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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