USPS Informed Delivery Service: kudos & caveats
The US Postal Service (USPS) recently rolled out its much-anticipated Informed Delivery Service (IDS) for residential customers. Participating households receive a scanned daily preview (front-side only) of letter-size mailpieces and folded self-mailers that are soon to arrive in their mailbox. Marketers (who pay to play) can electronically enhance grayscale mailpiece scans by adding a full-color image, interactive content or a click-through URL. This synchronized integration of physical and digital mail offers an “unprecedented opportunity” to engage consumers and expand marketing reach, says the USPS. We applaud them for giving brands more marketing options.
But we’re also waiting to see how the service plays out—thus, this month’s kudos and caveats.
Kudos: There is real marketing potential. Informed Delivery offers the ability to expand campaign reach by exposing multiple members of the same household to incoming mailpiece images. Also, people like it. A 2017 survey of the pilot program shows that 91 percent of users are satisfied to very satisfied with IDS. Finally, the Postal Service deserves an “E” for effort in trying to keep its brand relevant and regain lost revenue from plummeting mail volumes.
Caveats: IDS is still small scale. Two million users are not that many, relative to total US households. Even proactive mailers report very low match rates between their lists and IDS subscribers. Though detractors point out the undeveloped toolset, the USPS seems confident it can develop future tools that give marketers more control over campaign targeting, messaging and automation. Lastly, though promising, Informed Delivery needs to prove its value to consumers and to businesses. As direct mail experts, we feel that more research and testing are needed before companies go all in on IDS.