What will you find in your mailbox tomorrow? You don’t need a crystal ball to know the answer. Now, USPS is pulling back the curtain to allow recipients a sneak preview of their mail before it arrives. Informed Delivery, the new post office tracking service, will change the way we receive mail—and the way direct mail marketers send it. Here’s what you need to know and how to benefit from Informed Delivery.
What Is Informed Delivery? How Does It Work?
Informed Delivery is a new post office tracking feature provided by the United States Postal Service. The free feature allows users to view their mail before they receive it (the envelopes, that is—no peeking inside!) Users who sign up for the service will receive a morning email (usually before 9AM) on days when mail is processed containing scans of the mail they can expect to receive soon.
The images are grayscale digital scans of the front of mailpieces. Digital scanning has long been a part of the USPS mail delivery process, but for the first time the postal service is sharing those images with recipients. In addition to being sent through email, these images will also be available for seven days to users who sign into informeddelivery.usps.com. Informed delivery is completely free. Signing up requires entering details like your email and home address. There are no subscription fees or other commitments involved.
Who Can Use Informed Delivery? What Can They Track?
Unfortunately, not everyone can use Informed Delivery—not yet, anyway. The mail tracking service was first offered in select cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The service is now available nationally, and has attracted over 2 million users, with 10,000 new people are signing up every day. Some specific addresses aren't yet eligible for Informed Delivery, but the network continues to expand.
While some business mailers are able to access the tracking features through USPS’s pilot program, Informed Delivery is currently geared towards residential addresses and individuals. Delivery to Post Office boxes can’t currently be tracked with Informed Delivery. The service also requires an internet connection and access to a smartphone or computer.
The type of mail that can be tracked through Informed Delivery is also specific. Of course, mail is limited to pieces processed through USPS mail centers. It’s also limited to automatable, letter-sized mailings, although USPS has announced it hopes to expand the service to track larger size mailings, as well as brochures and catalogues in the future.
What Are the Benefits of Informed Delivery?
So why should users be excited for Informed Delivery? There are quite a few benefits for recipients including:
- The ability to see a preview of mail before it arrives.
- Remote access lets users track mail on the go.
- Busy households can ensure important mailings aren’t forgotten or misplaced.
- Special offers and web addresses advertised on mailings can be accessed right away, instead of waiting for physical mail to arrive.
Users can also elect to receive a daily email notification or simply access their scans as needed through the website. This makes it easy to take advantage of these benefits when and where they want.
How Will Informed Delivery Affect Direct Mail Marketing?
Informed Delivery can definitely improve the experience of tracking and receiving mail. But what about sending it? Businesses and nonprofit organizations may be asking themselves, “What will this mean for my direct mail marketing campaigns? How should I adapt my strategic marketing efforts?" While marketers can certainly continue to deliver campaigns the same way they did in the past, those looking to build brand loyalty and boost donations and sales conversions should consider the following:
Put Your Best Face Forward
Strike the Right Tone
Optimize for Omni-Channel
Pick the Perfect Format
Remember that USPS Informed Delivery currently only shares previews of letter sized mailings processed through USPS’ automation equipment . So currently, if you’re optimizing a large brochure or catalogue, with Informed Delivery in mind, you’re wasting your time. Consider switching campaigns you’d like users to preview to a letter sized envelope format, or testing a one format against another to see how redemption rates compare.
Leverage Digital Handwriting
There’s no question that USPS Informed Delivery will have an impact on direct mail marketing. It’s important to remember, however, that the service is still very new. Users can expect USPS to expand features and fine-tune the service in the coming years. Direct mail marketers should keep a close eye on these changes to stay ahead of the curve and outpace their competitors’ conversion rates.
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What does the Future Hold For Direct Marketers?
What do you think of Informed Delivery? Do you think the service ruins the surprise of direct mail? How do you think it could benefit you? Do you plan to try it? Let us know in the comments section below.