What is USPS Informed Delivery?
Just like IMb® (Intelligent Mail) platform was the infrastructure platform that enabled digital supply chain management of the entire mailing ecosystem, Informed Delivery is the digital marketing platform for the industry to use with physical marketing mail, built on top of the USPS IMb platform.
Informed Delivery is the USPS Hybrid Digital Platform that started with a pilot project called “The Inbox” in 2011. At that time, USPS had a pilot project with a few commercial customers and labeling companies to develop the concept of mixing advertisements and marketing with tracking capabilities. Informed Delivery has taken that concept and merged it with Real Mail (another USPS Project that captured images of letters from sortation machines) to create more interest in the tracking and advertisement platform.
Informed delivery allows mail owners, marketers and advertisers to combine their physical mail and direct mail letter assets with digital advertisements, representative and replacement images, coupons and target URLs through the B2B Idealliance data specifications, Mail.dat and Mail.XML as well through an online campaign management interface called MCP (Mailer Campaign Portal for Informed Delivery “simple” campaign management) available through USPS. for complex and high volume INformed Delivery Campaigns, Mailers should use Mail.dat or Mail.XML and MUST test the scenarios in the USPS CAT (Customer Acceptance Testing Environment) now, at least a few months before the September 1, 2019, Informed Delivery Promotion start date.
With Informed Delivery, consumers can see their mail which was scanned on MPE (Mail Processing Equipment) on their smartphone or in their email account or dashboard. Besides the images of the mail pieces, the consumer can access digital advertisements tied to the mail piece in their digital mailbox all while waiting to receive the mail pieces in the physical mailbox. Best Call to Action designs get the best campaign results.
Mail Owners can do letter-based as well as flats-based campaigns. Images of actual magazine/flats piece are not captured by MPE but letter images are captured. For Flats, Mailers must provide the representative/replacement image.
In this video, Founder and CEO Shariq Mirza provides an overview of the Informed Delivery program.
Should Commercial Mailers be scared of Informed Delivery?
For millions of years, the human brain has been trained to only make negative assumptions about the unknown. So, it is critical that the industry ask the right questions. There are many who are concerned that this technology platform will negatively impact the actual business of commercial mail, the livelihood of the commercial mailing industry. So far there is no factual research available that supports that argument. On the contrary, commercial research from many including American Greeting Cards and the USPS indicates that digital does not necessarily replace the physical rather folks receiving the emails and anticipating what’s coming in their physical mailbox. Other than the two billion mail piece dip for last February’s ending volume, which is extraordinary, most USPS and USPOIG indicators suggested that mail is stabilizing, while parcels are growing. If there are true impacts to physical mail, then the platform can be re-focused, long-term, on parcels. At the end of the day, digital is here to stay and digital is helping sustain interest in the physical letters.
The open rate of 62% for Informed Delivery emails is unheard of, and it’s an opportunity for mailers to provide feedback and to enable and grow the digital platform to sustain the physical mail ecosystem through a hybrid solution. Digital and the web are not going anywhere, so it is time for those who are still concerned to accept this new reality and help sustain their own businesses while growing and developing new marketing revenue streams.
How can I as a mail owner and advertiser participate in Informed Delivery?
Much of the industry is quickly developing interfaces with presort software and post-presort software like AIMS™ to allow marketers and mailers to setup Informed Delivery campaigns at the piece version level or at the piece detail level. These can be driven by ZIP code ranges or Mailer IDs focused on certain address lists and demographics. Comingled/Comail management letter consolidators will need to make sure that campaigns created in original presort remain intact in the final eDocs (created by the Mail.dat post presort editors like AIMS) sent to the USPS PostalOne! system. You can also buy data analytics capabilities to manage the Informed Delivery Program through dashboards developed by Assurety as part of the AnalyticsAssurety™ Module of AIMS plus™.
Test in USPS CAT environment:
You may have one campaign in a single/conventional presort that you want to test, or, as a Consolidator, you may have combined/comingled Mail.dat jobs with multiple campaigns across multiple versions and address lists combined in a single mailing.
Once you are able to manage your campaign data in Mail.dat or Mail.XML, you can go through the USPS Customer Acceptance testing process to make sure everything is working as planned.
- Please send an email to the Customer Acceptance Testing (CAT) office at POCAT@usps.gov and to USPSInformedDeliveryeDOC@usps.gov, with the intent of testing Informed Delivery Campaigns using PostalOne! Please provide information on the point-of-contact and phone number.
- Please check to see if your organization has participated in PostalOne! CAT testing in the past. If so, acquire the PostalOne! CAT credentials (user name, password, CRID, MID, Permit, ZIP). This information will be used to create Mail.dat jobs with Informed Delivery campaigns. In the other case, please follow the steps below to create a PostalOne! CAT account with Permit.
- The USPS CAT team should be able to help you get a test permit, CRID, and MID accounts set up so you can update your production Mail.dats, prepare them for CAT, and begin testing with the USPS CAT cycle.
- The PostalOne! CAT client can be downloaded from the PostalOne! BCG CAT page (same as the link used to register) after login. The CAT BCG page is located at https://gateway-cat.usps.com/eAdmin/view/signin
- Please email POCAT@usps.gov for questions or information.
In part II of this series, we will focus on the technical side of Informed Delivery and help you understand how to manage campaigns in Mail.dat and in your post-presort software.
United States Postal Service®, PostalOne!™, IMb, Informed Delivery™ are trademarks of the United States Postal Service®. This is not a complete list of the trademarks that are associated with the Postal Service™.
Mail.dat® Transportation Messaging®, also known as Mail.XML, and Mail.dat® are registered trademarks of International Digital Enterprise Alliance, Inc.