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The Ins and Outs of Inserts and Onserts

November 10, 2022

Digital has increasingly become the marketing darling for companies trying to reach their customers, connecting like never before on social media and through mobile apps. That doesn’t mean more traditional methods like mail inserts and onserts are ineffective. Here’s why you may want to consider sticking with these tried and true methods.

What Are Bill Inserts?

An insert is effectively a communication tool. It describes any additional piece of mail that gets placed in the envelope, along with the transaction document. Inserts are often used to share information on promotions, rebate programs, community events, energy-saving tips, and more.

Why Inserts Work

  • People read them. Approximately 50% of inserts or add-ins accompanying a utility bill are read. Compare that to email marketing which has an average open rate of under 20%.
  • Bills get opened. As a utility or government entity, you have a captive audience with 96% of Americans reporting that they always open monthly bills and 92% open and read statements. Take advantage! By including well-designed, relevant messages with transactional documents, you’ll get eyes on your messages.
  • Being green and saving green. Piggybacking off of regular mailings rather than relying on standalone campaigns saves paper and mailing costs. 
  • Paper bills are still on top. A 2021 utility consumer report found that 42% of customers prefer paper bills.

What Are Onserts?

Onserts convey similar information as inserts but instead of being included inside a consumer’s bill envelope, it’s printed inline with the bill. As in, right on the bill, no extra paper needed.

Why Onserts Work  

  • Bills don’t get trashed. Onserts remove the uncertainty around whether the inserted information goes straight to the recycling bin by printing content right on critical documents.
  • Flexibility. Onserts work seamlessly with both print bills/notices and e-bills, which increases flexibility for your customers while maximizing your reach.
  • An even greener option. By placing messages, ads, or promos directly on documents you reduce the amount of paper used and take advantage of regularly scheduled mailings. Better yet, adding onserts to e-documents further decreases your carbon footprint by removing paper altogether and the resources needed to deliver it.
  • Personalization. You can increase customer engagement by making onserts more personal. Creating targeted (even regional) messaging and making recommendations or offers based on customer activity or preferences allows you to connect with customers better. 
  • No fuss, no muss. No inventory headaches and no extra work involved at production time.

Meet the Dynamic Duo 

Used in tandem, inserts and onserts can pack a real marketing punch. Onserts are more likely to be read because there’s less danger of them getting tossed with the envelope. They’re also front and center with billing information, so you’ve got your target audience’s attention and can personalize content specifically to each recipient.  Not everything you want to communicate to your customers is suitable for a bill or will fit on one. The impact of detailed product information and promotions or graphic-heavy content may be reduced if it’s competing for limited real estate on a bill or statement. Choosing an insert for these materials gives you more design freedom, allowing you to create attention-grabbing materials while still leveraging the high open rate of transactional documents.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Here are some best practices to ensure you get the most out of your efforts.

  • Consistency is key. Make sure your message is consistent, regardless of the format.
  • Be creative. Be bold. Use graphics and color to help tell your story and add interest.
  • Less is more. You don’t have to tell your customers everything all at once. 
  • Don’t be shy, ask them. You’ve got their attention, make sure you have a call to action.

One Solution That Has it All

KUBRA iMail™ includes an Insert Manager that allows you to develop insert campaigns to go with your mailings. You can customize target groups for delivery, prioritize inserts, and determine campaign duration and timelines. Not only can you create and manage insert campaigns in a self-service capacity, you can also track your insert campaigns to gauge effectiveness. iMail also has an Onsert Manager that prints content in line with the bill instead of accompanying it in the envelope. 

With KUBRA iMail, you get the functionality of both inserts and onserts giving you the flexibility to use one, the other, or both!  

Other resources you may find interesting:


  1. USPS. The Powerful Marketing Potential of Transactional Mail.
  2. Campaign Monitor. Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2019: By Industry & Day.
  3. Loeff, Betsy. Power Grid International. The Right Stuff: When and How to Make Bill Inserts Effective.

This blog post was originally published in Nov 2019, and has been updated with new content and fresh data from KUBRA’s 2021 Customer Experience Report: The Billing and Payment Edition and KUBRA’s Utility Bill Design Report.


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