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5 Alternatives to a franking machine

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Time to renew your franking machine and looking for an alternative?

Here’s a guide to alternatives to franking mail to help you find what suits your business mailing habits the best.

With a wide range of options from sending mail online, mailing from home, ways to save time and keep costs low. We will cover the pros and cons of each viable option to help you choose which option is the right fit for your company.

Alternative to franking mail

1. Hybrid Mail

Hybrid mail is an online service where you upload files you wish to send and your chosen provider will print, process and mail on your behalf. This allows you focus time on business-critical tasks rather than printing and processing mail in house. No need for stocking ink, paper or envelopes and paying monthly for a franking machine or stamps. It also enables remote working and improved print quality whilst saving you not only time but also on postage.

Hybrid mail is set up for letters, documents, invoices and postcards. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t work for sending parcels. So depending on your letter to parcel ratio even with the savings it might not be the best or only mailing option you will need.

EDWPS offers a Hybrid mail solution, PostBox Now. To learn more about how you could start sending letters online or get any further advice please see our dedicated Hybrid Mail page or speak to one of our in-house experts.

Pros of using a Hybrid Mail Service

· No contract or monthly fees

· No setup expenditure

· No minimum mailing volumes

· Saves time and resources

· Mail out of hours

· No special equipment or software needed

· Reduces overheads

· Enjoy postal savings and discounts

· Professional print quality

· Full history of mailing, tracking and updates

· No additional overheads; paper, envelopes or ink

· Accessible online

Cons of a Hybrid mail system

· Can’t send parcels through the system

· Some template limitations

2. Stamps

Stamps are the original way of sending mail in the postal system and are still used to this day for a reason. You can buy them in bulk to gain cheaper prices, they are easily accessible to buy in the post office or online. There is no minimum quantity or contract simply stamp letters as you need. Royal mail offers business’ an online option to buy stamps for letters and parcels, ideal for those who send both. Although you will still need to visit your local Royal Mail delivery office.

They do still require you to print and prepare your mail before sending which for most limits the print quality and can be time consuming to prepare and drop off. When you mail in any sort of regular volumes stamps aren’t always the most cost-effective option. When mailing in monthly volumes above 200 or if you are finding stamping letters in house time consuming you should really consider alternatives to stamps.

Pros of stamps for letters

· No investment needed

· Ideal for small monthly volumes

· Can have handwritten elements to your mail

· Buying in bulk can make savings

· Can buy online or in store

· Can send both letters and parcels

· No contract or monthly fees

· No minimum mailing volumes

Cons of stamps for letters

· Additional overheads paper, envelope and ink

· Consumes an employee’s time preparing and mailing

· Outset cost of buying stamps in bulk

· Limited print quality

· Costly with larger monthly volume (200 plus)

· Visits to your local delivery office is needed

3. Email

The first thing you should know about email marketing is that your data has to be GDPR compliant. Mailing data is treated differently.

Some of your customers may find email preferable; they can look at it in their own time according to their schedule. It’s quick to action or to follow up on. It’s mostly free or very inexpensive to send. Although it is even easier to erase or ignore without opening. The average email open rate is 21.33% [1]across all industries. Whereas it has been found that mail has a 94% engagement[2]. If you were emailing an invoice or an appointment reminder - can you afford for it to be missed?

Email is a great way to gain impressions and remind customers of your services, so they pick you when it’s the right time for them. It is why we would highly recommend not relying on email marketing alone and to take an omni channel approach.

To improve your email marketing efforts trial split testing, tag lines, segmenting your data and personalisation with clear CTA’s.

If you want to explore email marketing EDWPS offer a multi-channel marketing service.

Pros of Emailing letters

· Free depending on emailing quantity and provider

· No postage needed

· Speed to market

· Great for omni-channel approach

· Can email anytime, on any day

· No minimum mailing volumes

· No paper, envelopes or ink needed

· No special equipment or software needed

· Accessible online

· Full history of emailing and analytics

Cons of only emailing communication

· GDPR approved data required

· Highly competitive

· Not ideal as a standalone replacement

· Easily ignored or deleted

· Doesn’t demand attention

· Can end up in a junk/spam folder

4. 3rd Party

There are many third-party options out there that can print and mail your business mail. In most instances they will have access to professional digital printers to improve your print quality and either are a mailing house or have access to one. You will send over your mailing and data securely typically through a SFTP to your provider and leave them to take care of the rest, knowing all is in hand.

They might be able to offer you postal discounts, or insight into improvements and savings. However, many print and mailing houses will require a minimum quantity and some advanced warning so they can deliver your mail to deadline.

Here at EDWPS as well as Hybrid Mail we handle mailings from a variety of business, we have a flexible understanding with them and work hard to achieve all established goals. These mailings will typically not fall within the Hybrid mail capabilities such as requiring hand filling for additional items or not being in a typically letter, document or postcard format e.g., a brochure format. To discuss the best way to send your mailings please get in touch with one of our mailing specialists.

Pros of using a 3rd party

· Improved print quality

· Free’s up time to concentrate elsewhere

· Postal savings

· No template restrictions

· Can have multiple insertions if needed

· Advice, guidance and suggestions

· No regular monthly fees

· No setup expenditure

· No need to stock ink, paper and envelopes

Cons of using a 3rd party

· Not always instant

· Some planning & communication needed

· Minimum quantities likely

5. Prepaid envelopes

Prepaid envelopes are available 1st or 2nd class in a variety of sizes from C5 to DL with or without a window. Typically bought in quantities of 100 there is a cost at the outset, although the UK stamp costs are fixed at the time you buy them. So, you don’t have to worry if the price for a first class stamp will go up, at least not whilst you have your prepaid envelopes. Nor do you have to spend any time adhering the stamp to the envelope. There is also a consistent quality of envelope and print of the stamp. You may need multiple types of prepaid envelopes if you don’t have a consistent size for your business mailings. It is worth noting that these are solely for letters and can’t be used for parcels. You will still need to stock paper and ink for your letters which may lead to some disparity in quality between your letter and envelope.

Pros of Emailing letters

· No minimum mailing volumes

· Fixed cost of stamps

· Consistent envelope quality

· A range of envelope sizes

· Ideal for infrequent or small volumes

· No monthly contract or fee

· Can have handwritten elements to your mail

Cons of only emailing communication

· Upfront cost

· Bulk buying

· Additional overheads paper and ink

· Consumes an employee’s time preparing and mailing

· Limited print quality of letter

· Costly with larger monthly volumes

What’s the best alternative to franking mail?

As you can see there is a variety of alternatives available each viable option depending on your business needs and what you want to achieve.

Improved print quality – Hybrid Mail solution | 3rd Party option

Contract free alternative – Hybrid Mail | Email | Stamps | 3rd Party | Prepaid envelopes

Free up time & resources in house - Hybrid Mail solution | 3rd Party option

Suitable for small or irregular quantities - Hybrid Mail | Email | Stamps| Prepaid envelopes

Can mail letters and parcels – Stamps

No upfront cost – Hybrid Mail | 3rd Party

Tracking of mail – Hybrid Mail | Email | 3rd Party | Stamps (online only)

You don’t necessarily only have to choose one, perhaps Hybrid mail combined with email and stamps for parcels for an omni marketing approach, parcels and letters. Or 3rd party with prepaid envelopes for smaller infrequent quantities in-between.

If you would like to speak to one of our mailing experts for a review of what would be the best solution for your company please contact us.

[1] https://mailchimp.com/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/ [2]s: Touchpoints 2019: SuperHub Database - ©IPA 2019 | Kantar TNS 2017, Mail in Uncertain Times | JICMAIL Item Data Q2 ’17 to Q3 ’19 and Q4 ‘19 | Royal Mail MarketReach, Neuro Insight, 2018 | DMA 2019