USPS mobile barcode promotion in the summer of 2012
Due to the high success of interest the 2011 mobile barcode promotion realized, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced it will be doing another mobile barcode promotion in the summer of 2012. The mobile barcode promotion is meant to help spur interest in the fast growing sector of mobile marketing and to help marketers see the vital importance of integrating their marketing campaigns across print, mobile, and digital platforms.
The promotion will take place between all mail dropped between July 1 and August 31, 2012 and provides a discount of 2% upfront discount for all postage figured for First Class presort, Presort Standard, and Non-profit letters, flats and cards (single piece first class rate pieces are ineligible for the promotion). Similar to last year the mailer must have some sort of 2-D barcode on the inside or outside of the piece that is able to be scanned by a smartphone. The code can be an open-sourced code like a QR Code or DataMatrix code or a proprietary code like Microsoft Tag or Snaptags, or it can utilize the new realm of intelligent print image recognition. It can be placed anywhere except the indicia zone (defined as within 2″ from the top edge by 4″ from the right edge of the mailpiece on the address side) or the barcode clearance zone (bottom right corner of the address side of the mailpiece).
However, unlike last year you can use this promotion with pre-cancelled stamps and you must place text near the mobile barcode explaining to the recipient that they need to scan it with a smartphone.
Furthermore, the mobile barcode must take the recipient to a mobile optimized site that falls into one of the following categories:
+ A mobile optimized site that directly allows the recipient to complete a purchase of a product or service in a fully mobile checkout experience.
+ Lead a recipient to a mobile optimized PURL (Personalized URL), a website that is tailored uniquely in both url address and content for the recipient.
In the USPS’ proposed requirements, it clearly states that ineligible uses of the mobile barcode includes the e-bill payment of prior purchases or regularly scheduled payments, event registrations, newsletter sign-ups, links to download a coupon or deal, enter contests, take a survey, and steer recipients to engage on a social network.
As an organization that is an active promoter of mobile barcode uses, we strongly believe the USPS missed the point with this last requirement of URL restrictions. It is understandable the requirement to make the URL a fully mobile optimized experience as all mobile barcodes should (as a best practice) point to a mobile optimized site. However, if their goal is to help create interest in the integration of mobile and digital technology into printing and direct mail campaigns, then many of the ineligible actions are valid uses of real engagement. At Sonic Mobile, we do not sell products or services directly on our website, nonetheless, we routinely use mobile barcodes to engage our direct mail recipients with mobile-optimized landing pages that may include several of the items listed above as ineligible. Just because we do not directly sell a product on the landing page does not mean that the engagement between the recipient and ourselves is useless – in fact, it is just the opposite – a very vital (and successful) part of the relationship building process between us and the recipient.