Add Digital Elements to Direct Mail Campaigns with the USPS Informed Delivery Service for Free

Yes, I did say free. We talked about the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) Informed Delivery Service in a blog post awhile ago, but this free service has incredible value so we wanted to visit it again. Registered consumers with the program will receive emails, called their email digest, that give them a preview of letter sized mail pieces and flats that are on the way to their physical mailbox. The email will contain greyscale images of the exterior, address side of the letter or postcard. Sign up is simple and free. Besides being informed of incoming mail, customers can track packages, reschedule deliveries and receive notifications. For frequent travelers or people with roommates, knowing what mail to expect in their mailbox can contribute to peace of mind when they cannot pick up the mail themselves. All registered users at one address will see the images of each piece of mail or package for that address.

Retailers that are sending direct mail letters, postcards or flats can create campaigns through the service and add an image and URL link that will appear in the email digest. This incredible free service can add a digital element to print mail campaigns. The campaign can be created through a digital portal called the Mailer Campaign Portal. The USPS standard greyscale image can be upgraded to a four color image which will leap out amongst the other images in the consumer’s email digest.

At this time, Informed Delivery has 18.3 million registered households and 22.8 million registered users. Up-to-date information on the number of users by region is available on the Mailer Campaign Portal dashboard. The Informed Delivery email digest open rate averages around 70%. Each member of the household that is signed up is receiving and viewing the campaign image and website link. Informed Delivery is an incredible opportunity to integrate digital into a print mail campaign for no cost.

Campaign Types and Segments

Virtually any Mailer can conduct an Informed Delivery campaign if the following criteria are met: mail pieces must be automation compatible and mail pieces must contain a valid Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMb®), which can be applied by the Mailer or a Mail Service Provider (MSP). Letters, postcards and flats are considered automation compatible. The mailer ID (MID) on a piece can belong to the owner, an ad agency, a mail service provider or the printing company. The MID and the IMb Serial Number Range must be on the content submission.

Campaigns can be applied to all customers on your mailing list by including the MID on the piece. Or the campaign can be segmented by adding a serialized IMb with different groups of customers receiving different images and URLS.

Two types of campaigns are offered, basic or dual. Basic campaigns include the USPS greyscale image, with a clickable ride-along image and “Learn more” link. Dual campaigns replace the USPS greyscale image with a static representative image that can be colorful and brand representative. Flats must use the representative image because the USPS automation equipment does not provide a scanned image of flats.

Access Portals

Campaigns are organized through the Mailer Campaign Portal or the Postal One!. The Mailer Campaign Portal allows users to submit campaigns manually and it just takes a few minutes to set up. When submitting campaigns with a larger number of segments or more complex parameters, submission should be through PostalOne!.

Campaign Stages

All campaigns go through three stages; Pre-Campaign, Campaign and Post-Campaign. USPS even offers an optional Pre-Campaign Analysis report where they cross reference your mailing list with the current list of registered Informed Delivery users.

USPS provides two types of post campaign reports, the Post-Campaign Summary and the Detailed Report. These valuable analytics include the number of emails sent, opened and the click-throughs. On the Detailed Report, dates, times and other information are provided for each individual record.

The USPS website is peppered with phrases like “There are no fees associated with conducting an interactive campaign at this time” and “Monetization opportunities for additional features are under consideration.” It sounds like they will consider charging fees once they work all the kinks out. Due to the simplicity and value in the program, not signing up right now would be foolish. If it seems complicated and time consuming, T/O Printing can help sign companies up, figure out the MID and IMb codes and placement, and analyze results. Whatever the future holds for USPS Informed Delivery, it is an amazing value for marketing campaigns. Conducting a campaign through Informed Delivery allows retailers an inside tract to customer emails that are being opened at a higher rate than marketing emails are generally opened. No matter what the size of your campaign is, this is a service you should participate in.