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Howdy from Nashville – What You’re Missing at the 2016 National Postal Forum

On Saturday, we arrived in Nashville for the 2016 National Postal Forum. The Gaylord Opryland is a beautiful (and huge – or should that be “yuge”?) convention site. Everyone has been commenting on how their Fitbits have been working overtime to keep up with how much walking we’re doing!

This event gets to the heart and soul of the mailing industry, and it’s great to see such strong attendance, including a full auditorium for the Postmaster General’s keynote speech. So far there has been a strong positive vibe throughout the show and one comment I heard was, “It’s good to be with people who understand the value of mail.”

Speaking of the value of mail, that was the main focus of Postmaster General Megan Brennan’s presentation. She spoke at length about the importance of elevating the role of mail in marketing communications and ways to tie it to digital and mobile technologies. She also spoke about the need to “rebrand” mail as digitally rich and how it can reinforce digital behavior.

One of the more innovative ways of reinforcing digital behavior with direct mail is by using it to re-engage with online shoppers. For instance, Jim Cochrane, chief marketing and sales officer and executive vice president (CMSO) at the USPS, gave examples of what he called “digitally reactive direct mail,” which is sometimes called “programmatic direct mail.” In these situations, a postcard for a certain merchant or product is automatically sent if a shopper abandons their online shopping cart.

Moving to an Era of Coordinated Marketing

Another interesting aspect of the keynote was a discussion on the transition from integrated marketing to coordinated marketing. Coordinated marketing involves using enhanced tools to know when the mailpiece is in-home (or predict delivery) to launch other channels.

Of course, in order for coordinated marketing to take center stage, the USPS needs to provide marketers with access to more data that will make direct mail come alive. Informed Visibility and Informed Delivery are two exciting technologies that are expected to have a major impact in this regard.

Informed Visibility and Informed Delivery

Informed Visibility is a new program that provides more, and more timely, data about mail status and movement within the postal network. It’s designed to provide greater data visualization, reducing the time from analytics to action. Cochrane also highlighted newly deployed Mail Delivery Devices (MDDs) used by carriers to track delivery of mail. MDDs provide geo-spatial information about a carrier’s progress along a route, allowing mailers to see the actual delivery event rather than inferring delivery based on the last processing scan.

Informed Delivery is a topic we touched on back in November. It provides a daily email to consumers with an image of the mailpieces to be delivered that day. The USPS expects the physical mail to become part of people’s digital routine and daily digital experience. Postmaster General Brennan believes it will expand the value of mail, making it the “launching pad” into other channels and improving direct mail attribution.

CMSO Cochrane continued the theme of linking physical mail to digital, noting that mail is an uncluttered channel that people can access on their own schedule. He urged the crowd, “We need to work together to light up the mailpiece.” Mail should deliver a personal and relevant digital experience and drive a consistent brand experience across channels. He called this the “value of wow” – delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

So far the main themes and focus of the 2016 National Postal Forum have reinforced our belief in the value of IWCO Direct’s move to expand our digital print platform to create more relevant, personalized mail and our expansion of marketing services that make mail the driver of coordinated multi-channel marketing efforts. Check back on Friday for more on the NPF.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2016/03/23/2016-national-postal-forum-highlights/

Author

Kurt Ruppel

Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications and graduate of Utah State University. Bringing the “all of us know more than any of us” business philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 30 years (oy!). Three-time IWCO Direct President’s Award winner, 2018 EMA Member of the Year, bicycling enthusiast, and Ohio State Buckeye Football fan.

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