To paraphrase Mark Twain (sort of), the reports of the death of direct mail are greatly exaggerated. After spending a few days at the National Postal Forum in Baltimore, MD it is obvious that direct mail is very much alive. Attendance has been strong, the discussions lively, and the focus has been on using creativity and data to make direct mail an important player in the omnichannel marketing world. Gary Reblin, USPS VP New Product Innovation, shared research showing direct mail outperforms digital channels by nearly 600%; 81% of recipients read or scan their mail daily; and 85% of consumers will open mail if it looks interesting.
This year’s National Postal Forum highlighted the “Informed” suite of tools designed to make managing mail easier and more valuable:
- Informed Delivery was the hot topic this year. Many of the sessions were standing room-only, as attendees focused on understanding this new program that gives consumers an advance look via email or an online dashboard at what will be in their mailboxes, and gives marketers an opportunity for a digital touch related to the mailpiece.
- Informed Visibility (IV) will provide enhanced tracking and reporting so all members of the direct mail supply chain have access to near real-time data to manage their mail, including more granular information about when the mailpiece is in the hands of the recipient.
- Informed Mobility is a suite of apps that puts IV data in the hands of USPS operations managers and supervisors to drive efficient, accurate mail processing.
As she always does in her keynote address, Postmaster General Megan Brennan made a point of thanking her many business partners in the room for doing business with the Postal Service. She noted that the mailing industry is resilient, and although it may be facing challenges, it also has unique opportunities, and if we remain flexible we can adapt to changing markets. Brennan’s three broad themes were reinventing the role of mail, making better use of data to manage mail, and her commitment to an enhanced customer experience. She observed mail is unique among marketing channels because it is physical and tangible and appeals to multiple senses, while also being trusted, cost-effective, and particularly capable of driving action.
Informed Delivery Reinvents the Mailbox for Modern Audiences
Brennan presented Informed Delivery as a digital reinvention of mail that leverages mobile to extend the mail moment, calling it a way to “put the mailbox into the pocket of every American.” She encouraged marketers to “light up the mail” with Informed Delivery so that mail will gain an even bigger role in the marketing mix.
Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane echoed the customer experience theme, saying the Postal Service is competing for our business by being more innovative, informative and user-friendly. He added the Postal Service understands that its delivery performance is an extension of its customers’ brands. He also focused on Informed Delivery, which he described as a mobile/digital publishing platform for mail. He said Informed Delivery was taking mail to the next level and a way to “keep Americans engaged with the content of their mailboxes.”
Sharing Our Expertise in Data, Design and Delivery
IWCO Direct presented three sessions at this year’s forum: Debora Haskel and Mike Dietz spoke about making the mail moment matter across channels, and Bob Rosser and I led sessions on how data available from Seamless Acceptance and Informed Visibility can add value to mail. In addition, our colleagues from Mail-Gard had a busy booth in the exhibit hall. They tell us traffic has been strong and they’re having the opportunity to talk to old friends and new prospects.
The National Postal Forum has been both exciting and exhausting, and as always, a great opportunity to catch-up on all the trends in the mailing industry. Contact me if you want to know more about what we learned in Baltimore.
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