You’ve already seen Intelligent Mail barcodes. Whether you work in the printing and mailing industry, or simply receive mail at home, an Intelligent Mail barcode has passed through your hands. To many people, these codes may just look like a series of black lines, but there’s much more to the coding system than meets the eye. What exactly is Intelligent Mail barcoding and how can businesses make the most of it? Read on to find out.
What Are Intelligent Mail Barcodes?
“Intelligent Mail” is a service offered by the United States Postal Service. The service uses a 65-bar barcode to sort and deliver domestic mail. This Intelligent Mail barcode is printed on envelopes with the recipient’s address. There’s a lot of data contained in those little black bars! They identify the distribution center, the carrier route, the sender’s business mailer ID, and even the type of mail being sent (first class, standard, etc).
All of this data can be read automatically by the USPS mail sortation machines. The result? Quicker, more efficient mail sorting and delivery. Since Intelligent Mail barcoding shortens delivery times, it also saves the Postal Service on production costs. To encourage more businesses to take advantage of the service, USPS offers a discount to businesses who use Intelligent Mail barcoding for bulk mailings, using First Class or Standard Mail Presort levels of service.
What Are the Benefits of Intelligent Mail Barcoding?
The United States Postal Service isn’t the only organization that reaps the benefits of Intelligent Mail barcoding. Businesses, nonprofits, and other groups that use the service can also experience multiple advantages including:
Additional Mail Price Incentives from USPS
Reduced Permit Costs
Intelligent Mail now helps full-service mailers streamline their permit process. Through the Mail Anywhere service, mailers simply maintain a single permit and account to pay for all domestic mailings. There’s no additional permit application fee required for mailing to additional locations.
Automated Address Correction
- Flat mailings, postcards, and letters that are first-class
- Standard letters and flat mail
- Bound printed matter flat mail
- Periodical letters and flat mail
Intelligent Mail barcodes don’t give mailers the ability to track each piece of mail. However, they are able to trace mail sent with Intelligent Mail barcodes. Tracing doesn’t follow a piece of mail all the way to a recipient’s mailbox, but it does tell mailers the last USPS location where a pallet of mail was scanned. This feature is free and automatic for senders using Intelligent Mail.
Creating a true omni-channel marketing experience is about more than delivering material on different platforms. It's also about connecting those touch points to create a stronger connection to consumers. Intelligent Mail barcodes make it easier than ever to strengthen these connections.
Marketers can create automated marketing campaigns to coincide with specific direct mail triggers. For example, when a mailing about a special offer receives its final scan, it can automatically trigger an email to recipients reminding them to check their mailboxes to learn about a big sale. In this way, digital and direct marketing can work together to drive brand awareness and sales.
Can Small Businesses Use Intelligent Mail Barcodes?
The average mailer uses Intelligent Mail barcoding for mailings that include over 10,000 pieces. However, USPS does offer the service for smaller bulk projects. Mailers sending smaller bulk jobs can still take advantage of the benefits of Intelligent Mail by using the Small Business Mailers (IMsb) tool. This tool is available for bulk mailings under 10,000 pieces and for any sender mailing 250,000 or fewer pieces every year.
Visit the USPS Business Customer Gateway and you’ll find a full list of the benefits of IMsb:
- Send full service mailings with Intelligent Mail barcodes.
- No need to print hard copy postage statements.
- Manage your mailing activities, transactions and mailing history around the clock.
- Receive delivery point validation and an automatically updated mailing list.
While IMsb does allow for smaller bulk mailings, it’s important to remember that this process requires extra steps. IMsb may be free, but extra time is required to register for the service and CASS-certify. A business may even need to pay for new software to create barcodes and to electronically submit larger full service mailings. CASS certification software itself can cost nearly $1,000 a year. For these reasons, businesses hoping to send small mailings may choose to forego Intelligent Mail barcoding.
Intelligent Mail Barcode Resources
Now that you know the basics about Intelligent Mail Barcoding, you may be interested in learning more about how to use the service for your own mailing projects. These resources can help:
As you can see, there’s a lot to learn about Intelligent Mail Barcoding. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, have additional questions, or simply want to make sure you get the most out of Intelligent Mail, Contact MSP today. We’ll put our expertise to work for you!