When your business requires sending mail in an effective in scalable manner, PostGrid has your solution. In this guide, we will examine how to send letters using the PostGrid Print & Mail dashboard.

Overview

There are four stages in the process of sending letters with PostGrid:

  • Creating and designing templates
  • Creating contacts
  • Sending letters
  • Tracking letters and other analytics

Whether you have a small operation with no developers or a large operation with engineers on hand, each of these four stages have tools at a variety of different levels to accommodate. In this guide, we aim to show you how you can use either our dashboard each of these four stages and how you can safely test out your workflow.

Integrations

PostGrid may also offer integrations with your CRM or automation service of your choosing, though this guide will only go over our dashboard. Reach out to our team to see if we currently offer such integrations and if not, we'd be happy to expand our reach. PostGrid also comes with a feature rich API, where you can find our documentation here or follow this exact guide but for the API, which can be found here.

Live and Test Modes

To make sure that your customers are receiving the exact letter you wish to intend, PostGrid offers both a test mode and a live mode. In test mode, actual letters are not sent out but the process of creating orders is completed all the same. This allows you to ensure that variable data is assigned properly and when you preview a letter, it adheres to postal standards and looks exactly as it should. When you are ready to actually send the letters, you can switch to live mode and repeat the sending process with everything set up as before. Letters sent in test mode will not be delivered, even after switching to live mode. More details on these features will be discussed below.

To swap in and out of live mode, you may toggle the switch found on the left side and pictured below.

Live Mode ToggleLive Mode Toggle

Live Mode Toggle

When the switch appears grey as it does in the image, you know that you are in test mode and are free to use the dashboard without worrying about sending actual mail.

Creating Templates

We begin our process right at the dashboard after logging in.

OverviewOverview

Overview

Though there are certainly some analytics we will get back to, we are interested in creating a letter. If you already have a PDF you wish to send, you can skip the next three sections. Otherwise, you are going to need to create a template for your letter. For an in-depth guide of how to create templates, read this guide.

Using PDFs

If you don't need to create a template but instead have PDFs already ready to send to specific contacts, then you can move right along to the sending part. However, you will still need to read the following section to be sure of the format of the PDF letters you wish to send.

Formatting Concerns

When sending and printing mail, we need to keep in mind where the address will be placed as well as where the margins can be found. In the official API documentation (here), you can find the specifics for Canadian letters and for US & international letters. To avoid having the address cover a specific part of your letter, we will see below how we can add an additional page dedicated to just the address.

Creating Contacts

Before we can get started with sending letters, we will need to specify who the letters are from and who they are going to. To simplify this process, PostGrid has the ability to create contacts built right into the dashboard. For an in-depth guide of how to create contacts, read this guide.

Creating and Sending Letters

With either of your templates or PDFs ready to go, it is time to figure out how to send actual mail. If you are still unsure of how the mail will turn out, please make sure you are in test mode.

Sending Individual Letters to Contacts

With our contacts created, we are ready to send a letter. To begin, let's head over to the letters page by using the navigation panel on the left.

On this page, we find a table of all of our previous letters sent. If we are looking for anything specific, we can use the search bar at the top of the page to find mail sent to particular contacts, at a particular stage, and many more options. To create our letter, let's click the 'Create' button at the top right.

Once we are here, we find all of the fields necessary to fill out our letter, including a template and our contacts. This is why it was important that we cover the creation of contacts and templates before jumping into making our letters. To add contacts, either start typing a name or use the arrow to drop down a list of recently created contacts. We will cover in more detail the 'Upload Contacts' option in the next section.

With our contacts selected, both to and from, we are ready to add our template. To keep things simple, we will just be sending a letter with no variables which has fixed information. In this case, it is usually more appropriate to upload a PDF of your letter using the 'Upload a PDF' button, but we will select a template nonetheless. Below is a picture taken from the template editor of what we will try to send, with description 'Nature Walk'.

With our template and contacts selected we only have a few options left to choose at the bottom. In the case of this letter, we would like to send with colour so we will select that option. Next, we will add a page for inserting the address into to not overlap our design but will make it double sided so it prints on a single sheet of paper. With everything selected, our page should look like this.

Next, simply hit the 'Create' button and our letter will be ready to go and we will be taken back to the list of our sent letters. We will be returning to understand a bit more about the next steps with our letter in the final section on tracking letters. To see a PDF preview, simply click on the letter and then click on the 'View PDF' button when you are at the page on the specific letter. More details on this will be covered in the tracking section.

Sending Letters with Variable Data

While being able to send a letter with no variable data can be useful, often times we would like to be able to quickly send mail to different contacts with different pieces of information ready to be quickly substituted. In the case of this letter, this is a snapshot of the template I created using the template editor with description 'Amount Owing'.

With our template selected, we will notice something peculiar emerge below where we selected our template.

As we recall from the template creation section, we were able to specify variables into our template and this is how we populate those variables. Already, the variables associated with our contacts is filled in and we are not able to edit these. Let's add an amount ($200) and create the letter with each of the bottom options left unselected. Below is a PDF preview of our letter with the variables filled in.

Sending Letters to Multiple Contacts

With an understanding of how we can send mail to individual contacts, let's look into how we can send mail to multiple contacts at a time. To do so, we are going to need a CSV of our list of contacts and use the 'Upload Recipients' button.

For properly formatting your contact information, see the example found here. Let's use this example as our baseline. To adjust it to contain different amounts owed from different contacts, let's use a spreadsheet or text editor of your choosing to remove the columns for 'variable1' and 'variable2' and add a column for 'amount'. Under this column, fill in the individual values and then don't forget to save or export as a CSV file. Adding our example file to the popup which appeared when we clicked 'Upload Recipients', we see that PostGrid tells us that it has found 4 contacts.

Next, to make sure the data is populated by the clients information, we need to adjust our 'Amount Owing' template by changing {{amount}} to {{to.metadata.amount}} as additional columns outside of basic information will be added as metadata to the contacts.

Selecting ourselves as the sender and using the 'Amount Owing' template, we find all variables populated in the 'Merge Variables' section with those of the first contact. Filling this out and clicking send, we see the four letters created. Viewing previews of each of these letters will show you that the information has been filled in just as it had for our previous letter with variables and will be tailored to each specific contact.

Tracking Letters

Reaching this point, we have finally sent our first letter. Naturally, we will want to track our letters and make sure they complete their journeys as well as search through our existing letters. For the next few sections, we will want to navigate back to the letters page by using the navigation panel on the left.

Letter Progress

From our letters page, let's click on one of the letters we just sent.

Once there, we are immediately presented with sender and receiver information as well as progress bar. Fortunately, we are in test mode, so we have access to a 'Progress' button in the top right which allows us to view each of the stages. Currently, our letter is ready and will be sent off to printers in the next business day.

The next stage is printing. If you look where the 'Progress' button is, we now find that the 'Cancel' button has been disabled. At this stage, PostGrid cannot guarantee that printers have not already sent out your mail for delivery and the letter cannot be cancelled. Fortunately, PostGrid has recognized that we are in test mode and has left us a dialogue below the stage number telling us that no actual mail was sent.

Next, printers will take your mail and have it processed. When the local postal service has entered your mail into their systems, PostGrid will be able to relay to you that your mail has been processed and is now awaiting delivery.

Finally, your letter will have reached the status of completed. This is based on regional estimates of time to completion and not an actual verification of delivery. To receive a tracking number for your mail, you will need to register for our beta service by emailing [email protected] and you will then be able to send certified mail by using our API.

Previewing Letters

Another useful button when viewing sent mail is the PDF preview, which can be accessed by selecting "View PDF". If you are ever using variable data as we had above, or including the address on the same page as your content, you will want to view your PDF and make sure the data has been filled out correctly and that the address field is not overlapping any content. This PDF is what our printers will receive, so you can be certain that this will be what your recipients receive.

Cancelling Letters

Before letters are sent out to printers, PostGrid offers the ability to cancel your mail. Letters sent from PostGrid will not be sent to printers until after midnight in Eastern Time. During this period, simply press the "Cancel" button and confirm your choice in order to prevent the letter from being sent.