The Postal Service’s new acting CMO, Jim Cochrane, admitted that, like all marketing channels, mail faced challenges. But he argued that it’s gotten its data act together and is better poised to engage in the digitally dominated marketing world than it was just a few years ago.
“We’re focused on data and analytics. In the past it was a field of dreams, but now 90% of our mail volume is using IMb [Intelligent Mail barcodes] and packages are getting close to that,” Cochrane said today at a press conference at the National Postal Forum in Anaheim.
Cochrane, who spent the bulk of his 41 years at USPS in operations roles, said he himself is amazed at how far the Postal Service has come toward completing its mission of “informed visibility.”
“As a plant manager, I would have killed for the data we have now. I would have had to make calls or get on a plane to find out what was going on at other facilities. Now I can sit in D.C. and call up tremendous insights on what’s going on anywhere in the system,” he said.
In keeping with the 2015 Forum’s theme of digital competency for mail, Cochrane led a “Technology Tuesday” general session, where a new “Digital Dial” Web page was introduced. Visitors to the site are asked how well they are positioned in such areas as transactional data and customer lifestyle data, and then delivered to a page that offers suggestions for merging mailing efforts with digital methods such as social media, QR codes, and wearable devices.
“We compete with digital channels, but we also align well with them,” Cochrane said. “As mail becomes more measurable, I am bullish on the growth of direct mail as a collaborative medium. I believe we have a positive opportunity.”
Plenty more needs to be done, of course. Cochrane said that the Postal Service faces a constant challenge in harnessing data due to the vastness of its system, which he described as “one of the biggest IT operations on the planet,” employing up to 3,000 applications.
Randy Miskanic, Cochrane’s successor as CIO, admitted that the challenge was too great to keep up with all the technological advances for capturing and deploying data. “Marketing goes through a lot of change. We have to take a hard look at the primary issues marketers are facing and lean the process accordingly,” Miskanic said. “We have to focus on what brings in the revenue.”
The Postal Service also unveiled a new marketing campaign today themed “Watch Us Deliver,” positioning USPS as a relevant provider that’s changing with the times, delivering groceries and packages, and extending service to Sundays.