Drastic cuts to the United States Postal Service personnel and locations, a severe proposed rate hike of 5.6 percent and rapidly changing technologies may have you feeling pessimistic about the future of postal marketing. Yet a recent survey by the marketing services firm Epsilon found that half of Americans actually prefer to receive postal mail instead of email. Personalized postal marketing materials not only create an instant emotional connection, but these collaterals are also tangible, measurable and flexible.
When done well, postal marketing should also direct traffic back to your online channels. Uniting these multichannel strategies will significantly increase interest in the products and services you offer. Our clients have experienced triple digit percentage return on their investment when performing a cohesive, well-thought out and timely-executed multichannel campaign. And, recent USPS data shows direct mail and catalogs result in a 163 percent revenue lift when they are supported by online channels.
There are some justifiable concerns about USPS as direct marketers move forward in 2012. The government agency ended the first quarter of 2012 $3.3 billion in the red, which has left lawmakers scrambling for a way to staunch the gaping hole. USPS spokesperson Patricia Licata believes part of the strategy should include stepping up efforts to work with the direct marketing industry. “We’re almost like a partnership here,” she told Direct Marketing News in January. “What’s good for them is good for us.”
Since it is difficult to pinpoint where the skyrocketing shipping costs will land, most budgets will likely remain the same, but the scheduled mailing lists will be scaled back. Focus will shift to targeting quality customers in order to increase ROI instead of casting a wide net to expand brand awareness.
USPS has made a few concessions to alleviate the pain. Effective Jan. 5, 2012, direct mail no longer requires a prefunded account. You now have access to an online credit line to pay postage costs. The 2nd Ounce Free campaign, which launched on Jan. 26, also offers a permanently reduced rate for automated businesses mailings and presorted first-class letters. This will give you the ability to use higher quality paper stock or to include additional promotional materials with invoices and statements.
The popular USPS QR Codes promotion will also return this summer, providing a 3 percent discount on bulk mail cards and flats as well as standard and first-class letters. With scanning growth expanding 1400 percent in 2011, and 57 percent of scans occurring at home, this opportunity offers an exciting chance for you to begin incorporating QR Codes into your marketing campaign.
What do you think? Is postal marketing still important in your marketing plan?
© Reach Marketing LLC 2012 All Rights Reserved.