While the Internet and e-mail certainly have replaced much of the need for the U.S. Post Office, snail mail isn’t dead, yet.
However, even when you do need to send an actual letter, the Internet can make even that age-old process more efficient, too. And, when you think of all the precious hours wasted buying stamps at the Post Office or of the money wasted leasing a postage meter, you realize that it’s about time!
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
Internet postage systems allow you to go online and prepay for any amount of postage you like, just like the real world.
The difference is that this postage resides in an Internet account, and when you want to use it, you simply print an envelope or label with both the address and the postage at the same time. In this sense, the concept is a great time-saver, as you only have to process each mailing piece once.
As an added benefit, online systems will allow you to create your own address book, so you only have to enter addresses once, or they will use your existing database, provided it’s in a commonly recognized format such as ACT! or Outlook, among others. This last feature is truly outstanding, as it requires no extra typing whatsoever!
Once you have selected the addresses you wish to mail to, the systems will cross-reference them against the U.S. Postal Service’s database to verify accuracy. If discrepancies are found, they will provide you with corrections. Not only will this speed the delivery of your mail, but saves you wasting postage by sending mail that will only be returned due to addressing errors.
You can also create mailing “groups” and then use them to print all of the postage for that group with just one selection. This is truly a great timesaver if you have a farm or sphere of influence that you mail to regularly.
As a final step prior to actually printing your postage, you can preview a sample just to make sure that you’ve selected the proper addresses and that your printer is properly configured.
Additionally, online services allow for advanced postage options such as sending registered, certified, priority or express mail.
IS THIS RIGHT FOR YOU?
For the average businessperson these services are absolutely a must have. While there are fees, they are modest, (as low as $4.49 a month) and certainly much less than the cost of leasing a postage meter or the value of your time.
There are a few drawbacks, however. Currently, the Postal Service has only approved these services for domestic postage, so if you send a great deal of mail to foreign locations, you might want to wait a while before embracing this concept.
Additionally, one of the benefits listed above may at first seem like an inconvenience. You’ll probably find that many of the addresses in your contact database do not conform to the U.S. Postal Service database standards and so the programs will constantly be offering corrections to your postage.
However, as you update your database with these corrections, you’ll find that the savings in wasted mail and the faster delivery more than offset this initial inconvenience.
You can learn more online at www.stamps.com.
Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale. Go to www.canale.com to learn more.