The US Postal Service will offer a 2% discount on direct mail postage from tomorrow, if it features mobile barcodes.
The Direct Mail Mobile Coupon and Click-to-Call promotion runs until April 30, 2013, and aims to encourage mailers to use their physical mailpieces to connect with mobile smartphone and Internet communications.
Emphasising the potential of hardcopy mail in the digital era, the campaign provides an upfront postage discount for mail that features coupons that can be redeemed via a mobile smartphone.
It also allows the discount for use of Click-to-Call technology – a barcode, chip or tag on a mailpiece that can be scanned by a mobile smartphone to direct a consumer to a website that features a “click to call” link or button, or a barcode that directly brings up a phone number in the user’s phone.
Direct mailers have to register for the service at least 24 hours before they can secure the 2% discount on their mailpieces during the promotional period.
Gary Reblin, the USPS vice president of new products and innovation, told Post&Parcel that the promotion was seeking to particularly boost use of First Class Mail, such as among insurance and financial industries.
“This is trying to make people’s connection’s easier,” he said. “The mail links direct to a mobile-optimised website which has a link to connect the mail directly to a telesales team to get people to sign up for a product or service.”
The Mobile Coupon and Click-to-Call promotion is one of six mail promotions that the US Postal Service is running this year in order to highlight the value of the mail among key customer groups.
Next up will be an incentive encouraging the use of business reply envelopes within mail, in a promotion running from 1st April until the end of June.
USPS is also running promotions highlighting its Picture Permit feature, in which postage marks can be made to resemble desired images or company logos. That promotion runs 1st June to 30th September. A promotion promoting the sending of product samples in the mail runs from 1st May until 30th September, and a promotion for mailers using emerging technologies like NFC connectivity and augmented reality will run from 15th June to 30th September.
Another mobile commerce promotion will be running during the run-up to Christmas, from 15th September to 31st December, along similar lines to the campaign in the 2012 festive run-up.
Reblin said offering discounts had been an “overwhelming success” so far in promoting new ways to use the mail, and new technologies that make the mail a valuable communications channel in the digital world.
Last year’s mobile commerce and personalisation programme, encouraging mail using mobile barcodes to link through to e-commerce websites or personalised web-based information, saw $13.2m in rebates claimed for 3.17bn Standard Mail pieces.
The summer’s QR code promotion saw mailers applying mobile barcodes to 24% of all Standard Mail pieces, Reblin said.
“We started this two years ago as quite frankly we didn’t see the innovation in mobile that we saw in the rest of the post,” he explained.
“What we have been able to do through this is really push the boundaries of what can happen. We started this in mobile, but we are also hoping the promotion can get people to try new products and use existing ones in new ways.
“The real success we see is that mailers are saying they are going to continue to use this technology after the promotion is over.”
Source: James Cartledge, Post&Parcel