Canada Post’s Postal Code Targeting service—a new way to target and reach new customers.

In early 2017, Canada Post launched a new service called Postal Code Targeting (PCT). In the world of Smartmail Marketing™ services with Canada Post this is a hybrid service that falls right in between Neighbourhood Mail and Personalized Mail.

Hemlock Harling has been testing this service with a few of our customers for the past year and when you are ready we can help you too! Hemlock Harling is a Canada Post Expert Partner and only Expert Partners are able to process this type of mail and service due to the exacting levels of tolerance required by Canada Post.

This service supports the acquisition of new customers for your business by targeting postal codes that meet the geographic and demographic profile of your current ideal customers.

Connect with prospects in a whole new way.

With this service, you can also remove/suppress your current customers from your new PCT campaign, thus maximizing your return on investment with cost-effective and highly targeted campaigns using PCT. Your company gets to target new prospects and leverage postal code data to reach them by using your own customer data in combination with Canada Post’s audience insights proprietary sources, as well as third-party sources in which all data is updated on a monthly basis.

Now you can identify only those postal codes that match the profile of your ideal customers based on your current database.

Postal Code Targeting demographic 1

With Canada Post’s audience insights, you can pinpoint specific audiences based on geographic, demographic and lifestyle criteria to find prospects who match your ideal customers. You can do one mail campaign as Postal Code Targeting New Acquisition and then target your existing customer base (suppressed from new list) using Personalized Mail with a different message and different direct mail piece.

Postal Code Targeting (PCT) is a standard machineable mail item on which a unique 2D barcode is printed. That 2D barcode is created for you by providing your database to Canada Post and allowing them to select the postal codes of your best customers and then target the entire postal code with your mailing, suppressing your current customer’s addresses, so only prospects are targeted for acquisition.

Profile your existing customers based on their postal code data to help find new postal codes where prospects with a high propensity to engage with your brand live.

This is where Hemlock Harling comes into the picture because of the print and accuracy and approval of the bar code that needs to be read through the Canada Post’s high speed processing equipment. It needs to be able to read the 2D barcode, during processing and Canada Post’s automated equipment will spray the address found within the 2D barcode on the item.

Hemlock Harling is provided with the new acquisition file from Canada Post and then we create the barcode. The quality, grade and readability of the barcode are essential. We test the format, size, weight and paper stock for ink absorbency. Every new format, size and creative needs to be tested. If a repeat mailing uses the exact same format, size and specifications of a previous mailing, it may not need to be tested again by Canada Post. They will have to review the piece to determine if it needs to be tested again.

Canada Post requires 200 test samples and once they receive the samples will provide results within 2 days. The data processing and selection takes about 8 days. You will also need to set up a Commercial Account with Canada Post which takes about another 3 days. All testing is done in Ottawa and could add a few days for our western clients.

Once your account is set up you will need a Postal Code Targeting Indicia. You can use a standard PCT indicia or you can use a customized indicia. You can refer to  Canada Post’s Postal Code Targeting Customer Guide for more details.

Postal Code Targeting demographic 2

Did we say it takes a little bit longer to get this new service set up the first time?

Well, once done you can continue to see the results and start all over again with your campaign. With that said, you cannot use the same data output file since unique mailing IDs are provided per order, but a new list can be generated.

If you would like to reuse a list, you must indicate that intention at your initial request so that the Canada Post data team is aware.

I’ve made two current (at the time this article was posted) Canada Post PCT templates available for download—one for vertical-oriented creative, one for horizontal-oriented creative to give you an idea of the limitations of your layouts using this service. Remember! This is a brand-new service provided by Canada Post. Things will change fairly quickly, so please I advise you to always consult with us first before you get too far into a project. You never know, Canada Post’s current template may have revisions to them.

P.S. Here is a helpful comparison and differences between Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail, Postal Code Targeting (PCT) and Canada Post Personalized Mail.

Neighbourhood Mail: This product is used also as an acquisition tool and awareness tool. Delivered to an average of 500 points of call, it reaches everyone who lives on a specific postal walk. Every home, apartment, business or farm. There is no address on a Neighbourhood Mail item. Typically, marketers use demographic and geographic data to determine the best postal walk for their mailing campaign.

  • Postal Pricing 2018: Category Price per Item (Up to 50 g) Standard: $0.162 per piece plus tax

Postal Code Targeting: This product allows marketers to reach everyone within a single postal code while suppressing existing customers, making it the ideal solution for acquisition. It reaches an average of 20 points of call. Postal code Targeting leverages a 2D barcode to deliver the mail item to the address targeted; an address is included in the 2D barcode and can only be read by Canada Post’s machines. Marketers can leverage their own customer postal code data to find new look-alike customers, or use Canada Post data to select postal codes with attributes of their ideal customers.

  • Postal Pricing 2018: Category Price per Item Machineable Standard (Up to 50 g) 30.6¢ plus tax

Personalized Mail: This is the way to retain your best customers and build relationships through one-to-one engagement. It is delivered to a single address and personalized with a name, address, or just a complete address. Businesses can use their existing customer list or purchase a targeted list from Hemlock Harling for your mailings.

  • Postal Pricing 2018: Category Price per Item Machineable Standard (up to 50 grams) $0.48 per piece plus tax

We would love to take you through this and show you how this will benefit your company. For more information on Postal Code Targeting, call us at 604 333 5537 or email me, Lorraine Duclos at