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Automated mail is a business tool that makes it possible to process large volumes of mail with relative ease. Some companies make use of equipment and personnel to handle mail processing on this scale, while other companies outsource these functions to vendors who focus specifically on handling direct mail campaigns, regular distribution of mail pieces to clients, and other ongoing projects. The point of automated mail is to process the mail quickly and efficiently, thus reducing the expense associated with the creation and distribution of each unit.
One example of using automated mail is in the creation and execution of a direct mail campaign. In order to expedite the process of mailing out large volumes of promotional pieces such as letters or postcards, the originator will often make use of electronic methods to address, sort, and otherwise prepare the pieces for mailing. These include mail scanning, the creation of companion fax and email messages as part of the campaign, and distribution of these electronic formats along with the direct mail pieces.
Computer software is used to generate mailing labels or to print recipient names and addresses on the pieces themselves. Sorting machines make it possible to segregate the pieces by postal code, which in turn makes it easier to make use of bulk mail rates. Many automated mail strategies also use laser-printing technology to apply the appropriate amount of postage as part of the sorting process, allowing the pieces to be ready for mailing in a relatively short period of time.
The benefit of automated mail is that it is possible to prepare and send out tens of thousands of mail pieces in a fraction of the time it would take to prepare those same pieces by hand. Depending on the nature of the mail pieces, using automated tools would allow a business to process more pieces in a hour than a team of ten to fifteen people could process in several working days. This translates into substantial savings for the company, as well as freeing valuable personnel resources to focus on other important aspects of the operation.
While some companies choose to create their own mail sorting facility in-house, others choose to make use of automated mail services to handle their direct mail campaigns and other mass mailings. Many of these companies maintain lists for their clients, as well as proofs of documents prepared for previous campaigns. This makes it possible for the client to quickly put together a new direct mail campaign using elements from previous mass mailings, with relatively little cost. Since many of these services charge a flat rate per piece that includes printing, proofing, addressing, applying postage, and even delivery to the post office, it is very easy to calculate the cost of the mailing project in a matter of minutes.
Another advantage of using an automated mail service is that many offer volume discounts. As the customer chooses to send out more copies of the same piece, the rate per mailing decreases. This can allow companies to further refine their costs for direct mail advertising, or even sending out mail pieces to existing customers on an ongoing basis.