June 2020 - Latcham

Achieving best value with your membership communications

Learn how to get the maximum value from your member communications in our webinar with MemberWise.

Getting the most value from your member communications is critical: but many membership organisations are not taking advantage of some simple, easy-to-implement tools and techniques that can reduce costs and increase value. Some of these tools are extremely easy to implement, and experts are on hand to explain how you can harness them. Our webinar with MemberWise includes:

• A discussion on practical and sustainable ways to enhance membership communication, which creates greater value for your members
• Ways to optimise electronic and postal delivery of your membership communications that can increase efficiency and lower cost in your member mailings
• Exploring the potential role of hybrid mail and out sourcing your post room in reducing costs and supporting your members’ journey.

This webinar features some great member value case studies and explains how membership bodies can save up to 40% on member mailings by making some expert advice and by implementing some very simple changes in the way that they send communications to their members.

Want to know more? You can view the webinar in its entirety in the Vimeo link below.

We’ve just signed the Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

We believe that this is the right thing to do, and demonstrates the type of business we are. By signing the covenant, we pledge to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and support the Armed Services Community. We recognise the value serving personnel, both Regular and Reservists, Veterans and military families contribute to our business and our country.

In keeping with the terms of the covenant, we will endeavour in our business dealings to ensure no member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of our services, and in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate, especially for the injured and bereaved.

At Latcham, we promote the fact that we are an armed-forces friendly organisation, and that we seek to establish a tailored pathway for service-leavers young and old, within our organisation. We strive to support the employment of Service spouses and partners, and we endeavour to offer flexibility in leave for Service spouses and partners before, during and after their partner’s employment. We seek to support staff members who choose to be members of the Reserve forces by accommodating their training and deployment where possible.

You can find more information on the Armed Forces Covenant here.

Achieving best value in your member communications

Best value member communications: learn how to achieve them in our complete guide.

How can you achieve best value member communications? We’re here to help! The Department of Finance defines best value as “the most advantageous combination of cost, quality and sustainability to meet customer requirements”. In this guide, you will find a whole host of tips aimed at not just reducing cost, but tackling quality and sustainability in your communications too. We’ve broken it down by section, so you can refer to this guide when you need advice on getting more value with your communications.

Bulk mail discounts and postal optimisation

Last month, during our webinar with MemberWise, we asked our attendees if they took advantage of bulk mail discounts. Only 24% of our attendees said yes – which means your membership organisation could be paying more than you need to, on your bulk mailings.
Standard UK letters will attract discounts if over 4,000 in volume and if the mailing is pre-sorted into postcode order, before entering the postal system. By pre-sorting the mailing, we are in effect doing part of Royal Mail’s job, hence attracting the discounts.

The name of the product used to do this is called Mailmark and you will need to have an individual barcode within the window of the envelope, to make this possible. There are certain restrictions such as the members’ addresses do require to be fully compatible with the Royal Mail “Postcode Address File”, so you have to be careful to get this correct. You can do this via data cleansing: making sure your members’ details are accurate and up to date. It’s also important to keep track of your members’ location if it’s their workplace; there is a good chance COVID-19 may have altered this, particularly with more people working from home.

We can help you take advantage of bulk mail discounts and with cleaning your data.

Downstream Access (DSA)

There are alternatives to Royal Mail such as the Delivery Group, Whistl and UK Mail. These are all referred to as “Downstream Access” providers (DSAs). In most cases Royal Mail still delivers the “last mile” i.e. putting the mailed item through the correct letterbox. However, the DSA’s offer better rates as they are bulk buying from Royal Mail. DSA providers can also consolidate smaller mailings to access volume discounts.

Using a DSA can also reduce VAT on your mailings. This can be done by utilising what is known as an “Agency Agreement”. Under the agreement, the DSA provider can act as the organisation’s agent and secure Royal Mail final mile delivery services on their behalf (by taking the mail to regional hubs). This means that the client will only pay VAT on the upstream element (collection and sorting by the DSA), with no VAT charged on the ‘downstream’ element (the final mile delivery by Royal Mail). The downstream element is where most of the cost lies.

As an example, a 2nd class UK mailing worth £2,000 without an agreement will attract 20% VAT i.e. £400; with an agreement in place, this is likely to be less than £100.

COVID-19 discounts

Royal Mail is currently running incentives for “Getting Back to Work” such as offering a 10% discount on either fundraising tasks or “promoting an open for business mailing.” This can only be sourced via Royal Mail and not a DSA, but the minimum volume is just 1,000 packs.

Getting the best price on international postage – what is a consolidator?

Overseas consolidators collect international mail from mailing houses across the UK on a daily basis. They then consolidate those daily collections into one bulk mailing. That bulk mailing is then shipped into a European country and will enter that country’s postal system.

Consolidators are buying postage in bulk and most (if not all) European countries post is cheaper than Royal Mail, meaning there can be considerable cost savings for the end user. There are some drawbacks to this method: the consolidator will decide on a daily basis which country to ship the bulk mailing to, depending on who offers the best rates that day. The consolidator has to put a sticker over every outer envelope depending on which country’s postal system is being used, which could be anywhere in Europe: therefore an overseas member may not associate the letter with their member organisation and wonder why their member body is using a non-British mailing house.

Consolidators can also use a Royal Mail stamp and still be cheaper than Royal Mail direct, but it is not as cheap as utilising a European country directly.

Increasing your open rate

This guide has focused on cost reduction so far. Once these savings have been applied, and the mail is in your members’ hands, there is still the important element of open rate to remember: this is a key part in driving value in your communications. We have two simple tips you can apply here.

Research and our own experience has suggested that stamping your mailing using a digital stamp rather than an ordinary stamp or Printed Postage Impression (PPI) and using impactful envelope artwork, improves open rates.

Personalisation


Another often overlooked aspect of achieving best value member communications is personalisation. Personalising your member communications can take many forms, from simply using your members’ names right the way through, to personalising language and imagery in the communications based on the data you have about them.

Personalisation demonstrates to your members that you know them. By tailoring communications to suit them, you can demonstrate to your members that your communications to them are valuable.

Personalisation can also encompass the type of communication you send to your member: print or digital. Your members may prefer the speed and accessibility of digital, or they may appreciate the more premium feel of a tangible, physical item such as a journal. Many organisations take a blended approach and use both, with digital being used for more transactional communications such as renewals and notifications, and physical communications such as journals, being used for a more immersive experience.

E-services


Best value member communications means exploring every method of delivering your communications. This brings us to e-delivery and e-services as a solution, and how these can be used to increase value. Going paperless obviously has ramifications in terms of cost-effectiveness and sustainability (however, the sustainability of electronic communications over paper communications is more nuanced than you may think: more on this later).

COVID-19 has brought electronic services to the forefront, almost overnight. This year, The Royal Geographic Society re-wrote their constitution which dated back to the 1830, to allow for an electronic ballot instead of a postal ballot for their Annual General Meeting. This resulted in 140% more members casting their vote this year than the previous year.

E-services can provide lower costs but also lower barriers to entry and as a result, when used appropriately, can increase member engagement, which is invaluable at this current moment in the membership sector.

Sustainability


It is assumed almost implicitly that going paperless and switching to e-delivery has less environmental impact, but as we mentioned previously, this topic is not so clear-cut.

Paper and digital both have an effect on the environment.

Emails have a carbon cost. The machinery, electricity and servers required to send and receive email all use carbon. The Carbon Literacy Project tells us that a regular email can have a carbon cost of between 0.3 to 4g of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) and with emails with large attachments, this can rise as high as 50g of CO2e. It is estimated that the carbon cost of an average office worker’s emails is as high as 0.6 tonnes of CO2e. The carbon footprint of the average person living in India is 1.5 tonnes. Suddenly, the assumption that paperless is automatically more sustainable, is called into question.

The average office prints 5,000 pages of paper each month, about 60% of the paper produced by a single tree. The benefits here are that there has been a large shift in recent years, to make paper and printing as sustainable as possible. In the UK. 80% of paper waste is recycled.

Recycled vs FSC paper


Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) paper is one way to sustainably source your paper. FSC timber and pulp comes from responsibly managed forests. The FSC is dedicated to protecting forests globally, and has the highest standards of any forestry commission to protect biodiversity and ecology. They are endorsed by The Woodland Trust, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.

Trees from FSC forests are either replaced or allowed to regenerate, and some forests are protected wholesale, ensuring FSC paper does not contribute to deforestation.

Recycling paper on the other hand reuses materials we already have to hand, and means no new trees need to be felled: but the process of recycling is not environmentally neutral, involving cleaning and bleaching, and using more energy than creating virgin paper.

While both options have their pros and cons, they both comprise a huge leap from the use of uncertified paper.

Paper vs digital


The bottom line is, both paper and digital media have an affect on the environment and share common issues. Neither paper or digital are consequence-free for the environment. Both require the extraction of raw materials, energy and water usage, and the energy required to recycle the end product, whether it be electronics or paper pulp.

For best value member communications, a blended approach may be the best way forward, bringing together renewable energy, e-communications, sustainably sourced paper and recycling to pursue maximum sustainability.

At Latcham, we recycle 98% of all materials used on our site.

Hybrid mail

Many of our clients have told us that they are not familiar with hybrid mail, but are interested in finding out more. To summarise, hybrid mail is an outsourced post-room that not only can you access anywhere – which is incredibly beneficial with an increasingly dispersed workforce – but also costs less than a second class stamp for the whole mailing. That’s the envelope, paper, printing and sending of the mailing. Hybrid mail is also the same cost, no matter how many mailings you send out. If you need to send one letter or thousands, each mailing will be the same cost per unit.

All of the mail is processed in our secure data centre in Bristol, which means your staff can send mail with absolutely no contact, an element that has really come into its own during COVID-19.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of options and methods for achieving best value member communications. Social distancing has had many drawbacks, but it can also be a teachable moment for all of us: to reflect on how we’re communicating, if there’s anything we can change and how we can do better in the future.

 

Complete guide to hybrid mail

What is hybrid mail?

Traditional hybrid mail is a simple tool that allows you to outsource your printing needs to another facility. A print driver is installed on your PC which enables you to send mailings to an outsourced post-room. There, your mail will be printed, enclosed and posted with no input from you. You can do this with any volume of mailings: there isn’t a minimum order. You can send one piece of post or thousands. Hybrid mail gives organisations much greater control of their mailings while simultaneously driving down costs. However, not all hybrid mails are the same, meaning there are other benefits in addition to an outsourced post-room that will vary across providers.

How does hybrid mail work?

The process of getting your mailings to your recipients is streamlined via hybrid mail. Most of the work in between you preparing the mailing and it being sent, is taken on via a third party.

The set-up of the functionality is also streamlined, and should be set up for you by the hybrid mail provider, having first discussed your particular needs.

Drafting the document

The user, which can be any member of your organisation, drafts the piece of mail they want to send. Via the hybrid mail provider, they will have access to headed stationery and pre-sets to make the process simpler. They then submit this mailing to the print driver – just as they would if printing locally by pressing print.

Transmission

The document is encrypted and sent securely to the facility where the mailing will be handled. This is done online, via the cloud.

Processing

The document will then be set up in precisely the way the original user intended: correct size, single or double sided, colour or black and white, headed or non-headed paper.

Download

This completed document is downloaded by the print provider, securely, to be processed.

Processing

The print provider does the rest: printing, enclosing and sending the mail to the recipient.

What are the benefits of hybrid mail?

The benefits of an outsourced post-room may seem obvious, but there are actually far more benefits than people would expect when examined closely. In this section, we break down the benefits of hybrid mail and explain in detail how they can be of use to businesses and organisations, whether they already have a post room or if other methods are used to process and handle post.

Contactless

A feature that has come into its own during social distancing is that hybrid mail is completely contactless. All mail is processed through an encrypted data centre, then into a remote post-room, usually via cloud technology. There, your mailings are printed, machine-enclosed, stamped and sent out to be delivered by your provider. None of your staff need to touch the mail – everything happens at a distance via a command on your PC. This means that any of your staff, whether they are based in your offices or working remotely, can take control of your mailings.

Fast

Your mailings are sent straight to your hybrid mail provider at the touch of a button, and the rest of the process is completed by the provider. Your mail can be printed, enclosed and sent out on the same day.

Easy to use

While hybrid mail is an incredibly powerful tool, it should also make sending mail easier. A good hybrid mail tool is intuitive, easy to understand and easy to use, which means your staff won’t have any difficulties learning to use the new tool. By keeping a simple interface, making the tool easy to understand and to use, and providing easy access to guidance from the provider, a good hybrid mail system will ensure staff make the most of this powerful new tool provided to them, and make their jobs easier.

Advanced reporting

Many organisations will want a breakdown of which mail they have sent, how many copies and what type of mailings they are sending. Some providers can track each piece of mail you send, allowing you to report in detail on exactly what mail your organisation is sending. This allows you to gain control over departmental spend, and gives you complete control over the document output, making the use activity transparent. This has obvious benefits for budgeting.

Cost-effective

Hybrid mail is always far more cost-effective than maintaining your own post room. The letter, stamp, enclosing and sending of a piece of mail will usually cost less than a second class stamp. Due to the volume of mail handled by a hybrid mail provider, you can take advantage of the fact that they have access to discounts that your organisation wouldn’t be able to access on their own. Most hybrid mail providers will not require a minimum order: each piece of mail will cost the same whether you’re sending one or a 1000. You don’t have to worry about only using your provider for large volume mailing, meaning all of your post requirements can be taken on board by your provider.

Streamlined

By outsourcing your post-room your staff are free to work on other tasks. You will not need to retain expensive equipment like printers and franking machines, and you will use less energy and less stationery. This can represent a massive saving for organisations that are spending a significant amount on labour, machinery, stationery and energy in-house to process their mail.

Secure

A reputable hybrid mail provider will have several accreditations that ensure the security and integrity of their data handling. By using a secure post-room, your communications will be guaranteed to be completely regulatory compliant. Using an outsourced post-room should be even more secure than processing your mail in-house, due to the high levels of security mail-processing facilities need to demonstrate for accreditation.

Convenient

Hybrid mail providers will usually work 24/7, even if your organisation doesn’t. Your organisation should have 24/7 post-room access, meaning you can send letters not just from any location, but at any time of day.

Improved quality assurance

By sending your mail through a hybrid mail provider, you should have the ability to centralise the options available for printing, such as letterheads, stationery and attachments. This ensures consistency in the look, feel and quality of your mailings. Some hybrid mail providers can act as a second quality assurance department, picking up on mailings that are non-standard, such as using letterheads or imagery out of proportion, and feed that back to you, so you can prevent sub-standard mail from being sent out.

Configurable

Not all hybrid mails are configurable, but this ability is hugely powerful. If you send out the same type of mailing very frequently, some providers can preconfigure this for you, so you don’t need to set up your mailing every time. Options like colour, double/single siding can be set up for you, meaning your staff can send these types of frequent mailings very quickly and easily. This bespoke model of hybrid mail will require a small amount of set-up by the provider at the beginning, but guarantees a seamless, user-friendly process for the end user.

Conclusion

Not all hybrid mails are created equal. They will differ in their capabilities, pricing, quality, ease of use and sector-specific knowledge. Outsourcing your post will be of benefit to any organisation, but by ensuring your hybrid mail partner is the right fit for your organisation, can prevent headaches down the road. By consulting this guide, you can make an informed choice about what to look for in a hybrid mail partner.

Find out how we helped Rendall & Rittner achieve huge cost and efficiency savings with our hybrid mail solution here.

Delivering member value at a distance: maintaining member engagement and loyalty.

Maintain the physical in your member communications and make it personal. Member value is still possible, even with social distancing in place.

“With recessionary winds in the air it is now more important than ever to find ways to demonstrate the value of membership to ensure member retention and loyalty” explains Latcham Managing Director Mike Hughes. “Now is the time to reinforce the value of membership by delivering targeted, tenable, relevant and personalised content that sticks out from the crowd!”

Member organisations are facing challenging times in the wake of Covid-19. One crucial such one is retaining value for members where social distancing will become the norm, at least for the coming months. If a member organisation provides value for members largely through physical events and face to face training, or providing and maintaining physical spaces for their members to visit, there is an obvious danger that organisations could lose members who may elect to come out of membership until times get better, or worst still, forever?

Once members have made the decision to leave it tends to be much more difficult to win them back in the future. That is why member retention is more key than ever, and membership organisations will have to evolve what they are offering to their members, to keep them during social distancing.

Already we are seeing a rush to digital to deliver membership communications and services. This has become almost the default solution. Digital solutions are fast and inexpensive, and the tools are widely available, easy to use and rely on already existing technology. Webinars and video conferencing are becoming the new normal, and virtual tours are being touted as, if not a replacement, a placeholder for when the “real” experience can return.

This digital shift is understandable for member organisations, but perhaps we need to challenge ourselves a bit further if we want to deliver a full and rich experience to make our members feel truly valued. Sure, the membership renewal can be sent by email, and probably in itself doesn’t add a lot of value to the member.

But use of physical items such as journals, magazines, catalogues, samples and merchandising can enhance membership experience.

Let’s take the simple example of the experience of reading a journal digitally to the one you have when the printed journal is in your hands. People commonly report that digital books and e-readers are no match for the sensory experience of printed materials – the feel, the scent, the vivid illustrations deliver a far more immersive experience. This is supported by research. There have been several studies, neatly summarised by Forbes, that suggest paper outperforms digital on a large variety of metrics. A study of paper marketing materials by Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact found that paper marketing had a lower cognitive load (easier to understand), was more persuasive and held attention better than digital display marketing. Furthermore, fMRI studies by Bangor University showed that physical material is more “real” to the brain and involves more emotional processing. This suggests that membership organisations should be cautious of a shift to purely digital communications, and that a blended approach is the way to go to retain member value. Multi-faceted and blended solutions are still possible – and arguably even more essential – as they offer a sensory and emotional richness that simply isn’t possible from purely digital communications. Instead of an approach which relies heavily on digital, a blended, multi-channel communications strategy that incorporates the benefits of paper with speed, accessibility and ease of use of digital communications will be key for retaining member value through this crisis and beyond.

Digital engagement is up across the member sector – the viewership of recent Memberwise webinars is evidence of this – but there remain people who are digitally disengaged. Physical, tangible, communication has a premium feel to it, and can cut through the noise that the rapid rise in digital communications can sound like. Digital fatigue – already a well-known concept prior to Covid-19 – looms large. The higher cognitive load of digital communications, in tandem with the recent onslaught of organisations vying for attention in the digital space, can lead to information overload, poorer information retention, and ultimately disengagement.

The richer your data, the richer your personalisation can be – and personalisation is a huge driver of member value. Digital communications are certainly useful, and during lockdown a lot more people will be interacting with the membership organisation digitally simply by virtue of other avenues being no longer accessible. This is an opportunity for membership organisations. You can only get personalisation as good as your data. Digital behaviour is easier to track and manage, and the slowing down in some areas may be a good opportunity to redeploy resources into CRM and gathering information on your membership. This is a chance for organisations to get their “ducks in a row” for their CRM and with regards to customer behaviour while we’re distanced. And of course personalisation will benefit not only your digital, but physical communications too.

The power of personalisation

Ultimately, deep personalisation displays two things to your members – that you know them, and that they are valued. In the loneliness of social distancing, these factors become more relevant than ever. If you can tailor your communications with your members so they speak to them directly, they will continue to feel connected to you, appreciated, and understood.

Personalisation can also be in terms of what type of media your members prefer. Different member organisations have different media requirements for their membership. For some, the speed and accessibility of digital communications will be an excellent fit, but for others, the more premium “feel” of a tangible, physical communication in its widest sense, will help to close the value gap while the ability to physically access member benefits is diminished.

Many people will use both, with digital being the default for ‘transactional’ communications such as bills, notifications and renewals, but magazine, journals, books and catalogues also offering a more immersive experience in which people can be inspired.

The power of the physical

Physical communications can help to continue deliver value when other face-to-face methods of interacting with your members are inaccessible. Loneliness and isolation become issues during a prolonged period of social distancing. Digital is accessible, but it can also be depersonalising. This means we should be looking more closely at the things that have the potential to bring us together and foster a sense of belonging, particularly within the membership sector.

For membership organisations like the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), for example, members need to be reminded that the sites they love need to be maintained, so they will be there when this is over. For that, the evocation of memory and emotion that print can bring could be a key factor, and personalising adds another dimension to that emotional connection. Previously, Latcham worked with the RHS to bring a deeply personalised campaign to their members, sending them unique packs that contained deep personalisations based on preferences such as visited locations, favourite colours, favourite flowers. This is the kind of campaign that could find even greater value now that people cannot physically visit the sites themselves. This is one example, but demonstrates the potential of personalised, physical communication and shows how with some creative thought, it is possible to develop truly engaging and unique interaction with members.

If you can’t get together face-to-face, you need to foster that sense of belonging in other ways. Making it personal and keeping the physical in your member communications can play an important part in this.

Latcham are member value experts, working within the member sector to deliver campaigns and communications that increase and drive member value. Find out more about how we can help your sector at the Latcham membership portal.

Decarbonising our business and creating sustainable solutions for membership organisations

Decarbonising our business means making choices. In adopting the principles of social value, Latcham is actively working towards helping improve sustainability in the membership sector, and ensuring tangible environmental benefits are delivered as an integral part of our services.

We share part of our journey through decarbonising our business, and importantly, how this is bringing benefits in creating greener solutions for membership organisations. In helping you make greener choices we debunk some popular myths, explore sustainable alternatives and quantify some of the positive impacts that making more sustainable choices can have for your organisation, your members and the planet.

In this webinar, we discuss sustainable alternatives and ask the question – does sustainability have value for members? Using research, we discuss how sustainability can deepen your relationship with your members who are, increasingly, more concerned with the organisations they deal with and whether they are making sustainable choices. We discuss ways you can engage, create value and grow sustainably. We also have practical tips on how your organisation can lower your carbon footprint, and an in-depth case study on how one member organisation managed to achieve better results whilst being eco-friendly.

You can watch our webinar in full here.