If you haven’t already incorporated the United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery (ID) program into your operations, there’s no time like the present. This offering helps gain exposure for your brand when utilized in your multichannel marketing campaigns. The ID program allows you to marry physical mail campaigns with a digital aspect, allowing multiple touchpoints and keeping your message in front of your audience at all times. Scientific research shows an increase in response and a greater ROI.
Advantages of Informed Delivery
ID lets eligible residential consumers digitally preview mail pieces before they arrive and manage scheduled packages.
The USPS created the program as a way to stay relevant in the digital age and improve the value of mail. Mailers have the opportunity to place targeted offers and ads inside of Informed Delivery emails, which creates new opportunities for mailers to engage with potential or existing customers, generating multiple touchpoints.
Letters, postcards, and flat-sized pieces are all eligible for Informed Delivery. A majority of letters and postcards are eligible because they are automation compatible and will get an image capture once scanned through the USPS mail sorting equipment. For flats, most USPS processing equipment does not currently provision images. If you want an image to be shown, you will have to provide the representative image to the Postal Service as well as a link if you want to drive the customer to your website.
As you’ll see in the image below, different industries can benefit from using Informed Delivery.
The Postal Service has been dedicating a lot of time and effort into getting the retail industry to take advantage of this program. For example, coupon functionality has been added. Consumers are able to use coupons in the ID program simply by walking into a store and showing the coupon from a phone. Another industry that the Postal Service believes can benefit from this program is government entities, specifically when it comes to voting by mail.
When you go to set up a campaign, you have to go through a number of different steps. First, you need to choose the dates that you want images to be used and provide the mail piece information and supplemental content. With the supplemental content, you can also provide a replacement image. Additionally, you can provide a ride-along image, also known as a call-to-action, and a targeted URL. The URL will allow the person viewing it to click on it and be redirected to your website.
The Benefits and Qualifications
Beginning September 1, 2020, and ending November 30, 2020, any mailings that qualify for participation in the Informed Delivery promotion will receive a two percent discount on postage. That is a significant opportunity, especially when sending high volumes of mail. First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and non-profit mail are all eligible for the promotion.
So, what is required for participation? Registration is the first step. This can be done on the USPS Business Customer Gateway; alternatively, you can auto-enroll through the use of the e-Documentation submitted for postage payment. Typically, mail service providers can assist with the auto-enroll process. One thing to know is that only mailings submitted electronically qualify for the discounts. The campaign must be created prior to induction.
Mailers should also be aware that the timing is critical. For instance, if you are using the portal, campaigns must be submitted no later than noon, Eastern time, the day prior to the campaign start day. Postal campaigns must be submitted and campaign files must be fully processed by midnight the day prior to the campaign start date. If these timeline requirements aren't met, the campaign submission will fail, resulting in issues getting the discounts and in getting your Informed Delivery images and links delivered.
The other big part of qualifying is that the marketing content to be used in the Informed Delivery campaign needs to be approved by the Postal Service before submitting any mailings intended to be included in the promotion. To get this approval, you must submit an image file of your proposed content to the promotion office. The USPS is going to be looking for a strong call-to-action within the images you're submitting. If you're using a representative image, they're going to be looking to ensure that there's a strong resemblance between that image and the physical mail piece that you're using. They will be checking to make sure you are not encouraging a switch to receive future correspondence electronically. They have also employed technology to make sure that URLs that are provided go to a site that is safe for the consumer.
There's a lot to consider when putting campaigns together and applying for the promotion. First, Informed Delivery only supports creating campaigns at the Mailer ID-level or using IMb serial ranges. If you're creating a multi-version job, you'll need to make sure that the IMb ranges are sequential and contiguous for each of the versions. At this point in time, the Postal Service doesn't support individual IMb-level image replacements or PURLs.
Also, the campaign window is limited to a maximum of 45 days. The promotion needs to be consumer-focused, as Informed Delivery is not available yet for business addresses. The Postal Service will be monitoring all the mailings where the promotion was applied, ensuring that all qualifications were met successfully. They may remove discounts if any of the requirements are not met; for example, not enough consumer addresses in the file, there were no hits to Informed Delivery participants, or failure to get exact images pre-approved.
Bright Side of Today’s Climate
Since many people are working from home due to COVID-19, Informed Delivery subscriptions are going up at an accelerated pace. This is a great time to check this program out if you have not already done so.
Angelo Anagnostopoulos, VP Postal Affairs at GrayHair Software, partners with GrayHair’s clients to help them maximize their postal operations, develop compliance best practices, and provide guidance on a wide variety of postal issues and regulations. He sits on major postal industry groups, including the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) and is currently the industry leader for Enterprise Analytics and Data Usage. For more information on how to leverage Informed Delivery and get the most out of your data, visit https://grayhairsoftware.com/contact-us/.
This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2020 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.