Ten to 15 years ago, there was a lot of talk around the idea that marketers had saturated consumers’ mailboxes to the point that direct mail was no longer an effective medium. There was such a disproportion of “junk mail” in our office and home mailboxes that it was almost impossible to break through the clutter.

Besides, sending an email was “free,” so why would a business pay for printing and postage? Direct marketing shifted to email marketing, and suddenly our mailboxes were empty, and our inboxes were exploding.

Fast-forward to 2019, and direct mail is the hot, new medium! As our physical mailboxes were abandoned for our inboxes, an interesting shift happened. 

Physical direct mail was sexy again, not to mention effective. Because we all get less physical mail, it increases the likelihood that your piece will be noticed, and that people will welcome it because they actually miss getting mail.

Thanks to technology and almost ubiquitous access to the internet, the 2019 version of direct mail has the opportunity to add layers of online marketing to an old-school, offline tactic.

The U.S. Postal Service has created a free service called Informed Delivery. It’s an optional feature that gives residential consumers the ability to digitally preview their mail and manage their packages from one convenient location.

Through Informed Delivery, users/subscribers can view grayscale images of letter-size mail and color images from participating mailers via email notification, online dashboard or mobile app.

Consumers sign up to participate and have the convenience of seeing what is coming to their mailbox, 24/7 and no matter where in the world they are. The service offers a secure online dashboard, package tracking information and the ability to schedule deliveries. Consumers manage notifications through email or text.

All of that is cool, but why this service matters to us as marketers is that the post office will partner with you to add an online component to your direct mail piece. If you develop a direct mail piece, you can work with the USPS to provide supplemental content and interactive campaigns that your audience engages with via the USPS dashboard on their computers or phones.
That gives your target audience the ability to take immediate action on a mail piece promotion. 
 
You can set up the campaigns to include color images on email/text reminders that link to landing pages you’ve built with content geared to specific audiences or promotions. The USPS portal will also provide you with dashboard results and reporting, so you can track engagement levels.

 Informed Delivery can help you increase the reach of your campaign through a synchronized physical and digital touchpoint. Not only is this a free service to you as the marketer, but in some cases you can get discounts on your postage for using the service.

There are many benefits to this program. You will:
• Tap into an engaged user base that delivers higher-than-average email open rates.
• Increase interaction by generating multiple impressions from a single mail piece.
• Experience more immediate responses. Strong offers, interactive content and a clear call to action will increase responses.
• Reach customers digitally from their physical address, which allows you to expand your reach and audience base.
• Potentially increase the return on investment for your campaign.
• Measure campaign performance so you gain valuable data insights that can help optimize your marketing spend.

They even have an Informed Delivery Calculator, which will allow you to estimate how Informed Delivery interactive campaigns can enhance your direct mail efforts. This tool uses mail volume and budget to approximate the impact of Informed Delivery in four mailing areas: reach, attention, response and conversions.

Apparently, when it comes to direct mail, you can teach an old dog some pretty valuable new tricks!