Do you know about Informed Delivery, a U.S. Postal Service program that makes your direct mail marketing multichannel — and it’s free?
Introduced in Spring 2017, Informed Delivery gives consumers a digital sneak peek of their letter-size mail (like a postcard or envelope) before it arrives in their mailboxes. It’s one more tool that the USPS has been giving marketers and brands to reach customers across several channels at once.
As of mid-May, more than 26 million people have signed up online for this service. Informed Delivery emails have an average open rate of 63%.
Here’s a breakdown of what Informed Delivery is all about and why you should use it in your marketing mix.
How Consumers Experience Informed Delivery
Consumers enroll online for a verified, free, password-protected Informed Delivery account that uses a digital mailbox for the direct mail they receive at their house.
Every day, usually before 9 a.m., they get an email with “Informed Delivery Daily Digest” as the subject line. Before an actual delivery to their house, they can log in to the USPS portal online or via the USPS Mobile app (or check their email) to view a scanned grayscale image of the address side of a letter-size mail piece, like a #10 envelope or postcard. Photos of jumbo mailers, catalogs, and packages aren’t included in the mix at this time.
This platform is still evolving. In February, the USPS began a trial in select zip codes of a notification when mail is actually delivered to their home, the same way all of the major delivery services do for packages.
How Informed Delivery Creates Value for Consumers
The USPS sees Informed Delivery as a big step toward bridging the gap between the instant convenience of digital experience and the tactile experience of a physical direct mail piece.
With banking, shopping, and so many other routines increasingly controlled via digital devices, it creates a space for mail, which even many digital-first native consumers can appreciate. Now, customers can get an advance notice – from any place with an internet connection – of bills, personal letters, election ballots, legal documents, and other important or meaningful mail pieces. It creates anticipation and generates peace of mind, especially when done right.
And the instant delivery notification – if it rolls out nationwide – will only increase its importance.
How Informed Delivery Creates Value for Marketers
Each automation-compatible letter-sized piece (up to 10 per day for each customer) that gets scanned by USPS’s equipment shows up in the body of the customer’s email. Only the address side of the mailing appears in the grayscale image.
However, to make more of an impression in the Informed Delivery Daily Digest or web dashboard, USPS gives marketers another way to drive customer action: the Informed Delivery Campaign. This is an interactive effort that must be submitted through USPS’s Informed Delivery portal in the Business Customer Gateway.
It consists of two main elements. First is a large grayscale image of the mail piece, or it can substitute a 4-color “representative” image. This must be either a color reproduction of the address side of the mailing (without the address showing) or the non-address (obverse) side.
Second is a smaller, “ride-along” image. It can show anything, as long as it is tied to the content of the mailpiece or directly related to the promotion or offer in the mailpiece. Tapping or clicking on this image or on the “Learn More” call to action opens the specific URL associated with that campaign. It can also be used to activate a mobile device’s phone app for the recipient to call.
Either way, it means that the consumer can take action and respond to your campaign immediately, rather than wait to get home and read the mail.
Below, two example emails are shown. The one at left has a grayscale scanned image with a color ride-along. The right image has a full-color representative image with a color ride-along.
We know that adding a digital component synched with your direct mail involves learning new requirements and details. At mailing.com, we can work with you to set up the right accounts and get your campaigns ready for the entire process.
Here are some tips for an effective Informed Delivery Campaign:
1. Use the right URL
To be approved by USPS, all URLs associated with a campaign must begin with “https” meaning it is a secure web address. You can swap out that landing page for another, as your needs or circumstances dictate. So, a customer tapping or clicking on it might be directed to a new and improved offer a day, a week, or a month after the initial drop. This also means you have an opportunity to test your offers quickly.
1. Maximize your images and copy
Remember, direct mail in Informed Delivery is being viewed through a screen – it’s a small one if it’s a smartphone.
Although you might have a lot more to say to the prospect on the other side of the mailer or inside the envelope, the front face is where you can first engage them. At the very least, until the customer gets home, your copy and graphics can build anticipation for what the rest of the mailing might reveal and offer to them.
So, use clear, high-definition images, and easy-to-read, intriguing copy. You’ll be getting an additional bang for the buck from the impression your outer creates.
Keep in mind that your customers don’t need all that much from you even if you just maximize your grayscale image. By putting a web address, discount code, or phone number on the part of the mailing that gets scanned, you can make it more convenient for them to respond immediately.
3. Get the analytics
Every Informed Delivery campaign is grounded in data from the very beginning. Pre-campaign, the USPS can cross-reference a supplied list with the list of Informed Delivery users, and give you an aggregate response on how many match.
USPS provides a report on your reach with raw numbers and saturation percentage for the supplied list that you wish to target. So, before you mail a single piece, you’ll already have an idea if you’re targeting the right audience.
Once a campaign drops, you can access both summary and detailed reports with several metrics to monitor its performance, such as:
- Number of users/mail recipients that were sent an email
- Number & percentage of email opens
- Number & percentage of click-throughs
- Time email was sent & opened
- Time & source of click-throughs
4. Get the 2020 USPS promotion discount
In 2020, the postal service is running a promotion giving participants a 2% postage discount on approved Informed Delivery campaigns.
Think about it: Participating on the digital side is free, and you get 2% off the cost of your mail campaign, as well as metrics like opens, impressions, click-through rates and other performance data.
When it runs: Sept. 1 to Nov. 30
When to register: July 15 to Nov. 30
Find more information on the Informed Delivery promotion here.
Wrapping it up
Informed Delivery is real integrated marketing. Because it’s all built on data, mailers have many production elements and reporting options to choose from at any point along one of these synchronized campaigns.
Giving customers a preview of your message before they even physically touch the mailing offers marketers a powerful new opportunity to reach a target audience with a vivid, memorable, and tangible printed direct mail campaign.
Do you want to know the best part? For now, it’s free.That alone makes it worth testing. In the words of the late marketer Mal Decker: “Rule No. 1, test everything; Rule No. 2, see Rule No. 1.”
At mailing.com, our postal experts will work with you to figure out your best options given your brand’s individual campaign goals.
Please reach out to us! We’d love to show you how you can put today’s direct mail to work in your next campaign.