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How These 2023 USPS Incentives Can Help You Create More Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

The USPS recently announced its roster of 2023 promotions to help marketers get the most out of their direct marketing campaigns, and it couldn’t have come at a better time given how competitive the direct mail game is becoming for B2B companies. 

A recent survey found that 23% of “big brands” plan to increase their spend on direct mail campaigns in 2023 — on a similar note, another survey found that B2B companies were poised to spend more than $43 billion on direct mail in 2022, a figure that represents a 3.5% increase from the previous year. And industry experts believe the investment in B2B direct mail in 2023 will build on this success.

With so many companies throwing their hat in the direct mail game, marketers need to think more strategically and creatively about building effective direct mail campaigns that stand out in an increasingly crowded field. While the USPS incentive programs help marketers save on the cost of direct mail, they can also push marketers to experiment with new design and print techniques or tools that can help optimize their print campaigns. 

Here’s a brief overview of three of the more interesting promotions and how they can help marketers create more engaging, effective direct mail campaigns. 

Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Engagement (TSI) 

The Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Engagement (TSI) promotion rewards direct mailers that incorporate new innovations in paper stock, ink, finishing techniques, folds, and other interactive elements designed to encourage a more immersive experience and drive customer engagement. What’s more, the TSI program also rewards techniques that create a multi-sensory experience through special effects, sound, scent, texture, or even taste. 

A couple of techniques or strategies to create a more engaging direct mail piece that would quality for the TSI program include: 

  • Speciality inks: Unexpected sheens, special effects, and reactive colors are unique, innovative ways to capture a recipient’s attention, and special inks can help you achieve this. For example, photochromic inks change color with exposure to UV light, and thermochromic inks change based on the temperature.
  • Textured paper: Unique paper treatments such as sandpaper or UV spot treatment can provide texture to your mailer, but they can also add a tactile or sensory element that better connects and communicates with the end-user. Scented varnishes or holographic finishings can also increase the immersive quality of your piece.
  • Interactive elements: Three dimensional elements, pop-ups, zip strips, cut-outs, and interesting folds not only add a sense of play or whimsy, but they also create a more interactive environment for the user to engage with your messaging.

Campaigns that are eligible for the TSI promotion include First-Class Mail®, USPS Marketing Mail®, and Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail. Eligible campaigns receive a 5% discount on postage, and the TSI promotion runs through July 31. 

Personalized Color Transpromo

Designed for more transactional direct mail pieces like account statements or invoices, the Personalized Color Transpromo promotion incentivizes the use of bold color and personalization via variable data printing (VDP) to create more dynamic documents that go beyond a simple account overview. Essentially, this promotion pushes marketers to ask: Why can’t an account summary better resonate with my customer?

Not only do elements like full-color print and personalization make documents such as billing statements more engaging, but this also provides an opportunity to incorporate highly targeted messaging to cross-sell or upsell products your customer might be interested in order to optimize your print marketing budget and strategy. Full-color direct mail pieces that utilize complex personalization are up to 500% more effective, and infusing more transactional mailings like account summaries with tailored content or offers can help boost your response rates and drive growth.  

First-Class Mail® pieces that use personalized, full-color marketing and messaging are eligible for a 3% discount on postage, and pieces that include a reply mechanism via Courtesy Reply Mail or Business Reply Mail are eligible for a 4% discount on mailing. The Personalized Color Transpromo promotion runs through July 31.

Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion

Connecting direct mail with new or developing technology can be extremely valuable in extending the consumer experience, and providing an interactive, dynamic playground for customers to engage with your brand or learn more about your product or service. This year’s Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion can encourage you to explore how direct mail marketing and digital technology can work together in creating exciting multichannel campaigns. 

Take QR code technology for example. Marketers can use a custom QR code that, when scanned with a smartphone or mobile device, opens a landing page with special offers, videos, or other kinds of unique content that tells a richer, more engaging story about who your company is and how you can help solve a customer’s challenges. 

Aside from QR codes, other technological platforms to consider to take advantage of this promotion include: 

  • Augmented reality (AR) that enhances real-world objects using 3D technology 
  • Basic integration with voice assistant that uses voice commands for discovery and exploration
  • Advanced integration with voice assistant that uses more sophisticated voice commands
  • Video in print technology, which creates a mailable video integration 
  • Mixed reality that blends physical and virtual locations
  • Virtual reality that crafts experiences only available in the digital world
  • Near field communication that uses a chip-enabled mailpiece 

Direct mail pieces that use basic voice assistant and augmented reality are eligible for a 3% discount on postage; campaigns that incorporate the other forms of technology listed above can see a 4% discount on mailing. Registration for this year’s promotion opens March 15 and runs from May 1 through November 30.  

Designing a direct mail campaign with these promotions in mind will not only help reduce your postage costs, but it can also push the boundaries of what you thought was possible with direct mail and help you create more engaging, effective direct mail campaigns. 

Curious about what a direct mail campaign could cost? Download our Direct Mail ROI Calculator to find out.