The USPS has been implementing the Mailing Promotions & Incentive Programs for First Class & Standard Mail since 2011 to create awareness of innovative usage of mail. You can achieve a 2% upfront postage discount on mail that qualifies for these programs, except for the Earned Value Reply Mail, which has its own promotional value. Check out the calendar to see the registration dates and program periods. The registration date for the Earned Value Reply Mail is almost over, so don’t miss the important details about this and other upcoming promotions/incentives:
1. Earned Value Reply Mail
What: This promotion encourages first class only mailers to promote mail as the primary reply mechanism, versus encouraging their customers to use technology for their preferred reply method.
When: Registration period is November 15th – December 31st, 2016. The actual program period is January 1st – June 30th, 2017
How: You must have an Intelligent Mail Barcode, and incorporate your Mailer ID on your Business Reply, Courtesy Reply Mail, or Alternate Postage (Share Mail) enclosures.
Why: Technology is becoming an increasingly popular way for customers to respond to mail they receive from businesses. Instead of paying an invoice online, the USPS would like you to encourage your customers to pay with a mailed check.
Who: Anybody who offers Business Reply Mail, Courtesy Reply Mail, or Share Mail as a way for customers to respond to your letters and invoices. Make sure to register your Mailer ID, and include IMB’s on your Business Reply Mail or Courtesy Reply Mail pieces.
How much: Rather than saving 2% upfront on postage, mailers earn credits of $0.05 per BRM, CRM, or Share Mail pieces that are counted (returned) based on their MID’s for first time mailers in the program.
2. Tactile, Sensory & Interactive Mail Piece Engagement
What: This promotion encourages mailers to incorporate some type of sensory or interactive element into their direct mail pieces. Standard Mail and Nonprofit Standard mail only is eligible for this promotion.
When: The registration period is December 15th, 2016 – June 30, 2017. The actual program is February 1st – July 31st, 2017.
How: You must incorporate some type of sensory element into your mail piece. Examples include:
- Light-changing ink, conductive ink, or ink that changes color when exposed to water.
- Scented paper, mail that has a speaker, or sandpaper paper.
- 3-Dimensional mail pieces, pop-ups, or infinite folding mail.
Why: Neuroscience and neuro marketing research supports that sensory mail can have a significant impact on brand recognition. This can drive customer engagement, and really help them remember.
Who: Any company trying to expand their direct mail marketing should take advantage of this 2% of eligible postage discount. It’ll inspire your crew to be creative, and you’ll have mail that could go viral. At the very least, it’ll be very memorable.
3. Emerging & Advanced Technology
What: This promotion encourages mailers to integrate direct mail with mobile technology, video/print technology, NFC, augmented reality, or virtual reality. This works for First Class, Standard Mail, or Nonprofit Standard Mail only.
When: Registration period is January 15th – August 31st, 2017. The actual program period is March 1st – August 31st, 2017.
How: You must incorporate NFC, enhanced augmented reality, iBeacon/Beacon technologies, incorporating video in print, or virtual reality, leading to a mobile optimized webpage. A new facet is Digital to Direct mail, in which a customer interacts with your website, and a direct mail piece is sent out based on that behavior.
Why: Incorporating some type of emerging or advanced technology into your mail is a great way to get a consumer’s attention.
Who: If you are a company looking to expand your marketing messaging, this is a great place to start. The iPhone 6 has incorporated NFC, as has the Apple Watch, both of which are discussed in a previous blog. There have been some brilliant pieces incorporating enhanced augmented reality, which includes full 3-D animation or videos that pop up on your phone.
If you only do transactional mailing, this promotion is not for you.
4. Direct Mail Starter
What: This brand new promotion is offered to first-time promotion mailers to promote events and offers that incorporate print-mobile technology, up to 10,000 mailpieces. This will save 5% on postage!
When: Registration period is May 15th – July 31st, 2017. The actual program period is May 1st – July 31st, 2017.
How: This is open to any mailer that hasn’t participated in past promotions, and who utilize QR codes, NFC, a link leading to your website (and you have IMB) or some other type of print-mobile technology. Only Standard Mail and Nonprofit Standard Mail is eligible.
Why: The USPS Mailing Promotions have been effective in encouraging mailers to utilize their mail in different ways to obtain a postage discount. This will be an “entry-level” promotion that doesn’t require changing much in your mail, and ideally you’ll utilize other promotions moving forward.
Who: Anyone who hasn’t used these promotions before, and mails out in Standard Mail should definitely consider doing this. It’s super easy, and a great way to get a big discount for just adding a QR code.
5. Personalized Color Transpromo
What: This promotion encourages mailers who produce bills and statements to incorporate color Variable Data Print on First-Class Mail utilizing dynamic variable personalized trans-promotional marketing messages on bills and statements.
When: Registration period is May 15th – December 31st, 2017. The actual program period is July 1st – December 31st, 2017 — so the promotion goes on for the last six months of 2016.
How: You must incorporate personalized dynamic variable color messages into the text of your bill or statement to qualify. It has to be a full color piece. Examples of personalization include addressing the customer by name, promotions based on an existing relationship, or leveraging any demographic and psychographic data. The promotions do not stack — you can’t use this promotion and something else on the same mail piece.
Why: Personalization increases the bond between you and your customers, and increases response rates greatly, and colors attract the attention of these customers.
Who: If you already print in color, utilize consumer personalization, and mail First Class. It’s absolutely worth trying to take advantage of this 2% of eligible postage discount for your bills and statements. Work with the post office or United Mail to make sure you meet all of the requirements. If you mail standard mail only, then this isn’t going to work for you because this promotion is for First Class Mail only, and it’s probably not worth upgrading to First Class.
6. 2016 Mobile Shopping
What: This promotion encourages mailers to incorporate mobile marketing into their direct mail pieces. Standard Mail and Nonprofit Standard mail only is eligible.
When: The registration period is June 15th – December 31st, 2017. The actual program is August 1st – December 31st, 2017.
How: You must incorporate a QR code or another type of print mobile technology into your mail piece, leading to a mobile-optimized website, or to a social media ‘buy now’ button. The QR or qualifying barcodes must be a minimum of 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch, and the placement needs to be included next to a marketing message. At this site, you must have a way for someone to purchase a tangible item that can be delivered via FedEx, USPS, or UPS. The social media can link to any product on social media, such as Pinterest, as long as it has a “buy now” button on the page. Charitable donations are the exception to this rule, though you still have to provide a thank you note. The USPS has very strict rules to follow, so if you are interested, let United Mail assist you with the details.
Why: People look at their phone at least once per minute. QR codes readers come pre-downloaded in most phones, and are easily scanned. It’s a great way to drive engagement with your website. Social media is very prevalent, and directing a consumer to a social media site with a “buy now” button is a fantastic option.
Who: Any retailer or charity should take advantage of this promotion. All you have to do is add a qualifying barcode to your direct mail piece, and you get the 2% upfront postage discount. It doesn’t take that much work, and it’s better for you to have a mobile-optimized website, anyway.
By: Chase Kirkwood