If you want proof that direct mail doesn’t stand still, check out the 2021 USPS Promotions & Incentives programs.
Thanks to cutting-edge response technologies and printing techniques, marketers can create new, powerful “mail moments” that engage customers and prospects like nothing else.
The U.S. Postal Service wants to help companies and nonprofits engage recipients across several channels – print and online – as well as to enhance the “wow!” factor of the mail experience.
How? With an upfront 2% discount (with one exception, as noted below) on their First Class or Marketing Mail postage for letters and flats that meet specific requirements.
In 2021, the USPS Promotions & Incentives programs run from three to six months each.
What Each Promotion Covers
1. Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Engagement Promotion
Mail class: Marketing Mail
Why: Recent neuroscience studies show that print engages people in a different way than online communications, leading to better brand recognition and brand recall.
What’s eligible: This promotion rewards mail for using any combination of these elements:
- Special visual effects
- Sound, scent, taste, and tactile elements like papers, substrates, and inks.
It also includes mail with complex folds or elements that the recipient can physically manipulate.
When it runs: Feb. 1-July 31, 2021
When to register: Dec. 15, 2020-July 31, 2021
2. Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion
Mail class: First Class mail and Marketing Mail
Why: Yes, direct mail can be integrated with a technology to engage recipients beyond ways that print does.
What’s eligible: At least one of these must be used: NFC, Video in Print (ViP), BLE/Beacon, “enhanced” augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, addressable TV, integration with digital/voice assistants (e.g., Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, etc.), and digital to direct mail.
When it runs: March 1-Aug. 31, 2021
When to register: Jan. 15-Aug. 31, 2021
3. Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
Mail class: First Class mail (presort/automation only)
Why: It’s time to spruce up those dull customer bills and statements and, at the same time, upsell or cross-promote your other products and services.
What’s eligible: Your mail needs to use dynamic and variable color print to create personalized marketing messages in transactional efforts.
When it runs: July 1-Dec. 31, 2021
When to register: May 15-Dec. 31, 2021
4. Mobile Shopping Promotion
Mail class: Marketing Mail
Why: Mobile e-commerce continues to grow. So, make your marketing efforts stand out by helping your customers start with print.
What’s eligible: This builds on past promotions for integrating mobile technology with mail, including the expansion of QR codes, other barcode formats, and app-enabled QR code payment options.
When it runs: Aug. 1-Dec. 31, 2021
When to register: June 15-Dec. 31, 2021
5. Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion
Mail class: First Class BRM, CRM, and Share Mail
Why: A lot of people still prefer to respond through the mail to financial services and insurance offers, as well as fundraising solicitations or utility bill payments. Note: This is the exception to the 2% discount.
What’s eligible: Mailers who continue to mail business reply envelopes (BREs) and courtesy reply envelopes (CREs) and cards (as well as Share Mail) in their campaigns will earn a future credit of 2 cents per piece for each returned and IMb-scanned reply.
When it runs: April 1-June 30, 2021
When to register: Feb. 15-March 31, 2021
When credits expire: Dec. 31, 2021
6. Informed Delivery Promotion
Mail class: First Class Mail and Marketing Mail
Why: Introduced in 2017, Informed Delivery is a program that extends the life and reach of your direct mail campaigns to another channel. So far, over 36.8 million customers have enrolled online for a verified, free, password-protected account that uses a digital mailbox for the direct mail they receive at their house.
Before delivery occurs, they can log in to the portal (or check their email) to view a scanned grayscale image of the address side of a letter-sized mail piece, like a #10 envelope or postcard.
This promotion intends to add value to this online experience by giving the consumer a way to immediately respond to an offer before they even physically touch their mail.
And BONUS: participation for marketers is FREE!
What’s eligible: A valid multichannel campaign must include a ride-along image and URL – which the customer taps or clicks on to open.
When it runs: Sept. 1-Nov. 30, 2021
When to register: July 15-Nov. 30, 2021
How to Start
To participate in any of these promotions, go to the USPS Postal Pro website for more individual details. Each promotion has a specific office that must be contacted for approval of the campaign before it can be registered on the Business Customer Gateway (BCG) via the Incentive Program Service.
Wrapping it up
Direct mail is a living channel that combines the best of modern-day marketing and printing to help companies reach today’s savvy consumers. The USPS Promotions & Incentives for 2021 give marketers an opportunity to prove it.
These programs might be worth a try when thinking about your direct mail or omnichannel strategy for 2021. You get the benefits of connecting with customers in new ways, and the discounts will certainly come in handy when looking at your budgets.