6 USPS Direct Mail Promotions That Will Save You Money in 2019

Direct mailers rejoice! The USPS postal promotions are making a comeback for 2019 and they offer numerous ways to save you money on postage.

Of course, the easiest way to save money on postage would be to send less mail, but that is not a good idea. Repeat, that is NOT a good idea! The response rates for direct mail are one of the highest across any marketing channel, ranging from three to six percent (and even higher for dimensional mail). That’s why the USPS is bringing back their postal promotions which were used across more than 35 billion pieces of mail in their first three years.

Enhanced mail piece leads to improved consumer engagement leads to greater response rate & customer acquisition leads to improved ROI and postal savings

If you haven’t taken advantage of these postal discount programs in the past, it’s time to pay attention. In addition to a 2% savings on postage, the USPS promotions can help you improve the ROI of your direct mail campaigns—making it a win-win for marketers. Each promotion incorporates direct mail best practices and encourages marketers to test new approaches, add interactivity, link to digital channels, and make mail more engaging for consumers.

Although a 2% postage discount doesn’t sound like much, it can really add up. For example in 2017, Keypoint Intelligence, a data and research firm for the digital imaging industry, presented a compelling case study for a large telecom provider. Leveraging the Personalized and Preprinted Color Transpromo—which is available again for 2019—the company saved more than $1 million dollars in postage. This is a huge savings opportunity that can help companies further expand their direct mail outreach or invest in additional marketing projects that would otherwise not be possible.

Similar to prior years, the 2019 promotions encourage mailers to use technology and print techniques that enhance the traditional benefits of direct mail. The promotions begin in February and range between 3 to 6 months, along with early registration periods. By strategically planning your direct mail programs to align with each promotional period you can maximize your postage savings throughout the year.

The 2019 USPS Direct Mail Promotions are:

Tactile, Sensory & Interactive Mailpiece Engagement (TSI)

Eligible Mail Class: USPS Marketing Mail Letters & Flats
Registration: December 15–July 31
Mail Dates: February 1–July 31st

This is one of the easiest promotions to use and many of your direct mail designs may already qualify. For example, if you’ve previously sent direct mail using textured paper stocks, and plan to implement those tactics again make sure you register for this promotion.

Designed to promote engagement and leverage mail’s ability to stand out, the TSI promotion encourages mailers to use innovative print techniques such as specialty substrates, inks, interactive elements, and finishing techniques. When people touch, feel, see, and engage with a direct mail message it stays with them longer. In fact, a study by CandaPost and True Impact Marketing revealed that direct mail generates a 20% higher motivation score compared to digital media, and that number increases when the creative appeals to senses beyond touch.

To qualify for the 2% discount under the TSI promotion mailers may use any one of the techniques in these three categories:

  • Specialty inks: When using specialty inks they must be visible and distinguishable in your mail piece. Examples include conductive inks (used to activate an electronic device), heat sensitive inks that change color with temperature or UV exposure, hydro-chromic inks which change their appearance when exposed to liquids, inks that change when pressure is applied, or inks that contain metal and change when they are viewed from different angles. Note: Metallic ink and clear ink are not eligible.
  • Specialty paper: To qualify the physical characteristics of the paper must be visible and distinguishable and incorporate one or more of the treatments listed below:

    • Scent, Sound, and Taste: The use of these treatments must be connected to the marketing message and must be either bound or sewn into the mailpiece to qualify. For example, paper infused with scent, an integrated sound chip, or edible components would qualify. Note: Opening mechanisms and enclosed samples do not qualify.
    • Visual and Textural: These features must be in support of the mailer’s marketing message and may include paper with special effects (i.e. filters, holographic, lenticular) or textural treatments that can be sensed by touch alone (textured stock, coatings, embossing, etc.) Note: Laminated postcards, full and spot gloss treatments are not eligible.
    • Interactive elements: To qualify, mailpieces must include an experience that engages the recipient such as pop-ups, dimensional elements, intricate folds or other features that the recipient can physically manipulate (i.e., twist, spin, dial, pull, bend, etc.). Note: Simple folds (bi-folds, tri-folds, gatefolds, iron cross or accordion folds), scratch-off, borders, reveals, die-cuts, stickers, detachables, pull tabs, zip-strip opening mechanisms, and enclosed samples that have a treatment applied to them do not qualify.

Emerging and Advanced Technology

Eligible Mail Class: First Class and Marketing Mail
Registration: January 15–August 31
Mail Dates: March 1–August 31

On their own, print and direct mail perform quite well. However, when you blend print and technology to create unique and integrated customer experiences you’ll have an even better ROI. Over the last few years, many marketers have begun to build immersive experiences using augmented and virtual reality, which can be easily triggered by print. According to Fast Company, these technologies are poised for growth and expected to generate approximately $150 billion in revenue by 2020.

NFC-enabled paper by Arjowiggins

To help marketers capitalize on this incredible opportunity and increased response rates, the USPS developed the Emerging and Advanced Technology promo which is now in its third year. To participate in the promotion, the mailpiece must incorporate any of the following technologies: NFC technology, Video in Print (ViP), BLE/Beacon technology, an “enhanced” augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, Addressable TV, Integration with Digital Assistants, and Digital to Direct Mail.

Additional requirements include:

  • Instructional text (prominently placed) to help the consumer trigger the desired experience
  • The destination page must be relevant to the marketing message
  • The website or experience must be optimized for mobile
  • The experience must enhance the marketing message

Earned Value

Eligible Mail Class: Business Reply Mail, Courtesy Reply Mail, and Share Mail
Registration: February 15–March 31
Mail Dates: April 1–June 30

This promotion encourages mailers to continue to use Business Reply Mail (BRM), Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) or Share Mail® which was introduced in 2016 and encourages mail to be shared with friends and family. Share Mail, which Shawmut used in a previous issue of Tactics Magazine, is similar to a BRM or CRM. However, instead of the card coming back to the mailer, the recipient forwards it to their friends and family, amplifying the message. When using Share Mail it is important to design your card as a mini-version of your promotion and include the same call to action that the initial recipient received.

Shawmut Share Mail example

Unlike the 2% postage discount, this promotion is applied as a rebate when people put the BRM, CRM, or Share Mail piece back into the mail. Mailers who have not previously used these response mechanisms will earn a 3 cent credit for each reply card counted between April and June 2019. Customers who already use reply mechanisms must have at least 95% of the volume used during the same period in 2018 to receive the credit.

Personalized Color Transpromo

Personalized Color Transpromo example

Eligible Mail Class: First Class Mail
Registration: May 15–December 31
Mail Dates: July 1–December 31

According to a Mail Openability Study by Leflein Associates, 69% of people more likely to open mail pieces with color text or graphics on the envelope—and they are 247% more likely to open those mailpieces before any others in their mailbox. Those stats speak to the heart of the Personalized Color Transpromo which applies to bills and statements that incorporate color or personalized messaging to foster a better connection and response from customers.

Mobile Shopping

Eligible Mail Class: Marketing Mail
Registration: June 15–December 31
Mail Dates: August 1–December 31

In 2017, mobile devices accounted for 19% of all US retail e-commerce sales and this number is expected to grow quickly in the coming years. Mobile shopping technology—which pairs perfectly with direct mail—can include Quick Response (QR) Codes, Snap Tags, watermarks, and other emerging barcode formats that immediately launch consumers into an online shopping experience.

Unlike a URL, which customers need to type in Google (where they can be easily distracted), barcodes link mail directly to the shopping experience. By creating an immediate connection to the action you want a customer to take, you add convenience for shoppers and shorten the time it takes to convert. Whether your mailpiece is designed to get people to learn, contact, play, pay, shop, save or share, mobile shopping technology makes it happen with a simple smartphone scan.

Mobile Shopping is one of the most popular and widely adopted USPS promotions. Although it is focused on retail because it happens during the holiday season, it can also apply to nonprofits seeking donations.

Informed Delivery

Eligible Mail Class: First Class Mail and Marketing Mail
Registration: July 15–November 30
Mail Dates: September 1–November 30

Last, but certainly not least, is the USPS promotion for Informed Delivery—a service which launched in 2017 and already has 20 million registered users. Residents who sign up for Informed Delivery receive a daily email that shows exterior pictures of their mail before carriers deliver it.

Marketers can take that a step further by creating Informed Delivery campaigns. With Informed Delivery campaigns, marketers can replace the scanned mailpiece with a full-color image and a “ride along” clickable ad. This means consumers can take the next step before your mailpiece even arrives.

Informed Delivery examples

To be eligible for the promotion, marketers must submit a PDF of the mailpiece, the representative image, and the ride along image for approval. In addition, the Informed Delivery setup must be completed in the business customer gateway, which can be completed by a printer or mail service provider like Shawmut.

Ready to Get Started?

The information above provides a quick overview of the six USPS direct mail promotions for 2019. However, there are specific eligibility requirements and approval processes for each one. To ensure, you make the most out of these promotions be sure to talk to your printer early and often. They can help guide you through the qualifications and registration process. And if you’ve got a suggestion for the 2020 USPS promotions visit PostalPro by USPS to submit yours today.

Download our USPS Postal Promotions Calendar

Tags: Direct Mail, Promotions, Postal Rates

Picture of Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno

Carlos serves as Shawmut’s director of mailing and data services and has been with the organization for more than 14 years. He continuously receives training to stay ahead of the changing USPS guidelines and helps each client achieve optimal deliverability rates and postal savings. Carlos recently became certified as a Mail Piece Design Consultant (MDC), by the Mail System Management (MSMA). He spends his free time coaching soccer and staying involved in his children’s extracurricular activities.

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