Postal Service QR Barcode Promotion Is Back for the summer. Don’t Expect to Save Very Much.

For the Summer 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) initiated an incentive program for First Class and Standard Class mailers using a Quick Response (QR) Code in their mailings.  These are codes that can be scanned by smartphones and lead to a personalized website landing page providing targeted offers, a coupon, an immediate response form, a video describing your product, etc.  (Check out this list for more QR Code ideas from Flyte Web Marketing)

Smartphones now comprise over 50% of the mobile phone users, and the percentage keeps growing every quarter. QR Codes are an excellent idea for the USPS since it merges printed direct mail with the growing mobile technology, and it must have been successful. The USPS is repeating the promotion for 2012 for Standard Class Mail sent in July and August.  To qualify the mailer must register in advance.

Last year’s incentive discount was 3%.  This year the discount has been reduced to 2%.  Any discount from the USPS is appreciated, but this discount amounts to $20 savings for every $1,000 in postage.  Not much of an incentive.

For example, for a mailing of 100,000 pieces at an average Standard Class postage rate of $0.262 per piece normally would be $26,200.  Add a QR Code to the mailing and the savings amounts to a whopping $524.

QR Codes are not very attractive and there are specific size and other requirements to make sure they can be scanned by smartphones.  We encourage clients to test QR Codes.  QR Codes are very actionable, can be tracked and measured, can increase overall response, and they’re “cool”.  But, don’t add a QR Code simply for the USPS incentive discount.  It’s not much, and the cost to program the appropriate landing page may be more than the discount received.