Postal Service Debuts Digital Mail in New York

The U.S. Mail goes digital in Gotham this week. Residents and businesses in several New York ZIP Codes are being introduced to the Informed Delivery app which—every day at 8 a.m.—emails them pictures of the fronts of envelope mail being delivered to them later in the day.

The pilot program works through the My USPS website and follows on a small-market Virginia test of what the Postal Service initially called Real Mail Notification. Results of that 6,600-person program boded well for paper mail’s digital future. The average response rate to direct mail appeals received by service subscribers was 5.9% compared to 0.5% for residents without the app, and nine out of 10 users said they’d continue to use the free service if available.

“Part of our intent here is to make mail part of your daily digital experience, and we plan to at some point include catalogs and packages in the service. We’re looking to onboard 100,000 people in New York,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan during an earnings call last week.

It’s relatively simple for the Postal Service to take letter mail digital, since every piece that goes through sorting machines in its facilities is photographed to read the bar code. What people receive are no-frills black-and-white images, though USPS will be exploring value-added options for business partners.

VP of Innovation and New Products Gary Reblin said that a group of business mailers were recruited for the New York test. “If a direct mailer wants to give us an HTML, then we can actually make that piece click through to their website, so it can create a buy-it-now experience. So not only would the end mailer get more impressions, but they also create the easy capability to be able to click through and purchase,” Reblin said in a Direct Marketing News podcast earlier this year.

Informed Delivery’s great promise for direct mailers is more eyes on their mailings. Postal Service studies show the great majority of households have a “mail CEO” who collects and deals with the mail before other members of the household see it.

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