A Direct Mail Renaissance in Digital Marketing?

The Gist

  • Direct mail meets email? USPS’s 2024 incentives offer a 30% postage credit for increased mail volumes, aiming to blend direct mail with digital marketing strategies.
  • USPS credits as incentive. Registration for the incentives is through the USPS Mailing Promotions Portal, with credits applicable until the end of 2025.
  • The customer experience benefits. The program encourages a multichannel approach, integrating direct mail with digital for a seamless customer experience.

The United States Postal Service wants to revitalize direct mail marketing and thereby unveiled an incentive program for 2024 designed to boost First-Class and Marketing Mail volumes.

With postage credits as the carrot, the USPS is set to reposition snail mail as a competitive player in the digital age’s marketing arena. Snail mail competing in the era of AI-driven personalized marketing and digital customer experience

Why yes, says the USPS.

Close up of the United States Postal Service (USPS) "sonic" eagle logo, introduced in 1993, as seen on a new mailbox in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
With postage credits as the carrot, the USPS is set to reposition snail mail as a competitive player in the digital age’s marketing arena.Jillian Cain on Adobe Stock Photos

“Direct mail is a key marketing channel that works synergistically with online marketing channels,” Felicia M. Lott, senior public relations representative, USPS Corporate Communications, told CMSWire. “Studies have shown that digital advertising combined with direct mail is more effective than digital advertising alone. USPS offers a variety of innovative strategies and tools to integrate direct mail with digital channels.”

For example, she cited programs that incorporate opportunities for digital interactions:

  • The Emerging Technology promotion for 2024 includes Voice Assistant and Mobile Shopping categories
  • The Retargeting promotion enables a direct mail mailpiece to be generated following an online business to customer interaction
  • Another example of integrating direct mail and digital marketing is seen in USPS Informed Delivery offerings.

It is true. Some studies do tout the benefits of direct-mail marketing and interplay with online marketing; the caveat being these are vendors who offer direct-mail services.

Still, that latter survey found 97% of mailers report steady direct mail campaign performance, and 90% or more have integrated or plan to integrate digital marketing channels in their direct mail strategy.

Here’s the ultimate real question for marketers regarding the USPS’s incentives program for direct-mail use and marketing: Is it worth the investment? Should marketers spend more energy and resources toward the mailbox vs. the inbox?

Let’s explore the USPS Mail Growth Incentives:

What Is the USPS Mail Growth Incentives Program?

The USPS is offering a First-Class Mail Growth Incentive and a Marketing Mail Growth Incentive

The two Mail Growth incentives are being offered to mail owners to incentivize them to grow mail volume in 2024. The Postal Service will be issuing postage credits to mail owners who grow qualifying First-Class Mail or Marketing Mail volumes in calendar year 2024 compared to associated baseline volume in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) and meet all other requirements for these incentives.

Qualifying volumes for the First-Class Mail Growth Incentive include:

  • Presort Letters
  • Presort Cards
  • Presort Flats

Qualifying volumes for the Marketing Mail Growth Incentive include:

  • Marketing Mail Saturation Letters and Flats
  • Marketing Mail High Density Letters and Flats
  • Marketing Mail Letters and Flats
  • Marketing Mail Carrier Route
  • Marketing Mail Parcels and Saturation Parcels

Registration for the Mail Growth Incentives will occur separately, and the corresponding postage credits will be calculated separately. Any mail owner who expects to grow volume and have at least 1 million pieces in CY24 can register and will be eligible for the postage credits.

The Postal Service will issue a 30% postage credit based on the incremental volume in CY24.

Related Article: The 5 Biggest Changes From a Decade of Email Marketing Change

How Do You Apply for USPS Mail Growth Incentives?

Registration for each Mail Growth Incentive will occur through the Mailing Promotions Portal, available through the Business Customer Gateway. After logging in, USPS will provide the mail owner with their corresponding baseline volume based on all of a company’s Customer Registration IDs (CRIDs). The mail owner must record their agreement with this baseline volume, and other terms and conditions, to complete registration.

Access to registration is expected to be available starting in mid-November 2023.

Registration will end June 30, 2024. As long as a qualifying mail owner registers for either of these Mail Growth Incentives during the official registration period, they will earn credits in that incentive for the entire incentive period of Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2024.

Postage credits earned as part of these Mail Growth Incentives will be allowed to be used immediately after they are issued but must be used no later than Dec. 31, 2025.

How Do Incentives Get Calculated for Qualifying First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail Volumes? 

There are no tiers or levels involved in the Mail Growth Incentives, Lott told CMSWire. The Postal Service will issue a 30% postage credit based on the incremental volume in CY24 vs. the higher of (a) baseline FY 2023 volume and (b) one million pieces times the average actual price paid per mail piece for qualifying mail for the entire incentive period. Postage credits earned will be issued starting after June 2024, September 2024, and final credit amounts will be issued starting in January 2025 for qualifying mailings during the preceding incentive period.