What Happens When Digital Tools and Physical Mail Combine

New tool powers real results

As a marketer, you know that converting a consumer in today’s distracted world takes a sustained effort across multiple channels and platforms. Even the most innovative single-medium efforts can only go so far. In this environment, you can’t afford not to use every tool you have.

One such tool is the Informed Delivery feature from USPS. Free for marketers, the online feature turns a single mailpiece into a digitally powered direct mail campaign. Customers who subscribe, also for free, receive a daily email that shows images of what is coming to their mailbox before it arrives.

Businesses can add a clickable image—referred to as a ride-along image—into the email to direct people to take action before they receive the mailpiece. Marketers can also replace the grayscale scan of the actual mailpiece with something more colorful and eye-catching.

Here are three brands that have successfully used Informed Delivery to engage their target audiences and get results (results are not typical):

Oregon Humane Society increases donations

The Oregon Humane Society (OHS) helps 11,000 pets each year and is the largest humane society in the Pacific Northwest. It relies solely on donations, making its annual fundraising campaign critical to its ability to achieve its mission. This year the organization decided to leverage Informed Delivery to make sure it maximized its campaign’s potential.

Along with a physical letter to recipients, OHS shared successful adoption stories on its website that would tug at people’s heartstrings. The organization’s Informed Delivery campaign linked directly to these online stories, creating an emotional connection for people before they got the ask for donations in the mailbox.

The Informed Delivery campaign drove big results. OHS raised $236,000, a 7.7% increase over the year before. It also achieved a 67% email open rate and saw a click-through rate of 0.373% on the ride-along content.

The omnichannel campaign fostered donor action across every stage of the journey, which made all the difference for the organization and the animals it helps.

Pittsburgh Pirates boost response rates

The Pittsburgh Pirates wanted to increase general fan enthusiasm so it leveraged the Informed Delivery ride-along images to A/B test effective calls-to-action.

The team sent a physical mailpiece offering $5 off specific products, paired with one of three Informed Delivery campaigns. The first used a general call-to-action, the second mentioned the $5 discount and the third teased a free jersey with purchase. Each of these messages was incorporated into a ride-along image featured in the mail preview to drive consumers to take action.

The ride-along image had a notable impact on response rate. The ride-along image that mirrored the $5-off discount on the mailpiece had a response rate 9% higher than that of the generic CTA. The ride-along image with the free-jersey offer saw a response rate 39% higher than the generic.

Ultimately, the A/B test helped the Pirates understand what drove people to purchase from its site—valuable data it can use to inform messaging and offers in the future.

Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q drives clicks

A Florida-based restaurant chain, Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q, created a direct mail campaign to drive sales by offering $10 off to customers. The business used an Informed Delivery campaign and tested the effect of two different email images on click-to-open rates.

For one segment, they used the default grayscale scan of the mailpiece and a colorful ride-along image. For the other, they used a colorful mailpiece image and the same ride-along.

The grayscale segment drove a 35% higher click-to-open rate than the full-color segment. Part of this success could be attributed to the strategic combination of images. The ride-along CTA stood out while the grayscale image signaled that this was an actual mailpiece, not a colorful banner ad.
This example is representative of a larger trend. Data comparing response rates of thousands of Informed Delivery campaigns shows that those using grayscale images have click-to-open rates that are 13% higher on average.

With 84% of Informed Delivery users who respond to promotions saying that they act on digital promotions from emails at least once a month, it’s clear that these interactive campaigns offer value across the board. Consumers can learn more about brands, access offers and take other actions before they get to the mailbox. Businesses can connect with prospects in multiple ways with one campaign, stretching their marketing dollars and increasing the effectiveness of their messaging.

Christopher Karpenko leads brand evolution, customer engagement and branded content for the USPS, overseeing brand marketing strategy and positioning. Most recently, he introduced the USPS B2B social media channel and content marketing program. He has led the development of proprietary, sales-enabling mobile apps, such as the Marketing Impact Calculator that measures the incremental impact of various media to overall ROI.