For organizations that send significant amounts of printed correspondence through the United States postal system, using a postage meter can increase efficiency and reduce expenses. A meter mail machine will stamp the proper postage amount onto envelopes using specialized printing images instead of individual sticky stamps. The speed with which postage can be applied varies, but is often at a rate in the hundreds per minute. The only potential downside to using metered postage is that metered mail is perceived as being less individualized and therefore less significant.
The use of machines that print only officially approved images onto envelopes alleviates the need for applying individual stamps to outgoing mail. Some higher volume postage meters can process hundreds of envelopes per minute; many of these machines even have the ability to weigh individual envelopes and apply the exact amount of postage required for delivery.
Metered postage can be used with all envelopes in any mail class. One of the benefits of metered mail is the ability to adjust the amount of postage being applied to each envelope. Regardless of the mail class and postage amount being printed on an envelope, the design and layout of the meter images remains unchanged. This type of flexibility makes these machines a powerful part of any organization’s mailroom.
Just as there are no restrictions on the types of mail that can use metered postage, there is also no restriction on the departure or destination location of metered mail packages and envelopes. Every post office in the United States will accept and deliver mail that has been stamped with a meter machine, including delivery to international destinations.
To prevent fraud, the United States Postal Service has specific requirements and restrictions regarding how postage can be printed on an envelope. Certain images and characteristics must be included in the metered print, including a confidential bar code called an indicia. Information must be contained within this barcode regarding the date of printing, the amount of postage, the client account where printing originated and other details identifying the sender of the mail.
Sales organizations thinking of implementing a postage meter for outbound direct mail marketing should consider how their mail will be perceived by recipients. Metered envelopes are often perceived as being less personal and more formal, clearly indicating a business purpose for the correspondence. Recipients are fully aware that their letter is one of many, possibly thousands. They may have a tendency to dismiss the importance or significance of the envelope’s contents. In many cases, people do not open envelopes that appear to be impersonal junk mail. For a sales organization, the biggest challenge with direct mail marketing is getting the recipient to open the envelope. Metered mail typically does not elicit the welcoming response that direct mail sales requires for success.
Gregory Gambone is senior vice president of a small New Jersey insurance brokerage. His expertise is insurance and employee benefits. He has been writing since 1997. Gambone released his first book, "Financial Planning Basics," in 2007 and continues to work on his next industry publication. He earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University.