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USPS delivers digital mail to marketers through augmented reality

The United States Postal Service is introducing this fall a marketing promotion that attaches a digitally enabled icon to mail and is scanned through USPS? AR mobile application, allowing marketers to mail an interactive experience along with any advertising brochure.

Marketers can create their own presentation through this tool that uses augmented reality to enhance the simplicity of a print ad. Consumers have completely blocked themselves from unsolicited mail that arrives in their mailboxes, and interactivity will likely give postal mail a more interesting appeal.

?The USPS is constantly testing innovations with mail by combining real mail with digital elements we believe delivers the best of both worlds,? said Darleen Reid, senior public relations representative at USPS, New York. ?For this particular campaign, we targeted etailers and businesses that currently use e-mail marketing. 

?By introducing the idea of real mail combined with digital as part of a company?s integrated marketing mix, it offers a marketing avenue they may not have considered using before.?

Signed, sealed and delivered
To best assist its clients, USPS has created a form for those interested in the service to fill out. USPS asks for the number of employees the company has, how often the company sends out advertisements and how many pieces of advertisements are sent per mailing.

To promote its offer, USPS has sent out physical brochures explaining the digital experience. 

The brochure encourages recipients to download the USPS AR app, available for free on Android and iOS devices, and scan the image of an envelope located inside the brochure. 

Once scanned, the envelope comes to life and an interactive presentation begins. An introductory video is presented via augmented reality explaining the potential for marketers through digital mail.

Going mobile
In 2012, the USPS let marketers place SMS calls-to-action, mobile bar codes and digital watermarks on direct mail in a campaign that gave businesses a two percent discount on qualified pieces.

The direct mail coupon and click-to-call campaign promotion ran from March 1 to April 30. The USPS tested several mobile initiatives that included QR codes, but it was the first time that SMS was added to the mix with discounts for businesses that equipped their mail with mobile (see story).

Also in 2012, USPS teamed up with SpyderLynk for its mobile commerce and personalization promotion that offered direct mail customers a discount on letters, cards and flats that included a mobile bar code.

According to the company, the promotion was intended to reinforce direct mail?s continuing relevance as a marketing channel. USP offered an upfront 2 percent postage discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards that included a 2D mobile bar code and SpyderLynk also provided those same customers with a 10 percent discount for using SnapTags (see story).

Evolving the components of physical delivery mail alongside the progression of mobile is likely the best strategy for USPS.

?By combining a tangible mail piece with digital, we are creating a mail moment with double the impact,? Ms. Reid said. ?The first is the mail piece that the recipient can refer back to after opening and the second is a digital element which marries the digital with paper mail.?

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York