USPS to run mobile barcode mail promotion in November

This year’s 2% summer discount in the United States, for mail sporting two-dimensional barcodes for mobile phones, is set to begin on Sunday – but now looks set to be repeated in November. In the festive campaign, mailers using Priority Mail to send their customer m-commerce purchases could get a 3% discount.

Following on from a successful promotion last summer, the US Postal Service will be offering a 2% discount in July and August for commercial mailers including a QR code or other mobile barcode on their mailings.

The promotion aims to boost mail volumes in the long term by highlighting the effectiveness of direct marketing mail when it is linked to online media. The special barcodes in the promotion allow consumers to use smartphones to scan the mail, directing their phones to websites supporting the direct mail campaign.

Yesterday, USPS filed a notice seeking approval from regulators, stating that its Governors have now approved another promotion based on a 2% mail discount for 7 November to 21 November 2012.

As with the summer campaign starting this weekend, the Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion will provide an upfront 2% discount on First Class Mail and Standard Mail letters, flats and cards bearing a mobile barcode.

The code must direct consumers to a mobile-optimised website that allows them to make a product purchase as advertised on the mailpiece. Service purchases are not eligible for the discount.

Registration for the Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion is set to open on 15 September, 2012.

USPS believes it will be paying out around $3m to $6m in discounts through the two-week period of the promotion.

Value of mail

The Postal Service said its mobile barcode promotion was about pushing the relevance of direct mail among customers’ marketing strategies, to stabilise and improve the financial health of First Class Mail and Standard Mail products in the long term.

“The Postal Service believes that integrating these technologies into direct mail will enhance consumers’ interaction with direct mail advertising, fundamentally improving the long-term value of the mailstream,” said USPS in its filing.

Last year’s two-month promotion, which had allowed a 3% discount on postal rates for qualifying mail pieces, saw 4,000 different mailers taking part, with 76,000 mailings qualifying for the discount.

This summer’s promotion lowers the discount to 2%, and also has tougher requirements on mailers on what their barcodes must link to – a mobile optimised website offering either a purchase opportunity or a personalised web page.

The November promotion is tied to the festive shopping period, aiming to demonstrate how mobile technologies can make direct mail “a more convenient method for consumers to do their holiday shopping”.

Priority Mail bonus

For the November promotion, the Postal Service is also adding an extra 1% discount incentive to mailers if their orders are fulfilled using Priority Mail.

The bonus discount will be available if purchases made via the qualifying mobile barcodes are delivered between 9 November and the end of the year, using a delivery confirmation or Intelligent Mail package barcode.

Mailers will have to demonstrate that the number of their packages sent via Priority Mail during the seven-week period is at least 0.5% of the number of advertising mailpieces bearing a mobile barcode sent during the Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion.

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