Snail Mail’s Last Stand: How the USPS is Welcoming Smartphone Technology
The U.S. Postal Service has a problem. Well, it’s got a lot of problems including the fact that being able to track my package in (near) real time ruins my life in the 5-7 days between ordering something and receiving it.
But it’s got an even bigger problem: people aren’t sending things through the mail anymore. Forget letters between friends and lovers; even the cockroach of the postal system – junk mail – has reached an all-time low.
In a time where you can get your news, weather, coupons, and personal messages on an electronic device that fits in your pocket, how does the USPS plan to persuade companies that bulk mailing gets results?
Hop on the mobile phone bandwagon by offering a 3% discount in July and August on any letters that include mobile barcodes.
They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but this seems like a bit of a stretch.
In an interview with Post&Parcel, Thomas Fito, the Postal Service manager of marketing mail said:
We firmly believe that mobile barcodes add significant value to mail – they help increase response rates and they help establish relationships with those that don’t have necessarily already have a relationship with mail – for instance those in younger generations.
Let’s break it down:
- A physical object like a bulk mailer envelope or postcard provides a place to start engaging with a potential client. You can’t look something up on your smartphone if you don’t even know it exists yet.
- The increase (if any) in click-through (scan-through?) to marketing materials via mobile barcode scanning can be easily tracked.
- Success for the companies who send out mailers translates into success for the USPS. With a steady return on the investment into barcodes, those companies will put more bulk mailers into the mail system which increases revenue for the USPS.
- The prevalence of barcodes on mail will cause younger people – as Fito said in his interview – to start looking more closely at mail instead of shredding it on the way to their laptop.
- A failure could be the nail in the coffin for bulk mail. If this campaign to appeal directly to current technology (which will only become more distanced from the USPS model) falls flat, snail mail could be declared obsolete.
- The USPS has limited control over the volume and type of bulk mailing that advertisers put out. Their idea for the best way to get solid returns on the barcode campaign may not be the same as the companies. Their fate rests in someone else’s hands.
- More. Effing. Junk. Mail.
What do you think of the new USPS discounted bulk mailing plan for this summer? What kinds of companies would be able to benefit the most from this kind of promotion? Did I miss any pros or cons on my list? Sound off in the comments below!
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!
An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.