I’ve been in the direct mail industry for nearly 20 years. And I can count on one hand -- okay, one finger -- how many times postage rates have gone down in the last two decades. They usually just go up (and up and up)! And that’s why many small businesses are reluctant to use direct mail — because postage costs add up fast. I’m sure you’ve noticed this!

The USPS raises postage rates because it needs to offset rising costs and stagnating revenues of its own. But what if they could increase mail usage in a big way? Then they could afford to lower postage rates or offer discounts!

Well, the USPS knows an opportunity when they see one… And the BIG one they see in 2017 is marketing integration! Specifically, programs that make it easy for small businesses to combine direct mail and online marketing. Now, yes, “online marketing” can be a very broad term. But there is a specific kind that is amazing…

You know when you’re shopping online but you don’t buy? And then you see ads for that item you were looking at everywhere you go on the internet? That’s called retargeting (or remarketing or Google follow-up ads), and it’s really effective!

So is direct mail marketing — the Postal Service knows this (like we all do)! Research shows that 60% of direct mail recipients have been influenced to visit a promoted website.

Now check this out:

· Google follow-up ads can improve response by up to 400%

· Visitors who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert

And marketers who use this technology combined with direct mail get exponentially better results!

Here’s how it works: Say ABC Dance School sends out 5,000 postcards. The recipients who take an interest go online to check them out. (I find that MOST interested prospects will do this regardless of industry to see what kind of reviews are out there, who the people are behind the business, what their prices are like, etc.)

But 96% of web visitors are not ready to become customers, so they leave ABC Dance School’s website and go about their business.

Some time later, when those prospects are ready to seriously shop around to find an afterschool dance program, maybe a handful of them will remember ABC Dance School. But many won’t — and those folks will call whatever dance program they find next. Probably online when they search for “dance lessons.”

But if ABC Dance School used an integrated marketing campaign that includes Google follow-up ads (aka retargeting), the prospects who visited their website will be “cookied” with a piece of coding that tells Google to show them ABC Dance School’s online ads.

And those people will continue to see their follow-up ads all over the internet — literally millions of sites within the Google network — so that ABC is top of mind when they need an afterschool dance program!

Pretty great right? But why does USPS care? Because it means the same thing for them as it does for printers and mail houses! When small businesses get better results from their direct mail, they keep mailing! Which means more reorders, more postage, and more revenue for them!

In fact, one large commercial printer found that their customers who purchase integrated campaigns reorder 70% more often than the ones who don’t!

So to encourage businesses to start using direct mail for their marketing ¾ and to encourage those already using it to use it even more ¾ USPS is offering postage discounts for marketers who add online elements to their campaigns.

There are two separate programs:

Emerging and Advanced Technology

This promotion rewards mailers who incorporate technology into their direct mail pieces to create an interactive experience for customers. It applies to Standard and First-Class mail and there are no quantity restrictions.

Before anyone can mail at the discounted rate, they need to register their business and have their mail piece approved at USPS.com (this applies to both programs).

Registration: Jan. 1, 2017 – Aug. 31 2017

Promotion: March 1, 2017 – Aug. 31, 2017

Discount: 2% off postage

Direct Mail Starter

This promotion encourages nonprofits and businesses to start using direct mail marketing. The discount applies to integrated direct mail campaigns up to 10,000 pieces.

Registration: March 15, 2017 – July 31, 2017

Promotion: May 1, 2017 – July 31, 2017

Discount: 5% off postage

The upshot? If you’re not yet offering integrated direct mail campaigns to your clients, it’s time to start — so your customers can take advantage of these postage discounts while generating even BETTER results with their marketing!

Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of DirectMail2.0, a fully integrated marketing solution for the clients of printers/mailers that combines the proven success of direct mail with in-demand features like online advertising and automated campaign tracking. You can schedule a free demo to see how a partnership with DirectMail2.0 can boost revenue and improve your clients’ response and ROI. Visit www.directmail2point0.com or call 800.956.4129 today!