Mail Monitoring Firms Speed up Delivery

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As the pace of business continues to speed up, two mail monitoring firms have added features to help direct marketers and list professionals more quickly assess the timeliness and deliverability of their mail.


U.S. Monitor, New City, NY, has brought its mail monitoring services to the Web and now offers clients same-day reports on mail deliverability and usage while Advanced Monitor Systems, Congers, NY, offers same-day data via fax and e-mail.


Mail monitoring enables marketers to gauge how much of a mailing list is being delivered and how long it takes to be delivered. List owners and managers can use the service to detect unauthorized list usage. Both U.S. Monitor and Advanced Monitor Systems accomplish this by seeding mailing lists with decoy names and addresses which are received by its agents across the country.


Prior to the advent of the Internet, agents would date stamp the decoy mail and send it back to U.S. Monitor via Priority Mail where the data would be coded into a database. A client would then call to request the report or have it mailed to them. With the Internet, agents enter mail data in real-time which clients can then access by entering a password at the Web site www.usmonitor.com.


Paul Ercolino, U.S. Monitor director of sales, said Web access can save clients anywhere from two days to a week depending on where mail is coming from. "That's a major advantage for our industry,'' he said. "By the time you get the information it maybe too late to act. In real time you can act the same day.''


Clients can run reports throughout the day to see how their mail flow is progressing. By the end of the day, they know how much mail is processed. Ercolino said this helps in making decisions on mail delays and can help a cataloger, for instance, gauge order volume from a specific area based on when catalogs arrive.


"The service enables us to monitor the timely delivery of our brochures and believe me, proper timing is essential in our particular business,'' said Denise Dudley, co-president of seminar educator Skillpath, Mission, KS.


The Web site was launched primarily to address deliverability issues; and although illegal list usage is rare, the decoy system serves as an insurance policy against misuse.


Advanced Monitor started its RapidTrac same-day notification system at the request of mailers. The firm calls its agents on a daily basis to obtain deliverability information, which is then faxed or e-mailed to clients. Advanced Monitor managing director Michael Sass said a Web site is now under construction and expects it will launch in early 1999.


The company has also introduced product fulfillment tracking which enables catalogers to measure the percentage of products delivered early, on-time and late. It uses "mystery shoppers'' who order products to identify any bottlenecks in the fulfillment or delivery process.


Sass said such services have been well received by the list management and brokerage community which offers monitoring as a value added service to their clients. A 20,000-piece mailing marketing the services drew better than a 4 percent response rate and still more mailers are conducting free tests of the system.
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