The big news in direct mail this summer is a really attractive promotion by the US Postal Service: a 3% discount on postage for any qualifying mailing that contains a mobile barcode.
Mobile barcodes, also known as QR (Quick Response) codes or 2D (two-dimensional) barcodes, are nifty little graphics which, when scanned with a Smartphone using one of many free apps, lead you straight to a specific page on a website – presumably the page you want your customers to view first and foremost.
The USPS says their intent is to build awareness of the added value mobile barcodes can bring to a mailpiece. Mobile technology does feel like an ever-present threat to snail mail, so it would be interesting to see if QR codes can truly be integrated into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Contrary to their usual practices, the USPS rules for compliance on this are pretty straightforward, though they have still managed to create a FAQ page with 36 items. The highlights:
Your mailing must drop between July 1 and August 31 to get the 3% discount
A permit imprint must be used for payment of postage
Documentation must be submitted electronically
Letters, flats and cards sent via Standard mail (including non-profit) or First Class are all eligible
Every mailpiece must contain a mobile barcode somewhere (but not necessarily on the outside)
The barcode must be truly two-dimensional (i.e., not an old-style 1-D barcode)
The mobile barcode must be used for marketing or educational purposes and must be relevant to the contents of the mailpiece. (i.e., it must not be for internal use only)
Since nothing the USPS does can possibly be summed up in a few bullet points, you’ll want to visit this page and read all the arcana in case any of the more obscure possibilities apply to your particular situation (though they likely won’t). They also helpfully include information on how to have a mobile barcode created.
Considering that it takes very little to include a mobile barcode somewhere, the guaranteed savings are quite an incentive to do a mailing just because you can, rather like buying extra toilet paper, golf balls, or anything else you know you’ll need simply because Safeway is having a good sale. In this case, you know you need the business, you’ll need to do a mailing eventually anyway, and you might as well take advantage of the excellent pricing while you can.