Inside Out – The USPS Can Improve Your Open Rates
The US Postal Service has been testing ways to connect physical mail and digital content delivery methods. One program under consideration is called Informed Delivery. Mailers may be familiar with its former name, Real Mail Notification. This innovative feature will place a new emphasis on how mailers use envelopes to encourage readership. Some mailers will be mining data from the documents to increase the effectiveness of their mail through this new USPS offering.
Informed Delivery sends consumers an email notification about mail to be delivered to their physical mailboxes later in the day. The digital notice includes images of the envelopes and, optionally, links to more digital content provided by the mailer. The USPS has tested Informed Delivery in selected markets.
Service Provider Opportunity
Informed Delivery is a chance for print/mail service providers to distinguish themselves from the competition and establish new revenue opportunities. Placing images and text on the outside of envelopes will increase the open rates once those pieces are delivered and raise the value of that mail to service provider customers.
Tools such as Crawford Technologies’ Operations Express and Transpromo Express can extract personalized data from existing documents. This data can drive envelope variable messaging which amplifies the impact of the images seen via Informed Delivery.
Service providers familiar with Informed Delivery will be quick to point out the double impact of the program to their customers. Mailers will have two opportunities to gain consumer attention – once in the morning when the Informed Delivery email displays mail en route to addressee homes, and again when the physical mail is retrieved from the consumer’s postal mailboxes. This extra impression benefits applications such as event promotion, political, fund raising, and direct mail marketing. When combined with transpromo strategies, transactional documents are more impactful as well.
Extracting Data from Documents is Essential
Adding variable data inkjet printers to inserting machines is a strategy becoming more interesting to print/mail service providers looking for an extra edge in their highly competitive industry. Instead of pre-printing all the envelopes for a job with the same text and graphics, variable data printing enables more precise segmentation. Service providers can create influential mail without splitting jobs or increasing handling or postage costs. Introducing Informed Delivery will boost the value of inkjet investments. Companies first to market with these abilities will realize the greatest benefits.
Data to control the segmented or personalized messages applied by the inkjet heads comes from the documents themselves. The inkjet-printed content can vary based on transactional details, account numbers, geographic data, or other information typically found on documents handled by print/mail service providers. Or the data may be external but linked to individual documents. Either way, service providers must extract information from the documents to build the files used by the inserter-mounted print heads and produce machine-control barcodes.
The USPS predicts national implementation of Informed Delivery in 2017. This new functionality can advance the new role of mail as an integral piece of a multi-channel customer communication strategy.