Informed Delivery: The Future of Mail Connects Print and Digital
As the world around us becomes more digitized, it's not surprising that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has followed suit. In a recent webinar, "Informed Delivery: Connecting Mail to a Digital Experience," sponsored by Satori Software, Tom Glassman, Director of Data Services and Postal Affairs, Wilen Direct; and Bob Schimek, Senior Director, Postal Affairs, Satori Software, discussed the USPS Informed Delivery program and its benefits, usage and adoption in a digital environment.
For those who don't know much about Informed Delivery, it's a program through the USPS that gives mail recipients the ability to view their mail electronically before it hits the mailbox.
Schimek explained that there are two sides to Informed Delivery: the end consumer and the direct mail industry. The end consumer side provides access to mail recipients before the mail carrier shows up at their door via email and a mobile app. The industry side gives direct marketers and mailers some independence to decide what brand identifiers will be used alongside the scanned image of the mail. Some options include a representative color image or a "ride along" image, which is supplemental content to help identify the brand and can even include a call to action.
Beyond the logistics of the program, which is still in the early phases, there are benefits. For example, USPS is currently seeing a 70% open rate for the Informed Delivery emails that go out each morning. For each email that it is opened, it provides an added level of engagement with the mail and with the brand. And, as Schimek pointed out, recipients may even be driven to a website or a call to action before they ever see the physical piece of printed mail.
On the consumer side, Glassman described some benefits of the program from his personal experiences. It's an unfortunate truth that mail is sometimes stolen, or lost, and Informed Delivery is a way to show a consumer what should be arriving in their mailbox each day, so that if something is missing, they will know. Furthermore, he described that since he travels often, many times he is not home to see the physical mail, so this is a time that the morning email is his only exposure to the mail his family receives.
However, as with all good things, there are some limitations. Schimek explained that although it's a growing program, the number of Informed Delivery subscribers is still relatively low, at about 754,000. Also, the image process is currently manual, although USPS wants to eventually automate the process.
For those considering using Informed Delivery to their advantage, Glassman provided four tips:
- When providing images to go along with the scanned image of the mail, provide a JPEG, which is the preferable method.
- The best way to reinforce a brand and further engagement is to make use of a call to action somewhere within the supplemental content.
- It's important to match the "ride along" image with the campaign so there is a level of cohesiveness across the entire email.
- Don't use a white background for the supplemental material. The content will get lost and will not stand out. Consider using reversals, with a colored background and white writing.
Chock-full of useful information for those in the printing industry who still want to learn more about the program, the webinar also concluded with a lively and extensive Q&A session that answered several of the questions and concerns surrounding the future of Informed Delivery and what consumers and mailers can expect next.