When it comes to direct mail solutions, quality is essential. Direct mailings come in all shapes and sizes and are used for everything from advertising to giving alerts on policy, products, or program changes. In other words, making sure that direct mailings are intact, contain the right information, and reach the right people can be essential to a business’s operations. Therefore, quality assurance for direct mail is not something to be skimpy about.
Direct Mail Quality-Control Procedures
In direct mail, it is sometimes assumed that quality assurance is something that happens at the production stage. While some companies do run this way, that doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal way to maintain quality control. Ideally, quality-control procedures start as early as possible in the direct mail process.
Quality assurance procedures should begin as close to when an order is placed as possible. This means that things like confirming order quotes and levels before the order get sent down the line. After all, if there is a misunderstanding about volume or price, that can’t be considered good quality results.
Direct mailings are made up of data, like the recipient’s name, salutations, addresses, and formatting. Making sure all of this is intact and accurate is a key part of quality control. Leaving it all to automation means that a mailing could be created without the right address line and come back as undeliverable.
This is the stage where quality assurance meets direct mail production. It is here that copy samples are created and sent to the client for approval. Not only is this a basic courtesy for the client, it is also an important aspect of quality control. While clients have told you what they want in their mailings, it is essential to verify that what you think they’d like to see is actually what they do want to see. As tweaks are requested and supplied, the mailing grows closer to something both parties can be happy with.
How something looks in an electronic sample is not necessarily how it looks when it gets printed off. Shades and color representation can all change in the printing process depending on how machines are set up or on their ink levels. A good quality-control procedure is to verify that the direct mailings look as intended once they come into the physical world.
This is when direct mailings are folded into their envelopes or packaging. It is also the last time changes can be made, since any adjustments become much harder once the package gets sealed. Ideally, there should be quality-control procedures in place in which all inserts can be verified before sealing so that you can rest assured that the package contains everything the client requested, including number and types of inserts, arrangement, and whether they are facing the right way or not.
Ways to Ensure Quality Control in Direct Mail Campaigns
As the saying goes, quality isn’t what the customer expects—it’s what the company inspects. You can’t hope to do quality control without a way to measure, evaluate, and review steps of the direct mail process. This is more important in direct mail than it is in conventional printing because every client could potentially want something radically different. You need to be able to make sure page sizes, fonts, order volumes, addresses, and more are all correct and have ways to verify that what is going into the envelopes is exactly what was ordered.
Due to all of this, information management is an integral part of direct mail quality assurance solutions. Without a way to quickly look at material flow, track production in real time, or quickly get samples to and from the client, your workflow will be bogged down and slowed. The quality control procedures described above may seem thorough, but they ultimately break down into a few key elements:
- Maintain flow of information in a timely manner (client expectations, order specifics, etc.)
- Always review creative designs and show proofs to the client
- Double-check printed samples upon production
- Check again before packaging
APS Fulfillment Inc. is a specialist in direct mail marketing and warehouse fulfillment and is based in Miami, Florida. We’ve stored, sorted, delivered, and quality-assured products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies across a wide variety of industries. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or by email at [email protected] for more ways third-party direct mailing services can support and grow your business.