After reflecting on Postmaster Donahoe’s “Great Story” message from day two at the National Postal Forum (NPF), we had a chance to see how innovation is taking center stage. The two primary themes have been 1) new ways to use mail in integrated campaigns that can drive customers to interactive online experiences and 2) new ways to use mailing data to improve campaign performance.
Mail Continues to Evolve
Gary Reblin, VP New Products and Innovation with the Postal Service, described how direct mail is evolving and adapting to remain a strong player in today’s multi-channel marketing environment. He cited an Epsilon survey showing 73% of consumers prefer direct mail for brand communication and 51% pay more attention to direct mail compared to other channels. In a Target Marketing survey, marketers said direct mail provides the strongest ROI and is the best channel for contact and retention efforts.
As an example of the strength of mail, Reblin noted that online clothing retailer BONOBOS has added catalogs to their communications mix to reach prospects they were missing with a purely electronic strategy.
More and more, mail is becoming the jumping-off point to move consumers to mobile and other electronic interactions. Rob Whitehurst of Aurasma described mail as the “hook” to get consumers engaged in a wide range of interactions with the brand that are both trackable and measurable. He described his firm’s Augmented Reality technology as a way to allow recipients to browse and buy directly from the printed piece as well as driving traffic for specific retail locations.
Tomorrow’s Data Today
Robert Cintron, VP Product Information with the Postal Service, spoke about how the Postal Service is moving from using data to report what happened yesterday, to predicting what will happen tomorrow. The USPS is currently using mail visibility (tracking) data to better manage workflow throughout their plants and to drive root cause analysis when things don’t go as planned. He noted that this visibility into understanding mail movement will drive improved service performance, which will provide an enhanced customer experience with the Postal Service.
The Postal Service is also building new data infrastructure to better support new mail tracking capabilities. The project is called “Informed Visibility” and includes a single data repository plus new tracking tools for packages that will be introduced later this spring. The goal is to provide similar “to the door” tracking capabilities for mail as well. The mailers in attendance at Cintron’s session encouraged him to move quickly in offering these new tools to the direct mail industry, as we see this information being critical intelligence for managing our businesses. We are encouraged that the Postal Service is moving toward an “agile” development methodology, which should bring these tools to market more quickly.
Check back tomorrow when we will wrap up our coverage from the National Postal Forum. You can also subscribe here to get our latest posts sent straight to your inbox.
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