Link Direct Mail to Mobile with QR Codes and Save

As cousins from opposite sides of the marketing family, direct mail and mobile marketing haven’t had much in common.  That is until now, thanks to the folks who deliver our snail-mail, the good old U.S. Postal Service.  USPS will soon launch a “Mobile Barcode Promotion” program to boost the value of direct mail by integrating it with QR codes (also see The Power of QR Codes for Small Business).  Those quirky little pixilated squares are popping up in lots of places lately – in magazines, on products and in mail as well. Mobile barcodes provide a connection between print and the digital world.

QR codes are also called “2-dimentional” (2-D) barcodes because they store information both vertically and horizontally, while traditional 1-D bar codes are only read horizontally.  They can be read by smart phones that have a 2-D barcode application/reader. When scanned, these mobile barcodes can motivate an otherwise passive consumer to take immediate action: make a purchase, register for an event, or download a coupon.

The idea is that QR codes can make your mail pieces work harder for less. When you add a mobile barcode to your mailings, you add value. And during July and August 2011, the Postal Service is offering business mailers an upfront 3% discount on First-Class and Standard Mail letters and flats that include a mobile barcode – either inside or on the envelope itself. Here are the rules: 

  • Mobile barcodes must be two-dimensional and readable by a mobile smart phone. One-dimensional barcodes do NOT qualify.
  • Mailing documentation must be submitted electronically, and mail must be sent with postage paid through a permit imprint. Current methods include: Mail.XML, Mail.dat, and Postal Wizard. (Mailings submitted via Postal Wizard cannot exceed 9,999 pieces.)
  • Business mailers must certify that each mail piece contains a mobile barcode either within the contents or on the outside of the mail piece.
  • The objective of the QR code on eligible mail pieces must be to initiate interaction with consumers via mobile smart phones to market, promote or educate them in some way. Two-dimensional barcodes used for other purposes – such as internal corporate operational processes or postage evidencing – are not eligible for the discount.
  • Nonprofit mail is not eligible for the discount.

For more info email: mobilebarcode@usps.gov

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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.

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