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Is It mail? Is It email? Yes—And A Great Free Op For Direct Marketers

Informed Delivery—it’s a new(ish) United States Postal Service program that lets people see their mail before it hits their mailboxes. Did Aunt Sally remember your birthday this year? Is that dreaded bill on its way yet? Just a click or two in email, online or in the app, and you can see scans of every incoming envelope, even redirect its destination, from the comfort of wherever you happen to be.

Cool service! But what’s it mean for direct marketers? 

Quite a lot, actually. Informed Delivery offers some promising new opportunities to increase engagement with your advertising message. 

The nuts and bolts

USPS rolled out Informed Delivery in 2014 before expanding it across the country in 2017. It’s free for customers because USPS has already been scanning mail for almost 20 years, since the anthrax attacks of 2001. Now more than 15 million customers use the service. 

What that looks like for the mail recipient:

• You register at the USPS website, usps.com, and your identity is confirmed. 

• When someone mails you something, USPS scans it as normal, then each morning emails you pictures of the outside of every letter-sized envelope heading your way. (No scans for bigger items, but USPS does include a notation when something hasn’t scanned.) Alternatively, you can view the scans online at the Informed Delivery dashboard or through the Informed Delivery app.

• Need delivery stopped or changed? It’s easy to arrange. You can also make delivery instructions, check on packages and items with USPS tracking, and otherwise handle your mail—long before you physically handle your mail. 

But here’s where it gets interesting for direct marketers: Informed Delivery offers the option of interactive campaigns

In addition to your no-doubt beautiful letter or postcard hurtling toward mailboxes, and then scans of your item appearing in all those USPS notifications (so that’s at least twice potential customers see your message), you can add images and URLs. 

You can replace the usual grayscale image with a color one of your choice. You can choose among timelines and audiences, even run multiple campaigns attached to a single mailer. In short, USPS has built in lots of ways to customize an online portal to lead you through the process. 

And get this: It’s free. 

Does it work?

According to USPS, more customers check their Informed Delivery notifications than their actual mailbox on a daily basis. And more than 90% report they’re satisfied with the service. 

A stat of even more interest to marketers: Informed Delivery more than doubles the industry average for opened emails. 

And Informed Delivery campaigns generate analytical data that can help you understand your potential customers better, tailor future outreaches, and get more bang for your direct-marketing buck. 

Bottom line

People have been predicting the death of direct mail for a while now. Meanwhile, it beats digital in everything from consumer preference to brand recall. 

Informed Delivery would seem to join the best of those two worlds—getting your appeal in front of customers no matter the medium they like best. 

Need someone to walk you through the process? We’d love to help!