New Postage Rates for 2014

New Postage RatesThe First-Class stamp will be 49 cents after the new postage rates begin January 2014. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rate increases for the 2014 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.

The deadline for using the Full Service processing with the new intelligent mail barcodes is January as well. This is a deadline we have been waiting on for years. We have been using these IMB codes since 2008 and have the only app in the iTunes store that uses them.

Many of our innovations are based on intelligent barcodes and we seem to always lead the way. CSG Direct invented America’s first public US Mail Tracking systems. You should check out our Direct Mail iPhone app based on the new Intelligent Mail Barcodes.

We always publish a shortlist of the new postage rates:  (newest rates always posted here)

2014 NEW POSTAGE RATES

For reference here are past postage rates:
2014 postage rates
2013 postage rates
2012 postage rates
2011 postage rates
2010 postage rates
2009 postage rates
2008 postage rates
2007 postage rates

CSG Direct Mail at Casino Marketing Conference

The Casino Marketing Conference is just around the corner.  Are you going?CasinoMarketingConference

CSG Direct Mail has been asked to present our Triggered, Automated Casino Direct Mail Programs in the Casino Direct Mail session.

These programs drive casino mailers hands-free directly from your player database to our 9 digital presses for Same-Day mailings with full personalization, variable free-play, variable graphics and more.

These CSG programs are one of the Casino Direct Mail Industries “Holy Grails”!

The casino direct mail session takes place on Wednesday the 24th at 1:30 pm.
We’ll also be giving away some free automated direct mail at our booth so stop by.

The Sessions taking place during this 3 day conference include:

  • Stop Thinking of Social media as The Be-All End-All
  • The Future of Casino Marketing: The Operators’ Roundtable
  • What’s Going On With… Direct Mail?
  • What’s Going On With… Casino Advertising?
  • Managing Point Reinvestment
  • How to Gather Player Feedback
  • Developing Effective Merchandising and Incentive Programs
  • Marketing Strategy that Makes Sense
  • Secrets of Award-Winning Casino Promotions
  • Social Gaming, Who’s Playing it and what does it mean

In addition to the great lineup of casino industry sessions there will be Keynote Speakers, Lifetime Achievement Awards, The Romero Awards and tons of networking.  If you are serious about gaming you will want to be at this conference.

As a special note I am personally excited to hear from John Acres on his Casino Marketing 10th Anniversary Special Keynote Session:  Where Will Our Next Generation Of Players Come From? The Answer May Be “In The Box” Instead Of Out Of It!

This should be required continuing education for career empowerment.

I hope you can make it!!

The Magic of Yellow and Red Direct Mail

The Magic of Yellow and Red Direct Mail

Back in the day, the largest amount of direct mail was white envelopes as far as the eye could see. Bills and 8.5×11 Letters were the majority of all First-Class mail and it was easy for direct mail marketers to stand out with a little splash of color.

First-Class mail volume has dropped dramatically due to electronic banking and electronic bill pay.  Now our mailboxes are full of color and the white envelope is the rare exception.

Yellow and red direct mailMore and more marketers are skipping the use of envelopes and mailing out full-color vibrant self-mailers like flyers, coupon books, postcards and catalogs.

So how do we compete in a colorful mailbox?  How do we OWN the mailbox that day without sending a 3d box mailer?

The answers are YELLOW and RED!

I mean, if you open your mailbox and there is a box inside… Nothing Beats Box!
(Except a Yellow and Red Box)

But once you eliminate the expense of box mailers with the cost of boxes, manual assembly and increased postage costs… A Yellow and Red Mailer owns the mailbox even more as it is more affordable and has a very similar pizazz presence.

Red and Yellow colors are programmed in us internally to mean “Emergency”, “Hurry” and “Must take action”. What better way is there to get your direct mail customers and prospects to take you seriously and give you their attention?

We all know that an envelope delivered from Fed-Ex or UPS would be taken very seriously from anyone receiving them. But the cost of mailing with Fed Ex or UPS is cost prohibitive.

However, DHL will let you use their patented Red and Yellow Envelopes and you get normal USPS flat-rates. ~That’s a Tip from your #CSGMailMan.  This valuable service saves a ton of shipping costs and gets the same effect or better due to their use of Yellow and Red.

Use “Emergency Envelopes” for your event invites.

So you’re not getting enough people to your events?  Maybe people are not taking your invites seriously?  What if you double your print and mail costs but quadruple your response rates by adding a Yellow and Red emergency envelope to the mix?  Or conversely, what if you mail half as many people but double response rates?

That is the direction smart math-minded clients are going.  Response is more important than any other aspect of direct mail including expense.  Reach for high response rates! 

Use Yellow and Red as a profitable way to draw your customers in.

Direct Mail Company Expansion

CSG Direct Mail and Digital Printing is combining our plants in Reno Nevada.

Direct Mail Company FacilityWe are combining our Las Vegas Facility and our Reno Facility into a single facility in Reno Nevada. Fate once again has us moving into some place bigger and better.  We are moving all our presses into one fabulous facility at 640 Maestro Dr #100, in beautiful Reno Nevada.

As a company that designs, prints and mails direct mail marketing for customers all over the country, we have lots of options as to where we want our plant.  We choose Reno Nevada based on its ideal location for distribution and its ideal location for living.

Reno is a little city with big town swagger.

IDEAL FOR DISTRIBUTION: Reno-Sparks is on Interstate-80; just East of the San Francisco ship yards, in tax-friendly Nevada. Companies from all over the world come to Reno Nevada as a major distribution point to the rest of the Country.  Some companies with handle major distribution in our area are Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Microsoft, Intuit Software, JC Penny, RR Donnelly and we are now welcoming Apple to our region.

Reno is an ideal location for fast distribution across the country for our customers. We have tracked 2-3 day delivery to Texas and Colorado with US Mail tracking of standard mail.

biggestlittlecityIDEAL FOR LIFE: Living alongside Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Range is “The Biggest Little City” with Big City Swagger.  Talented people are drawn to this region for a better life and a place to flourish in a balance of work and play.

Where else can you work until 5 O’clock and by 6 O’clock you can be skiing, hiking, boating, horse-riding, snowmobiling or rafting, paragliding or motorcycle riding in many directions of beautiful mountain and country roads?  Reno-Tahoe is the most personally rewarding place to live and work.

CSG Direct is the largest digital printer for direct mail in Nevada with 9 digital presses. We invented US Mail Tracking and unique iPhone apps to track every piece of mail you send. We created variable printed maps and we are a Full Service Intelligent Mail provider with the USPS. We have very rare combination of direct mail skills, tools and innovations indeed.

As a National Direct Mail innovator we would be a leader in any city we chose to work from.  We are glad to call the Biggest Little City home. #BiggestLittleCity

HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON DIRECT MAIL

HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON DIRECT MAIL…   BUT DON’T JUST LOOK THERE!Tami Jones

As someone who has spent the better part of the last 20 years working in, around and with casinos regarding direct mail, I am often asked about the best way to cut costs from the direct marketing budget.  So…here’s my top 5 places to check costs.

1.    Re-investment – What percentage of theoretical win are you re-investing in your players?  You must look at your entire re-investment budget to answer this one.  What about special events?  Promotions?  Merchandise awards?  Direct Mail?  Others?  Are you considering all of these?  What are you getting back from your players in tracked play? If you don’t have the tracked play to justify your entire re-investment level, it’s time to make some changes.

2.    Target Audience – Are you mailing to the correct people?  There is a large portion of your database, on the high and low ends of play, that just shouldn’t be included in your regular direct mail loyalty programs.  Need to know who they are?  Call Amy at Raving and she’ll send Nicole Barker out to help you find them.

3.    Inactive Players – Are you going back too far in your database to find “active” players?  You know your property better than anyone else.  Are you a locals casino?  A regional drive-up destination?  A national stop-over?  Define an active player and include only those people in your monthly loyalty program.  Move inactive players into a recovery program and mail to them accordingly.  If you don’t get them back from there, they now become your best prospects.

4.    Mail Piece Type – Are you sending a 12 x 18 self-mailer with 16 coupons, scored, perfed and folded 6 times?  Is that the most cost-effective mail piece for your purpose?  Do you require your players to bring in coupons?  If not, why are you spending the money to print and perf coupons?  Is there a lot of fluff copy and graphic content in your mailers?  If you cut that down, could you accomplish the same outcome with a smaller, easier and less expensive to produce mailer?  If you want to know the answers to these questions, ask your guests.  They’ll tell you, trust me.  Also, ask the opinion of co-workers outside the marketing department, they’ll tell you too!

5.    Liabilities – Do your players earn points? Comps? Freeplay? All of the above?  Cut yourself some slack.  Don’t keep your liabilities hanging out there without an expiration date.  Liabilities affect your budgets.  Keep it manageable.  If they don’t use it, they lose it, but you have to tell them…no secrets!

6.  Bonus Savings –  We are now in the information age, in case you missed it.  We’ve been here a while now.  Hopefully, you are gathering email addresses?  Start using them for people who want you to (sshhh, don’t tell my boss).  You may not be able to eliminate the physical direct mailer altogether, and I don’t believe you should, but you might be able to reduce the quantity somewhat if you have permission from the player.  Whatever the method of delivery, keep the data up-to-date and you will save money by not sending out offers that won’t ever get there.

Casino Triggered Automated Marketing

Everyone in the casino industry has struggled with new player signup bounceback mailers.

  • Can we send them something to bring them back?
  • How soon do we send them something?
  • How many man-hours can we spend on this each week?

Everyone wants to mail them daily but doing so is a distraction for your marketing department when you are short-staffed and have 1000 other things to get done.  So most casinos try and make sure they send them every 2 weeks or monthly.

Sadly, many casinos don’t mail them at all and lose the “Welcome to our Party” opportunity.

This is where Marketing Automation comes in

You can call it “Triggered Mail” or “Timed Mailings” but what were talking about is putting your new player welcome mailings on cruise control while still offering the same level of personalization and more.

We setup a small data transfer every morning from your player database to our data center and your personalized direct mail art merges with your data and prints automatically on one of our 9 Digital Presses.  We then cut, fold, insert and apply postage and your new member mailers go out every single day.

You also receive an email summary each morning via email of how many pieces were mailed with an opportunity to review the variables used in your mailer.  Records are cleaned and compared to the US Postal Service for accuracy as well as to make them look better in your mailer.

This is an easy service to setup and you can focus your time and energy on your more complex promotions where you need to be focused.

Once you have New Members automated, think of all the other “holes” in a marketing program we can automate.  Our automation works great for:

  • New Members
  • Birthdays
  • Inactives breaking trip frequency
  • Increased or declining play offers
  • Much Much More…

Letters, Postcards and Emails

We offer 4 different automation mailer sizes:

  • 6×9 Full Color Variable 4/4 Postcards
  • 6×11 Full Color Variable 4/4 Postcards
  • 8.5×11 Full Color Variable 4/0 Letters and Envelopes
  • 8.5×14 Full Color Variable 4/0 Letters and Envelopes

We offer email triggered marketing as an add-on to any one of these too.

Variable Print, Variable Offers, Variable Images, Variable Envelopes

Nobody out-variables CSG Direct so we make this VERY EASY to be VERY Personalized.  If you have 4 letters for 4 tiers or different offers for non-locals vs locals… We build that in.

If you want Blackjack players to receive blackjack images and Keno people to get pictures of Keno, slots, etc..  We build that in.  At only $485 1-time setup this is maybe the biggest no-brainer in casino marketing.

Personalized Envelopes???  That’s impossible!  Right?

Something truly unique that our programs offer is full-color variable envelopes. This means we print your letterhead and envelopes on the fly with your offers and you can do variable tag lines and variable images, return addresses and more in the same program.

Do you want a picture of your players club card with their names on it on the front of an envelope in daily mailings of 1 piece to 500?  That’s what people come to CSG Direct Mail for…  The Good Stuff, Cheap.

All kinds of great casino services and innovations are coming out of Nevada from CSG Direct Mail. We are the Largest Digital Printer in Nevada with a reputation for better results.

Reach out to us and tell us about your new member mailers.  We’ll automate them!

SQL Address Correction over the web (CASS)

I just wanted to share that we have finished building our Address Correction program to CASS certify records directly inside SQL over the internet.

We have deployed it into our daily triggered mailings so that every record a customer transfers to us is cleaned and updated to the USPS Addressing standards, zip+4 etc

We are updating Canadians in the same pass.

To Expand on the possibilities…
This means that we could connect this CASS program directly into a timed process with any customer to clean their internal databases as well.

What if a Casino uploaded their new signups to us each day, me cleaned and mailed them, then they import those database changes back into their system?  This would be easy to do at this point.  Too easy.

I would suggest going deeper and query:
SELECT TOP (1000) *
FROM dbo.PLAYERS
WHERE [ZIP] EXCLUDES *-*

They could send us 1000 records per day where zip+4 has not been coded.
This could be a nice daily cleansing ritual that runs Hands-Free and over the course of 30 days their database would be pristine. Plus it would continue to check for records to clean each day so it always stayed pristine.

Another milestone of capabilities for us here at CSG.

Never stop learning and growing!

New Direct Mail Folding and Tabbing Requirements

New rules for Folded Self-Mailers (FSMs) and Tabbing become effective January 5, 2013.  Are you ready?

Yes, you read it right.  More changes from the post office.  This time they say the changes will reduce damaged mail pieces and keep the high-speed postal machinery from jamming and slowing processing.  Well, that sounds good!  There will be no grace period, so get with your graphic designers and pass on the new requirements.

What is a Folded Self-Mailer?  It is a mail piece comprised of panels created when a single sheet or multiple sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mailer.  It does not go in an envelope and is not bound in any way.  Any mailer that is bound in any way is a booklet and the new tabbing rules do not apply.  Mailers with discs have been reclassified and have different rules.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Folded Self-Mailers:

  1. Height maximum is now 6 inches (Minimum height is still 3 ½ inches).
  2. Length maximum is now 10 ½ inches (Minimum length is still 5 inches).
  3. Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
  4. Final fold must be at the bottom of the mailer or on the leading edge (right side) of the mailer for oblong pieces.
  5. Limited to 12 total panels.
  6. Final folded panel creates the non-address side of the mailer as folded bottom to top or leading to trailing edge.  Address panel can no longer be on the very top panel.
  7. Mailers with 4 panels must be printed on 28 # bond stock (70 # book) minimum.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Tabbing:

  1. Perforated tabs are no longer accepted.
  2. Minimum size of tab is one inch in diameter.
  3. Minimum number of tabs is two.
  4. Placement of tabs is dependent upon the design of the mail piece.
  5. Tabs can no longer be placed on the bottom edge of the mail piece.
  6. 2 one-inch tabs may be used for mail pieces weighing one ounce or less.
  7. Mail pieces weighing over one ounce must use two 1 ½ inch tabs.

Have questions or concerns or need help with a tricky mail piece?  Give us a call and send us a copy of your artwork before you go to print and we’ll help make sure you have it right!

Call us at 800-881-2150… We’re here to Help!

Or here is our online request form

Triggered Direct Mailings in more detail

Continued from Triggered Mailings Part 1

Personalized Triggered Mailings

Personalized Triggered 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.