers

This is not a new concept so put those mailing labels down

In each phase of technology we usually hang on too long because it becomes engrained.

Do you remember printing labels and giving those labels to the mail shop to apply onto your mailers? From labels we eventually gave the mailshop a diskette.  Then we started using thumb drives, email and ftp. Data moves fairly quickly now, but emailing a mailing list to a printer or a mailshop is the equivalent to printing labels these days.

In comes 2012 and casinos all over the world transfer data automatically outside of the player database to allow players to login to websites and see their points and what offers they have earned. The player database is being used to communicate in Kiosks and personalized offers are displayed directly on the machines too, automatically.

This is possible because your player database is updating outside vendor databases directly on a timed schedule.  Your player database has come a long way in how it communicates with your guests.

Why are we sending out mailings every 2-3 weeks when we can send them daily?

We tend to think in monthly cycles. We send out 2-3 mailings each month and we have a 1 week breather before we start working on next months. Usually companies use the art from last month with a few changes then pull new data and send all the mailing out.  Rinse, Repeat.

Sure, you analyze the results to make changes to next month’s offers but the next mailer will go out before you have results from the last one so…  let’s just get this in the mail, it’s late right?

This monthly rinse and repeat cycle is the ‘labels’ of 2012.

For at least 2 of your 3 mailings you are using the exact same queries each month, applying the same reinvestment curve and just adjusting your event schedule.  I am by no means saying this is ideal but these things can be automated so you can focus more on the recipe and less on the processes.

Your time is best spent designing ideal client-relationship segments and reinvestment curves to match. You should not have to spend so much time pulling and sending lists, dealing with postage, handling return mail, uploading art and proofing content.

Build each player segment, matching art and put each one on cruise control.

“Triggers” send your ideal offers, timed perfectly, AUTOMATICALLY

Mailing Triggers

Set Daily Triggers to create Daily Mailings

Player guest Mary has been playing video poker for 3 days. She has accumulated enough points to move up to the Platinum level. The database notices this (we told it to watch for this) and triggers(1) a text to Mary’s cell phone “Hey Mary, you just made it to the platinum club. We are sending you a free Room offer as your first reward”.

The database also triggers(2) a personalized letter sent that day welcoming Mary to the platinum level with her Free Room night in it. This letter goes out by noon at the completion of her trip because the database triggered the data to merge and print directly on a waiting, automated press; hands-free.  She gets this offer letter 1 or 2 days after she gets home, not a month later when ‘the batch’ goes out.

The database also triggers(3) an email to be sent in 1 week later telling Mary that she earned some freeplay for her next trip (segmented and personalized based on your reinvestment plan). If she makes her reservation this week we can upgrade her to a 2-night stay.

The final scenario the database is looking for is to see if Mary comes back in or redeems our offers. If after 6 weeks Mary has not returned for a trip the database triggers(4) an increased reinvestment mailer where she is offered a free dinner for her and a friend if she books her room this week.

Design many trigger scenarios easily

Marys’ sample story is just that, a sample.
Triggers(1-4) included :

  1. Text on her cell phone (if she provided it)
  2. Personalized Bounceback letter
  3. Personalized Email offer coordinated with her letter
  4. An increased reinvestment mailer

You could have even triggered a text to her host to visit her on the floor if possible.

You can design as many scenarios that you can think of to create an endless array of personalized and automated triggered guest experiences that run all year long instead of bulk batches of mailings done monthly. Guests don’t always think in monthly batches like we do.  They are all on their own individual journeys and when we treat them that way we get our best results.

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National Change of Address

You should process your mailing list against the US Postal Service National Change of Address files as actively as you use direct mail.

Ask how we can get this information back into your core database!

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STOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED

no branded indiciasSTOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED Developing Story 7/27/2012

The USPS has decided to stop accepting any mail with branded permits of any kind – TODAY.

Permit holders all over the country received certified letters today 7/27/2012 (we did too) with a formal cease-and-desist on using anything other than standard font permits. So as of this moment they are rejecting mailings all over the country if you have one of these permits.  These permits have been used for years and we received no advanced warning.  Even mailings with partial drops last night cannot be completed today without covering the permits with generic black and white permits.

STOP THE PRESSES!!  They are forcing us to apply labels by machine and by hand to cover all permits before they can be accepted.

Change the permits on your art before you print..

If you are about to press Print call Paul Erickson at 800-881-2150 ext 17 for up to the minute information.

Story developing, more details to come…

UPDATES:

The Postal Service has a long track record of rolling out changes to their rules and regulations in a very slow and methodical manner. For example, the upcoming requirements in January that eliminate discounts for anyone using the old Postnet barcodes have been discussed since 2010 or earlier.

However, that history aside, the Postal Service surprised us all recently with a rule that rejected mail all over the country without any prior notice at all.  The US Postal Service will no longer accept decorative company indicia permits like this one:

Branded Postal Permits

Branded Permit

Marketing departments all over the country have modified their permits to be more decorative to take full advantage of the direct mail customer experience. Wither you put your casino name in your permit with a fancy font or completely colored it like we did (above), they are no longer allowed.

The only correct and acceptable company-indicia permits are built more like this:

Acceptable Postal Permit Indicia

Standard Permit Indicia

Like I said, traditionally they would give a long drawn-out notice. Sometimes it seems that they don’t understand the processes we must all go through. Mailings all over the country were already approved and on the press or being completed when these rejections started happening on August 1st.

If you would like us to take a quick free look at your permit situation, just let us know.
We’re happy to help!

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Marketing Parcels Build Customer Loyalty

In this article we talk about how Marketing Parcels increase customer loyalty.

Marketing Parcel for higher responseI went to my mailbox today as part of my regular check for bills, offers and coupons.  Normally I expect a stack of envelopes, postcards and newspaper coupons that I pull apart and sort into stacks.

Today was just like every other day but when I opened the mailbox I was surprised to find a box inside. “What is this?” I wondered.

My birthday was over a month ago. Could it be a belated birthday gift? I don’t know.  Maybe I ordered checks and forgot to expect them.  Maybe it’s something from Amazon.com or Ebay?

WHAT IS IT?  All the other mail was quickly forgotten.

As I walked back to the house that the box was all I remember about my mailbox.  I stuffed the rest of the mail in my folded arm and carried the box home like it was something special; something fragile and that box had all my attention.

We are all so easily excited and highly curious about sealed boxes.  It’s like we are programmed as a child on Christmas day or birthdays and special occasions.  This curiosity of this moment was no exception, my heart actually raced a little. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

In the marketing space of the mailbox, the box wins, hands down.

When you think about that moment at your mailbox don’t you think we should all be mailing boxes to our most important customers?  If we can make them feel special and have them hold our brand in their hands with excitement and curiosity then we can create a lifetime relationship.

It’s not as expensive as you might think; especially when you look at the increased response rates and long-term relationship the investment creates for you.  Our best guests have so many options delivered to them each month.  A box from you can increase your wallet-share of business.

What’s that worth?  Perhaps millions!

Quite honestly it doesn’t have to be too elaborate either.  You can use a very thin box and insert an invitation, 2 tickets to your event and a special parking pass.  I would also include a personal note from the host as well.  Make it special!

The US Postal Service even has a special category of box mailing called “Marketing Parcels” that allow for up to 16 ounces of weight and up to a 9”x12”x2” box that gets special discounts.

Get your best clients to brag about your casino to their friends. Make them feel special and prove you care about their business.  Postcards have their place but don’t let them replace the more effective approach to client loyalty that includes irregular parcels, boxes and fed-ex or UPS envelopes.  Show guests they are special to you and that you look forward to spending more time with them.

The increased loyalty will be obvious to your bottom line.

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