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USPS Announces 2016 DM Promotional Proposals

Date: December, 2015 --

USPS Announces 2016 DM Promotional Proposals

T he USPS has announced its proposed 2016 mailing promotion program.  These proposals are now before the Postal Regulation Commission for its approval (or disapproval) before the end of the year. 

The proposals contain both previous discounts and some new ones, all of which merit examination. They have been designed to create more interest and attraction for mail, thus creating value for both recipients and mailers, and volume for the USPS. As in prior promotions, the opportunities are designed to enable mailers to engage customers by stretching beyond traditional mail techniques through dynamic color, new print techniques and mobile technology. 

Previous initiatives of the USPS like these have resulted in some technical breakthroughs and some surprisingly profitable results for mailers.  In fact, the “color in transpromo” promotion here is a repeat. 

For 2016 five different promotional discount opportunities are proposed. Dates listed below are the proposed mail date windows to which each applies. 

Emerging/Advanced Technologies and Video: March 1 – August 31
For First Class and Standard Mail a 2% discount upfront for mail pieces integrating direct mail with video/print technology. The mailpiece must include the use of standard NFC (near field communication) or an enhanced augmented reality experience. This latter introduces additional animation and user interaction features. The mailpiece would work with a mobile phone which would enable the addressee to access a digital experience.

The discount would also be available for pieces incorporating “Video in Print” which combines video technology with a printed mailpiece.

We are told by those who know this area that, as most cutting-edge advances in digital media tend to be, a promotion piece which qualifies for this discount is relatively expensive to produce.

Tactile, Sensory & Interactive Mailpiece Engagement: March 1-August 31.
Standard Mail; 2% discount. An offering in 2015 supported testing tactile, sensory and interactive mailpieces in the Emerging and Advanced Technologies offering. This year these applications stand on their own and mailers are invited to take advantage of advancements in paper, ink and interactive elements to achieve consumer engagement.  This can be done through use of specialty inks, sensory elements, textured papers, folds/creases and dimensional elements that invite the recipient to interact with and manipulate the mailpiece.

Earned Value Reply Mail: April 1 – June 30.   
Rather than a creative “new technology experiment” offering, this is a First Class promotion experiment designed to enlist mailers in promoting First-Class Mail by using it as the reply mechanism with their customers and prospects. It requires including CRM/BRM envelopes in the promotion pieces and applying Intelligent Mail barcodes to them. The USPS will give the mailer an unspecified postage credit for each reply mailpiece returned during the promotion period.

Personalized Color Transpromo: July 1 – December 31.
For First Class Mail transpromo pieces a 2% upfront discount.  This promotion has been with us for the past two years and presumably is meeting its objective, which is to encourage bill and statement mailers to use color messaging. Color is said to engage customers more than good old black and white and to promote greater engagement; moreover, color is said to promote faster response by customers. Mailers must use dynamic/variable color print and personalize the marketing messages on the bills and statements.

Mobile Shopping: July 1 – December 31.  
2% upfront postage discount regardless of class of mail for integrating mobile technology with the direct marking message. This is another returning promotion, previously applying only to QR codes that take the user to a specific webpage and a consumer experience through his or her smart phone. The downside being that the prospect’s phone needs to have a QR app in place in order for her to be able to respond.   

Perhaps recognizing this shortcoming, the USPS now makes Snap Tags and Watermarks eligible tools. Snap Tags are unique in that any mobile with a camera can reach the Snap Tag-connected web page and no app need be downloaded, as required with QR codes. The discount is available regardless of which response vehicle is included within the mailpiece to “launch consumers into online shopping experiences”.  Also now included is the recognition of a discount for a “Buy It Now” promotion where the piece promotes access to associated social media environments containing a response/purchase mechanism.  In short, this is a reward for connecting the mail to the digital shopping experience. 

Here at Data Services, Inc. we fully appreciate that mailing campaigns are the result of long planning and development periods, so we wanted to bring these possibilities to your attention while there may still be time to schedule some exciting experimentation for 2016, which could be subsidized, in whatever small way, by the USPS!