Coupons, sales, two-for-one offers, and loyalty programs are just a few of the countless types of promotions businesses use to move inventory or get consumers to try new products and services.
Commercial enterprises offer deals, specials, or rewards programs from time to time because … they often work. Chances are one of these marketing techniques recently influenced your buying decisions.
Since 2011, in an effort to behave more like a business and use the pricing flexibility it gained under the 2006 postal reform law, the U.S. Postal Service, too, offers special promotions. Its promotions are designed to encourage mailers to integrate technology with mail and build customer awareness of mail as a valuable communications tool. One promotion, for example, offered special discounts to mailers who used mobile barcodes on their mailpieces to direct the recipient to online activity.
In 2013 and 2014 the Postal Service offered 13 promotions that provided $87 million in postage discounts. About $5 million in postage discounts were for products that did not cover their costs, which the Postal Service acknowledges but says was worthwhile because there are longer term benefits to increasing the value of mail.
Marketing gurus preach that, while promotions often get people in the door, organizations will get the most out of their promotions if they have a strategic plan with specific goals that can be measured and analyzed.
The Postal Service measures how effective its promotions are by tracking mail volume and by evaluating participants’ responses to surveys. But our review of the Promotions Program found that a participant’s mail volume changes may not be enough to measure the value of that promotion. It could not show, for example, whether a mailer mailed more because of the discounts or because the promotional product added value, such as digital personalization, that made it an especially attractive marketing tool. We recommended the Postal Service establish a well-defined promotions strategy and develop performance measurements to track the program and measure the long-term value of promotional mail.
Do you think mail promotions will prompt organizations to send more mail? How do you think success of these programs is best measured? What kinds of promotions would you like to see the Postal Service offer?