Commentary & Analysis
Is Informed Delivery Changing Consumer Behavior?
As the number of USPS Informed Delivery accounts continues to grow, will it change the way marketers design their mail? Will it change consumers’ behavior and how they interact with the mail? I know that it has already changed mine.
By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: July 31, 2018
I had a funny this happen to me this morning. The USPS’s Informed Delivery Service changed my schedule. It also changed how I prioritized one retailer over another. It did exactly what the USPS hoped it would do, and if I’m right, over time, it will change how marketers design their mail.
This was my first personal experience with Informed Delivery. I’d signed up before—probably a year ago now—and the process was buggy. Even though I’d signed up, I never did start receiving the digital images. Then we sold the house. During the online address forwarding process, I had the opportunity to sign up for Informed Delivery again—this time by simply checking a box.
The USPS must have worked out the bugs, because the day after the forwarding date, I began receiving notifications. Over the next two days, three fascinating things happened.
- Informed Delivery changed how I arranged my day. On the first day, I opened my “daily digest” and saw that there would be a piece of mail arriving that I’d been waiting for. Our mail comes in the middle of the day, so I planned my day around being home when it arrived.
- It changed how I sorted the mail. On day two, I opened my daily digest and saw primarily marketing offers. Details of three out of the four had been printed on the outsides of the envelopes, so they were visible in the preview. “Shop and save $10.” “Up to $500 credit to get out of your contract.” “$25 for 12 months.” Before I had finished my first cup of coffee, I knew which offers would be relevant to me and which would not. When the physical mail arrived, I went right to the pieces I was interested in and recycled the rest.
- It changed where I shopped that day. The impact of the “Shop and Save $10“ offer was particularly interesting. We love to upcycle furniture, and we buy a lot of supplies (paint, sealer, brushes, sandpaper). When we need something, the quickest and easiest thing to do is run to the hardware store on the corner, and sometimes we do. However, it’s more expensive, so most of the time, we drive nine miles away to the big box retailer and buy in bulk. This time, knowing that a coupon was on its way, instead of finding an excuse to drive into town (“We need eggs and bread anyway”), I waited.
Several months ago, I put the question out there: Could Informed Delivery actually change mail over time? Could it cause marketers to prioritize postcards, where the offer is fully visible in the digital preview, or the use of on-envelope messaging? Could it change how marketers engage with consumers and influence consumers’ relationships with marketers? As the percentage of Americans signed up for Informed Delivery grows, I think we can only expect that it will.
The only data I can find on the number of Informed Delivery accounts is from October 2017. At the time, the number of people with active accounts was 8.1 million, up 28% over a period of five months. Assuming the same rate of growth, we would expect the number of accounts to be around 11.5 million today. Now we’re getting into numbers that change not only broader consumer behavior, but marketer behavior, too.
What is your experience? What impact do you see Informed Delivery having?