Ask Randy: The USPS 2022 Incentives

1. What are the highlight changes in the 2022 USPS incentives as compared to years past?

The upcoming USPS Mailing Promotions for 2022 are repeats of previous years. What has changed is the duration for a handful of them and the biggest difference being the percentage of postage discounts in many instances increased from 2%:

  • Tactile, Sensory, Interactive increased to 4%
  • Emerging and Advance Tech increased to 2-3%
  • Personalized Color Transpromo increased to 3%
  • Informed Delivery increased to 4%

2. Why do you think there are larger discounts available this year as compared to previous promotions?

I believe some of the discounts are larger for two reasons.      

  • The USPS understood to a point the frustration in the Marketing Industry with the higher than anticipated and, in my opinion, needed postage increase in August of 2021.
  • The USPS is still trying to grow the relevance of mail. Higher discounts would presumably yield higher promotion participation. In their eyes if marketers participate in a promotion, they should see higher return rates, thus justifying the continued use of direct mail as a marketing strategy.

3. Which promotions have SPC client marketers taken advantage of?

The most common USPS Promotions utilized by SPC’s Clients are: 

  • Informed Delivery, Mobile Shopping, Tactile Sensory Interactive and finally Emerging and Advance Tech in this order.

4. Which promotions do you feel are being under-utilized by SPC client marketers?

The easy answer here is that Informed Delivery is not being used as much as it could be in general. The upfront cost to set up Informed Delivery for a mailing is typically negligible. The postage savings are immediate. Not to mention the uptick in response rate from the added touchpoint of the digital marketing effort provided by Informed Delivery. There should not be a mailing during the promotional timeframe (Aug. 1 – Dec. 31) that does not participate in the promotion.

5. What effects, features, and papers can a marketer use to gain the tactile, sensory, and interactive mail piece discount?

Treatments creating eligibility for the USPS Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement are categorized as inks, papers and interactive features.

  • Inks
    • Conductive: Contains metal used to activate an electronic device.
    • Leuco Dye/Thermochromic: Changes color with temperature variation.
    • Photochromic: Changes color with UV light exposure.
    • Optically Variable: Contains metal that changes appearance when viewed from different angles.
    • Piezo chromic: Change appearance under pressure.
    • Hydro Chromic: Changes appearance when exposed to liquids.
  • Papers, coatings, supporting the marketing effort.
    • Scent, sound, and taste infused papers.
    • Visual treatments such as lenticulars and holographic.
    • Textural treatments such as embossing, grit, or velvet/soft touch coatings.
  • Interactive Elements:
    • Three dimensional, pop-ups, infinite folding.
    • Trailing edge die cut pieces that have been approved by the USPS PCSC.

Note: There are many items called out as being ineligible for promotional qualification. These items include: linen stocks, scratch offs, die cuts, opening mechanisms, lamination, gloss varnish treatments, zip strips pull tabs, stickers.

6. What mail class is eligible for the discounts? Is nonprofit eligible?

The eligible mail classes vary by promotion.

  • Tactile, Sensory Interactive Mailpiece: First Class and Marketing/Non-Profit
  • Emerging and Advance Tech: First Class and Marketing/Non-Profit
  • Personalized Color Transpromo: First Class Mail
  • Informed Delivery: First Class and Marketing/Non-Profit
  • Mobile Shopping: Marketing/Non-Profit Mail

7. Have you seen any trends in the use of the USPS incentives?

The biggest trend that I have seen is a heightened level of interest from our marketing clients.

8. What is the process SPC needs to take to get pieces approved for the discounts and what timing does a marketer need to take into account for this process?

The process needed to obtain USPS promotion approval is dependent on the promotion.  

Mailings looking to participate in the Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mailpiece Promotion and the Emerging and Advance Tech Promotion must have physical samples sent into the USPS Promotion offices for approval. Due to this, best practice is to have everything set up and ready to submit 3 weeks prior to the mail date.

Mailings looking to participate in the Informed Delivery and Mobile Shopping promotions can be approved via email. PDF samples of the mailpiece, active website information, and promotion elements must be included with the approval request. Typically requests for promotion approval are emailed to the Promotion offices two weeks prior to the date of mailing.

9. Any other news from the USPS?

Yes. They announced on September 15, 2021, that there will not be a postage rate adjustment in January 2022. The next increase will take place in July 2022. Moving forward, starting in 2023, postage rates will be subject to adjustment twice a year—in January and July. This includes First-Class Mail (FCM), USPS Marketing Mail, Periodicals, Package Services (Media Mail, Library Mail, and Bound Printed Matter) and Special Services.  As always, as more information becomes available regarding any USPS change, SPC will update our customers and post the details.

Randy Weiler
Senior Director of Postal Affairs, Logistics & Strategy

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