More and more Americans are waking up to a new sort of direct mail anticipation—the Informed Delivery Digest (IDD), the email digest from the U.S. Postal Service that provides digital images of the mail that is arriving that day. Mine arrives at 7:30 AM, and I look forward to this email almost as much as I do the delivery of the physical pieces.

Today, I noticed that two of the marketers had taken advantage of the free interactive promotion available through IDD. This isn’t something I’ve seen as often as I would have expected, so it was nice to see two of them in the same digest. IDD interactive campaigns are a free service that enable marketers to add images and links below the “official” images of their mail pieces so recipients can respond immediately to rewards and offers, even before the actual mail pieces arrive.

(For mailers using Intelligent Mail barcodes, you can conduct multiple interactive campaigns for different geographic regions based on the same mailpiece.)

The first interactive promotion was from Pella Windows. When I clicked on the link, it took me to what appears to be Pella’s regular promotions page. But if you look at the URL, you’ll see that this is a page created specifically for the IDD promotion. The page is not only specific to IDD, but also to my geographic area.

The second interactive promotion was from VisionWorks. What I thought was interesting about this one was that the company used a redirect for tracking instead. It’s only visible for a flash of a second, and then you end up on the main VisionWorks site. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss it. Was the redirect used because recipients are getting wary of the fact that they are always being tracked, and VisionWorks was trying to make it less obvious? I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that the text for the link promised me 50% off, and when I clicked through, I got a BOGO pop-up instead. Once the pop-up disappeared, I saw that there was discount on a complete set of glasses, but it was 40% instead of 50% as promised.

Did I just get baited and switched? Or was it just an oversight? Either way, not a good look for VisionWorks.

By contrast, Pella did a great job with its promotion. The text on the graphic was large and easy to read both on my laptop and my phone and the promise matched what I saw on the webpage. VisionWorks had the right idea, but the text on the graphic was too small to read (when I blew it up on my phone, it was blurry), and when I clicked through the link, the promise did not match what was on the promotion page.

USPS Informed Delivery is a great tool for marketers, both in terms of its ability to create anticipation and excitement around mail and to create a multichannel opportunity for marketers and their customers to engage in a digital world. However, while the interactive promotion is designed to support direct mail, it’s still a digital promotion, and all of the rules of cross-marketing apply: check readability on the screen, ensure that the link leads to the right place, and make sure that the offers in all of the channels match. You know, the basics.

You don’t have to do anything to have your mail pieces included in the Informed Daily Digest. It’s a free service, and so are the interactive promotions. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think it through every bit as carefully as you would promotions that you have to pay for. IDD offers a terrific opportunity—don’t waste it!