USPS Promotions Direct Mail Is Driving Digital Engagement
Interviewed: Judith Maloy, Polaris, and Kurt Ruppel, IWCO Direct
“As a print and mailing services provider, we appreciate the partnership with the USPS in finding ways to enhance the value and relevancy of mail in a digital world. Our mission is to continue to bring innovation to mail using new technologies to drive response. The USPS promotions shine a light and help marketers test new technologies while providing for postal savings that offset the cost. It’s a win - win.” — Judith Maloy
With significant increases in postage rates, marketers must justify their direct mail budgets and the results they are enabling. The USPS has an interest in getting companies to mail more even with the higher rates. To demonstrate the value of physical mail driving consumers to digital channels while providing postage discounts the USPS launched a series of promotions. The benefits for mailers include more effective mail with improved response and conversion across all channels.
I recently spoke with Judith Maloy, Director and CEO, at Polaris Direct and Kurt Ruppel, Director of Postal Affairs and Marketing Communications, at IWCO Direct. Both shared how their companies are enabling their clients to leverage the USPS 2022 Promotions. For direct mailers, the Informed Delivery promotion, the Tactile and Sensory Promotion, and the Advanced and Emerging Technologies Promotion include integrated technologies and specialized finishing techniques to make mail more engaging.
Inform and Educate Customers
Polaris has taken a multi-pronged approach to educate their customers about the 2022 promotions. They have used ongoing customer communications and mailings to inform customers of the USPS intent to have physical mail drive digital interactions. IWCO Direct has taken an account-focused approach to educating customers. The sales and account teams are meeting with each client to analyze which campaigns will qualify for the various USPS promotions throughout the year.
Clients Say 'Yes' to Easy
Polaris has educated their customers in marketing roles on the value of the additional digital touchpoint with Informed Delivery. Consumers can use the link to engage in a digital channel before the mail is delivered. Polaris built a process for campaigns to facilitate uploading the images and links directly onto the USPS platform and provide campaign tracking for their clients.
IWCO Direct has expanded their services to do all the work for promotional campaign setup on the USPS gateway. They leveraged their engineering team for mail piece design, testing, and development of proof of concepts to ensure each campaign will qualify.
To drive mail production efficiency, IWCO Direct developed a mail.dat file workflow for Informed Delivery campaigns. They can optimize all aspects of campaign setup, streamlining the entire process for their clients.
The USPS is looking for ways to drive digital interaction and trackable results from physical mail. Polaris shared how clients leveraging Informed Delivery campaigns tend to see a positive lift in response and digital engagement. The customers continue to use Informed Delivery after the promotional period. The promotions have created a great testing environment for new designs, and technologies.
To leverage the additional touch point with Informed Delivery, Polaris has assisted clients with modifying their designs so the Call to Action (CTA) is on the address panel and is prominently seen in the Informed Delivery representative email image.
The 4% postage savings for the Tactile and Sensory promotion has made it easier for more customers to justify the changes in materials and finishing to launch promotional campaigns. For the Tactile and Sensory promotion, Polaris is educating clients to think differently about paper choices. They are creatively sourcing different materials to meet the tactile and sensory requirements. IWCO Direct has enabled their clients to embrace many different types of embossed patterns, and specialty coatings like soft touch to qualify for tactile promotions. They have successfully doubled the number of clients executing Tactile and Sensory campaigns over the last year.
For the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion, IWCO clients are leveraging next-generation QR codes called Flowcodes. Compared to traditional black and white square QR codes, Flowcodes can be branded and custom designed, are dynamic, provide advanced analytics and are privacy compliant. With a direct link to a webpage, QR and flowcodes are driving digital interactions from direct mail. Polaris is working with clients to integrate Augmented Reality (AR), AI and voice activation to continue to tie direct mail to newer technologies and digital engagement.
Postage Savings is the Driver
Clients are leveraging the earned postal savings in one of two ways. Either they are using the savings to mail more, or they are using the savings to justify current mail volumes. By mailing to more prospects, brands can improve direct mail results. With the recent and planned postage increases, the savings from the promotions is helping some marketers maintain current mail volumes and minimize budget constraints.
The USPS promotions incentives have provided a great testing environment, showing many brands how to best make mail engaging across digital channels. Mail service providers are providing more multifaceted data services, data hygiene, and data maintenance to support more complex levels of personalization, segmentation and customized offers for clients across all verticals. All accomplished while increasing postage discounts.
Input for this piece was provided by Mark M. Fallon, president and CEO, The Berkshire Company:
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at highrockstrategies.com.