What is a Mailstream?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The mailstream is the sum total of documents, packages, and electronic correspondence which moves through a business or home. The term is more frequently used in the corporate world, usually in the context of learning how to manage the large mailstream which comes with a big company. Several companies specialize in mailstream services, offering ways to improve efficiency at every step of the mailing process. For companies which specialize in marketing, creating a streamlined mailing system is vitally important.

Mailed documents are just part of a household's mailstream.
Mailed documents are just part of a household's mailstream.

In addition to the mail itself, the mailstream encompasses the steps along the way. Document creation, mail handling, filing, processing, and all other tasks related to the mailstream are included within it. From the moment a document is created until the time it leaves the company, it is included within the mailstream. On the other side of the equation, the instant a piece of correspondence enters the company, it also becomes part of the mailstream, until it is handled appropriately.

Bills, packages, personal correspondence, marketing materials, and digital documents are all part of the mailstream. While individuals are usually able to manage their mail alone, a company usually needs to implement a system. Most companies mail out high volumes of material daily, routing company wide mail through a central mail room. Some of the measures which are taken to smooth out a mailstream include using standardized envelopes, sorting mail before it is sent out so that a company can receive bulk mailing prices, and using computer programs to manage the mail. Incoming mail is processed and delivered by mail room employees.

Within the realm of electronic communication, many companies use high powered filtering and sorting services to organize mail before it reaches the end destination. Typically these programs filter out viruses and unwanted material before ensuring that digital communication reaches the correct person. Many companies also take advantage of the digital mailstream for sending out promotional emails to customers, since direct marketing using digital media is much less expensive than physical direct mail.

By keeping good records of a mailstream, a company can offer better customer and client services. Most companies also struggle with synchronizing digital and physical communications. Digital correspondence has a much shorter lag time than physical. For customers, it can be irritating or upsetting if a company's records are not kept current. In a company with a synchronized and organized mailstream, a company representative can look up a customer and track all of the company's correspondence with him or her, making customer interactions much more easy.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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