USPS Announces Details of 2012 QR Code Promotion

The USPS just announced the details of its second annual summer mobile barcode promotion, which include tightening the requirements and lowering the savings.

Mailings in July and August of 2012 that contain a QR code or other mobile barcode will receive a 2 percent discount (down from 3 percent last year). An added restriction is that the barcode must send the recipient to an e-commerce or personalized website.

According to Gary Reblin, VP of domestic products at the USPS, the idea behind the personalized webpage option is to emphasize the benefits of personalized direct mail. And by personalized, he says the webpage must contain more than just the recipient's name and address. (Note from Chris: sounds a little vague to us. We'll research it more and let you know what that means.)

What's eligible for the QR Promotion?

Any machinable letter, card or flat mailing First Class or Standard. You must use an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) to get the discount. Nonprofits, you get to play too, but those mailing Periodicals do not. Check with your direct mail provider to make sure they're up-to-speed with the upcoming promotion.

How Last Year's Promotion Did

The USPS says about a third of all Standard-rate mailings took part in the 2011 campaign. About 5 percent of those mailing First Class added a QR code. This year the Post Office hopes that mailers will add mobile barcodes to 25 percent of the mailings.

Final Thoughts on the QR Promotion

Don't just slap a QR code onto your mailpiece and call it good. Last year, one of our nonprofit client's codes sent the reader to a site hosted by a for-profit company. Guess what? They lost their nonprofit discount, and got to pay about 50 percent more in postage in order to save 3 percent.

So I guess the moral of my lecture is to plan, plan, plan. Decide what a mobile code can add to your campaign, and integrate it as if you thought of it first, not last. Make the landing site beneficial to your reader, and don't forget to optimize it for mobile phones. Finally, test the new direct marketing package against your current one to make sure it's a help, not a hindrance. Here's some more information on using QR and other mobile codes.

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A Brief History of Direct Mail Production

Note from Chris: today's guest blog is by Bill - I can't believe I finally got him to write one!

I was sitting calmly and relaxed in my office, life was good. I was dreaming about my upcoming Maui vacation and searching the web for the finer restaurants, when a screech came through my intercom: "BILL! You should write a blog for our site."

"Oh sure," I replied loudly, hoping that would be the end of it. I mean, I had no idea what a blog was, or what a person would write about. Aren't blogs in Scotland where they make Scotch?

I did a fast web search and learned something about it, so I would be somewhat prepared if my great business partner Chris broached the subject again. Which she did. And "we" agreed that I would write a blog, the topic being what goes on in the production end of a direct mailing firm. Not about my soon-to-be vacation, or wonderful grandchildren.

I've been in the direct mail business close to 30 years. In those 30 years numerous changes have taken place, almost all of them positive. The advancement in equipment alone is staggering. When Post Haste Mailing first started we had to affix addresses to envelopes and cards by gluing them on. The labels were printed on computer paper, and then run by a machine that cut them up and glued them down. When everything ran well, we got about 3,000 pieces an hour addressed. When they didn't, we had glue everywhere. What a mess.

Now thanks to technology we address material on a VideoJet BX6000. It uses fast-drying ink and allows us to print on virtually anything (maybe you saw our YouTube video where we print on a broken raw egg). I never have to worry about what kind of paper stock our customer wants to use because the Videojet will print on it.

It's also fast - we can cruise along comfortably at 20,000 pieces plus an hour, which makes for happy customers. Dual two-inch printheads adds flexibility - we can address, add a message, return address, or indicia at the same time. And the best thing is, we don't have to clean out that nasty glue pot anymore.

Well, enough about blogging. Back to my vacation!

Bill promises this will be the first in a semi-occasional series of posts. Stay tuned ...

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USPS To Repeat QR Code Promotion in 2012

The USPS just announced that it is planning another summertime promotion involving QR codes.

According to its VP of domestic products Gary Reblin, last year's QR code promotion - which gave mailers a 3 percent discount on presorted postage - was so successful that the postal board of governors recommended another program be developed.

The details of the new QR code promotion will go to the board of governors on February 8 for approval.

Although there are no specifics yet, Reblen said this year's promotion will have some different features from last year's

"We've studied best practices; we're going to take what we learned from the last one and be more specific."

We'll let you know as soon as we hear what that means.