As always, changes are afoot at the U.S. Postal Service! The bad news is that rate increases are taking effect sooner than expected; but the good news is that there are several postal promotions to choose from that can give catalogers a bit of a break while helping them build better business.
USPS mailing rate increases
Most catalog mailers won’t be terribly surprised that the USPS is raising postage rates again. Standard Mail Product prices will increase by an average of 1.966%. The rate increases that will have the biggest impact on Dingley Press customers are the Carrier Route and Flats increases.
But why hike prices now when the fate of exigent pricing has yet to be decided by the Court of Appeals? The “why” is not quite clear, as the ACMA and others in the industry initially expected the USPS to wait until the Court of Appeals issued its decision. Nevertheless, the increase is not unexpected.
The total rate will be affected by how well catalogers work with the Flats Sequencing System (FSS). However, Dingley has adjusted processes to accommodate FSS schedule changes and help catalogers receive the best possible overall rates.
The USPS is waiting on PRC approval for its list of proposed 2015 postal promotions, but the basic guidelines are already available for catalogers who want to begin planning their mailings around postal discounts.
This year’s list looks familiar to most mailers, but not every promo is for everyone. Rob Nowak, Director of New Technology at The Dingley Press, offers insights about which promotion will get catalog mailers the most bang for their buck.
Although all the promotions are beneficial to certain mailers, there are two that don’t directly impact most Dingley customers. One is the Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion, which rewards mailers who include Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) postcards in order to let their customers reply via First Class Mail. The second is the Color Transpromo Promotion, which applies more to business mailing bills and statements (not catalogs).
The two remaining promotions, however, have a lot of potential for Dingley Press catalog customers — especially those who are taking the bold step of using technology to create a more interactive and integrative customer experience.
The Mail Drives Mobile Engagement Promotion is one that has been especially successful for catalogers and can be used by any retailers that have a mobile-optimized website and a QR code on at least one page of their catalog. By linking the QR code to a mobile app and/or mobile optimized site, users have the ability to make an immediate purchase.
To benefit from this promotion beyond the postage discount, Nowak says, the key is to promote this new feature via social media and other marketing channels and to encourage the use of the QR code — perhaps by associating a discount with purchases made using the code.
Best of all, use of the QR code is trackable, so you can see the direct connection between your promo and sales in order to judge how to make this technology more effective in the future.
For those catalogers who decide to participate in this promotion they will save 2% upfront on their postage. This promotion is scheduled to run from July 1 to December 31.
The Advanced and Emerging Technology promotion is the other USPS discount program that can benefit catalog mailers. This promo can include both device-based technology and advanced print capabilities — and really aims to make the connection between the two more seamless for users.
Nowak points out that this is the third time the USPS has run this promotion, but the requirements document hasn’t yet been released as of this writing. “Advanced technology” relates to features such as 3D animation or gamification, Nowak says. The use of standard NFC technology or an “advanced” or “enhanced” augmented reality to make the customer experience more interactive are also part of this promotion.
Nowak points out that postage promos in the past didn’t usually overlap, but this year, the dates do. Some customers have already asked whether they can double-dip and benefit from more than one promo at a time.
“Unfortunately, no,” Nowak says. “Postal customers will have to choose one. But we can help them figure out which promo will deliver the biggest discount and help set that up.”
This promotion is scheduled to run from May 1 to October 31 and will also provide a 2% upfront discount on postage fees.
Dingley helps catalogers make the most of promos
Not sure exactly which promotion(s) you qualify for? Need help planning your 2015 mailings for the best results? As always, Dingley can help you plan and even complete your registration. This is especially helpful because not everyone is as deeply familiar with the USPS website as the experts at Dingley!
In addition, Dingley has resources to help you create your campaign. For example, Nowak mentions that with some ingenuity, Dingley has been able to help some customers in the past with workarounds that allowed them to qualify for USPS discounts and save more than $10,000 on a mailing. Of course this is based on the mail quantities and varies per customer.
Contact us with your ideas, and we’ll work with you to provide options for implementing them for you.