In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I am a fan of the United States Postal Service. Direct mail still drives a large portion of our revenues. And yes, I do appreciate the irony as you are reading this communication in an electronic format. But I honestly believe that we still live for the mail moment – the urge to check the mailbox and see what’s inside. Past studies have shown that 98% of mail is retrieved from the mailbox on the same day it is delivered. Maybe it goes straight into the trash can, but still, it is retrieved, and most importantly, it is seen.

Recently the USPS announced a new service, called Informed Delivery. Residents in certain states, who sign up for this free service, will be allowed to receive daily morning images of the mail that is to be delivered to them. And this is done….wait for it….via email.

Laptop and fly envelopes

Apparently, the post office has been photographing ALL mail pieces since around 2013. Like so many of us who take digital images, the USPS needed some outlet to distribute these letter-selfies (mail-fies?). And Instagram just didn’t seem to be the right fit. It is interesting to note that these photographs of letter sized pieces are only produced in black and white, so the Post Office still appreciates the retro-look.

The idea behind this service is that this will allow users to preview their mail box via their inbox.

This raises some interesting questions:

  • Will this create two mail moments in the daily experience? One electronically and one physically?
  • Will I be able to discard some of the unwanted pieces electronically, and then they will magically disappear from my mailbox before I get home? (Actually, that is a trick question – there is no such thing as an unwanted mail piece.)
  • Think about this – does this create more marketing opportunities? If I were to add a message to the outer envelope, it would be seen upon the electronic review, and then seen again when the physical mail is retrieved? Can I measure these views? More importantly, can I monetize these views?

But I guess it will provide the answer to the ever-present, “What’s in your mailbox?”

This service is currently available and FREE in Northern Virginia and parts of New York City. The USPS plans to roll out more Informed Delivery areas during 2016.

Will you want to be informed?

BONUS Mail Idea — As I mentioned, I firmly believe, and we have a pretty good track record in proving, that direct mail still works.  And if you aren’t familiar with the Benefits of Every Door Direct Mail, take a quick look at this video:

blog photo

Paul Strack