Deliver Magazine. Mail Marketing Strategies from the U.S. Postal Service®

New Mail Techniques Add Power to an Already Powerful Medium

May 31, 2011 | by Gary Reblin, Vice President, Domestic Products, U.S. Postal Service®
Creativity, Data Management, Opinion, Prospecting, Strategy, Targeting, Technology, Trends

Close up image of keyboard with envelope image on key in place of letter

There’s a perception among marketers — and consumers, frankly — that direct mail is not an innovative marketing channel. That it’s old school, a “been-there-done-that” medium that lacks the ability to astound or surprise us.

Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. Mail is not only becoming increasingly innovative, it’s doing so in a way that adds more power to what is already a significant marketing tool. Much of that innovation has centered on combining mail with technologies that extend its reach. The best-known example is probably the QR (Quick Response) code that, when scanned with a smartphone, can drop the reader into a website, a video or any other digital application.

Combining a highly targeted, highly engaging medium like mail with the immediacy of the Internet has significant power to drive sales. See it, scan it, buy it — tell me that’s not innovation at work.

We’ve also seen innovative uses of direct mail linked to our development of the Intelligent Mail® barcode. Marketers are using this code — which contains loads of useful data — to track their direct mail so they can take actions such as triggering delivery of an e-mail directly before or after the mail, thus increasing the effectiveness and ensuring the target gets the message. Companies have also used the Intelligent Mail barcode to offer customers prepaid postage, or to pay postage costs only when the piece hits the mailstream.

These innovations are a product of our ongoing commitment to listen to what our customers need and help create solutions that serve them. After all, new products or services are only effective to the extent that they help our customers communicate more clearly or efficiently.

Recognizing that creating a mail campaign can be a complex undertaking for small businesses, we recently unveiled a new system that allows them to target customers in their area without even compiling a list of names and addresses.

Using Every Door Direct Mail,™ businesses can send direct mail to select ZIP Code™ locations or to addresses within a specific radius of their location. We even offer a tool that allows them to specify a radius, then see how many addresses are in that zone, how much it will cost to reach them with mail and — get this — print out the paperwork needed to complete the process.

And, really, I’m just addressing the tip of the iceberg. We’re studying many other systems that combine mail and digital in innovative ways. So stay tuned. There’s more innovation to come.

Creativity, Data Management, Opinion, Prospecting, Strategy, Targeting, Technology, Trends