Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of June 2023.
With postal rates continuing to rise, you want to save money on your mailing campaign budget. While practicing good list hygiene is a good start – and you can always scale back on the number of pieces you mail out – there is another option, known as commingling mail, that may be available to you. Read on to learn what it means to commingle, and why you might want to.
What is Commingling Mail?
The definition of commingled is simple. In short, it just means “blended”. When mail is commingled, it means the mailings of multiple companies are combined into groups.
The concept behind commingling mail is to save money by combining your mail with that of other marketers. For example, letters and flats (self-mailers and postcards) can be organized in trays and tubs based on zip code. The more digits that are matched in the sort, the greater the discount that is applied. In this way, direct mail marketers can meet USPS discount minimums much easier and still reach neighborhood targets with lower postage rates.
The cost benefits to large volume mailers are obvious, but even for small volume mailers, the postage discounts can be even more of a make-or-break factor in a given campaign.
Commingled mail can bypass the usual intermediate processing facilities by going directly to the right Sectional Center Facility (SCF) or Network Distribution Center (NDC) nearest its destination. You may also be able to negotiate your transportation costs for more savings.
Not all mail is time-sensitive. It can wait for mail from other participants to show up. So commingling may make more sense. But if timing is critical – think retail promotions – that mail should leave your vendor’s doors sooner, not later. Also, be sure to take other factors – like your campaign’s format, or your list composition – into consideration.
Bottom line: Know (and present) the big picture to get buy-in from all of the stakeholders when you’re planning a campaign.
How Does a Commingle Service Help?
Commingling mail helps save your company money by saving the USPS a lot of processing time and money. In exchange for sorting your mail, combining it with mail from other sources, and delivering it to a site much closer to its destination, the postal service provides a lower rate on your postage costs. Handling a lot of that processing work yourself instead of handing it off to USPS at an earlier point may also speed up delivery time for your campaigns.
How Do I Get Started with Commingled Mail?
Getting started with commingling mail is actually not as hard as it may sound. By following a series of steps, your mail campaigns will safely and quickly bypass intermediate stops and get to their destinations more quickly, while saving money.
Careful planning and preparation will ensure that your commingling mail process will be efficient:
- Prepare your data
- Send samples
- Check in-home dates
- Pick up or drop off mail
- Combine mail
- USPS entry/acceptance
- Mail tracking
- Analyze your campaign results
Commingling vs. Co-Palletization (CoPal)
CoPal combines addressed and sorted mail trays from different marketers or providers, separated by zip code, on the same pallet. This way, each full pallet is completely prepared, then trucked for an easy passage to its destination SCF. Again, USPS discounts apply to mail that is dropped deeper into the system thanks to avoiding several steps.
Wrapping it up
Commingling mail is just one of many ways you can save money on your marketing campaigns. The savings achieved can be plowed back into your bottom line or applied to investing in future growth, such as testing or more personalization.
At mailing.com, we have decades of experience shepherding mail through the postal system while saving marketers time and money. To talk about how we can help your campaigns, please feel free to call or reach out today. We’d love to hear from you!