If you are solely an electronic user and consider mailing out letters outdated and unnecessary then this article isn’t for you.
But, if like many businesses you print and mail out a proportion of your letters, marketing content and promotional stuff then read on as this post might help you save money.
The print industry has come in for some pretty heavy criticism for not being forward thinking and innovative.
Yet one of it’s greatest innovations is hybrid mail from the standard print and mail distribution via outsourcing data to a third party and having it printed and mailed out to being able to manage your mailings straight from your desktop at a touch of a button.
In reality hybrid mail has been around since the 70s and has come to the fore in the last 3-5 years. Whilst there are many large hybrid mail providers in the UK market place, most of their services are designed for the big corporate user and don’t always have the SME in mind.
The major benefit of hybrid mail is that it reduces the time, effort and money, printing and mailing out letters from even a few, too many thousands of letters.
How does it work?
Hybrid mail uses a mix of electronic and traditional processes. Whatever documents you want to print and post there are four steps to get them delivered:-
- Upload the document you want to print and post
- Preview your pages
- Check your recipients
- Order – choose either black and white or colour print, first or second class delivery
All you need is a hybrid mail service provider who can transform your documents into secure printed and posted documents and a PC/laptop.
Hybrid works by enabling users to send individual or multiple page letters and documents created on any computer to a central print site via the internet. The letters are printed, merged with letters that the hybrid mail provider has produced for other customers that day and sorted into mailsort order ready for posting.
At the end of the day the mail is despatched via a bulk mail service supplied by the Royal Mail or one of their DSA competitors.
As with any new innovative print technology customers need to be able understand how the system works so they can then start to think about how it can be used to benefit their business.
Many companies still have an on-going requirement for mailing and posting out documents even the occasional small quantity and that is where hybrid mail lends itself very well.
How does hybrid mail add value to your business?
In my view any organisation that is printing and sending letters using a desktop printer will save time and money switching to a hybrid mail service.
Even organisations with larger in-house operations or using third party suppliers such as print and mailing houses to print their statements, invoices, customer letters, subscription renewals can save money.
Hybrid mail is not a complicated process. Unlike print and mailing services the cost is not based on the volume being mailed. Whether you send out one bespoke letter to one recipient or 500 letters to 500 recipients the unit cost is the same.
Some hybrid mail services will offer added value in the form of correcting inaccuracies in customer addresses free of charge through integration with the postal address file. [PAF]
Standardising your letterhead and corporate identity across your hard copy communications will enable you to ensure brand consistency without having to pay for re-design costs across a number of third party suppliers.
Some hybrid mail services allow you to set, limit and control spending at an individual user or departmental level which means you have full control over what gets mailed out and how much it costs.
One of the main advantages of hybrid mail is the reduction in your carbon footprint of each letter mailed. Letters that are printed through hybrid mail are printed on presses that are more energy efficient than a desktop printer on a per unit basis.
Bulk mailings cost less to transport and deliver across the country.
Quality, security and reliability are issues that would be users of the service may have concerns about. Most of the hybrid services run on https secure internet connections the same as the banks use and the physical print centres, where your letters are printed are ISO27001 accredited.
The reliability of hybrid mail compares just as well to a standard mailing service. Most print centres will have a validation process that monitors every letter in every mailing throughout the production cycle to ensure they can be 100% certain that each letter has been printed and mailed.
Can I use hybrid mail for multi-channel marketing?
I have emphasised the importance of personalisation when it comes to marketing your content and getting your message out there. Hybrid mail is a cost effective way of reinforcing your online brand by sending out a follow up message using direct mail.
It’s cheap, easy to set up and can fit in with your online content marketing and it’s a great way to push the same message more than once. Why not promote that event or special promotion numerous times through the mail.
The chances are you are promoting your message online many times but your audience isn’t always online and so misses it. Backing it up with a mailed promotional piece reinforces what you’ve done online.
By using both traditional and digital marketing approaches simultaneously you’re maximising the reach of your business’s message.
The more impressions or views your message can get the more effective it will be and hybrid mail should be right up there with your marketing strategy.