This article appeared in the November/December, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.
If you missed this year’s National Postal Forum in San Antonio, the theme was Informed Customers — Customer Experience Delivered. One of the newer technologies the United States Postal Service (USPS) discussed was Informed Delivery. As many of you know by now, this is a free service where mail recipients can view what will be delivered to their mailboxes each day. Enrollees receive an email called the Informed Delivery Daily Digest, which contains digital images of their mail pieces. These images are also accessible through the USPS online dashboard or via a mobile app. Registration is easy, and you can start realizing the benefits immediately. Sounds good for consumers, right? However, many of you may be asking, “But what does this service do for mailers?”
Plenty, as it turns out. The benefits include:
• The ability to generate multiple views from a single mail piece via email, online portal, and mobile app
• The ability to drive responses with interactive content
• A potential increase in ROI from mail spend
• The capacity to reach consumers digitally, even if you only have mailing addresses
• A high email open rate of opted-in users
To date, there are 13.1 million registered users of Informed Delivery, and this number increases weekly, at a rate of approximately 140,000 new users. Of the 13.1 million users, 8.4 million are subscribers to the Daily Digest email. The remainder either log in to the USPS dashboard or look at their account within the mobile app.
A Real-Life Example
We recently analyzed a customer who currently uses Informed Delivery in their campaigns. We looked into the first one million records they mailed over a one-month period and found that 3.51% of all mailed records were enrolled in Informed Delivery. Of those, 46% subscribed to the daily email and 65.4% of subscribers opened the email. Yes, over 65% of the email recipients opened the email to look at what was in their mailbox that day!
Everyone agrees that this large number represents an excellent opportunity to capture the attention of the prospect, but what do you need to do to capture their attention? Here are five things we learned from doing multiple Informed Delivery campaigns.
1. Add color to stand out – The standard image the USPS captures and sends to participants is grayscale. This can be very discouraging for marketers that use plenty of color and artwork in their mail pieces; however, the USPS offers mailers the opportunity to replace the grayscale image with their own colorful representative image. Mailers can also add a free digital experience by inserting a related ride-along image. Here, more creative artwork can be used and a target URL sending recipients to a website or landing page is included. With the free digital experience, your mail piece image gets higher priority than the grayscale images and moves to the top of the daily email each recipient receives. This means that when the USPS email is opened, your offer will be the first item seen. The recipient can click on the image, visit the landing page with your offer right away, and hours later receive the physical mail piece in their home mailbox. The email is an extra touchpoint and a win for the mailer.
2. Convey a clear call to action in the email – Now that your offer is the higher priority in the email, make sure you have a clear call to action for the viewer. You want to use actionable words like “Click Here,” “Apply Now,” or “Buy Now” to grab their attention and route them to your landing page. You want to make sure your recipients’ steps to follow are clear so they do not miss the opportunity of the click through.
3. Design your landing page to be consistent with your mail piece – Now that you got them to click and go to your page, don’t confuse them by having the landing page look and feel completely different than your mail piece. You want them to know, without question, they are seeing the same offer that is generated through the original mail piece, and that they are on the right page, getting the right offer.
A few months back, I noticed one of my mail pieces looking for monetary charitable donations had a ride-along image showing an offer for 20% off my online purchase. Why would a charity be offering a 20% discount on a purchase? When I clicked through, the page was selling religious books and had a connection with the charity. In the end, the two were related, but the initial experience left me confused. Don’t make this same mistake.
4. Customize the landing page – Carry your offer through to the landing page and try using personalized pages (PURLs) so you can track the responses to the exact Informed Delivery users. PURLS are currently being tested and are expected to be live shortly. The purpose here is to track who is clicking through and responding to the Informed Delivery piece, not someone that just falls upon your site. Having valid information will confirm or negate the true response rate of Informed Delivery conversions.
5. Test to increase response – Test your offers and call to action statements. Test to make sure you are using the correct verbiage and the artwork is attracting the customer to click through. Just because one option didn’t yield great results doesn’t mean another offer won’t.
In the coming months, the USPS will be promoting this service and focusing on user acquisition through direct mail, online ads, and grassroot efforts. Televised advertisements will not be far behind. The Postal Service plans to increase participation to 20 million people in the next 18 months. Once this catches on a little more, the response rate and click-through numbers will continue to increase. Studies show that direct mail campaigns have up to a 30% lift in responses when email is used. When the email is being sent free of charge through Informed Delivery, it sounds even more appealing — a definite win for mailers.
Just announced! The USPS will have an Informed Delivery Promotion in 2019. The promotion will offer a two percent discount off postage for mailings that incorporate Informed Delivery from September 1 through November 30, 2019. Watch for more details in the coming months.
Dan Browne is Product Manager, SourceLink. He can be reached at.