Informed Delivery Merges the Mailbox with the Inbox

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The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has launched a new service that gives marketers another way to reach audiences. The USPS Informed Delivery e-mail service program lets people sign up to receive a daily e-mail digest of the letter-class mail that will be delivered to their home each day. The digest contains scanned images of the address side of up to 10 pieces of mail. Registrants can access digests from the previous 10 days online through a personal USPS account they can set up.

Besides the convenience Informed Delivery provides registrants, the program might be a boon for direct marketers. Informed Delivery creates an additional touch point for direct mail marketers at no additional charge to the marketer or the recipient. The service helps create anticipation by making the consumer aware of mail that will be waiting for them at home at the end of the day.

A group of marketers are currently running a test in which they can place a color logo or graphic under the image of their direct mail piece in the digest. Marketers can link the logo/graphic to external digital assets. This capability provides marketers with a simple digital tool to support the offer being made via their direct mail piece.

There are early limitations to the program, but the possibilities are intriguing. The current goal is to get people to sign up so the USPS can hit a critical mass of users. Once that happens, there will be more buy in from marketers and the USPS can hopefully pursue additional features.

Current limitations include the image scans only being available in black and white, the scans only being of letter-size pieces and an inability to include any digital functionality in the image scan itself. Also, the program is not yet available in every zip code.

Prior to launch, the program was tested in areas of Northern Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland and New York. The USPS tests demonstrated that 70 percent of subscribers in New York City opened their Informed Delivery email notifications daily. Additionally, 90 percent of registrants read their email notifications 4 times per week.

Informed Delivery could provide marketers a chance to measure when recipients engage with their direct mail. They can also more accurately gauge its effectiveness. Implications for how mail could be designed and integrated in the future are far reaching. While the service is in its infancy, marketers would be wise to pay attention to the program as it unfolds.

Informed Delivery is available in about 31,000 zip codes nationwide. The genesis of the program goes back to the early 2000s. After a series of anthrax attacks were made through the mail after the 9-11 attacks, the USPS began scanning all mail as a security precaution. The scanning gives the USPS and direct marketers a way to integrate their mailings with the digital world in way that was not possible previously.

You can visit here to register to begin receiving your Informed Delivery email digest.

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