May 16, 2012, 11:56 AM

U.S. Postal Service gives 2-D bar codes its stamp of approval

The postal service is offering discounts to businesses that use 2-D codes in their mailings.

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The U.S. Postal Service is getting behind mobile marketing. The USPS announced it will offer discounts this summer to marketers that include in their mailings a two-dimensional bar code that can be scanned by a mobile device.

During July and August, the postal service is offering a 2% postage discount on standard mail and first-class mail letters as well as direct mail flats and cards that include a 2-D bar code such as a Quick Response (QR) code, a Microsoft Tag or a SpyderLynk SnapTag.

When scanned, the bar code must activate a link directly to either a mobile-optimized web page that allows the mail recipient to purchase a product or service or to a mobile-optimized page tailored to the mail recipient and accessible by a personalized URL.

“Mobile technologies continue to be one of the fastest-growing marketing sectors,” says Gary Reblin, vice president of domestic products for USPS. “During the holidays, mobile purchases were up from 5.5% of e-commerce sales in 2010 to 11% in 2011. The integration of direct mail with mobile technologies will not only improve the long-term value of direct mail but also increase returns for merchants.”

48% of U.S. mobile subscribers own a smartphone, and one in five U.S. smartphone owners scanned a QR code with their smartphones as of December, according to MarketingProfs, an online resource for marketing professionals.

“Personalization has always been an effective attribute of direct mail, and studies show that it improves return on investment,” Reblin says. “Tying personalization with mobile technology is the next obvious step to enhancing the value of both mail and mobile marketing.”

M-commerce vendor SpyderLynk announced it is sweetening the deal. It is offering a 10% discount to businesses that use its Buy-it-Now Mobile Commerce SnapTag 2-D bar code technology as part of the postal service promotion.

“Buy-it-Now SnapTags engage consumers in a powerful and highly interactive way and convert those direct mail prospects into customers,” says Nicole Skogg, SpyderLynk founder and CEO. “For direct marketers, mobile provides a new channel to add names to their databases, reduce acquisition costs and increase ROI.”

SpyderLynk’s Buy-it-Now SnapTag is a proprietary 2-D mobile bar code that allows marketers to link to mobile web content. Consumers with smart or standard camera phones can use SnapTags, and marketers can brand SnapTags with logos or other icons.

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