September 14, 2016 - by Jacqui Davis
The United States Postal Service has been piloting a program called ‘Informed Delivery’ which allows individuals to sign up for a daily email notification that shows them what to expect in their mailbox each day. Right now the service includes letter sized pieces of mail, not catalogs or packages.
The program is being tested in parts of Virginia, Connecticut and New York, with plans to rollout nationwide as early as 2017. It’s free for anyone who creates an account on USPS.com. The USPS has been photographing every letter that gets mailed within the U.S. since 2013, so it's easy for the Postal Service to pass the images on to its customers.
At this point in the pilot program, the images are black and white scans of the front of the envelope only. In fact, you might be asking yourself why we’re reporting on this at all. The reason is because there are plans to expand this program into what the USPS calls ‘digital promotions.’ These emails could include colorful, clickable content that could lead potential donors to a landing page of your choice. With a reported 93% open rate in this testing phase, that could have a serious impact on future direct mail campaigns.
But even without the interactive content, this service could have an impact on your direct mail program. The small step of bringing your mailing from a donor’s mailbox to their inbox could potentially turn your mailing file into a digital marketing tool ... at zero cost to you.
As seasoned direct response fundraising professionals who are used to dealing with the Postal Service, we were a bit curious, so we went ahead and enrolled. Here’s what we can tell you about our own experience with the pilot program:
Although at first it felt like it took the excitement out of opening your mailbox to discover what was inside, we started to look forward to the daily emails and even missed them the one day the email didn’t come on time!
The email usually comes around 7:15 am, and includes the entire mail for the household, not just one addressee.
There have been pieces in the mailbox that are missed in the scan. This may tie into exactly what the post office is considering a ‘letter’.
Sometimes a piece of mail will show up in the email twice on one day even though there is only one copy of the letter in your box.
There was one piece of (junk) mail that showed up in the email twice (on different days) but never made it to the mailbox – hmmm.
As of yet there is no interactive content.
Right now, we’re enjoying the sneak peek into our mailbox and watching as the Post Office works out the kinks. But we’ll be keeping an eye on the potential possibilities of the program as it develops.
For more information, head over to informeddelivery.com/learnmore.