This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of Mailing Systems Technology.
Recently, a group of my friends and I were sitting around a fire pit discussing popular songs from our high school years when the conversation turned from friendly banter to a competition of who sang what and what were the lyrics. The conversation started with the standards of that year: “The Logical Song,” “Shattered,” “Renegade,” “Tusk” and the like.
But soon we moved to more obscure tunes and the ever-popular one-hit wonders. This brought back the memories of “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right,” and “Knock on Wood,” just to name a few. As each of us receded into the far reaches of our memory bank to stump each other, I blurted out “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
This 1979 single by The Buggles was from the LP (long playing album). Now, be honest, how many of you had a nostalgic moment there? It was the Age of Plastic. Like many of the songs of that album, “Video’s” theme was the promotion of technology while being concerned about the effects of such technology. This is really a prescient thought because MTV didn’t launch until nearly two years later. And did video ever really kill the radio star?
It appears not. Music is alive and well. Perhaps the media types have changed (MP3, CD, streaming), but the day the music died is not here yet. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself). As a matter of fact, vinyl is back. But why? Could it be that it is because vinyl sounds better, as some would claim? Or is it the simple act of having to go to a turntable every half an hour to change the album to the next side makes one feel more “connected” to the music?
Technology Often Offers Enhancements
My point is that there need not be an answer or decision. Very rarely does technology “kill” something that works. In fact, many times it enhances what it was supposed to replace. Could the fact that vinyl reached a 25-year high in sales in 2016 be because people have more opportunity to access music and then choose what they want on a higher-quality medium? Whatever the reason, it is apparent that the music industry gives people choices and, in many cases, consumers access the same music via different, but complementary, vehicles.
No Replacement for the Tactile Value of Mail
Which brings me to mail and, more specifically, the linchpin of the United States Postal Service’s digital strategy: Informed Delivery. Nothing replaces the tactile value of hard copy mail, but the USPS recognizes consumers’ increasing desire to interact and communicate digitally with everything, including their mail.
Informed Delivery integrates hard copy mail and digital marketing campaigns, thus creating the opportunity for users to act on their mail pieces sooner and for mailers to expand their customer reach.
Advantages for Recipients
Eligible residential consumers can sign up for Informed Delivery and receive grayscale images of the exterior, address side of incoming letter-sized mail pieces. Mailers who participate in Informed Delivery interactive campaigns can provide customized, digital content (such as color images or a link) in coordination with their hard copy mailings.
Informed Delivery allows recipients to preview their mail and digitally interact with this mailer-provided content, while mailers benefit from additional impressions – once when previewed on the online dashboard or via the notification email and again when the hard copy mail piece is retrieved from their customer’s mailbox.
Additionally, all Informed Delivery users within the household – not just the intended customer – have visibility into incoming mail and mailer-provided content. Informed Delivery has been piloted for several years and consumers love it. They especially like the convenience and visibility into their mail that the feature provides.
As for mailers, the USPS plans to create an Informed Delivery Campaign Portal to allow mailers to create and manage Informed Delivery campaigns and view results data.So, while video certainly has not killed the radio star, digital certainly has not killed mail.
Vincent DeAngelis is Vice President, Postal Relations, and Shipping Product Management for Neopost USA.