With the economic times being what they are, and with electronic media diverting consumers and marketers away from postal delivery to emails and social media, the USPS is exploiting innovative ways to promote the use of direct mail marketing. For the second year in a row, the USPS is offering an incentive for marketers who use 2D bar codes (such as QR Codes and Microsoft Tags) or equivalent print/mobile technology. This year it’s a 2% upfront discount on postage on qualifying Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats and cards with artwork that can be scanned by a mobile device to take you to a web page. The promotion runs from July 1 – August 31, 2012.
How can your direct mail program qualify? Read on to find out.
The USPS offers full details of this promotional program here ». The main points are:
- It’s called the “2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion.”
- It runs from July 1 – August 31, 2012.
- The promotion provides an upfront two percent postage discount on qualifying Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats and cards with a 2D barcode (such as a QR Code or Microsoft Tag – see our previous blog post about these » ) that can be read or scanned by a mobile device.
- Mail must be tendered for acceptance during the promotion period, July 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012.
- You have to register » for the Business Customer Gateway before you can start getting the discount.
The mobile barcode must direct the recipient to either:
- A mobile optimized web page that allows the recipient to purchase an advertised product or service on the mobile device. The entire purchase and checkout experience must be mobile optimized. OR,
- A mobile optimized and personalized web page/URL that is tailored to an individual recipient.
In other words, simply using a QR Code to drive someone to watch a video or view your home page is not enough to qualify. You’ve actually got to drive the recipient to a page where a purchase can be made, or, to a personalized landing page with a PURL – personalized URL. And, the experience has to be mobile optimized, something we’ve also talked about in another recent blog post (GO » ).
Once you’re registered, you can submit your Standard Mail or First-Class Mail letters, flats or cards electronically using Permit Imprint, Meter or Precanceled Stamp payment methods to the Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) for approval.
Mobile Image Recognition Alternatives
QR Codes: this is by far the most common image recognition method, using two dimensional barcode technology. By December of 2011, barcodes were in more than 6% of all advertising, up from 1% at the beginning of the year (Source: QR Code Statistics for 2011 and 2012 » ). Nearly 90% of 2D barcodes are QR Codes.
Microsoft Tag: This more colorful, prettier alternative to QR Codes barely exceeds 10% of 2D barcode usage. The QR Code had a several-year head start in market adoption over the Tag, and is non-proprietary, so its widespread adoption was basically assured. On top of that, there is a slew of compatible mobile phone apps that can read the QR Code. Conversely, the Tag is a Microsoft-only format, and there is only one app for mobile phones that can read the Tag, which is Microsoft’s app. Microsoft has recently acquiesced in this nearly one-horse race, integrating the ability to read QR Codes into its mobile Tag app.
Learn more about the Tag format here »
iPR™: Here’s something completely different: a company in Texas called Documobi has released its own technology, called intelligent Print Recognition or iPR. iPR allows you to turn any image into a mobile scannable image that can take you to any web page. This is not bar code technology at all, but actual image recognition. Below is an example of an image we uploaded to the Documobi platform which is fully scannable. You can try it right now – it will take you to the Documobi home page.
You’ll need to download the Documobi App to your mobile phone from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Launch the app and scan the image just like you would a QR Code. Within a few seconds, the image will be recognized and you’ll be directed to the web page on your mobile phone.
Learn more about Documobi here »
Visit the USPS promotion website to register and get full promotion details. You can also talk to the staff in ZUZA’s full-service mailing department who can help you take advantage of this postal discount.
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.