The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently rolled out a new service available to consumers and marketers called Informed Delivery Service. I learned about this at the recent &THEN DMA Annual Event in New Orleans. I was intrigued with the idea because it integrates digital and mail channels, and I wanted to understand how it will benefit consumers and marketers. First, here’s how it works:
Once consumers sign up for this free service, they receive daily digital previews of incoming household mail via email, and marketers receive added impressions of their mail message.
USPS says it is modernizing mail, and since the spring, when it was introduced, they have 6.4 million consumers using it, with 95% consumer satisfaction, and 55% of these users are taking advantage of it on mobile. Sounds promising. But let’s take a closer look in terms of how it is benefitting marketers and consumers.
What it means for marketers.
USPS says that the service provides marketers with an unprecedented opportunity to engage users through synchronized direct mail and digital marketing campaigns; with additional impressions, interactive content, and increased ROI. Here’s a visual that summarizes the service. However, in order for marketers to take full advantage of the email content they need to take an additional step and provide a full color digital asset and a url to USPS:
USPS says that marketers can enjoy these improvements over a mail-only campaign:
- Performance: it produces an email open rate that’s more than 2x the industry average (they quote 70% in their presentation!)
- Impressions: it delivers multiple impressions (digital and physical) from a single mail piece
- Engagement: it drives consumer engagement and response with interactive content
- Analytics: it generates additional data and insights to optimize marketing spend
These improvements do sound promising, and is consistent with some results that my team has achieved for clients in developing integrated marketing strategies. One tactic we used that was effective, which is similar to the USPS service, includes a warm-up email sent to alert recipients to direct mail, generating great interest and awareness for the campaign, resulting in terrific response. But, these were for business audiences receiving high-impact dimensional mailings, and the USPS service is only available to residential customers.
How could this service help specific industries?
- Financial services marketers could expedite or increase engagement with bill payment or credit card activation;
- Insurance marketers could facilitate claims submissions or product bundling; and
- Retailers could alert customers to sales/discounts, so they can plan for a store purchase or make an online purchase immediately.
One immediate downside to the service, however, is that marketers may take issue with the black/white images of the mailings shown in the email; since so much time and effort is made in designing the mailings which may feature full-color images and formats which are distinguishable. This can be dealt with by marketers taking that extra step to utilize the interactive content by sending color assets/url to USPS.
Interested in learning more? Marketers can find out more about the program here, which is free by the way:usps.com/informeddeliverycampaigns.
What is the customer experience?
After the conference, I signed up for the service and now receive these daily emails. Although the registration process was a bit clunky, I do enjoy seeing the daily emails alerting me to the mail coming in my mailbox later that day. So far I’ve opened up the daily email religiously, supporting USPS’ claim that they receive much higher open rates. Here’s a screen shot of one email:
USPS says that this service benefits the entire household ensuring that everyone has visibility into mail and package delivery every day; allowing users to take action before important items reach their mailbox. So far, my emails don’t include any interactive content, so I wonder if many marketers are taking advantage of the interactive content available to them.
Added security is a benefit of this service because the customer can see what is arriving in the mail, and if they don’t receive it, such as a check or bill, they can alert USPS to this right in their email and USPS can track it.
If you are interested in signing up for the service, here’s how: informeddelivery.usps.com. You can also download the Informed Delivery mobile app. One note is that it doesn't support PO Box addresses.
It will be interesting to see trend of participation rates for both consumers and marketers now that this service is rolled out, and whether USPS will introduce service enhancements along the way to meet the needs of consumers and marketers, as they learn more about their behaviors and preferences.Universal Wilde is a leading full-service provider of data-driven, technology-enabled marketing communications solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more news and insights.