The way consumers use the mail has changed. Not their expectation of security, or the importance they place on mailed documents such as bills, notices, and statements. Not even their penchant for direct mail as the preferred way to receive ads and marketing materials. Today’s mail is part of a much larger consumer communication system. It remains important because of the way consumers associate mail with digital channels such as email, mobile apps, and social media.
The US Postal Service, recognizing this change, has been testing a program to form a tighter connection between physical mail and digital content delivery methods. The USPS offering is called Informed Delivery, previously known as Real Mail Notification.
Informed Delivery will send consumers an email notification about the letter-size mail they will receive later in the day in their physical mailboxes. The digital notice will include images of the mailpieces and, optionally, links to more digital content provided by the mailer. The USPS has been testing Informed Delivery in certain markets and expects to roll the program out nationally next year.
This program is good for marketers in two different ways:
1. Mailers have twice the opportunity to gain consumer attention. If they are usingdirect mail to market a product or service, the chances of the message being seen are automatically improved by Informed Delivery.
2. Informed Delivery messages can contain links connecting consumers to videos, games, online donation forms, special offers, or landing pages. Without Informed Delivery, mailers use devices such as QR (Quick Response) codes or PURL’s (Personalized URL’s) to connect the physical and digital worlds. These methods require extra steps or mobile apps to be effective. Extra content via Informed Delivery links will be just a click or tap away.
Informed Delivery ties in with another trend in residential mail; cluster mailboxes. The morning notifications will raise consumer awareness about what is in their mailbox each day. Consumers that don’t check for mail in their cluster mailboxes as often as they do individual receptacles are a concern for mailers. Mail may sit in cluster boxes for several days. Marketers sending timely announcements or limited-time offers can benefit from Informed Delivery’s advance announcement. Making their mail seem interesting and important will persuade consumers to retrieve their mail from the neighborhood cluster boxes on delivery day.
Envelopes Become More Impactful
For many mailed documents, envelopes are just a container used to transport messages from sender to receiver. Under Informed Delivery, envelope design will become more important. Outside envelope messaging can encourage customers to click through or pique their interest to open the envelope when it arrives later in the day. Postal Service scanners will image envelopes from the front, giving mailers ample space to print teaser messages or personalized text and graphics on the outside of the envelopes. The USPS is rumored to be investigating camera upgrades which will enable color imaging, making the scanned mail even more compelling.
Latest USPS announcements predict national implementation of Informed Delivery in 2017. If it goes as planned, this functionality may represent new opportunities for organizations communicating through multiple channels that include the mail. Find more information and the FAQ’s visit realmail.usps.com.
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