Contributor: Dan Browne, Product Manager
The USPS Emerging Technology Promotion is the latest in a long series of technological advancements in cutting-edge direct marketing. Evolving your marketing strategy to reflect today’s multichannel ecosystems means integrating the future of digital technology into your direct mail execution. Armed with deep experience in end-to-end production and fulfillment and sending over 1 billion pieces of mail per year, the Amsive team shares how you can integrate emerging technology into your direct mail execution.
USPS is offering a postage discount to incentivize the use of emerging technologies.
What types of technologies are included? Voice, video, and AR, to name a few, which have become part of everyday life for many American consumers.
USPS offers a 3% postage discount for incorporating
- “Enhanced” Augmented Reality
- Basic Integration with Voice Assistant or Mobile Shopping
Additionally, campaigns can receive a 4% postage discount for trying
- Advanced Integration with Voice Assistant
- Video to Print Technology
- Near Field Communication
- Mixed Reality
- Virtual Reality
When should you implement emerging technologies within your direct mail strategy?
Yesterday – for the right audience. These functions are part and parcel of the daily lives of many Americans. However, the unique audience of each direct campaign will always define and refine your channel strategy. Virtual reality? Skip it for Medicare Advantage members. Mobile Shopping or Voice Assistant? Great idea for expanding your retail brand reach. The people powering your brand growth and your defined KPIs must center all experimentation and testing.
When it comes to testing new technologies, it is essential to have a clear plan and objective. – Dan Browne, Program Manager
What are other cost-effective options for technological integration?
U.S. consumers desire ever more immersive, interactive, and personalized experiences – to initially choose and remain committed to your brand. Some of these options can be cost-prohibitive, even with promotional discounts. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg for technological integrations with direct mail pieces.
Consider the following:
- QR codes for a website or app
- Voice Assistant (Unadvanced)
- Video to print
- NFC chips
- And more
As leaders in direct marketing, we help our clients address questions such as these each day. Weigh the cost-benefit analysis of your audience needs, consumer behavior trends, and efficiency and testing requirements to make the smartest decision for your business.
As a front runner in direct response, direct mail evolves to utilize the new technologies that tie in the online world. People want interactive, enhanced experiences with brands, and direct mail continues to mature to meet those needs and more. – Cathy Heckman, VP, Marketing
Take the next step.
The strongest marketing strategies seamlessly align with American consumers’ needs, behaviors, and interests – and a unified experience across the online and offline environment. Opportunities such as the USPS Emerging Technology Promotion provide a unique chance for you to budget and build emerging technology infrastructure for future campaigns at a discount.
When it comes to testing new technologies, have clear objects centered on your unique audiences. Technological enhancements to your direct mail strategy can keep you ahead of the curve when implemented accurately and efficiently.
Deepening the direct and digital connection is only one part of a data-centric, performance-driven strategy, giving you the power to know and do more. Discover how to balance data privacy and personalization, or let’s talk about how to achieve more for your marketing – and your business.
Watch this video for a full breakdown of the USPS Emerging Technology promotion from Dan Browne, Product Manager.
Hello, welcome to the USPS Emerging Technology Promotion Informational webinar. My name is Dan Brown, and I’m on the Postal Affairs team here at Amsive. In this video, you’ll find out more about the emerging technology promotion. There are some very cool things that you could do to enhance your mail campaigns with digital technology. I am not going to get too detailed of every technology because we can be here all day, but we will touch on your options and see if you already have something that can qualify for a discount or if you want to test one of these technologies, we can work with you to get that started.
In this promotion, the USPS wants you to send a mail experience that excites customers by connecting mail pieces with the latest digital technologies. Use these technologies to boost your brand awareness, show off product features, highlight key information, send an irresistible offer, or engage with your customers in new ways. Follow along to learn more about these technologies, creating great mail experiences, and how to receive a discount on postage with your qualifying mail. There are two levels of discounts based on eight technological options.
For a 3% postage discount, you can use enhanced augmented reality and basic integration of voice assistance, and placed in this category this year is mobile shopping. This used to be a standalone promotion, but it is grouped here this year. For a 4% postage discount, you use advanced integration of voice assistance, video-to-print, near-field communication, mixed reality, and virtual reality.
So what mailings are eligible for this promotion? We have first-class letters, cards, and flats, marketing mail letters and flats, and nonprofit marketing mail letters and flats. This promotion starts May 1st and runs through November 30th. Registration and getting approvals for these mailings starts on March 15th. So you have time to register before the actual mailing.
In order to receive the discount, you must get approved for the mailing prior to your mail date. You need to pick out what type of mailing you’re going to do and create the piece accordingly. You’ll then need to submit the piece for pre-approvals through the Promotions portal. Approvals typically only take a few days. I’ve seen many come back within 24 hours, but don’t wait. You might have to make an adjustment, which will cost you some time.
The pre-approvals happen on the Promotions portal, where again, you put in the pre-approvals and keep track of everything within the process. It’s very important that the mailing is registered and the mail piece approved for each promotion before attempting to get the discount. The portal is very easy to use, but Amsive can help you with this portion if you’re not familiar with the gateway. It’s simply clicking on the submit mail piece approvals button and filling out the form behind it, and once it’s approved, you’ll see it under My Mailpiece Pre-approvals.
So here’s a nice chart to show you what technology fits each promotional option. You can see here how you can use an app or a QC barcode to qualify for enhanced augmented reality or how NFC qualifies for mobile reality, virtual reality, NFC, and video and print. Every option is here for you to decide which direction you want to go.
So a directional copy, meaning what text will you use to guide the recipient to the technology used on the mailpiece. So first off, the technology used must enhance the primary purpose of the mailpiece. The mailpiece must contain text near the trigger logo or icon, or image that pushes the user to engage using the technology trigger. It must be predominantly displayed to ensure they see it. It must be present on any page where the technology trigger is present. If the experience is available only on a specific mobile device or operating system, the directional copy must clearly state what platform is compatible. So if it’s only available on Android devices, you must note that.
Websites linked as mailpiece destinations must be mobile optimized and include an experience relevant to the mailpiece messaging. Different types of messaging can be. Scan the shop, our mobile website, download our app, and scan this page to see your mail piece come to life. Tap here with your NFC-enabled phone. There are quite a few of them. If the directional copy does not meet these requirements, the mailpiece will not qualify for the discount.
Okay, let’s get into the eight specific options. Enhanced augmented reality is an interactive experience that depicts real-world objects which are enhanced digitally using 3D technology in a physical world. The big things here are that it must be a 3D experience, not D2 two or 2D. You can use an app, QR code, or barcode to trigger the experience.
Basic voice assistance. So basic voice assistance will utilize voice technology that makes use of existing search functionality and capability as the voice assistant can perform these tasks naturally. These experiences typically don’t require customization or development by the mailer. The mailpiece must give specific instructions directing recipients to use a voice prompt to deliver a consistent, targeted response or action through a voice device. So these things already exist. You know you have potentially an Alexa, and you tell them what to ask, and you’ll get a specific answer back that already exists within that Alexa.
Mobile shopping. QR codes and scannable images can transport customers directly from mailpieces to your online store. Most of you have probably seen ads where they ask you to scan a code to buy a jacket or pants the model’s wearing in the ad. Just scan the barcode, and the same jacket pops up with the price and maybe sizes and colors that are available, trying to get us to add it to the cart and checkout. That’s the entire thing here for mobile shopping. Same concept.
But there are some things that are not eligible for mobile shopping. Things like automatic payments, coupon downloads, or signing up for offers or services do not count. Be sure to check out the entire list if you’re interested in mobile shopping.
Near Field communications. You might have seen something like this where people can share data across phones by just tapping them together. In this case,, when the mail piece has a chip or someone can tap their phone or tablet. It starts a digital experience on that phone or tablet. Similar to a barcode, but this one is a chip, so it’s a little bit different there.
Mixed reality combines both augmented and virtual experiences through a combined immersive technology that includes: sight, sound, and touch. MR can include different experiences, but some of the most common include blended physical and virtual experiences through a headset. The MR experience must be related to the message included in or on the printed mailpiece. And yes, it must use wearable goggles or headsets to deliver their experience to the user. So that one’s a little bit more complex there.
Virtual reality is technology that creates replicas of an environment that includes a user’s physical presence to allow for user interaction. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experiences, which can include sight, touch, and hearing. A VR experience must be related to the message, including printed mailpiece on or in the mail. In this case, a QR code to download a VR experience to use with the recipient’s own VR devices is allowed.
Advanced integration with voice assistance. So this one’s a little more complex than the basic voice integration mentioned earlier. Advanced integration with voice assistance will use complex voice skills or actions that require greater development and investment. These experiences are unique and customized to the brand. This means the automated response must include the use of pre-built or customized skills or actions developed using toolkits like Alexa Skill Kit for Alexa devices or Google Console for Google Assistant. So a specific response will be created to answer a specific question that the user will be guided to ask. This can be very unique and creative; but again, it does require more investment because you are actually creating the answer for the question, not using what … Let’s just say, Alexa already knows a specific answer to a question. You are guiding that answer.
Video and print is playable video content that is integrated into printed materials such as printed magazines or mailpieces. The user scans a QR code or a barcode, and a video instantly plays. You can also use NFC chip here, so you just touch on those, and the video plays. Pretty straight up there.
Mailing submission and acceptance. The discount must be claimed at the time of the mailing during the promotion period and cannot be rebated at a later date, so when the mail is being submitted to PostalOne! Some codes within the Mail.dat or Mail XML will tell the USPS that you are requesting the postage discount and what technology you’re using. And then the postage is instantly discounted. So it cannot be done later and ask for a rebate. It’s done at the time of submission.
The second mailing submission screen is just to show you what postage payment methods are acceptable. You can use permit imprints, pre-canceled stamps, meter mail, government mail, and Every Door Direct that’s deposited. All of those are acceptable. Amsive will probably be doing also this for you. So we’ll take care of that portion. And that is all we have for today.
So thanks for your interest in the emerging technology promotion. If you’re interested in this promotion or have any questions, please reach out to your Amsive representative, and we can work with you to save on your postage. If you’re interested in any of the other promotions, you can ask us any questions about those as well. Thank you, and have a great day.