This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Mailing Systems Technology.

One of the key U.S. Postal Service themes from this year’s National Postal Forum was Informed Delivery. If you haven’t already subscribed to this new service, you really should… even if you are a non-believer. If you work in the mailing industry, then you need to understand the consumer experience with this program. Informed Delivery is going to forever change what we all have come to know as “the mail moment.” Now is the time to study and test the impact this technology has on the effectiveness of mailing campaigns.

The Postal Service has added an additional carrot for the mailing industry to start playing with Informed Delivery. The Postal Service has announced that eligibility for the Mobile Shopping promotion will include using Informed Delivery to qualify for the two percent promotional postage savings. The Mobile Shopping promotion runs from August 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 and is available to mailers using Marketing Mail (formerly Standard Mail). Registration for this promotion is already open.

When the requirements and eligibility for the Mobile Shopping promotion were originally announced, it did not include Informed Delivery. The addition of Informed Delivery was announced at NPF and the details associated with being able to qualify for the promotion are being finalized and will be available soon. There are several items that we do know. If you want to participate, you will have to work with both the Promotions Program Office and the Informed Delivery Program Office.

The Informed Delivery Program Office will be checking to ensure the campaign that you will be running includes all three components of Informed Delivery, which are all required to qualify for the promotion:

· Representative Color Image: This is the image that will replace the black and white image of the mail piece in the consumer’s Informed Delivery daily email they receive.

· Ride-Along Image: This is a supplemental image that is also included in the consumer’s email. Some refer to this image as the “call to action” image, such as a graphic that says, “Click here for a special offer.”

· Click-Through Interactive URL: When the consumer clicks on the Ride-Along Image in the email, this is the location of the site to which the consumer will be taken.

There are several other aspects of your campaign that the Informed Delivery Program Office will work with you to verify. These include limitations around the size and the quality of the images that will be used in the email, along with additional campaign information that is required. Additional information on these requirements can be found in the Informed Delivery Interactive Campaign Guide.

Starting June 25, 2017, the Postal Service has started supporting a new version of electronic documentation, Idealliance Mail.dat 17-2. The Postal Service will continue to accept Mail.dat 15-1 and 17-1, but anyone looking to use Mail.dat to provide Informed Delivery information must be using 17-2. Mail.dat 17-2 can automate some of the manual steps involved in setting up a campaign and can reduce the amount of interaction needed with the Informed Delivery Program Office.

The Promotions Program Office will be checking that the “Click-Through Interactive URL” site is a mobile- optimized website. They will also be checking to ensure the site complies with the requirements of the Mobile Shopping promotion, which includes the ability for the consumer to make a purchase for eligible items. The Postal Service has created a 2017 Mobile Shopping Promotion Program Requirements document that provides additional information for eligibility.

To qualify for the two percent postage savings, you must have approvals from both the Informed Delivery and Promotions Program Offices at least three business days prior to the campaign start date. The Promotions Program Office maintains a comprehensive list of all approvals, and they are posted to the BMA (Business Mail Analyst) website. This list is used by the BMEU (Bulk Mail Entry Unit) clerks to ensure the mailing is eligible for the promotion.

At the time of mailing, the mailer will need to provide a sample of a live mail piece. This can be a photocopy of the piece that is either provided by the mailer or copied by the BMEU clerk.

Now is a great time to use the postage savings from the Postal Service’s Mobile Shopping promotion to start kicking the tires on what Informed Delivery can do for your mailing campaigns.

Bob Schimek is Senior Director of Postal Affairs, Satori Software