What You Need to Know About USPS Informed Delivery

You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but what about your direct mail?

The U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketing agencies operate in the mailstream.

You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but how about for your direct mail?

The reason I’m asking is because the U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketers operate in the mailstream.

USPS LogoThe first time I heard of it was in September 2015, when I spoke at the National PCC Day event in New York.

In his remarks, USPS Chief Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane mentioned a service undergoing trials that would let people see their mail before it gets delivered.

I was intrigued, and still am, as Informed Delivery is being implemented this year.

I agree with Tom Glassman, Director of Data Services and Postal Affairs at Wilen Direct. He calls it “a great integration of digital and physical mail.”

So last week, I signed up for the program and waited to see what happened.

How It Works

Consumers can enroll online for a free, password-protected account that creates a digital mailbox for the direct mail they receive at their house. Before it’s even physically delivered, they can log in and see a grayscale image of the front of a common-sized mail piece, like a #10 envelope or folded self-mailer.

It’s not available yet for P.O. Box customers. And jumbo mailers, catalogs, and packages aren’t included in the mix at this time.

What Marketers Should Think About

So if you’re a marketer, you’re probably asking, “What’s in it for me?” What’s the ‘why’?” There are complex answers to these questions.

If this service were only about giving consumers a sneak preview of their mail, one more impression of an offer, well that’s not too bad.

But Informed Delivery is more than that.

Marketers can build campaigns using the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to reach target audiences in the digital and physical worlds simultaneously. Under the program, marketers can enhance a physical mail piece when it’s scanned into the mailstream with a representative full color image, interactive content, and a click-through URL, with individual URLs coming this fall.

I’m not going to get into all of the technical details about campaign management and how to set up Informed Delivery. That discussion needs a much deeper dive, so it can wait for another time and place.

And I fully expect USPS to change features based on feedback from industry users and the public.

But I do have some recommendations.

First, consider how your direct mail – or at least some of it – can stand out in a grayscale image. This means paying special attention to your images, teaser copy, etc., and testing all of them

Second, think about all how your mail or your client’s mail can be enhanced with an Informed Delivery campaign. So off the top of my head, I can see uses for retailers, transpromo, insurance, utilities, and financial services.

Finally, there are some great resources to consult for more information about why and how to implement Informed Delivery.

One other thing. Remember the words of the late Mal Decker: “Rule No. 1, test everything; Rule No. 2, see Rule No. 1.”

8 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About USPS Informed Delivery”

  1. I received a USPS advertisement about this telling me I was eligible.
    I signed up about a month ago and received an acknowledgement I was signed up. But I received nothing since then. Am I supposed to receive an email each time there is mail for me to view online?

    1. Hi Bob-If you opted in for email notification, you should get them unless a mailing wasn’t scanned. Only certain ones are scanned, not all mail. You can also log in to your USPS account mailbox in case you didn’t get a notification email for some reason.

      1. Hi Paul. I have email notifications selected. There is a drop down that let me view back to June 18, and not one notification. Is it likely I have none since I signed up a month back? You stated not all mail is scanned. What specific mail is scanned vs. not scanned?

  2. If only this app let customers select the mail to NOT bother delivering. Imagine the incredible reduction in “targeted marketing” (junk mail).

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