As touted, the Postal Service has created their own omnichannel tool for mail with the development of the Informed Delivery platform. From all accounts, the Informed Delivery (ID) program, which rolled out nationwide in 2017, has been successful and is growing in popularity.

As of mid-July, the program has 17.83 million subscribers, representing 11.3% of all eligible addresses. The Postal Service has been adding an average of 205,000 new users weekly, a bit shy of the anticipated 1.2 million new users per month that they anticipated. With an unprecedented 62.7% email open rate, mailers should take a serious look at this enticing omni-channel tool.

As of September 1, 2019, the Postal Service will be offering a three-month Informed Delivery promotion, giving a two percent postage discount to mailers who conduct an Informed Delivery interactive campaign. So, what better time to get started? Let’s take a look at some common questions and concerns.

Is the Platform Ready?

Many in the mailing industry are speculating that the ID promotion will entice an astronomical number of new participants, and they have expressed concerns over the system’s ability to handle the deluge of campaigns.

The concern is not without merit. Consider the following:

  • For a three-month period, large portions of the country did not receive images in their daily digest on Mondays or the day after a holiday. The problem, which appears to have been fixed in mid-July, was caused by the system timing out due to the volume of images being processed. Monday is the highest volume delivery day of the week, so it was a missed opportunity for many advertisers.
  • Mailers have experienced exceedingly long load times for reporting during normal business hours.
  • The Mailer Campaign Portal (MCP) can allow unauthorized use of a Mailer ID (MID) to create a campaign. Also, there is concern over the security of URLs that contain mailer’s scanned images
  • According to the Informed Delivery program manager, only 33-34% of Mail.dat files (containing the color images) are uploaded successfully.

A Word (or Several) of Caution

Read and understand the ID promotion requirements carefully. If you are not compliant with these requirements, you risk the loss of the discount. There are some categories of mail that are not eligible for participation: Non-automation mail (letters, cards, and flats), Saturation mail, Destination Delivery Unit (DDU), and Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) letters, cards, and flats. Additionally, mailings sent primarily to business addresses are excluded.

Secondly, as a result of the lack of consistent success with uploading Mail.dat files, the Postal Service is encouraging mailers to submit campaigns via the mailer campaign portal or, at a minimum, test in advance.

And finally, it’s critical you talk to your mail service providers and ask for help, since they are already preparing for the influx of interested customers by understanding the requirements and providing assistance.

As you prepare for this promotion, please keep in mind that the Informed Delivery team is aware of the performance issues and has committed resources to their resolution. Additionally, the team has engaged the Chief Information Security Officer’s organization to address mailer concerns. It is also extremely important that you follow the ID promotion requirements exactly. And finally, don’t forget to test prior to the promotion start date, if possible. It is not advised to submit a mailer campaign for the first time during the promotion period.

The registration period is now open, and the promotion runs from September 1 through November 30 of this year. There is still time for the Postal Service to restore mailers’ confidence and time for mailers to test and to review the requirements closely so that surprises can be minimized.

This is where the rubber will meet the road. We’ll soon know if we had reason for concern.

Anita Pursley is the Senior Manager, Industry Affairs for BCC Software.

This article originally appeared in the September/October, 2019 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.