The USPS Embraces Mobile Marketing (“this is not a typo”)
In case you wondering about the value and sustainability of mobile marketing and/or QR codes to support your current marketing efforts…as you may be aware, on May 17, 2011, the Postal Regulatory Commission recently approved a 3% discount for US postal mail that prominently displays QR codes (the exact order can be found here: http://www.prc.gov/docs/72/72926/Order_No_731.doc ). They did this in an effort to increase the value of Direct Mail and build awareness around integrating mobile technology into Direct Mail communications. The discount applies only to Direct Mail “tendered for acceptance” during July 1 through August 31. Participating marketers, the direct mail pieces, and the mobile content have to meet certain qualifications.
This represents a tremendous opportunity for brand marketers of any size who execute direct mail or are considering it, to now leverage mobile and an integrated marketing mix. Promotion requirements are open to all who use a permit imprint and submit their mailing documents electronically to the post office. Some promotion requirements and answers to commonly asked questions include the following (from https://ribbs.usps.gov/mobilebarcode/documents/tech_guides/FAQsMobileBarcodePromotion.pdf ):
- All mailpieces in the mailing postage statement must include a mobile 2-D barcode on the outside of the mailpiece or within the mailpiece.
- The mobile barcode must be used for marketing purposes and must be relevant to the contents of the mailpiece. The objective of the 2-D mobile barcode on eligible mail pieces must be to initiate interaction with consumers via mobile smartphones to market, promote, or educate.
- Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats, and cards must be sent with postage paid entirely using a permit imprint and submitted electronically using Postal Wizard, Mail.dat, or Mail.XML to qualify for the discount. (Mailings submitted via Postal Wizard claiming Intelligent Mail® barcode [IMb™] postage rates cannot exceed 9,999 pieces.)
- The Mobile Barcode Promotion must be affirmatively claimed on the “Incentive Claimed” line in the certification section of the postage statement.
- There are no minimum volumes required to participate. However, the mailer must still meet the minimum applicable volumes required for the category and class of mail as outlined in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®).
- The mobile barcode must contain information or a link that is intended for and usable by the mail recipient.
What does this mean in general?
If the United States Post Office, a government organization that has been traditionally slow to move and advance competitively, is embracing mobile marketing with a discount for those who use it (I haven’t seen a discount come from the USPS ever!), it tells me that mobile is certainly here to stay and is likely to increase in popularity, response and value.
What does this mean for your business?
Besides immediate cost savings of 3%, this means for those businesses who are currently taking advantage of mobile marketing that you stand an edge on communicating with your customers, and have a higher chance for response and increased sales. Similar to the Internet and social media, mobile is becoming mainstream. If you’re not using it to support your business, you risk losing a competitive advantage, market share and other key success metrics.
What does this mean for your customers?
A mobile extension from print (and other forms of marketing) means an enhanced brand experience for your customers. Looking down the road, this suggests that customers will eventually expect a mobile extension to all forms of marketing (i.e. websites, social, print advertising, broadcast) and an experience. This will impact their rate of response and greater success is likely from campaigns that use the media strategically.
Where does the QR code need to lead a mail recipient?
The USPS states that: The marketing information relayed in the mobile barcode must be relevant to the contents of the mailpiece. Barcodes directing customers to marketing information for products and services unrelated to the mailpiece content do not qualify for the discount.
More simply put, marketers cannot simply create a QR code that leads to their website and include it on their direct mail piece to qualify for the discount. Therefore, savvy marketers will be seeking and developing mobile content specific to their DM campaign to secure the discount. Keep in mind that driving customers to YouTube videos and/or mobile web are short-lived engagements, often not bookmarked and/or poor customer experiences. Mobile apps, however, that are embedded on someone’s phone, extend Lifetime Engagement Value (LEV), capture mindshare and support immediate and ongoing response.
How can a business take advantage of this opportunity now?
As you know, the Magmito app creation tool (magmito.com) covered in the article “Mobile Marketing Made Easy,” is perfectly suited for small to medium-sized businesses and brands of all sizes. It allows easy mobile app/webapp creation, publishing and deployment from one web-based tool. The Magmito tool creates a QR code automatically which can be inserted in your direct mail! Within minutes, a brand marketer can have an app/webapp with a QR code and insert it into their direct mail piece (post on their website, social media, etc.), meeting the USPS requirements—all for $99 or Free (certainly worth the 3% postal savings for large mailings!).
Marketing opportunities like this are rare yet indicate clear trends in how we market our products and services, communicate with customers and stimulate response. Who would have thunk it?… A graying, mature direct mail groom marrying a young, contemporarily fashionable and sassy, mobile marketing bride. Even more surprising to note here is that the reverend in this ceremony is, of all suspects, the United States Post Office! SMART marketers take note, and get on board. It’s going to be a fun and continuously evolving marriage!